God Meets Us in the Midst of Anxiety

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Sometimes I feel like I have to reach a certain spiritual mental state in order to experience God. I’m sure there’s people out there who can relate. The joy of the Lord should be our strength, the peace of God should guard our hearts, and the freedom of Christ should set us free.

Right?

But too often my anxiety holds me back from all this. From true, confident hope. From Him.

How can we dance in His presence when anxiety holds us in bondage? How can we follow God when we don’t feel Him?

It’s true that following God brings about joy, peace, and freedom, but these don’t come to us when we search for them. They don’t come to us when we try to make ourselves dance because we ought to.

They only come when we seek Jesus. When we contemplate Him in all His magnificence. When we open our hearts and let Him in to dine with us. When we truly, honestly enjoy Him, because He is worthy of our joy.

In the midst of anxiety, I often can’t fathom how to enjoy Jesus. I’m too worried about myself worrying too much.

And sometimes that’s okay. God doesn’t need us to enjoy Him. God doesn’t need us to be psychologically healthy. He is capable of meeting us right where we are at to simply be with us. To comfort us. To whisper gently to us reminders of His unfailing love.

He is capable of healing our minds.

When all you can think about is that one problem that keeps running over in your head, God whispers, “I’m here.”

He doesn’t shout it, He doesn’t force us out of our vicious cycle of anxiety, He doesn’t condemn us for our misery.

He holds us. He gives grace to our minds. He guides us to lay everything before Him and just rest. God is greater than any problem we have, so we can rest in Him with the assurance that He has everything under control.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” – 1 Peter 5:6-7

Notice how the verse before the “anxiety” verse tells us to humble ourselves. It takes humility to release control of whatever problem we have and trust that God is great enough to hold it in His hands and take care of it for us. And at the same time, during all of this He is gentle enough to hold us in His hands and take care of us.

Once we release control and find rest in our Lord, something beautiful happens.
Peace. Freedom. Joy.

You soon find yourself dancing in His presence!

It’s amazing when you realize you really are not the one in control. He is. His plan is perfect. His mercies our new every morning. His love is better than life (Psalm 63:3).
Jesus is risen from the dead, alive and active inside of us to this very day, with victory over death and power over sin!

Take His words to heart. Enjoy Jesus, not because you have to, but because He heals you. He gives grace to your mind. And He always meets you right where you’re at, not where you wish you’d be.

This is a (kinda groovy) hopeful song that helps me “stay steady” in the Lord instead of letting anxiety get to me!

Have a blessed week, and peace be with you! ❤

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An Eternal Romance

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“Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.” — Psalm 146:3

People often talk about marriage as if that is the highest goal in life. As if once you are joined with another soul you are finally complete. As if trusting fully in another person is the greatest thing to pursue.

A few weeks ago, I went to a conference that radically challenged me in my view of marriage and God. Do I truly believe my relationship with Him is the most beautiful, satisfying relationship that exists?

Do you?

While many of us may theoretically believe this, I don’t think most of us believe it so completely that it transforms our everyday lives.

Below is a common passage about marriage and our relationship with God:

“’For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.” – Ephesians 5:31-32

I used to think—oh, come on Paul! Why do you have to talk about Jesus right now, all I want to know is how on earth should married people behave!

Well, I’ve come to realize that Paul is making a crucial point. The relationship between husband and wife is merely a reflection of the greater reality—Christ and the church. That means that Christ and the church are united as one flesh, just as the Father and Son are one. When you believe in Jesus, you have entered into an eternal covenant with Him, and one day you and I will dine at the wedding feast with our dear Bridegroom, the Lamb of God, who has taken away the sins of the world!

Our relationship with God is certainly not like earthly romance. No, it’s even better (I’m not kidding). It’s an eternal romance, more satisfying than any other relationship we will ever experience.

And the best part is? Eternity starts now.

While our culture glorifies passion, sex, and romance, what we are really longing for is God Himself. As G.K. Chesterton said, “Every time a man knocks on a brothel door, he is really searching for God.”

We shouldn’t waste our time putting our trust in earthly princes or princesses. Human beings cannot save. They can’t save us from our loneliness. They can’t save us from our aching hearts. They can’t save us from our need to feel loved.

Really, truly, absolutely. God can fill this hole inside our hearts, and He will if we simply let Him. In His presence is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11).

Despite all the hype about marriage, there isn’t any marriage in heaven, as Jesus said:

“At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.” – Matthew 22:30

Marriage won’t matter after we die, so why are we spending our whole lives planning the day we trust in a spouse rather than right now choosing to trust in our Eternal King?

The relationship between husband and wife is a beautiful sacrament that reminds us of how beautiful the day will be when we meet Jesus face to face. It is good and honorable to marry, but just the same it is good and honorable to love others. Love friends, love family, love strangers, love God. All of this reflects the love of God, just as marriage does.

