Tuesday, November 29, 2011

November Encapsulated

It’s almost unbelievable at how rapidly November whizzed by. Being gone for three weeks of the month certainly was a huge part of it. The second week in November I spent at IPS’s Prize Winning Photography 2 (PWP2). My friend Leah and I drove to San Antonio, roomed together, and took the class together. There are a multitude of words that could describe the week, including challenging, amazing, and exciting. I learned a lot and enjoyed the in-person critiques, the photo shoot deadlines (even though it was sometimes stressful), the client photo shoot, editing with Lightroom and graphic design in Photoshop Elements. Dinner with some of our 5 other classmates and sometimes late nights made for little sleep, but it was well-worth it.

I tried to begin implementing some of the many things I learned at PWP2 on our next trip, because as soon as I returned home I had to immediately repack for our 2 week family vacation. (perfect timing for IPS—a week later and I couldn’t have gone!) We drove as a family to the National Bible Bee in Nashville, TN to watch my brother compete. This year the Bible Bee invited conference speakers. While there, we were able to hear John Stonestreet (from Summit Ministries) Brett Harris as well as participate in a church service with Keith and Kristyn Getty & Voddie Baucham. Other speakers included Doug Phillips, Kirk Cameron, and many more. As expected, we had the privilege of watching the Senior semi-finals and finals, which was amazing. It’s mind-boggling at how perfectly the finalists had their verses down. The young people participating in the Bible Bee are not doing something that they'll grow out of or that will prove useless. They are hiding hundreds of verses of God's precious Word in their hearts, and it will benefit them now and in the future.

Following the Bible Bee, we stayed for a week in a cabin in Jamestown, TN, a couple hours outside of Nashville. We got to play games (particularly many games of Scrabble—it’s getting more difficult as everyone is getting better), hike in the woods, celebrate Thanksgiving, rest and enjoy family fun. Unfortunately my sister Katlyn was sick for half of the time, so she didn’t get to enjoy it with us.

Afterwards we headed to Alabama to have a post-Thanksgiving family celebration. We had a fantastic time spending time with extended family we hadn’t seen in a while, and staying with our Granny.

Two weeks and 778 pictures later, I’m sorting, picking and editing pictures to post here, on my photo blog, for our family Christmas card and future scrapbooking.

As December approaches, so are the Christmas events! I’m taking my students to a couple nursing homes in December, as well as hosting a piano recital, so on return from vacationing I need to make sure everyone has their pieces down well. Looking forward to what the last month of 2011 will hold!

(pictures from our trip coming soon!)

Katie

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

“Those whose hearts are full of gratitude are most full of praise.” 
Caroline Brownlow 


Katie

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thankfulness

“When it comes to life, the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”
G.K. Chesterton
We have a tendency to take so much for granted. As believers we should be overflowing with thanksgiving and gratitude at all times. In light of Thanksgiving approaching, the time we have set aside as a nation-wide day of thanks, I wanted to focus on thankfulness.

Helen Keller once stated: “So much has been given to me, I have no time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
This is coming from a woman who was blind and deaf. If anyone had something to complain about, she would! We should have the attitude of Helen Keller; we should be so grateful for what we do have that we have no time to think about or complain about what we do not have.

Start a list and start thanking God for all that He has given you. Even the little things you don’t think about but would be at a loss if they were taken away. Things like toothpaste. ;) But most importantly, thank Jesus for His redemptive work on the cross for you, for how He has saved you and brought you to life!

“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!”
1 Corinthians 15:57


Katie

Friday, November 18, 2011

It’s all about perspective...

“Some people complain because God put thorns on roses, while others praise Him for putting roses among thorns.” Anonymous 

Do you find things to complain about, or do you praise the Lord in every situation?


Katie

Monday, November 14, 2011

Bless the Lord!

"Bless the Lord…and forget not all His benefits"
Psalm 103 is a great Psalm that encourages us to bless the Lord no matter what we’re facing. He has been so gracious to us in a multitude of ways and we should forever thank Him for what He has done.

