Sunday, December 25, 2011

when that Babe came to earth, my soul felt its worth.

i graduated from the University of Montevallo last friday (dec. 16). i did it; it has been proven that it can be done! even though i am finished with college none of it has really sunk into my head, and at the same time, i feel as though i am being propelled into an empty space with no idea of where i have been predestined to land. i am constantly asked about where i am going and what i am doing in january, but the truth is, i cannot answer these questions truthfully. i am still searching my future out and i am still trying to understand why i have been placed here on earth, other than for the glory of God. i suppose i am a wee bit afraid of the unknown, yet let the rose buds fall where they may. i know my Savior has me in His hand.

i have written before that i don't place myself entirely within the sphere of my generation; i feel like a conformist from about three or four decades before my time. in the end, i find myself chasing something that seems so unattainable. "it's hard to feel disqualified for living in a different time, as if the train will only stop for the current paradigm. and i know i shouldn't care if i'm out or if i'm in, cause if i am dismissed, oh You will always take me in." - sara groves

it's Christmas morning. the birth of my Lord is being celebrated through the hearts and voices of the very real Kingdom of God; it is a miracle that God came down and became a man and laid down every fragment of His human soul for the life of an undeserving sinner like me. imagine a new born baby placed in a rugged stable destined to grow up and be scornfully nailed to a splintered cross with piercing thorns in His brow. wisemen brought the Baby gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh; this Child was called the King Who would save the fallen world, but as a man was treated like a thief and a robber. as a sinner saved by grace the only thing i can offer is empty hands and a scarred and bruised heart longing for His fulfillment of Life. i offer Him glory and praise for His unending love, tender mercies, and infinite graces. God's gift to me is the most costly, yet, the very priceless gift i've ever been given. He gave His own Son to die; how can some call eternal life a "free gift?" there is nothing free in this life, and my salvation in Christ was bought with a price; a price i can never repay. "oh, Lord, when You came to the earth my soul felt its worth."

"for he will save his people from their sins." - matt 1:21

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

the door of higher education is about to be shut. & changes all around i see.

One month from today I will graduate from the University of Montevallo, and I couldn't be prouder or more excited about this! On December 16, 2011 I will be the holder of a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a minor in art. I am still figuring out and searching out what I will be doing in the new year, but I am sure the Lord will show me and give me a job that is exactly what I need.

Today my best friend is moving to Wyoming, and it is one of the hardest things for me to grasp. It is very difficult to see my bosom buddy move miles away and know that all the things I love doing will be without her presence. We have been together through so many seasons of life--school, ballet, college, and now, transition.

I know that I will see her again soon and that I will be visiting her in the new year, but still the same, it is hard to know that she won't be by my side when I run 5Ks, plie at the barre, sip dark roast at "Tibet," make lists of lofty hopes, hike our favorite places, get lost in the Magic City when we know actually where we are, and need a shoulder to cry on. Who will understand our Laverne and Shirley moments, when I don't have Shirley here to share them with? I am excited that she has this opportunity to explore new surroundings and try new things, but this separation will be tough. I am crushed to see her leave, but in the meantime I plan my adventure to see her!!

"memories for miles and miles
summers falls winters and springs
Ruby you take it in
see He's withheld no good thing." - sara groves

Thursday, October 6, 2011

different little happies

today, i choose jOy.

1) pumpkin in all things: coffee, pancakes, pies, breads, cookies, etc.
2) chilly nights. makes me want to camp and sit by the fire.
3) dark roast coffee.
4) friends to talk with about life & faith.
5) autumn afternoon sun rays
6) where all the other English majors see the things of the world in a passage, I see God.
7) scarves of all kinds. the end.
8) listening to Sara Groves, knowing that i will be encouraged, inspired, spiritually edified, and brought to tears.
9) watching photosynthesis come to a stop and seeing the results of that equaling hues that are indescribable.
10) taking walks in the autumn sunshine, and crunching the leaves underfoot.
11) looking at the stars and knowing that they're even less infinite than God.
12) spending time with my mom.
13) honey & cinnamon.
14) playing the piano for myself and God.
15) knowing that i'm graduating in two and half months.

no good thing does He withhold.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

film photography portfolio (2011 spring semester)

these are some of the images i photographed in my photography class in the spring semester. all were taken on film, processed, and then scanned.