Whether or not you’re married or you will one day married, please, right now, make much of Christ. Make much of your romance with Him and less of your romance with people. Make much of your purity in Him and less of your passion with other people. Make much of your hopes in Him and less of your hopes in human beings who fail to satisfy.

Because He’s worth it. I can’t promise you anything, but He can promise you everything, and He does, over and over again in His word.

I read Psalm 146:3 last night, letting it sink into me as I turned my affections completely to Christ. When I read further, I grew more in awe of the God who is nowhere near to being a frail human incapable of saving us. He is the God who saves:

“Do not put your trust in princes,
in human beings, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.
Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He is the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
he remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the foreigner
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.” Psalm 146:3-10

The Lord reigns forever; human beings do not. Who are you entrusting with the happiness of your soul? Only God can bear the weight of it, and fill your heart with total comfort.

My favorite song at the conference completely sums up what I learned there. After vainly striving after the things of this world, I always find my rest in God, because “to be with Him” is where I truly belong.

God Sees, Knows, and Cares

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Hey everyone! You may have noticed that it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, since college has kept me over-the-top busy, but I’m going to (try) to begin posting at least once a week (while hopefully continuing with my academic duties ;)). God has really been speaking to my heart lately, and I really want to share with you all about the goodness of His love that He has been showing me. I know it will do myself some good to process the things I’ve learned, and I truly hope and pray that it is a blessing to you as well. Now here is today’s post about God’s compassion, something I wrote awhile ago, but never got around to posting!

“I will be glad and rejoice in your love,
for you saw my affliction
and knew the anguish of my soul.” — Psalm 31:7 (NIV; emphasis added)

How many times do we feel that God laughs at our existence? I know I have too many times. It’s so easy to imagine a great God like Him rolling His eyes at us every time we do exactly what He told us not to do.

And yet somehow… He doesn’t. The above verse describes God seeing every scab of David’s affliction, and knowing every anguish that overwhelmed this man’s soul. God saw and knew the raw, vulnerable state David was in, but David didn’t hide away. No! David rejoiced in God’s love.

Why? Because David knew that God had compassion on Him in his miserable condition.
Think about it: God showed that same compassion through His Son who died for us. We don’t need to feel hopeless that our great God knows every aspect of our lives, even our hateful thoughts. He cares for you, and offers you grace when you run after idols of selfishness, and rest when you feel anxious about final exams. We simply must lay everything before Him and be washed clean with Jesus’ righteous covering. It’s a daily exercise that will bring you so much joy!

Too many times people, including myself, can feel like death is the only way to end their anguish. That is so far from the truth! God is always waiting with an abundant supply of tender comfort to draw us gently back to Himself. Hope is only a stretch of faith away. Even when we feel at our wit’s end, by surrendering our whole lives before God, Jesus’ death can bring us the fullest life within our soul.

Whether we can completely understand it or not, God sees, He knows, and He cares. When we feel His eyes on us in the midst of our anguish, we don’t have to be ashamed or hopeless. His love is more powerful than our circumstances, letting our hearts soar above the pain around us with inexplicable peace.

Will you choose take hold of His love today?

Take a look at this song by Caroline Cobb! It has been speaking to me deeply recently, as I begin to grasp the idea that God’s presence is truly greater than anything this earth can supply. God bless you today with His tender compassion!

 

SA: Story Analysis of Frozen

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For my creative writing class, we were assigned to write a story analysis. I chose the story/movie Frozen! So before I let it go… enjoy! 😉

Title: Frozen
Directed and written by Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Children

 

Characters

Elsa: The stunning blonde young princess-soon-to-be-queen of Arendelle. She has dangerous ice powers she doesn’t know how to control. She’s a very reserved and refined character who does everything she can to do the right thing, if she knows what the right thing is. She tries to hide her powers so she doesn’t hurt anyone, especially her younger sister, Anna.

Anna: The charming red-headed young princess of Arendelle who is very bubbly and excited about life. She doesn’t understand why she can’t see her older sister, Elsa, anymore. She is innocent of the world and falls in love easily. She loves Elsa very much, and tries to understand her and give her second chances.

Hans: The well-built, handsome young Prince Hans of the Southern Isles. He is a charmer who tricks people into thinking he is good, when he is plotting evil schemes behind their backs. His pleasant manner deceives Princess Ana herself, yet when he finally admits he doesn’t truly love her, the dark side of him comes out.

Kristoff: The down-to-earth iceman who sells ice for a living with the aid of his reindeer, Sven. He has an assertive, independent manner, yet also a very gentle and funny side. He plays the lute and loves Sven very much, but due to his isolation from other humans, he needs a little work overall, according to his friends the trolls.

