Monday, November 30, 2009

Monday Morning Gifts

Monday morning. The dreaded Monday morning. Waking up was so not easy today. After all, Spanish 3 (which "happens" Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays) today means waking up at what should have been 5:30am but ended up being 5:50am-ish, plus Thanksgiving break officially ends when my black flats hit the high school hall tiles, and quite frankly, I'm not so thrilled, but as I pre-write this in physics class (yes, I know, but if you only knew the joy of this class, you'd be writing blog posts too . . . JUST kidding :), I'm reminded that the way this day goes is really largely in my hands. One of my many favorite teachers was my biology teacher and that says something because biology is not my first love (pig dissecting nearly killed me, just saying . . . okay, so "maybe" not . . . but that's a whole other story about God's grace . . . smile), but one thing that stuck with me was the poster on her desk, "Misery is optional, but joy is a choice." I love that and kinda hate it too because that means that I really have no one to blame for a nasty feeling day, ya know? I really sadly can't blame that dumb alarm clock or my choice in scheduling a zero period class or the fact that my break is being replaced by school. Well, I guess I could, but where does that take me? Misery. Mmm hmm . . . but honest to goodness, today could be a marvelous because I have the opportunity to choose joy even with those saggy clouds in the sky and the chilly, school morning. . .

Joy is such a fantastic thing. It's a fruit of the Spirit actually. Isn't it so cool that God's people are to be characterized by joy? "Christian" was never meant to be associated with a sad bunch of miserable people. The King's kids were never meant to live with their eyes on the ground, head bent. But so often I do. And it's my. fault. Rats. . . I've been caught. Smile. Anyway, all of that to say (?) that I hope your Monday is a great one! My Monday has definitely improved since when I first saw the dumb numbers 5:51. :) I am so happy to be alive, so grateful for His hands, His healing, His peace. Here's a continuous list of gifts from the Almighty. He is oh so good. I am so incredibly blessed!

271. Soul healing by a gracious God

272. Holding baby cousin . . . what a precious, beautiful life.

273. Playing game "Things" with family members

274. Understanding calculus shortcuts! "I like things I understand" ~ a twist on an old pageant quote. smile.

275. Remembering old memories with family and laughing til the tears come.

276. Breath of Heaven that holds me together

277. Christmas music focused on the real reason, the Savior.

278. A lovely Thanksgiving . . . one of my favorite holidays

279. Using the curtain for pageant practice for the first time Sunday - - woo hoo!!! I've been waiting for that day ever since I've had to practice having birth pains, but that's a story of its own . . . :)

280. Decorating Christmas cookies with youth group

281. Clean sheets of paper

282. Sitting and talking with Grandpa and Cousin.

283. Long walk and talk with Mom . . . felt so good.

284. Drops of rain hanging on twig branches

285. Joy.

Happy Monday!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Gifts from a Father

Awhile back, I picked up the book Lessons I Learned in the Dark by Jennifer Rothschild. The author is an incredibly beautiful person who is physically blind but lives spiritually wide-eyed. I learned a lot from her book and would definitely suggest it as a read that will leave ya inspired. One thing this gal talked about was that sometimes God gives us things that we don't like, and she would know. Being blind isn't for wimps I'm sure. :) Sometimes we're given tough situations, painful bumps in the road. Jennifer taught me though that we must still be thankful to the Giver, no matter the gift. She tells the story of being so excited when she was a little girl at Christmas time because she was going to get a present from one of her relatives who supposedly had shown great talents in gift-giving in the past. Much to her dismay, however, when she opened the present from her aunt (or whatever relative . . . we'll say her aunt), she found in her arrayed package . . . yes, undergarments. Um, yes. Now of course I'm sure the average American would not understand why little Jennifer was a tad disappointed, but I'll be bold [and honest] and say that I get it . . . (smile). I think I'd be a little depressed too, but of course, the story doesn't end here. Even though she got a not-so-exciting gift, being the good little gal that she was (and quite possibly because she was prompted by her mother), she still thanked her dear aunt. Why? Because she liked the gift? Guess again. Because she still loved her aunt and knew her aunt loved her? Because the purpose of the gift wasn't to wreck her life? Well, yeah. Jennifer compared this scenario to how we respond to God's gifts, because I'm going to be brutally honest [shift gaze elsewhere if honesty scares ya! . . . smile] and say that sometimes, it feels [emphasis on "feels"] that God sends us junk, and I'm going to be transparent and real and will admit that I don't always get it. It doesn't all line up, but just because I don't like some of His gifts and don't understand the "whys" or because I'm hurt and quite frankly disappointed, doesn't mean that I shouldn't say "thank You." Because even with the frustration, confusion, pain, still God is good. Still He has put thought into His gift, and each gift from Him comes from a Dad who honestly loves us deeply and really does know what's best for us more than we do. So all that to say [sorry, I'm long-winded. There's probably reasons why I'm not a boy and thus wouldn't give formal sermons . . . smile], . . . my gift list may look kinda bleak today in parts. It was a rough week, but I will still choose to say "thank You" because He knows, and I'll see the whole picture some day. Here goes . . .