Monday, August 15, 2011

almost autumn. closing out college.

My beloved season is quickly approaching. As it creeps its way into view, I feel it in the air and I see it at the end of the day when the sun goes down. This makes me happy, and is the one thing I love about going back to school in autumn. I delight over the crunch underfoot the leaves make, and the crisp chill in the air. I know, I'm kind of ridiculous about this season, but it can't be helped.

My last semester of college will start in two weeks. It's an exciting thing to know that I will be finished with school before the year is out, and that graduation is only 4 months away. In just two weeks, I will be tackling the last 12 hours of my education, and will shortly receive my bachelors with pride and joy on December 16!

In January, I will be embarking on a different kind of life. A life that I haven't always seen myself a part of, and don't know if I ever fully will. People have asked me time and again about what I want to do after graduation, and the truth is, I am still trying to understand that. I'm still finding my way in the world. I would give a gold star to every person that doesn't ask if I want to teach. I understand that it's the assumed occupation when I tell them I'm an English major, but two years ago I was told by my professor that there are many things an English major can do, and teaching is just one of them.

This fall, my favorite recording artist will release her tenth album titled Invisible Empires on October 18. Sara Groves is a remarkable artist who brings her individuality to the table and creates a unique and creative style that is "genreless." Her faith in God is an inspiration to me and her music takes a refreshing approach on the subjects of Christ in our daily lives and how we can be used by Him to spread seeds of hope and love abroad. She is one of the most inspirational and influential women I've ever met, and it is an honor to listen to her music as well as her words of wisdom. Sometimes it's her stories behind her music that make it the best part about her song lyrics. If you have not listened to her, you're missing a beautiful thing.

This summer I have been practicing the piano more, and merely playing for my own enjoyment. My piano teacher would have been proud that I still tickle the ivories after all those years of lessons. I see the piano as my little place of comfort, joy, and inspiration. When I sit down at my musical haven and place my fingers on the black and white keys, I discover new things.

"Bless the LORD, all his works in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!" - Psalm 103:22

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

in the summertime.

My official summer break made its arrival a few days ago, and I couldn't be happier. Since the spring semester ended, I continued my time behind the four walls further known as a "class room" for the months of May and June. Three classes later, I have completed a Shakespeare class (I didn't want to have to write that), a creative writing class, and an art history class exploring landscape and land art. All to say, my feet are more than ready to trek the life fantastic after those two months.

So far, I've gone hiking in 98 degree heat with friends when the air quality was at its worst during that week. We survived this outing even though we nearly melted our faces off, and wished we had been near even a mere trifle of a waterfall. I suppose we couldn't have a glorious view of the Magic City and have a gushing flow of water atop "Mount Everest." I believe we all agreed that the next time we go hiking at this place it will not be when it's almost 100 degrees. Is it evident that much that I love autumn and winter more? Thankfully the trails were fairly shady. My friend and I have plans of many other excursions, and I'm more than excited about these travel aspirations.

I have been trying to get myself in shape again for more 5K's. I ran my last one in April after several weeks of running (getting myself in the groove again), and then did not run at all for almost two months. So, my feet have been hitting the path again in hopes of gaining some progress in my distance and speed.

This summer I'd like to:

take a trip to Nashville for the Sara Groves concert.
visit various places for hiking, swimming, rafting, and photographing.
run in at least one race.
make more art.
write more.
read what I want.
go for a picnic.
practice piano.
have tea with friends.
catch lightning bugs and set them free.
go on an annual summer visit to 'Mr. Vulcan.'
and anything else that strikes my fancy...

