The Day After: Remembering My Sojourner's Heart

Barak Obama won the election last night. It was what I was most afraid of. My mom said you can either laugh or cry at a time like that. I found myself crying.
I really love the United States of America (maybe sometimes too much for my own good), and I'm very proud of my country and what it has stood for from the day it was founded. It is one of the only places on earth where you can start with nothing and through hard work reach the "upper class". We have more rights in this country than any other I can think of, and we are free to live and believe as we wish, and do the best we can in life. It is a country that was founded and is based upon Christian principles, whether people will admit it or not, and I believe that is why the U.S. is so prosperous. I'm really afraid that this could all change now. It's like watching something die. I pray the Lord will preserve us and the United States of America over the next 4-8 years.
Last night the Lord brought these verses to my mind; this is right after the chapter was talking about people of faith:

"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them from afar off were assured of them and confessed that they were pilgrims and strangers on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind the country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them."
Hebrews 11:13-16

I may love this country, but at a time like this I'm remembering that this isn't my real country. It's not my true homeland. God saw fit to allow me to live here for now, and I love it, but my citizenship actually lies somewhere else: in Heaven. In reality, Christians don't really belong anywhere in this world; we're sojourners, just passing through. And as stated above, may God preserve us until we finally reach our Homeland.

"The Right to Vote: an Opportunity from God" Revisited


Well, I'm posting this a little late. Today is election day, and I just remembered an essay I wrote a couple years ago about voting. Since it is election day I thought this would be an appropriate time to re-post it.


The Right to Vote: An Opportunity from God Nov 5 2006 4:26 PM

This morning I was sitting in church as we started the prayer portion of our service, and my pastor stated a fact that I found pretty shocking. I can't remember the exact numbers, but he said of all the millions of Christians who live in the U.S. only half of them vote.
I don't understand that. We live in a country where we can have a say as to the direction we go in the future. We have a voice; we have a vote. There are millions of people in other countries who would give anything to be able to have some effect on their governments. We live in a country where we have that right; where we have that opportunity. And yet so many people take that oppurtunity for granted.
If any group should be voting it should be Christians. In Matthew Jesus said we are the salt of the earth. They used to use salt to keep meat from going bad. The only reason the world hasn't gone rotten is because God has put us here. And a major way that Christians can keep this country from going rotten it to vote. There are some serious moral issues that will be decided in the upcoming midterm elections. As my pastor said "The only thing a good man has to do to allow evil to prevail is nothing".
I'm not going to do nothing. I am voting and covering election day in prayer. And I'd encourage any of you who can to do the same.
So if you're registered to vote, get to the polls on election day. Let your voice be heard; keep the country from going bad. Use the opportunity God has given to you. And don't ever take it for granted.


This year it's more important than ever for Christians to get out and vote for the candidate that more closely represents our Christian values; I personally believe that man to be John McCain, but every Christian must decide for themselves. So do your research, make a decision, and get out there to vote!
End note: I got the above image from www.polkelections.com.

High and Pure Ideals - A Lesson from Anne of Green Gables

This fall I've been revisiting some of the books that I enjoyed most when I was growing up; when you're older you are able to pick new things out of books that you may have already read. One of the series I re-started was the "Anne of Green Gables" series, by L. M. Montgomery. I really love these books for many reasons, one of which is that the author is somehow able to sneak good points into the story, and it's interesting because it's done in such a natural way. I especially liked one of these points this time around, and I thought I'd share an excerpt. This is from the second book Anne of Avonlea:

"Gilbert was as yet little more than a boy; but a boy has his dreams as have others, and in Gilbert's future there was always a girl with big, limpid gray eyes, and a face as fine and delicate as a flower. He had made up his mind, also, that his future must be worthy of its goddess. Even in quiet Avonlea there were temptations to be met and faced. White Sands youth were a rather "fast" set, and Gilbert was popular wherever he went. But he meant to keep himself worthy of Anne's friendship and perhaps some distant day her love; and he watched over every word and thought and deed as jealously as if her clear eyes were to pass in judgement on it. She held over him the unconcious influence that every girl, whose ideals are high and pure, weilds over her friends; an influence that would endure as long as she was faithful to those ideals and which she would as certainly lose if she were ever false to them. In Gilbert's eyes Anne's greatest charm was the fact that she never stooped to the petty practices of so many of the Avonlea girls - the small jealousies, the little deceits and rivalries, the palpable bids for favor. Anne held herself apart from all this, not conciously or of design, but simply because anything of the sort was utterly foreign to her transparent, impulsive nature, crystal clear in it's motives and aspirations."


