arms wide open ~ letting go of our plans for His

b384045a2d1e04bb239e70626625c93c

It’s hard to let go when our hands are clenched hard around our dreams, our aspirations, our lives.

But how exactly do we change that?

I chuckle softly. I chuckle because we can’t change that. We don’t have the strength or the power to. And we don’t have to. Because God will give us that kind of strength.

But it isn’t until we come to Him with our arms wide open, fists unclenched, and surrender ourselves to Him.

And who wouldn’t want to? ๐Ÿ™‚

I’m at that age when people are constantly asking me what I’m going to do, what college I’m going to go to, etc.

And, again, I chuckle. I smile and I reply, “I don’t know yet.” Sure enough, I have goals. I have aspirations. I have dreams, plans (remember? ::grin::). In fact, I dream of marrying some amazing cowboy who loves me like crazy, and raising my babies in a house on a farm that faces the sunset.

*chuckles*

And it’s okay to have dreams. To have plans, and ambitions. It’s a good thing. But when we hold on to them so tight, then we’re not really open to the plans God has for us.

d080e49ec0ca1f9909b6870b3db4f862

Again, it comes down to surrendering our hearts, and our lives, and everything to Him. Not just once. But all the time. Every day, every moment, it comes down to trusting Him with the pen to our life stories (and, of course, our love stories ;)). Sometimes we grab the pen away, thinking we could paint a better story, with a better ending, all our own way, all by ourselves.

I’m sure He chuckles, too. Oh, I’m sure of it :).

But maybe, just maybe, if we hand the pen to the Author, He can write a better story, with a better, happier ending?

All by Himself. (He doesn’t need our help.)

There are times (more frequently than not) when I look at a future situation, and write and plan everything, down to the pin-pointed details, and act accordingly.

And funny thing. Usually God has a tooootally different plan. And I’ve found, over the years, I’ve begun to like His better ::big grin::

So will you stand beside me, looking towards the heavens, with arms wide open? ๐Ÿ™‚

an outward focus

Rebecca St. James 5

{via}

โ€œLife has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same directionโ€

~ Antione de Saint- Exupery

The art of living a poured out life — in the midst of magazine covers and commercials that scream at us to think only about ourselves, our desires, what we need– is often forgotten by many.

God does not call us to a self-focused kind of life. He calls us to pour ourselves out to the needy, the hurting, the lost, and to live a selfless life. For theirs is the kingdom of God (Matt. 5:3).

This could mean different things for different people. Not all people are called to be missionaries. It could mean anything from going to Africa to feed those who are starving, and bringing the Light of the Gospel to their lives, or it could be reaching out to the struggling friend, or becoming friends with the unpopular people.

ff87afda6604a667a9f2564426e44f03

Have you ever been just *so* blessed by someone who went out of their way to do something for you, that you just sort of beam the rest of the day? And doesn’t it make you feel so special? ๐Ÿ™‚ When we sacrifice our selfish needs and wants in order to serve others, we may bless their socks off! ::grin::

Selflessness is not convenient. But you know what? Neither was dying on the Cross to save us from our sins. Remember when Jesus was on the Mount of Olives, right before His Crucifixion, and He prayed,”…Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42, emphasis added) Showing a Christlike, selfless love to those around us is not a thing that comes easily, but that’s what makes it more special to the other people– and it brings glory to the Lord. One, small act of kindness could very well be a way God works to bring a non-Christian to turn to Him (that is, if it is God’s plan to do so).

What would happen if we asked the Lord to give us an outward focus– a selfless focus? It’s a scary thought. We may have to surrender everything to the Lord, including every part of our life. But what if? What would happen? We would change? Others would change? We would be expected to actually do hard things for Christ?

Ah … but doesn’t doing hard things make some of the greatest things happen? ::grin::

eleven things

Liebster-Award

I have been awarded by the incredibly sweet Iris Hanlin!

The Liebster is designed to introduce new authors of up-n-coming blogs who have less than 200 subscribers to the web world. ย In other words, major publicity. ย So now, I have to post 11 random things about me, answer 11 questions given to me by Iris, and nominate 5 other bloggies to do the same thing.

~*~*~*~

eleven random facts you (probably-maybe-somewhat) didn’t know about me:

1) I just turned 16 years old ::grin::

2) Someday, I dream to own a great, beautiful garden. Once my black thumbs will stop killing everything. In other words, if you need a flower or a plant mercilessly killed, just put it into my care and I will get that job done for you. Without even trying. Heck, I could do it with both hands behind my back. ๐Ÿ˜‰

3) I have two dogs named Sir Ruger and Princess Buttercup (but her name is usually pronounced like “Crazy-Dog-Get-Out-Of-My-Way-Stop-Chewing-That-Stop-It-Ouch-That-Hurts-Crazy-Dog“). Ahem.

4) I tend to lean towards wherever the DOTS are in the candy aisle. The same thing with Reeses.

5) I can’t whistle. When I try to, I mess it up and then keep trying, until I just end up scaring people.

6) Raisins in cookies that look like chocolate chips are probably the main reason why I have trust issues.

7) If there is a spider in the room I may or may not scream, “Bloody Murder”. Depends on how big it is.

8) Nothing beats the Cappaccino at Starbucks. Noth. Ing.

9) I never, ever, ever, in my entire life have ever seen Star Wars. Or Star Trek. Oh, yeah, and I *just* learned how to make a paper airplane.

10) I am soo skillful, that once I cast my fishing line over a power line. Just ask my grandfather about that one.