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Lift My Lamp Beside the Golden Door

There is something remarkable about the colors
that are flown from house fronts and describe
who we are as individuals. What do these
hues of sacrifice in stripes and stars mean
to you, me, them, or anyone? It is an unmatched
mark and a pride of patriotism carried out
to the end of time, for generations to come.

Freedom means someone before me, beside me,
and in front of me knows that a price must be paid
for the perseverance of liberty. We have rights
that represent our freedoms and shine through
our fields of glory. From our borders, to our fifty states, the soil of our nation has been enriched by the hands of the huddled masses.

Every 4th day of July we contemplate what it means
to have independence. What tangible principle can we
hold unto in our hardened hearts and greedy hands?
Have we strayed too far from the spirit and truth
of what it means to be a citizen of this country?
Are we too far gone from the burning lamp
that the men before us set as our cornerstone?

We have lost sight of what it means to live here;
our bitterness and our discomforts have replaced
our hearts of patriotism. We scorn our opposing
politicians, and laugh when they struggle; where are
our hands when they need our help? We substitute
respect for mockery and impropriety, and question
why our country is at odds with its people.

Consider the men who sacrifice so much for us.
They are protecting our freedom, our liberty,
and our stars of white and stripes of red. I see
a man without an arm, a man with no legs, a
field of crosses inscribed with the names who left
their hearts in our soil, and I see the many men
who raised our flag of pride on that foreign shore.

It is an honor to proclaim that this is my birth land;
to understand what it means to carry red, white,
and blue in my heart; to believe what our men do
is an example of our brotherhood; to know how it feels
to stand before Lincoln in all his magnificence
and comprehend the truth “and that government
for the people, by the people, shall not perish from this earth.”

When my feet trod the paths from the east to the west, and from the north to the south, my eyes see things that inhabitants of this country appreciate, identify, and understand. From the faces of Rushmore, to the green of Mount Vernon, to Liberty’s torch, and to the sound of the waves rushing in the Atlantic, images of this free land are ever-fixed on the hearts of every man, woman, boy, and girl. What simple pleasure to hear the clinks coins make, and read “In God we trust.”

What does it mean to be an American?

(written in June 2011.)

Monday, April 18, 2011

He died unflinchingly and lovingly.

This is Holy Week; a week set aside before Easter to acknowledge and meditate on what Jesus did on the cross and why. This week is about remembrance and reverence for my life in Christ and the unconditional grace and love He has given me in full without any merit on my part.

I live because He died unflinchingly and lovingly for me. He never pulled away when I beat and scourged Him. He never refused to carry the weighty cross in my place. He muttered not a word. He never rejected His Father's will to crush His only Son. He never rebuked the crown of thorns I forced on His sacred head. He never forsook me in His grace. He never stopped me from piercing His side. He let me drive the nails into His hands and feet. He loved me even when I laughed in His stricken and smitten face. He forgave me for the insults I shouted at Him. He looked beyond my faults, and saw that I knew not what I was doing. He died for me because He was my only hope for my wretched soul. My Lord never said a mumbling word, except "it is finished."

"Who has believed our message? And to whom as the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that is before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when he makes an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand." - Isaiah 53:1-10

Thursday, April 14, 2011

i find His glory even within the walls of darkness.

Many times I write my titles before I write anything else. Somehow tonight I cannot think of a single title alone that describes what I feel right now and what I am longing to express. My heart is so full of the Lord's grace and my mind is filled with thoughts buzzing to and fro, and never exactly landing anywhere.

It is interesting. I started this blog two years ago with the intent of solely writing about my life--my true and real spiritual life. Then some time after I started this blog, I traversed to other topics which really had nothing to do with my life, and had absolutely nothing to do with my faith. Now these last few months, I have returned to my original intention.