I thought this was a beautiful description of something that I have witnessed myself: that when a persons holds high standards in their behaviour and speech, the people around them tend to live up to that person's standards, whether they realize it or not. My parents have always had high expectations of the behaviour of my siblings and me, and I have noticed many times, with my family members and myself, that people do tend to watch their own behaviour around us because of our high standards. I especially love the following line: "She held over him the unconcious influence that every girl, whose ideals are high and pure, wields over her friends; an influence that would endure as long as she was faithful to those ideals, and which she would as certainly lose if she was ever false to them." It's amazing that someone can so easily influence other people for the better, simply by holding pure ideals, but it's very true. But it's important not only to have high ideals yourself, but to practice them. As soon as you violate your own standards there is no reason for others to try to live up to them, because you yourself do not.

This section of the book encouraged me to watch myself for any lapses in practicing my ideals, and I hope it encourages you too. You could be influencing those around you, and it's important to represent Christ in your actions and keep the best ideals possible; it could matter more than you know.

End note: I got the above image from www.ddsbinfo.wordpress.com.

Ralphie and Quincy


A couple weeks ago my mom, who works at our local sheriff's office, told Derek and me that the animal control department just picked up a new dog. Apparently she was always kept outside and ran away several times, and the owner's didn't seem to want her; they hadn't returned any of the calls about the dog. Well, alas, before we knew it my mom said that she was taking the dog, and she was ours if we wanted her. Well, how could we say no? So, yes, we have another dog now. She is a Cairn terrior, and probably one of the happiest dogs I've ever met. You just look at her and she starts wagging her tail and smiles at you. We named her Quincy, and she and Ralphie are becoming great friends; they play all day long. I couldn't resist posting something on her and Ralphie, so here it is! Ralphie is alot better at pictures than Quincy. Quincy always turns her head right before I push the button, but Ralphie just sits there and looks at me like a pro! He should be in commercials!
Dogs are great aren't they? They always love you, and love being around you, even if you yell at them sometimes. They seem to know if you are down and they just cuddle up to you and melt some of that sadness away. And they're great stress-relievers; they're always so excited and happy to see you! It's a blessing to have pets, and dogs seem especially to be a blessing, at least for me! Guess I'm a little biased though; I'm definitely a dog person!

The Season of Autumn

There's something about the changing of the seasons. It occurs so gradually, you hardly notice it's happening, but one day you can just feel in the air that the world has put one season behind and is tentatively stepping into the next. I especially notice this in the fall. In your head you may know that according to the calendar it should be autmun, but it isn't truly autumn until you feel it in the air. There's a certain crispness and spice that is felt more than seen or smelled or anything else. It starts with a certain "wiff" of fall-ness on a day that you would still be expecting summer. Then before you know it this season of change is in full swing.

The leaves change and brilliantly paint the hills in color. The air is brisk, and you start to smell smoke from the chimneys of neighbors' houses. Soups, cidars, teas, and of course, candy corn are served once again, and pumpkins appear in the gorcery stores. Football games prevail on the TV (especially in our house; Broncos games, CU Buffs games, and any other game that may affect the aforesaid teams). My dad starts to scout for hunting seasons, we start target shooting for practice, and the camo and hunter's orange is brought out of the box. The ground is covered with a beautiful mixture of green, red, orange, and yellow, and the fallen leaves bring that wonderful spicy, musty fragrance that is impossible to reproduce and always seems to elicit warm, comfortable, contented feelings from me.

My dad has always said that it is in the fall that he feels the most alive. I must have inherited some of that love of autumn from my dad, because I always feel exactly the same way when fall starts sneaking into the world and bringing with it the feelings that have always characterized the season for me. I think fall is one of the most beautiful exhibitions of the creativity of God, and I can't help but thanking Him for giving us a world with such amazing mountains, rivers, trees, and seasons. I think the reason I love the Autumn best is because there is a certain clarity, spice, and satisfaction that makes it so special. I feel alive, as my dad says, and I feel as if I'm home. I think Heaven must have a little bit of autumn in it; I think that maybe God created the fall to give us just a glimpse of how beautiful Heaven must be. But the fall can only be an imperfect glimpse of Heaven, like a dream is an imperfect, foggy glimpse of the world we know. One day death will blow that fog away, and we'll wake up to a more beautiful reality than we could ever imagine, and then we will really be alive. Because it reminds me of the beauty of Heaven, autumn will always be the most special season to me.

With that thought, excuse me while I go enjoy a cup of Vanilla Maple tea and some candy corn.



"Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him."
1 Corinthians 2:9

Unemployment, Shatze, and Worrying

Well, it's been a really long time since I've posted anything on my blog, so I thought I'd better just sit down and write something. This week we're dog-sitting/house-sitting for my grandma, who is on a trip to Oregon. We're watching her pure-bred, white German Shepherd named Shatze. She's still a puppy, but she's a very large puppy and she has alot of energy to expend. Derek has figured out that if he chases her around the upper level of my grandma's house a few times it tires her out fairly well, and hopefully she won't gnaw on our feet for another couple hours. We've been having fun taking her to the dog park everyday, and she's a really cute, sweet dog.

Derek and I are both out of work at the moment. Derek resigned from his previous position a couple weeks ago, and I haven't been working for about a month (it's a long story). Before all this happened Derek and I used to worry about money. It seems ridiculous to say now that we have no income at the moment. Well, that's not really true, because we are getting paid for house-sitting this week, and that money will be a big help.

I think that in the long run this time without jobs will be a blessing to Derek and me. We've been learning to rely on the Lord much more. And this has been a huge lesson for me about worrying. What's the point of worrying anyway? Like I said, we used to worry about money when we had plenty to spare, and now that we don't it seems really silly. At the same time, now that we don't have much money, we aren't worrying about it as much as I would expect (maybe we're learning our lesson a little). I guess my lesson is to appreciate what you have now, even when things things aren't perfect, because things could get alot worse, and then you'll wonder why you used to worry so much.

By the way, I think things are going to work out fine. I'm starting work with a new staffing agency on Monday, and I may have a potential permanent position. Derek has already got a few leads on jobs too. See, the Lord is already taking care of us, so we can enjoy our time off without being worried.

Well, I'm off to dry off the floor (Shatze gets water everywhere when she drinks. My feet are always getting wet; good thing I'm not wearing socks!), and make some dinner. And I'll try to write something again before another year passes (I know, that was pretty bad; I'm going to do better). Ta Ta!

P.S. Matthew 6 is the "worry" chapter. It's qouted alot, because it's true. I also like Matthew 10:29-31. It's a really comforting thought.

Gettysburg

The Gettysburg address is perhaps one of the greatest speeches in our nation’s history. Perhaps this is because of the critical point that our nation had reached at the time that it was given. At that time we were split in our beliefs on a very divisive issue, fighting just to let our nation survive. Perhaps it was because of the content of the speech, its focus on the very principles which made our nation great. Perhaps it was because of the extremely patriotic nature in which it was given, full of American pride and devotion. Or perhaps it is the dedication to freedom and liberty and justice that is found in every word of this speech, the dedication that it inspires in all those privileged souls who are truly American. Whatever the reason, this piece is very much a part of this country’s story, and it deserves some special focus as we approach Independence Day. The following is my own thoughts on the Gettysburg address, sentence by sentence.

“Eighty- seven years ago, our ancestors founded this country on the principle of liberty and the declaration that all men were created to be equal, and have the same basic rights. This civil war has tested whether these ideas, and a nation which was based on these ideas, can survive for long. While meeting in the place where a significant battle in this war occurred, part of this battlefield is offered as a burial place for those who gave everything for their country and what our country was founded on. This is a very good thing to do, but merely words do not make this place special. The men who fought, and what happened in that great battle are what make Gettysburg special. Words cannot add importance to this place, because soon these words will no longer be remembered, but the events that transpired here, and the significance behind them, will never be forgotten. Our task as those who still live is to work for the cause that these men died to protect, to finish what they started. The best way to honor their sacrifice is to take in our hearts the principles and beliefs which were supremely important to these men, and dedicate ourselves to see the fulfillment of all they hoped to accomplish when they fought here; that all men may be granted their God-given rights in these United States of America, and that this unique country and its supporting idea of freedom for all men will not disappear so long as we are willing to defend them.”

The Gettysburg address mainly emphasizes the idea of freedom for all men which the USA was founded on, and though the Civil War has tested that principle, there were still men who were willing to fight and die to protect this foundation. Though the dedication of the battlefield was meant to honor them, the best way to honor these men is to never forget what they died for, and to give everything we have to further the cause of freedom.

When I read the Gettysburg address, I think of what it takes for this country to survive. This country will always be challenged, and our founding beliefs and principles will always be resented by some. We must remember the great men who fought and died for our country in the past, “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion”. We must remember what they died for, and never forget the sacrifice that those men made so we could live in freedom. We must learn from their example, and always be willing to protect our country, and the principles of liberty which make this country great. The willingness of the American people to defend and fight for our freedom, along with the grace of God, is what has preserved this country, what will continue to preserve this country, and we must never take that for granted.
© Through Clouded Glass. Design by MangoBlogs.