I read a blog post a while back that encouraged me to start listing some of the things God has done for me. Specifically they were referring to trials, because when things aren’t going so well we are apt to complain and forget the numerous things that God has done for us. Even in the storms, God upholds us with His righteous right hand! So here are some of the things I have thanked God for…and I would encourage you to begin doing the same. Read Psalm 103 and start listing the things it reminds that God has done for you, and then add to the list as you think about the great things that God has done!

He has redeemed me by His precious blood
He is merciful and gracious
He has not treated my sins as they deserve
He is compassionate
He has heard my prayers
He redeems me
He gives me friends to encourage and pray for me
He has taught me many things
He convicts me when I have sinned
He has given me the grace to face whatever He allows
He works all things together for my good
He knows exactly what I need
He helps me to trust Him
He gives me peace
He is my source of joy


Katie

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Friendship

I’m thankful for friends who direct me to Christ, who challenge me and direct me to godliness. Friends who pray with and for me. Friends I can share with on a spiritual level.

In thinking about Christ-centered friendships, I know that I need to be a friend…
Who stirs others to love and good works (Heb. 10:24)
Who points others to Christ
Who encourages others to seek God
Who doesn’t speak wrongly of others or listen to gossip
Who puts the needs of others first
Who exhorts others to godliness and righteousness
Who prays for others

I have much to learn and grow in, but this is what I desire. May our lives give glory to God and direct others to Him for the wonderful work He has done in us!


Katie

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Seeking God

Seeking God is not something you or I can do and check off the to-do list. It is a lifestyle, a relationship, a constant choice to do what He says, to seek His will, not your own. It requires effort. Hard work. Sacrifice. Martin Luther once said:  
“I have so much to do [today] that I should spend the first three hours in prayer.”

When my day is jammed-packed with activity and things to do, the easiest thing to neglect or shorten is my time in prayer and the Word. My immediate response is not that I should spend the first three hours in prayer.

But this shouldn’t be the case.

What am I willing to sacrifice? What are you willing to sacrifice? If we say God is most important to us, shouldn’t we readily offer up our free time in order to spend time alone with the Lord in the morning? Should our love for God and our relationship with Him not be evident by the way we plan our day? If your day is crammed with things to accomplish are you willing to get less sleep in order to seek God?

It’s more than duty, it’s more than checking off it as done; it’s about cultivating a relationship with Jesus Christ, the author of your salvation. He loves you and desires for you to know and experience Him, but that is only possible by seeking Him. A relationship does not grow itself; it requires effort on our part. We can’t expect to know and love God more deeply if we aren’t studying what He loves and hates, if we aren’t praying to Him, if we aren’t expecting Him to speak to us, if we aren’t seeking to be led by His Spirit day-by-day.

“Don’t merely discipline yourself to read your Bible and to pray as if it is a life sentence you must carry out. Instead, approach your times with God as an opportunity to get to better know someone who loves you with an infinite love. Simply making yourself read a chapter of the Bible each day and then reciting a prayer will not lead you into a deeper walk with God. Henry Blackaby (emphasis mine)

Which matters more—your to-do list, temporary pleasure, relaxation and playing, your friends, or a relationship with the eternal God, whom you will someday worship for eternity? Where is your heart? If you desire a deeper relationship with Christ, you must be willing to sacrifice to seek Him. May the Lord change our hearts to be people more concerned with Him than with ourselves.

“But learning about [God] is not why you should want to have time with Him. You should desire fellowship with Him because of what you already know about Him, and as you interact with Him, you will learn even more about Him that will inevitably deepen your devotion. Everything we do with and for God should stem from our love relationship with Him.Henry Blackaby (emphasis mine)


Katie

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trials

Many challenges and difficulties I’ve faced over the past several years have become sweet to me because God has grown me through them. I don’t pray for them, but in the aftermath I do appreciate how God works in me through them. In light of a recent difficulty, this is something I prayed:

“If Thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
Thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see Thy face sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
Grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify Thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
As a chosen vessel met always for Thy use.” (Valley of Vision, book of puritan prayers)


Katie