Monday, 29 July 2013


I was upstairs in my parents' bedroom when my mom came to get something. I flopped down flat on my back. "I just don't know where my life is headed," I sighed to her.

To be honest, I've been a little overwhelmed lately by just looking at my calender for August. Perhaps you're like me in the fact that if there's something going on, if someone is going somewhere and it interferes with the family schedule, I have something to do with it. So naturally, with back to school insanity, activities starting again, and seemingly a zillion things to do before school begins anew, the family calendar is packed. The stress is starting to mess with my mind.

Also, I seem to have a moderate case of pre-new-school-year jitters. Questions (most of them ridiculous) chase each other around and around my brain like cheetahs with jet packs.
What am I going to do with myself this year?
Will I get behind in school again?
Will I get all these projects done?
What will this year be like for my music classes? Will anything change? 

(Ad nauseum

Sometimes I think I want the sense of confidence and certainty, like George Bailey from "It's a Wonderful Life" when he announces, "I know what I'm gonna do tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that."

But, as we all know, his life doesn't go quite the way he plans.

This shouldn't surprise us, really. After all, do we really know what we're going to do tomorrow? How about this week? Or this year?

We don't.

You can plan and plan your wedding day when you're eight years old, but do you know when God will make it clear that you are going to marry?
Do you know when tragedy will strike and leave your life in shambles?
Do you know whether you'll die within the next 20 years or even the next 20 minutes?

That's where the trust part comes in.

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare, and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope." --Jeremiah 29:11

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose." --Romans 8:28

I can worry all I want about what I'm going to do with myself this August and this school year. I can plan and plan and plan and plan some more. But really, if you matched them up, the plans that my puny little brain came up with probably will fall far short of the the plan of the One created everything out of nothing.

But my God has told both me and you--many times, in fact--that His plans are better, His thoughts are higher, and He knows what He's doing.

As a dear friend of mine has said, "Break my plans, Lord. I know yours are a whole lot better." 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Of Love and Loss

Today around noon, my sweet old yellow lab, Bonnie, passed away. This is a day I've been dreading for a while as I watched her grow older and weaker and watched her warm brown eyes cloud up. I remember when my family first adopted her. she had been abused by her previous owners and she was shy and skiddish, flinching at everything we did. Once she gained our trust, she was the sweetest, most affectionate dog anyone could ever ask for. I'll miss her dearly.

My dear sweet Puppy dog.

Isn't it amazing how even in times like this, God still makes Himself known and evident? Even amongst tears, I felt the hand of God against my heart, giving me peace. Even in loss, even in our darkest, hardest moments, God is there helping us fight through it. And to help us overcome our situation. We may never forget our sorrow, but God promises comfort and His peace to the broken-hearted.
" Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Loss is something everyone has experienced at one time or another. Maybe  your loss looks like a loved one passing. an opportunity missed. A word regretted. A situation you can't forget. Someone who robbed you of something precious. The sin that shackles you.

Loss comes in all forms. But no matter what your loss, our Lord promises us to be there in the midst of our hurt, our sorrow, our pain. 

I've heard it said that how we deal with our grief reveals our true character. If we truly trust in the Lord, we will not be afraid to hand the situation to Him. We may be upset beyond words. We may be angry at God. But if we still truly believe and have undying faith in Him, He'll take the situation . He can overcome!

Whatever your loss may be or whatever it may look like, our Savior is greater than our pain could ever be! Praise the Lord! Even when bad things happen, Life is still filled with beautiful things. Remember that even when the situation is hard, life is still beautiful. I encourage you to take your pain and turn it into praise! In the midst of our pain, it takes true spiritual strength to see beauty in the pain. Life in the suffering. Strength in the tears.

"Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have - life itself." - Walter Anderson 

Thursday, 11 July 2013

When Trust Doesn't Come Easy

I once wondered how anyone couldn't trust God. "He's the creator of the universe, the Alpha and Omega, he sent his son to die on the cross for us. What's not to trust?" 

Then I went to Bible school.

That experience challenged me in ways I'm still figuring out. At Capernwray I learned that I have major trust issues with my heavenly father. If you're familiar with my past posts, you know that I'm something of a perfectionist, a "good girl" who is passionate about doing everything the right way. What I'm beginning to realize is that this passion for perfection is not always driven by an all-American drive to succeed; more often it is a product of fear. Skull-crushing, heart-thumping, stomach-turning, blood-draining fear. 

And it's stopped me short of adventure my whole life.

People marvel at how I succeed at everything I turn my hand to. Sure, I have some natural talents, but do you want to know the dirty little secret behind my success? I never attempted anything I thought I could fail at. If the going got tough, I got going--in the other direction. The things that I had to muscle through (i.e. algebra) I abandoned as quickly as possible. In other endeavors where I was less-than-brilliant, I kept dragging along in misery day after day, unwilling to admit that I was a "failure" and quit instead of wasting any more time (i.e. piano). 