Sven: Kristoff’s reindeer who doesn’t talk. He serves as a best friend to Kristoff and helps pull his sleigh. He (literally) nudges Kristoff to do the right things.

Olaf: A talking snowman, created when Elsa’s ice powers are unleashed. He has a silly, bouncy sense of humor that amuses everyone. He wants to see what summer is like, but he doesn’t know that snow melts when it’s hot.

Minor characters: Anna and Elsa’s parents, the Duke of Weselton, and Oaken

 

Point of View

The story is mostly told from Anna’s perspective, but it’s also told from Elsa, Hans, and Kristoff’s perspectives.

 

Setting

Summertime in Arendelle (probably in Scandinavia).

 

Plot Outline

At a young age, Elsa the ice princess freezes her younger sister, Anna’s heart. After trolls heal Anna, Elsa and Anna’s parents lock Elsa in a room to protect Anna and the rest of the world from their daughters’ seemingly uncontrollable powers. By the time the princesses’ parents die at sea and Elsa’ coronation takes place, Anna is so overjoyed to meet new people that she easily and quickly falls in love with the charming Hans. When she pleads to Elsa to let her marry Hans, Elsa accidently releases her ice powers, and then flees Arendelle, leaving the kingdom completely frozen. Anna proceeds to find her sister, with the help of the iceman Kristoff, his reindeer Sven, and the snowman Olaf. After she finds her sister, as Anna discovers that Elsa doesn’t know how to melt the ice, Elsa freezes her sister’s heart. Kristoff takes Anna to his friends the trolls, who eventually tell them that only true love can melt her heart. At this, they set off to find Hans, but will Anna’s fiancé prove to truly love her? And will Elsa ever discover the secret to controlling her powers?

 

Conflict

Woman vs. Woman – Elsa doesn’t think she can control her ice powers, but Anna is sure that there must be some way for her sister to melt the ice in Arendelle.
Woman vs. Woman – Elsa wants to protect Anna from her ice powers, so she hides away, but Anna wants to play with her sister.
Man vs. woman – Hans wants to take over Elsa’s throne.
People vs. environment – The people of Arendelle are taken by surprise that winter comes upon them in the dead of summer
Woman vs. herself – Elsa struggles with controlling her ice powers.
People vs. monster – The monster, Marshmallow, who guards Elsa’s ice tower, scares Anna, Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf away.

 

Theme(s)

True love melts away fear.
Don’t trust people just because they are nice to you.

 

Literary Devices

Metaphor: Elsa releasing ice powers = Elsa releasing her fear
Metaphor: Elsa melting the ice = Elsa’s love triumphing over her fear
Irony (dramatic): Olaf sings about when he’ll finally get to experience summer, while Anna and Kristoff along with the audience knows that snowmen melt in the summer.
Foil: Elsa and Anna are foils of one another. Elsa is quiet and withdrawn from the world, while Anna is outgoing and excited to see the world. Elsa is pessimistic throughout most of the movie, while Anna is optimistic.

 

Feedback

Frozen is one of my favorite movies. No matter how many people get tired of it, I continue to adore it—the characters, the music, the plot. Everything about it. I think it’s a pretty remarkable story that manages to trick you into loving Hans, to make you laugh at Olaf’s never-ending jokes, and to make you cry when Anna tries to save Elsa’s life at the expense of the ice freezing herself. I remember my heart aching as Anna sang, “Do you wanna build a snowman?” when Elsa refused to come out of her room for the sake of protecting Anna’s life. The variety of emotions this story gives me is so entertaining. I love how Elsa learns that true love conquers over fear, which is something I’ve learned in my own life. Frozen is one of my favorite movies, because it makes me feel deeply, it makes me burst into laughter, and the music fills my heart and imagination.

CW17: My Media Autobiography

The creative writing assignment was to write about ten different books and/or songs that really connect to some aspect or event in my life. I hope you enjoy!

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“Reach the Sky” from American Girl
This song is about being yourself. Throughout my life, my mom has encouraged me to be myself. I’m a quiet person, so this is something especially hard for me to do. This song has such a beautiful, encouraging little melody—and, admittedly, I heard it, because of my younger sister who was listening to the American girl, Tenney’s, music.

“Insane in the Membrane” by Cypress Hill
My family loves this song… at least the tune of it. At dinner time, if my mom sees the lights on in the hallway, she’ll sing, “Lights on in the hallway” to the tune of this song, so us kids will turn the light off… XD

“The Twelve Days of Christmas”
I used to sing this song over and over during the Christmas season, annoying my siblings a bunch, I’m sure. I was always eager to get to the exciting “Five Golden Rings” part.