251. Broken heart

252. Sustaining grace

253. Sobbing at the kitchen table - - broken release

254. That there is far more ahead of me then what I've left behind.

255. That I can't "run away" from the problems this time - - but I can still hold His hand.

256. A+ on physics test . . . Woot! God is good! Not sure how I pulled that one off . . .

257. Acceptance letter from college

258. So many shades of gray . . . unknowns. Scary for a planner/analyzer/controller, . . . but we're working through it, right Lord?

259. Loneliness - it truly will draw me to Him if I let it.

260. Much needed sleep

261. A laid back weekend

262. Walking around in my little town

263. Chillin' in a beauty shop . . . yay for haircuts! :)

264. Fresh, "new" library books to read

265. Mom is coming home from visiting family today . . . should be here any minute. I'm excited!

266. Hearing "Hanging On" by Britt Nicole and "Let the Waters Rise" by Mikeschair . . . what grace. I love it when God surrounds me with songs that just nail how I'm feeling and put it into words and music notes and harmonies. [If you want to be encouraged, check 'em out! Especially the second song. :)]

267. Sunshine today! Beautiful fall weather. Unexpected

268. Jigsaw puzzles . . . just started a new one last week. My fall-winter tradition. :)

269. Golden leaves hugging curb's edge.

270. That morning does come. That His mercies are new . . . every single morning. alleluia.

I hope this list encouraged you. I hope that it was my sacrifice of praise, now I just have to really be thankful. It's pretty easy to write these lists week after week, but it means nothing if gratitude doesn't come from my heart, ya know? Anyway, I hope your day is splattered with sunshine and with gifts from the best Giver ever . . . :)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's Gonna Be Okay

It's way too late. My eye lids should be pulled closed, but I'm up. I was just studying for a glamorous economics test tomorrow. I'm so exhausted. Jet lagged, heart torn, distracted, confused, ragged. I'm trying to make it to the weekend. You ever have those days? Those days where you think, "If I can only make it to *insert day here*" . . . you know. But right now, I'm listening to a song "Don't Worry Now" by Britt Nicole. I'm hoping she's okay with me posting her lyrics here. Now for those of you who wonder, I'm not having Dad problems or divorce issues in my family, but it's one of those days where I just need to hear the "Don't worry now," that "It's gonna be okay," that "good [can] come of these feelings that I have." And it will. I know. But I need to hear it sometimes . . .

"Don't Worry Now"
Britt Nicole

Seven years old, you heard me cry
I don't wanna say goodbye
To the only man that I love
My daddy and everything he was
I don't think I can live without you
Dad, I know you're breaking in two
With tears running down his face, he says we're gonna make it
We're gonna make it

When you feel like you are all alone
Just like your best friend up and gone
Don't worry now
Don't worry now
I've been there yeah, I know how it feels
To wonder if love is even real
Don't worry now
Don't worry now
It's gonna be ok

I've been trying to find a way to understand
When I can't see the picture of God's plan
Why would He let us hurt so bad?
Could anything good come of these feelings that I have?
He loved me more than the sand on beaches
He loved me more than the grass is green
And even though he had to go I always knew his love was part of me

When you feel like you are all alone
Just like your best friend up and gone
Don't worry now
Don't worry now
I've been there yeah, I know how it feels
To wonder if love is even real
Don't worry now
Don't worry now

It's taken so long to let this go
It's taken so long to feel that
You're right here next to me
And I can finally breathe
It's taken so long but now I know
I had to find out on my own
When nothing could convince me
Your love it convinced me
That it's gonna be ok

When you feel like you are all alone
Just like your best friend up and gone
Don't worry now
Don't worry now
I've been there yeah, I know how it feels
To wonder if love is even real
Don't worry now
Don't worry now
It's gonna be
It's gonna be ok

Hope this turns your eyes upward like it does me. Oh, side note, if you need a smile, check out "Headphones" by Britt Nicole on youtube. It shall make thee smile. :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Continuous Trek to 1000 Gifts