I don't really know when I first began writing, writing that raw and true kind of writing. For a couple of years, I have contemplated why I write anything. I am that kind of person and writer who starts out with good intentions of writing a new post on this blog, and then a few lines down, decides that I don't want to be that honest with the world, or don't like anything I've written. With my being an English major, anybody would more than likely assume that I write with no strings attached, and never find fault in my writing. The truth is, I have a hard time pulling the veil away from my paper and pen, and letting in the world to see the small and weak sketchings of my heart that I've struggled to place on the paper. I find fault in my writing everyday. I never feel as though that anything I write is exactly what I wanted to say. I don't know if what I write is right, wrong, or inaccurate. I don't know if it makes a bit of difference on anyone besides myself, but that's ok. Writing, for me, is not about pleasing the world, but about pleasing myself and more importantly, the Lord.

I wish there was something I could truly and honestly say that would immediately change the hearts of those who need the grace of God. One of the toughest places to be as a believer is a classroom. When I'm there, it is like being between a rock and hard place. Sitting there behind those four walls, I look around and wonder how many know the real God that we're reading about in our literature books, and that He is not just a legacy or an old wise-tale. I find it sad to read about the Lord of my life in a poem or prose, and have a lengthy discussion on it in class, and see how blinded the eyes of some of the people are by the opinions they express. All I can think is, His glory will shine through it all, and maybe by His glory their hearts will be transformed. I pity those who cannot see beyond the veil of darkness and know not Who God truly is and how much life, joy, and grace He offers to His children. When I look into their eyes and empty hearts, I find humility in my own heart and thank the Lord that I know Him. This has been so hard for me lately. I only hope that their hearts will be opened wide open by the words that proceed from my mouth. It is difficult to place myself in their shoes and try to think, see, and feel the way they do about God and Christianity. It is a comfort to read poetry for a class that clearly expresses the Truth of God and His sacrifice, and declares that all things are for His glory, knowing that there are some who need the love of God in their lives. At the end of things, I find His glory even within the walls of darkness.

Brother, he’s suffered like a tree taken down
Wept as he witnessed his dreams carved out
And how can a man just keep walking around
With his heart full of holes

But ooh,
His bow is on the strings
And the tune resonates in the open space
To show us how emptiness sings:

Glory to God, Glory to God!
In fullness of wisdom,
He writes my story into his song,
My life for the glory of God.
Hmm, hmmm

Sister carries her loneliness
In a hidden hollow inside her chest
And sometimes all that she wants is an end
To the long, long night

But ooh,
Her bow is on the strings,
And the tune resonates in the open space
To show us how emptiness sings:

Glory to God, Glory to God!
In fullness of wisdom,
He writes my story into his song,
My life for the glory of God.
Hmm, hmmm

I haven’t been asked yet to walk the hard roads
Still there’s a sense of deep loss in my soul
In the middle of a party, I’ll just want to go

But ooh,
My bow is on the strings,
I’m beginning to learn where to find the words
To the song that emptiness sings
Ooh, bow is on the strings:

Glory to God! Glory to God!
This is how emptiness sings, oh,
This is how emptiness sings
Hmmm, hmmm

- Christa Wells

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness! Why should the nations say, 'Where is their God?' Our God is in the heavens; he does all the he pleases." - Psalm 115:1-3

Saturday, March 19, 2011

His grace is my survival.

there is nothing I do that is good in His sight.
all I ever do is run from His glorious light.
every effort I make fails miserably in my face.
the Lord needs not my help; it's only His grace.

Spring break is practically at a close, and how that nearly depresses me. I'm dreading the return to school, and all the shots it throws at me when I'm there. Somehow I'll get by in the these last 6-7 weeks remaining. His grace will be my survival. I am just so ready for this semester to end, so I can move on to summer classes and know that I'll only be 12 hours away from finishing school forever. I'm ready to step upon that platform and receive my bachelor or arts with pride, honor, and a smile, knowing that I finished well.

My only comfort lately is knowing that faith outlives and outshines doubt and His grace and glory are all I need to know and understand. I'm not promised all things perfect. I'm not promised prosperity, but only His glory. I don't deserve His grace and good, but at the end of the day, I see grace and goodness in all things, and how it has been bestowed on me without end and measure.

"I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose." - Galatians 2:21

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

it's always His glory. nothing less. nothing more.

