Saturday, January 30, 2010

January

January has been quite a month for me. It's been the strangest, most mixed up month I've had in awhile. Maybe right up there with last February, though for very different reasons.

I've been gone most of the month. First there was a trip to St. Louis with a friend of mine that was tons of fun. The next week my boss wasn't doing so well and needed around the clock care. The next week I helped out a lady at church by staying with her while her husband was gone. 4 boys, 7 and younger, all with colds. And I got the cold. Add to this the graduation and other things, and it was a pretty full month. Pretty emotional too, at times, considering the lack of sleep and the illness.

Miss Inez and me

But the past two days I've been home, and I've been loving it. I've planned my garden this year, and I'm absolutely thrilled with all the new plants I ordered. I spent more than I ever thought I would on a garden, but it's going to totally be worth it. I've baked, and sewed, and slept, and played, and cleaned, and rested.

And then yesterday my bestest friend 'Manda came over and we had a grand time dying fabric, making emergency runs to the store, and being kicked out of the store after getting the keys locked in the car in the rain on a very cold and dark night with the nearest spare a half hour away. Ahh, the good old times. :-P

Dying fabric with Amanda

Really, the thing most on my mind this weekend is how much I love being at home. Today I haven't done anything grand. I started a sewing project, I made banana bread, I started on the mountain of cleaning and laundry (a month of living out of a suitcase), I spent time with my little brother. Nothing extraordinary, just the mundane of ordinary life. And I love it.

I'm also amazed at how God provides. He has supplied all my needs so generously this month. He enabled me physically and mentally to make it through the rough spots. He has provided for some future needs. And even though the future seems a bit uncertain right now from my human perspective, I'm not afraid because my heart can safely trust Him.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Graduation Speech

Instead of writing a new blog post this weekend, I;m going to post a copy of my graduation speech, given this past Saturday. I'm done!!! :-)

Yeah, I must have been pretty expressive that day. This was the BEST one. :-P



Above all my purpose in being up here in front of you today is to keep a bargain I made two and a half years ago. See, I really wasn’t an advocate of the CLEP program at one point in time. Oh, I thought it was a GREAT thing for some people, its just that I wasn’t one of them. I had quite a few reasons for not going back to school after my three year sabbatical, and even more excuses. On top of that, I really, really didn’t want to forge into the untried and uncertain waters of non-traditional higher level education. Let’s just say I was very resistant to the idea. Finally God made me to understand that college was something I needed to do, and that the way it had to be done was CLEPing.

which brings me to the bargain I mentioned earlier. I had no idea how to CLEP, no guidance, no friend to do it with, and was very rusty on my school subjects. I knew I wouldn’t be able to CLEP on my own. So, one evening just before I started studying I made a bargain. I said to God, “Lord, I don’t know why you want me to start this, but I know you do. However far I get into it will be on account of you. If I don’t finish, that’s okay cause I’m not expecting it. If I do finish I’ll let everyone know it wasn’t me, was you.”

If you want to see God work, follow him when He calls you into something impossible. I could tell you about a lot of different things over the course of this adventure, but I think the most effective would be a timeline of events, starting about three months before the diplomas were awarded.

Stage: It is September. The deadline for all my materials to be in is October 1st. Though I’ve finished all my tests, I am short $2,000 of enrollment fees for Thomas Edison, and therefore haven’t transferred over my credits or, obviously, enrolled. I’ve given up the idea of graduating in December. Even with the money, finishing all the paperwork in that time peirod would be nearly impossible.

September 15—16 days till the deadline. Dad challenges me to trust God and expect Him to provide, despite the lack of funds and short timeline. We start praying like crazy.
T-minus 15—I have my credits transferred.
T-minus 13—God has provided the $2000
T-minus 11—I receive my evaluation from TESC and discover that I am short by 3 upperlevel credit hours, which can only be fulfilled by the hardest Social Sciences test available
T-minus 10—I start studying like crazy.
T-minus 9—I call TESC to talk to advising, am advised to shoot for spring, because what I am attempting is completely impossible. \
T-minus 8—I fax in my application for graduation.
T-minus 7—I take the test… and fail.
T-minus 4—God shows me another test that isn’t in the books. TESC is willing to accept it.
T-plus 3—I take the test, and pass with flying colors.

The excitement didn’t even end there, after God had provided both the money and my final test. I think God just isn’t fully satisfied with ordinary run of the mill impossible saves. There were a few crossed wires, quite literally, I suppose as it seemed to be an electronic malfunction, and I was actually audited and denied eligibility for graduation due to insufficent credit hours. But God had other plans. Despite all that, I’m standing here and my diploma is right here. If you want some excitement, follow God into the impossible.

There are, of course, a few others I need to mention as well. First my parents. Dad has been a major part of this from the start. He was the one that gave me the proverbial kick-in-the-britches to get going in the first place. He paid for quite a few of the tests when I didn’t have a job. He was the one that challenged me to step out in faith when I’d given the graduation up as an impossible goal. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for his encouragement. And mom’s been a dear—she’s spent hours listening to my college woes, worries, and triumphs.

The second person I need to mention is Richard, my classmate. He started just a couple months after I did, and provided the pressure to keep me going. For awhile there we’d take most of our tests together—and that motivated me to not fall behind!! He’s been an encouragement all along, and kept me going when I didn’t think I could.

And then there are the countless people who provided support throughout this process. Those who encouraged me, those who asked how it was going, those who went before and were willing to answer my many questions--I’ve got about a dozen names in my head right now. Thank you so much for being there for me, for praying for me, and for keeping me going.