That was a dreary battle. 

Bible school taught me (again) that God's power is perfected not in my strength, but in my weakness. "Really? I don't have to be fantastic at everything I set my hand to? God can use me even when I'm not succeeding?" That's what I read in the Bible. That's the message I heard from the lectern.

So then the biggest test of my life came, right at the end of term. I was offered a job at the Bible school as an office assistant for one year. 

Can you imagine my fear? This sounds like the perfect opportunity: the job seems to fit me perfectly, the atmosphere is wonderful, the staff wants me to come on board, the school is located in England (a country I've always been absurdly passionate about)...what's not to love? Well, the thought that I would be away from my family for a year is enough to rip my heart out and stomp it into the dust (Homeschool girls, you know how close we are to our families!). At the same time, every indicator shows that this is God's will for me--confirmation from friends and family, circumstances working out perfectly--how can I ignore this clear call?

It comes down to trusting God. 

After several weeks of tearing my hair out, crying, seeking counsel, praying and praying and praying and crying out to God, I've come to the place where I believe this is God's will for me. He's giving me this chance, holding out the frightening opportunity to go out on a limb and do something entirely outside my comfort zone, breaking away from everything I've ever known to do something he's calling me toward. 

Would you take the leap? Would you ignore the pain in your heart and the angst in your spirit and say, "Yes, Lord, I'm going to follow you"? 

I've decided to take the job, and am now working toward getting my work visa and buying another ticket to fly to England this September. To tell the truth, I still don't feel good about it. I haven't experienced anything miraculous that I would call "the peace of God," but still I know that this is a chapter of the story that God wants me to write. Maybe the fear will go away, maybe it won't, but I know that trusting God is never a risk. He is faithful. He is the creator of the universe. No matter how I feel, he is with me and he cares for me, and he will reward those who diligently seek him.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Memorising the Word

Since I was about two, I’ve been learning memory verses. By now, I have quite a few verses committed to memory. Learning Bible verses is something that (I believe) every person should do. Working hard to memorise something is good for you, because not only do you hide the word in your heart (see Psalm 119:11), but you also have a huge bank of scripture in your mind for daily encouragement.

Bible Reading~Devotion by Chineka
Bible Reading~Devotion, a photo by Chineka on Flickr.
Countless times over the past years memorised scripture has been a treasure to those who memorised it. Although the initial memorisation might be a little harder for some people than others (some of my brothers especially struggle with it), it is still possible and even extremely helpful in cases! Let me give you a few examples.

One good example from history is Corrie Ten Boom. I’m sure you have heard of her. When she was put in prison by the Nazis during World War II, she didn’t have a Bible with her. For several months, she relied completely on what she had memorised as a child and adult. The verses she had in her mind could never be taken from her—and they became her Bible. They were a constant source of encouragement for her, especially when the Nazi guards were less than kind to her.

Another good example is the story of Gracia Burnham. Gracia, along with her husband Martin, were missionaries in the Philippines for quite a few years. In 2001, they were taken and held for ransom by a band of Muslim men. During their ordeal in the jungles of the Philippines that spanned a time of about 13 months, the only Bible they had was what they had previously committed to memory. Since they were captured by Muslim terrorists, they were only allowed to read the Quran—the Bible was off-limits.

In my life, I’ve never had any moments that I needed the verses I’ve memorised in the same way Gracia or Corrie needed them. I’ve never been to a place where I wasn’t allowed to own a Bible. I do know, though, that when relating to different situations, I was very thankful for the stash I have because they’re such an encouragement!
Over the past years, I haven’t only memorised verses. I’ve also memorised songs—great for road trips when you don’t have a hymn-book along! Songs can come in handy when you really aren’t feeling like doing a job (in my case sometimes it’s washing the dishes!), because they are so good at raising your spirits and helping you focus on the One who invented singing. 
  Poems are easy and fun to memorise. I really appreciate poems, because they’re a good source of “just-get-to-it-and-get-it-done”. For example, take the poem “It Couldn’t be Done”, by Edgar A. Guest. I like quoting the line, “Somebody said it couldn’t be done…” to my brothers when they’re stalling at getting something done!

For me, memorisation has been pretty easy and straight-forward to do once I sit down and work on it! Everyone has their own system, but the one that I’ve found helps the most is just repeating the verse five times or so. One thing I’ve found very helpful lately is Basically, you put in your scripture verse (or verses) and then you type it over and over (preferably saying it out loud while you type) until you’ve memorised it! It’s extremely simple.