As believers of our Jesus Christ, we tend to have the mindset that as God's children nothing will ever be unsettled in our lives and we'll never face trouble with the greatest enemy. How wrong that mindset completely is. As believers we should have the mindset that trouble will and does come our way, and that the greatest enemy is always lurking at our shoulder waiting to get his foot in our door.

As Christians, our lives are even tougher than an unbeliever's. Why? It's because the Lord abides in us and we must be accountable to Him as He is accountable to us. We have to rely on Him and not ourselves. And now we face an ongoing battle everyday with "self" and "flesh" and with the one enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy our lives. When we become children of God, Christ doesn't just redeem us and pour His grace on us, He abides in us like a lodger takes up residence in a house, and every time we do something wrong, that is harming Christ's residence. We defile His lodging. As His children, we should be blameless, holy, and righteous, and when we sin, we are trashing ourselves. I think of the passage in Matthew 21:13 "'It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves.'" We take up residence in His house, and cheapen it when we stray from the truth and live for self, which is so far from what a Christian is. Our walk with God is not an easy walk, but when you're walking with God, it is defeat on yourself and the enemy.

Christians have a hard time explaining pain. Sadness. Loss. Hardship. We tend to view it with hatred and rebuke. We look at Christ and feel sorry for ourselves as though He deserves us something. But the truth is, we deserve death. Hell. We should be grateful and humble to see that it is only by His supreme grace that we're alive and are His children. I don't think many Christians understand pain. In fact, it looks so unhappy, yet there is a happy in it. It's God's happy. "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds." - James 1:2 He isn't hurting us for the sake of hurting us, He's molding us for His good.Hebrews 12:10-11: "but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." Unbelievers have the wrath of God on them, but believers have the mighty hands of God on them. He never promised us it would be easy, He just promised that He's be there. Hebrews 12:5-6 says,"My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives." He'll never stop molding us and using us. My opinion, there is different kinds of happy in every place our lives. It may feel like the worst thing to ever enter our lives, but there is a happy somewhere in it. The ugly always has a smiling face behind it. We tend to sit back and question God "Why, Lord?" But the answer is and always will be, it's all for His glory. Everything God does in our lives is not for our good solely, but for His glory alone. This world and our lives are not about us; it's about Him and His amazing glory and grace. The painful is all about His glory, our character and spiritual well-being, and His grace. This may seem unkind or like a ridiculous thought to hold onto, but there is happy in everything because nothing that enters our lives is by accident. It's His will and more importantly, His glory. "In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy." - 2 Corinthians 7:4

Saturday, January 1, 2011

goodwill toward men...

well, i've been writing this same post since...well, about a week or so ago. and i've had to change the tenses three times. blogging...oh, blogging. why do i do this to myself? i suppose out of some mere and bizarre enjoyment.

during the christmas season, i wanted to embrace the days differently than i ever have. i was tired of the cliche. i wanted to break away from the mold that everyone around me has seemed to fill. give me something new. something real and tangible. all i wanted to see is the beauty and truth of the story in every crevice and corner, knowing it is the only thing that matters in the midst of this chaos we create for ourselves. at that time of the year, we look and ask for peace, yet, all along, peace is at our disposal and our reach. it is here all year. peace isn't something that comes once a year, and then is tossed aside once that new year enters our lives. with His peace, we face every day of our lives. i face mine. He is our peace. He is all the peace i need. that baby in the manger came not to give peace, but that He might be our peace. "peace on earth, goodwill toward men, from all heaven's gracious King..."

a christmas has come and gone, and all that is left is a memory of an assuming glorious day, an echo of angels' voices lowering their song to the king, and a hope of Who was born on such a peaceful day. what do i have to offer Him? i come with empty hands and a heavy heart filled with hope, and offer myself. i am not good, noble, or holy, but i am His, and He takes me as i am.

well, it is. all new and ready for me to get my hands on! with every new year, comes new possibilities. i'm ready, 2011!