As a final note, I’d like to mention that verse in your bulletin under my name. It isn’t a normal one fore a graduation, and I’d like to explain it. The same day that Thomas Edison informed me that it would be impossible for me to graduate so soon, God gave me that verse promising that I would be able to stand before the congregation and keep my vows. I didn’t know at the time how he would do it, but I knew he would. In man’s eyes something may be impossible, but with God, all things are possible.

Monday, January 18, 2010

By Searching

My Journey through Doubt into Faith

Isobel Kuhn

This excellent book is the story of a young woman (then Isobel Miller) who gave up God for worldly pursuits. She was raised in a Christian home, but when she attended a secular college her faith was entirely broken down. She began walking in what she termed the "misty flats". She completely turned her back on her upbringing, until finally she was brought to a place of brokenness. She still wasn't sure she believed in God, but as a test she prayed, "If you will prove to me that You are, and if You will give me peace, I will give you my whole life." That night she slept peacefully for the first time in a long while, and the next morning she went on to keep her end of the bargain. It was a long journey, much of the book deals with the lessons learned AFTER that night. The book ends when Isobel is setting sail to be a missionary to China—now a totally changed woman.


The chapter that spoke most to me was the chapter where one by one her "tapers" were extinguished (tapers being worldly pleasures). God chose to remove the different "tapers" in her life, five of them mentioned, so that she could come out of the dimness and into the bright glory of His love. That one chapter is worth the whole book—and the book as a whole is excellent.

This book would be an excellent book for any young woman contemplating leaving her home to attend college, or for anyone struggling with worldliness.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Day by Day

 This week was a full one for me. Probably one of the fullest I've had. From Saturday night last through this evening I've worked over 85 hours. I think I've recovered (a full nights sleep does wonders) but I sure did love spending most of today at home!!



Last Sunday my family started a course called Quieting a Noisy Soul. The name is pretty self explanatory--the purpose of the course is to learn how to quiet a soul noisy with worry, anxiety and stress by putting all your trust in God. I've only heard two sessions so far, but I am convinced that this 6 month course can be radically life changing if the student is willing to let the truths sink deep into their soul. As I've been thinking over the material this week I've been pondering areas in my life where I don't tend to be very trusting of God. I've identified two major areas so far, though I'm sure there are more.

I know in my head, of course, that God is completely in control. I absolutely trust him in my head. But my heart often sings a very different tune. Earlier this week I was giving myself a pat on the back, because although I'm aware that I worry a lot I hadn't been worrying about anything since I'd started the course! I even wondered if maybe, somehow, I'd actually gotten to the point that I totally trusted God and didn't need an extra help. Yeah... I know. "Let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall." So, God graciously allowed something to happen this weekend that clarified that yes, I DO indeed need to work on deepening my trust in Him.

Of course.

It really amazes me sometimes how God can prove Himself faithful so many times in so many ways, and yet when some minor little thing comes up that skews our plans a bit we get all tied up in knots. Or at least I do. It's easy to gnaw at a problem like a dog with a bone, but ultimately that is no more than wasted energy. God is faithful to His children and is able to take the most horrible situation and make something lovely. God is also able to take the not-so-horrible day-to-day worries and use them to transform us into the image of His Son.

Such is the master we serve.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Courage Mountain


This movie was one of my favorites growing up. It is the “continuing story” of Heidi.

Heidi is about 14 at the beginning of the movie, and has just been given an inheritance from Clara’s grandmother. Her grandfather recommends that she use it for school. Heidi makes the difficult decision to leave her home in the alps, and attend a distant boarding school. While she is there World War 1 breaks out in earnest. As the fighting draws closer, the boarding school is taken over as a military headquarters. Due to the placement of the war Heidi is unable to return home. She and the young women who don’t have family in the area are sent to an orphanage. Heidi soon realizes that the couple who runs the orphanage uses the children as slave labor and that they have no intention of allowing her to go home. She and a handful of the other children devise an escape. They must face both the warzone and the rigors of crossing the alps in winter.

As a child this was one of my favorite movies. I loved the courage of Heidi (Juliette Caton), the heroism of Peter (Charlie Sheen), the steadiness of Grandfather, and the tenacity of the schoolteacher. It had just the right mixture of suspense and personality.

In rewatching it I have found very little objectionable material. There is one scene near the beginning where the girls are bathing, but in the school this is done clothed. Heidi doesn’t realize this, but she is set straight promptly. In another brief scene a woman is shown in a very low top. The most objectionable thing I found was one instance of using the Lords name in vain—which was also the only instance of foul language in the movie.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mondays Reviews

One idea I had for this blog is to keep a record of good books and movies that I’ve read or seen. I know I’m always on the lookout for a good movie, and there are few things I like better than a good book. The problem is that it can be so hard to find good movies (or books!) that don’t attack the very fundamentals of what is right and good. I won’t only review the ones that are wholesome—if I happen to come across something I thought would be good but disappointed me, it can go in the record as well. I’ll go according to this rating

1—there were no redeeming qualities in this whatsoever
2—there were few redeeming qualities, not worth it
3—a complete waste of time, even if it could have been worse
4—Pretty good overall, though there were some concerns
5—This was a wholesome, Christ honoring movie.

Two years ago I made a commitment to not watch any movie that took the Lords name in vain. It really astonished me at first how much of our entertainment (music, movies, books, radio) is steeped in people using the Lords name disrespectfully. I really don’t think anyone can know the extent of t his without such a drastic commitment. Since then I have become much more sensitive to the blatant disrespect. Now when I hear my Lord’s name misused it feels like acid to my ears. Because of this, any movie I see or book I read that takes the Lord’s name in vain will not receive higher than a 4 (and most wouldn’t get that).

I’m going to start with the movie reviews, so look for the first one next week!!!