If you don’t like using the computer for memorisation, the same principle holds true. Before I used Scripture Typer, I would repeat the verse out loud about ten times each day for two to four days (depending on the length of the verse), and I would have it memorised. For extra reinforcement, sometimes I’d write the verse out several times just to get it “down pat”. After I’ve memorised the verse, I review it from time to time.

To help me to remember and review all the verses, I collected them into one document on the computer and printed it off. I made a set portion for each day (about one to one and a half pages single-spaced), and then each day I review a portion besides practising my new verse. After memorising a verse, I add it to the end of my verses list, and review it every two to three days. After reviewing it every two to three days for two weeks or so, I up the time to once a week and then add it into the daily portion somewhere. So far, this system has worked well for me, although others might find different ways to do it. :)

Memorisation, like I said previously, is a very important thing to do. I strongly encourage you to try to memorise some of the Bible, because now is the best time to do it. The more you get into your mind now when you’re young the better because as you get older it gets harder and harder to memorise anything. By the time you’re fifty or so you’ll have processed so much more by then that it will be a lot harder to memorise verses. And who knows, it might just come in handy some day!

This post was written by Esther Rose, a young teenage woman with a love for the LORD, a passion for writing, and a vision for encouraging other young women her age. She blogs at
Joyful Maiden, where she tries to share (in a nutshell) her life as a daughter of her Heavenly Father.
She has never been blessed with sisters (she has six brothers, all of whom she loves), but tries (through her writings in Jewels of Jesus) to bless her sisters in Christ around her. Her life motto is: "Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can." (famous saying of John Wesley's

Monday, 1 July 2013

Beyond the Labels: The Dating VS. Courting Debate

If you've grown up in a Christian environment, you're most likely well-aware of the dating vs. courting debate. When it comes to love, romance, and relationships, there tends to be a lot of confusion in the Christian community... some common questions I've heard and that I've had are:

- Should I date or should I court?
- When is the best time to date/court?
- How involved should my parents be?
- How physically intimate should a couple be   
   before marriage?

and of course the oh-so-popular question:

- What IS this courting business even about anyway!?

Before we look further at these questions, we need to dig into the Word about what God says about relationships. Part of why the church is confused as to what's okay is because the Bible does not specifically outline "courting is better than dating" or "thou shalt not date until thee is 21." But from what the Bible does say, we an paint a pretty detailed picture of what our relationships should look like: 

"Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

"Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?" 2 Corinthians 6:14

"Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband. The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." 1 Corinthians 7:1 - 4 

"Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body." 1 Corinthians 6:18

These verses are just the beginning of God's layout for good relationships.

And although the Bible does not flat-out give us an answer, when we look at verses like this, we see God's opinion on the dating/courting debate - neither one is the right way to go about relationships. 

Okay, okay, don't have a cow. Y'al may be confused by this statement, but let me elaborate. When we look at this issue as an argument in which to choose sides, we are missing the point - the main question at hand: is my relationship honoring to God? 

There's no formula or process that's more God-honoring than another - in fact, love shouldn't have a formula or process at all. Every situation is different.

I don't believe that courting is wrong, I don't believe that dating is wrong, I don't believe that kissing before marriage is wrong, or that having a relationship before the age of 20 is wrong. I believe those things because if a couple is 100% focused on God and what honors Him in their relationship, then they can't go wrong!

Putting labels and formulas and man-made rules on relationships is wrong. Sure, everyone can have certain standards for themselves, and the Bible definitely makes it pretty clear that some lines are not to be crossed until marriage under any circumstance (i.e. premarital sex or overt physical/emotional involvement). But our standards should not cause us to compromise God's real plan for us! If we are so hooked on not dating until we're 20, and we turn down every man that proposes interest until that point, we're being unwise and we could be missing out because of our selfishness. We have turned "waiting" - something that should be God-honoring - into stubbornness and selfishness. Instead, we should enjoy our time of singleness while we have it, and simply be ready whenever God may bring someone into your life. Don't simply turn someone down because of age, or situation, but in every situation, seek what God's will is for you in this season of life. When we simply pray about everything, and stop sticking to our silly list of rules, it gives us freedom. And the best thing is, we honor our Father, the true Lover of Our Souls.

If you're already in a relationship, then the same thing applies. Simply be ready for whatever God has for you. You're not compromising standards, you're simply being free and being ready and I promise you, you will have a fulfilled and pure relationship, whether you marry that person or not.

I encourage you to always question your motives for your actions in a relationship, make sure to always pray over everything, be ready for whatever God has for you, whenever, seek advice and counsel from your parents and pastors ALWAYS, and remember that love is not a formula.

So you may decide through prayer and seeking counsel that dating seems to be the best choice for you, or that courting seems to be an easier situation for staying pure for you, but regardless of your decisions, we need to learn to look beyond the labels and start looking at relationships for what they really are: a way to love others as best we can and to the glory of the King.


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