I have so much to be thankful for. One thing I'm so not grateful for, however, is the fact that the whole U.S. of A. seems to think it's time for Christmas before we even begin Thanksgiving. Sad, huh? But I guess Thanksgiving isn't just restricted to a date on the calendar, is it? It's a mindset. I'm not "there" yet, but I'm working on it. I need to remember to add to my "thank you" list daily and not just on Mondays, because truly every day is littered with gifts from God's hand. We just got to keep those eyes open, ya know? :)

236. Little boy hand reaching between seats in airplane

237. Visit to Asbury College in KY, several states away . . .

238. Rolling green of Kentucky fields

239. Note in suitcase from Mom

240. Free gifts from Asbury - - new water bottle, t-shirt, lanyard, bag - yay! :)

241. Seeing Friend from my state who's currently in Kentucky doing some super cool volunteer work

242. Late night talk with my sweet dorm host during college visit

243. Meeting mutual friend and getting more Asbury info

244. Kentucky accents

245. Sister's letter filled with pageant quotes

246. Big brick buildings

247. Enthusiastic English teachers

248. Moments of revelation

249. Ale 8 1 ("A Late One") . . . Kentucky's very own Ginger-Ale type of pop

250. Time with dad as we traveled through this college visit together.

Happy today!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

What I Learned In Wilmore, Kentucky

This past Wednesday, my dad and I left in an airplane at around 6 in the morning for my very first technical college visit. We were heading off to Asbury college, a private, Christian school in Wilmore, Kentucky. I wasn't sure what I was going to see there or what I was going to do, but it was truly going to be an adventure I was excited about and kinda nervous for too.

Well, Kentucky is absolutely beautiful. It's full of rolling, green fields, and in Lexington, there are oodles of beautiful brick buildings. Another thing I noticed besides the fact that a whole lot of people smoke over there (and that they're allowed to smoke in buildings, which is completely weird for me since the state I live in is pretty strict about such stuff), is that there are tons of churches. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. I'm curious how many of those churches are really living or if a lot of people just hang their hat there for the social aspect and never really know that Living Water runs free and that it changes you. Anyway, it was a pretty nice place, except for the traffic and traffic signs. Oh, another side note, some of the people had extremely cool accents! It was kinda weird though . . . their accents made it feel like a completely different culture, which I'm sure it kinda is, but you know . . . :)

Well, my dad and I eventually located the college, and I was again told that I was going to be staying with a girl who I'll call Caroline. I had no idea what to expect, except that everyone said that she was incredible and so sweet. After an A&W dinner, my dad and I trekked back to the college, and I, with the help of another girl, found Miss Caroline's room. The door opened, and I saw a lovely little southern girl with short hair, a super cool accent, and a beautiful heart. She was soooo welcoming. She let me sleep on her bed while she slept on the floor and offered to take me to an event in the student center, but what really touched me the most about this gal was how similar we are or were at least. Thursday night, I was in the dorm, pretty tired, and she just sat down with me and offered me some peanuts, so we shucked peanuts and chatted about life. I mentioned that everyone knows her and loves her and that she must be a pretty beautiful person. :) She told me the story of how she used to be really closed up, that grades used to be everything to her. She's got a perfectionistic bent (which sounds a bit too familiar) and allowed school work to consume her and take over the girl she was meant to be. She shut out friends and lived in her little box with just her school work and her family. When she came to college, she came with the idea that it was her chance to start over. She was going to have friends again, just meet 'em and make 'em, and ya know what? People were going to like her. And let me tell you . . . people love her.

Lately, I feel like God has been kinda tapping on my shoulder and wanting me to realize that it's okay to be Danae, that I'm not supposed to be someone else, just simply Danae. I'm not sure what all that means, but I'm kinda excited to find out.

Anyway, another thing I loved about Caroline was how real she was. She wasn't a cheapo fake; she was the real college deal with a heart for the Lord. I want to be like that. Seriously. I'm so glad we could talk because she so encouraged me and because I felt that, because we are very similar in personalities, she understood, and I understood her. That's an extremely marvelous thing.

I also feel like I got kinda a revelation as I was laying in my top bunk bed in the small dorm. You know those ideas that hit ya at random moments, the ones that seem so simple and yet so profound? Well, I had one of those. It came to me that though I need to try to be like Jesus, that's not my complete goal. I need to learn to be a follower of Jesus and a lover. I think that I so often make my goal to be Jesus, which being like Him is an extremely fantastic goal, but I think that I sometimes miss the whole deal that I need to learn to be the best follower of Him that I can be (and that will lead me to being like Him). Anyway, relative side note: I was listening to a lady on Focus on the Family once upon a time ago, and she was talking about how women need to make it a goal to learn to be the best lovers for their husbands that they can be. Ya see where I'm going? I need to learn to be the best follower (and lover) of Christ that I can be. I need to learn what it means to serve Him, to think ahead to how I can bless Him, to spend quality time with Him, and in the end, if I spend that time with Him and listen to His voice, I will be like Him in the end. I have no idea if that made any sense, but the whole idea got the creaky wheels of my mind turning. :)

Anyway, those are some of the things I learned in Wilmore. . . that it's okay to be me (and it's okay to BE you), that I need to learn how to follow, and also, that I need to say "yes" to Jesus, even when I don't know what I'm saying "yes" to because of a hazy future . . .