11) By the time you read this, I’ve updated this post, like, ten hundred thousand times. I’m sort of a perfectionist about things like that.

~*~*~*~

Ok, and now I have to answer 11 questions.

1. If there was one place in the world you would travel, where would it be?
ย 
ย Oh, gosh. I couldn’t pick just *one* place. It would have to be between Italy and Ireland.
ย 
2. Have you yet mastered the art of parallel parking?
ย 
Um, *chuckles*, no.
ย 
3. What is your favorite word?
ย 
My favorite word? Hm. Probably either “Pasta” or “Cheese”. That’s a tough one.
ย 
4. What is your favorite season of the year and why?
ย 
I just looooove Autumn. It’s so magical. All the colors of the leaves, warm things to drink, soft sweaters, sweet laughter– all makes me feel happy inside ๐Ÿ™‚
ย 
5. What are you looking forward to doing most this summer?
ย 
Teasing my dogs … Haha. Just Joking (sort of). I think just being able to do more fun things outside, starting another 5+ books I won’t finish ’til kingdom come, capturing life in my camera lens, and cooking lots and lots of food ๐Ÿ˜‰
ย 
6. What is your favorite quote or words of’ wisdom?
ย 
my favorite quote: “It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder … words of wisdom: “Rachel!! Go clean up your ROOM!!!!” yours truly, mother. Yes, those are probably words of wisdom.
ย 
7. Coffee or tea?
ย 
Coffee by far, but I do enjoy tea, too ๐Ÿ™‚
ย 
8. What is the last movie you watched?
ย 
Gladiator. With Russell Crowe. Awesome movie? I think yes ๐Ÿ˜‰
ย 
9. If there is one person in the world (living) whom you aspire to be like, who would it be?
ย 
If I could be like anyone in the world, I would be like my Uncle Jimmy ๐Ÿ™‚ He is just *so* amazing in so many ways, and he’s always so happy, it’s just contagious ::grin::, and he loves life, works hard, and is thankful for everything he has. I’ve always wanted to be like my Uncle Jimmy :: hugest smile ever :: ๐Ÿ˜‰
ย 
10. What/who/where is your inspiration for writing?
ย 
I get most of my inspiration from other books, or what has been happening in my life. Writing is like breathing to me. I could never live without writing ๐Ÿ™‚
ย 
12. ย What is your favorite thing to do with your family?
ย 
Oh my word. SO many things. I think I love to do everything from going on a fishing/shooting trip to watching movies together at home ๐Ÿ™‚
~*~*~*~
ย 
the nominations:
ย 
1) I nominate … Capturing The Moment, a talented photographress ๐Ÿ˜‰
ย 
2) I nominate … Like a Lily Among Thorns, a great blog that encourages me to seek the Lord and cultivate a relationship with Him.
ย 
3) I nominate … my friend Isabelle at Singing4Life. ::grin::
ย 
4) I nominate … The Gentle Way You’re Changing Me … this is an amazing, godly young woman with an amazing, touching story.
ย 
5) I nominate … Boundless, a lovely little blog to read! ๐Ÿ˜€
ย 
~*~*~*~
ย 
mea questiones:
ย 
1) Where were you born?
2) What is your favorite line from a movie/book?
3) What is your favorite book of the Bible?
4) What is your favorite verse from the Bible?
5) Who is your favorite author/speaker/writer?
6) What candy do you tend to lean towards? ๐Ÿ™‚
7) Are you a coffee addict, like myself? Why or why not?
8) What is your favorite quote/ words of wisdom?
9) If you could tell one thing to Christian girls in our society today, what would it be?
10) Do you bake/cook? Why or why not?
11) What is some of your favorite hobbies to do in your free time?
ย 
~*~*~*~
ย 
ย 
Again thank you, Iris! ๐Ÿ˜€

memories that last

Hello, dear friends! It has been quite a while has it not?

::ahem::

My apologies. Alas, I have been quite busy, but now since time is starting to slow down again (somewhat), I am back! ::whew!::

During my spring break, I enjoyed seeing family, and having them over. We had a lot of fun, and great times. Oh, and we had laughs. Lots of laughs too ๐Ÿ˜‰

Here are my wonderful cousins, Jerad and Dana (with their three sweet little ones!), who decided to take some family pictures in my humble hometown.

Honestly, I think they’re naturals, in front of a camera (or four or five cameras, which was the case :))

DSCN7286

As they were getting ready and situated, I just *had* to catch a picture with Devan (lower right) laughing like that. It was just too adorable to pass up ๐Ÿ™‚

DSCN7287

I dunno. Looks like she kinda likes him, huh? ๐Ÿ˜‰

DSCN7288

Little Miss Katie here did not want to look at the camera, and she tried her darn hardest not to the whole time.

DSCN7289

DSCN7290

Even with prompting, she wouldn’t look at the camera.

DSCN7291

DSCN7292

Even when Jerad tried to turn Katie towards the camera, she would look away! And eventually everyone started laughing, including her, and I caught this sweet moment in my lens …

DSCN7293

Isn’t that just the *sweetest* thing?? Aaaahhh, they’re such a cute family ๐Ÿ˜‰

DSCN7295

DSCN7299

DSCN7300

From left to right: Jerad, Dana, Aunt Babe, and Uncle Jimmy. All of them laughing– so sweet ๐Ÿ™‚

DSCN7323

What did you all do for Easter? Did you spend time with family? Do you have any traditions you do for Passover or Easter?