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“Amazing Grace” by John Newton
Because my name is Grace, you can imagine people relate me to this song a lot. I always love to sing it, too.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
My choir sang at a dance show, where they portrayed the story of Animal Farm in a very emotional, memorable way. The weirdness of this story was strangely made very meaningful to me.

The Secret Series by Pseudonymous Bosch
Okay, you really should read these books for middle schoolers if you want to laugh–even if you’re not in middle school anymore. These were the funniest books I’ve ever read. My cousin and I read the first book of this page-turning series aloud to each other during a vacation in a cabin in the mountains. It was such memorable time of laughter and excitement to find out what happens next.

“Silent Night” composed by Franz Xaver Gruber to lyrics by Joseph Mohr
So many memories are attached to this song. My choir sings this every Christmas while doing hand motions.
My sister and I sang this years ago at my brother’s ukulele show.
I sang this song when I first auditioned for my choir.
My mom bought me a movie called Silent Night about how the song came into existence.
This song is so calming… And maybe I like it so much because I have a generally calm spirit.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The main character of this book, Tris, has inspired the main character of my book, Siri, to be pretty, well… stubborn. The ideas of selflessness, bravery, kindness, knowledge, and honesty being in separate factions was also very intriguing. I want to be all of these things, by the grace of God.

“The Two Lost Sons” by Caroline Cobb
This powerful song is (right now) my favorite song in existence. I so resonate with the older son in the Prodigal’s son story. I need to remember that I’m not just a servant of God, I’m also His beloved child.

A Voice in the Wind by Francine Rivers

My favorite book besides the Bible. The main character, Hadassah, has inspired me to grow in my relationship with God, and to pray for the lost. It’s such gripping, realistic Christian fiction that I’ll never forget. And of course once you read this one, you have to read the sequel. 😉

What books or songs have really been a part of your life?

 

 

 

 

CW9: A Song for You to Hear

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A story set in a nursing home consisting the perspectives of a deaf pianist, an elderly lady, a little girl, and a waiter… who is more than a waiter. Disclaimer: This is not a true story.

Lila:

My fingers flew across the slippery keys along with the quick, joyous beating of my heart. To my deaf ears, it was a silent rhythm, but I knew I was giving the dear nursing home residents a sweet, harmonious tune that pierced the air, bidding them to reflect on old times.

I had heard this song I had invented only a few years ago, at the beginning of my high school years before this dreadful curse fell on me. Now I had lost everything but my growing awareness of my visible surroundings. I could see my little sister, for example, chatting animatedly in the back with an old lady while I tickled the ivory keys in a grand display. And I could practically feel the young waiter staring at me from across the room.

Feverishly, I ran my hands across the piano for the finale. The movement of the elderly residences’ clapping bid me relax, but tears threatened to spill from my eyes. I stood up and curtsied briefly, wishing I could have heard the song that I’d played. Was it any good, or did they just clap because I was a poor deaf girl who’d lost her mind?

***

Betty:
The young lady was extraordinary, if I did say so myself. Now of course the adorable nine-year-old girl was keeping me busy—oh, I couldn’t remember her name—but I did hear the song in the background with what hearing I had left. The music filled my heart, sending me back to the dancing days of my youth, when that Ricky asked me to the dance floor.

When I told the little girl this, she laughed merrily and danced around herself—the cutest thing I’d seen in years!

I laughed with her, but just then Titus, the nice young waiter, poured me another mug of coffee.

“Lookin’ thirsty, Betty,” he said. I grinned at him. “Just thirsty for old times.”

***

Annie:
Mommy had said to keep the old lady entertained, whatever that meant. So I talked to her about my school friends and my favorite doll, but she seemed so busy listening to my big sister’s piano playing. She’d probably be even more interested if she knew Lila was deaf and had made that song up all by herself—but I didn’t tell her that. Lila always took over the show!

“This music reminds me of when my crush Ricky asked me to the dance floor when I was in high school,” said the old lady.

At that, I laughed and danced around to the song, showing off my moves from hip-hop class.

“Did you dance like this?” I exclaimed, but I didn’t think she heard me, because a waiter came up to her and poured her coffee.

Maybe Lila’s song wasn’t so bad. It was really pretty actually now that I thought about it.

***

Titus:
The music was phenomenal. No one would expect that I, a nursing home waiter, would know anything about it, but I was working on my senior year in college, majoring in music. I could hardly believe that a deaf girl could invent such a masterpiece full of a broad range of dynamics and melodious sound. Her fingers played the keys so swiftly and easily, her eyes darting here and there, aware of everything. Not to mention that her whole figure was beautiful.

I would have to talk to her—I’d have to, but not now. I noticed Betty’s mug was empty, so I poured her a cup of coffee, slowly, to make sure I didn’t make a fool of myself in front of that remarkable young woman who couldn’t hear, but no doubt could see everything.

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