I'm still not sure what I'm going to do with Asbury. I really think it's a great school with fantastic people, but I'm not sure where God's leading me yet. So I have a lot of processing and a lot of praying to do yet. :) I really believe the trip was worth it though. I had a fantastic time with my dad, I met a lovely southern girl, and I learned a few lessons in beautiful, little Wilmore. :)

Monday, November 9, 2009

Heartache Healer

These are lyrics from Nicole Nordeman's song "I Am." I hope she doesn't mind me sharing them with you. These words hurt and yet heal me now. My heart aches. But this is the time that I cry just His name, because sometimes, that's all we can do . . . and that's okay.

Oh Jesus, "'Heart-ache Healer, Secret-keeper, / be my Best Friend' and You said 'I am.'"

(You can find her song in youtube, just to let you know . . . )

"I Am"

Pencil marks on a wall.
I wasn't always this tall,
You scattered some monsters from beneath my bed,
You watched my team win,
You watched my team lose,
You watched when my bicycle went down again,

And When I was weak unable to speak,
still I could call You by name,
and I said “Elbow healer, Superhero,
come if You can,” and You said “I am”

Only 16, life is so mean, what kind of curfew is at ten PM
You saw my mistakes, You watched my heart break
Heard when I swore I’d never love again

When I was weak, unable to speak,
still I could call You by name,
and I said “Heart-ache Healer, Secret-keeper,
be my Best Friend” and You said “I am”

You saw me wear white, by pale candlelight,
I said forever to what lies ahead
two kids and a dream, with kids that can scream
too much it might seem when it’s two AM

when I am weak, unable to speak,
still I will call You by name.
“Oh Shepherd, Savior, Pasture-maker,
hold on to my hand,” and You say “I am.”

The winds of change,
And circumstance blow in and all around
us so we find a foothold that’s familiar,
And bless the moments that we feel You nearer
Life had begun, I was woven and spun,
You let the angels dance around the throne, who can say when,
But they’ll dance again, when I am free and finally headed home

I will be weak, unable to speak,
still I will call You by name
“Creator, Maker, Life-sustainer,
Comforter, Healer, My Redeemer,
Lord and King, Beginning and
the End, I am, yes, I am.”

Journey -- 1000 Gifts Continued

Another "thank You"

216. Youth lining front pews of church

217. Sharing pizza with friends

218. New song I heard on K-Love . . . "Your Hands" by JJ Heller (it really is worth a stop at youtube!)

219. Memorized lines

220. Bringing friends to church

221. Mint chocolate chip milkshake

222. Hearing cousin's news.

223. Wearing comfy clothes to school . . . Yay for spirit week. :)

224. "When my heart is breaking, I never leave Your hands" - JJ Heller

225. Learning what it means to "be" Mary . . . Christmas will look different this year.

226. Fireproof --- movie with Kirk Cameron! :) smile . . .

227. Grandpa's big hands

228. Grandma's grin

229. Anticipation . . . and learning to wait.

230. Reminder of surrender . . . I have a long way to go, but a journey begins with a single step, right?

231. Violin music

232. Plane tickets to a college . . . flying out this week!

233. God-dreams fulfilled

234. A Kansas auctioneer and down-to-earth preacher :)

235. Learning what it means to be the Danae I have been created to be . . . a journey.

Happy Day! <3

Monday, November 2, 2009

Open Eyed

206. Driving solo in the fall sunshine

207. Pumpkin cake

208. Making homemade apple cider with youth group

209. Crates and crates (and crates) of apples

210. Beginning of Christmas pageant practices

211. My new role in pageant this year (I'M SO EXCITED!)

212. A special speaker at church this week - - renewal meetings.

213. Daylight Savings Time . . . one extra hour of sleep :) Yes!

214. Mini-doughnut day with Aunt, Uncle, Grandparents and family. Mmm...

215. Early morning grays in sky . . . new day.

Happy New Day! :) Look out for those little things. They're there if you keep your eyes open. :)