Gift of Grace

The words, “Are you ready to order or do you need a minute?” have become a common phrase on my lips. In other words, I am a waitress. Last month I began my training, which lasted four days before I was assigned a section of my own. Intimidating? Yes. New and weird? Definitely. There always seems to be an hour where things get hectic. It’s then when, in the midst of the craziness I think, “What on earth am I doing here?!” But then things slow down, and I realize that despite the craziness…I like it.

Last week I had a table with two older women who had a boatload of questions about our menu and our food. Because of their numerous questions, I was under the impression that this was their first time dining at our restaurant. I did my best to answer their questions, but if I didn’t know, I found someone who did. Nevertheless, the whole process was very confusing. It didn’t help that the older of the two ladies was hard of hearing.

In addition to this, my other four tables were full of customers as well, keeping me busy with coffee refills, desserts, and check backs–“Can I get you anything else tonight?” I had just finished delivering another table’s order, onion rings and sandwiches, when the women, whose orders it had taken me several minutes to sort out, flagged me down.

“They’re getting their food already when they were seated after us?” she questioned, confusion and frustration on her face.

I froze. Oh no. I remembered using the computer to check prices for them, but never sending their order to the cooks. “I–I am so sorry,” I stumbled. “I forgot to punch your order in, but–but I’ll do that right now.”

Of course they were upset. I told my manager what had happened and he ended up comping the whole meal for them. “Apologize profusely,” he told me. “They’re not happy at all.” I felt horrible. If this was their first time eating there, I had ruined the experience.

I brought out their pie and no sooner had I set the plates down when the older of the two women pushed a folded $5 bill into my hand. I shook my head as I tried to give it back and tell them no,  I didn’t deserve it–but they wouldn’t listen. She held her hand up as if to say, “the matter is closed and I don’t want to hear any more about it.” All I could do was mumble a thank you and move on. As I cleared my other tables, the word grace echoed in my heart, along with its definition:

An undeserved gift.

It got me to thinking. If I didn’t deserve the $5 tip because of my mistake, how much more do I not deserve the salvation Jesus bought for me at Calvary because of my sin? I’m the sinner, yet instead of giving me what I deserve, Jesus came to earth to atone for what I’ve done. He paid the death penalty for my sin even though He is holy and perfect. Yet that’s not the end. Christ defeated death when He rose from the grave three days later. He’s alive! And having paid the penalty for our sins, God gave us all a gift. Redemption. Salvation. New life.

Grace.

He was delivered over to death for our sins, and raised to life for our justification. (Romans 4:25)

It humbled me, to be sure. Not only as a waitress, but as a child of God. The truth was renewed in my heart: He has freely given me what I don’t deserve. That’s just how good and loving God is! Because of this, I am brand new and whole, and I have a renewed relationship with Christ.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

God made an exchange: our sin for His righteousness. It’s not fair–it’s love. Pure, unconditional, full-of-grace love that never, ever fails.

God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions–it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)

I could try my best to fix the problem in order to be “good enough” for God, but even my best efforts are like “filthy rags”.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf and our sin blows us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

Not only do I not have to try to be “good enough”, God gives salvation as a gift. It’s not something we earn, it is something we are given out of God’s great love for me, for you, for everyone.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

If we could earn our salvation and our way into heaven, we would be the ones receiving the glory. “Hey, guess what guys! I was good enough for God! I did it!” That’s what Paul means when he says “not by works, so that no one can boast.” If we boast, we should boast in the Lord! “God saved me! God is so good!” The focus shifts from us in all our imperfection, whose best efforts are like “filthy rags” to the One Who is worthy to be praised.  To the God Who spoke the universe into existence and used mud to heal a blind man’s eyes. To the God Whose love and faithfulness lasts forever and ever.

The thing about a gift is that, though it’s there for the taking, it’s not really yours until you accept it. You can stare at the person holding the present out to you all you want, but until you take hold of it and grasp it for yourself, it’s not doing you any good.

God is holding out a gift of grace to you. It’s a gift wrapped in new life, and once you accept it and open up the package, you will see everything that’s inside. There’s forgiveness, redemption, peace, love, freedom, joy…God’s Holy Spirit that comes to dwell within our hearts.

But that’s not even the best part. The best part of God’s free gift is that we will get to spend eternity with Him in the most beautiful place. Heaven. Where the streets are the purest form of gold, and a gate is made of a single pearl. Where we will be able to walk, hand in hand, side by side, with the most beautiful, loving, wonderful Man in the whole universe.

God won’t make you accept His gift, but He hopes with all His heart that you will. He loves you, wants to be with you, and is holding His arms open wide for you.  No matter what you have done or do, God won’t withhold His forgiveness if you ask Him for it.

I promise you that any of the sinful things you say or do can be forgiven, no matter how terrible those things are. (Mark 3:28)

All it takes is surrendering. Admit you are a sinner in need of a Savior; lay it all down at Jesus’ feet. Believe in what Jesus did for you on the cross. Invite Him into your heart, and into every aspect of your life.

If you declare with your mouth “Jesus is Lord” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. (Romans 10:9-10)

That’s all it takes. To believe, and to act on that belief. And when you do, God sends the Holy Spirit to live in your heart where He changes you from the inside out. From there, you are adopted into God’s family. A precious and most definitely loved child of the King. 

The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Jesus Christ from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you. (Romans 8:11)

God decided in advance to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ. This is what He wanted to do, and it gave Him great pleasure. (Ephesians 1:5)

But to all who believed in Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

God is willing to make each and every one of us new. He yearns to. And God, well, God doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. He loves us more than that.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse nor will He harbor His anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:8-12)

God wants us all to know how wide and long and high and deep His love is. So wide, so long, so high, so deep, that Christ died for each and every once of us so He could give us a life on earth, forgiven and in renewed relationship with the Father.

So He could give us a life forever, with Him in Heaven.

A gift of grace.

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The Sunshine Blogger Award

Hey all! 😀

I’ve been nominated by the lovely Sarah over at Forever Aspiring Writer to answer some fun questions. ~Thank you~ Sarah!

~ Sarah’s Questions to Emma ~

1) If you could have any animal in the world as a pet, which would you choose?

My first thought was a river otter, because I think that they are super cute. I love how playful they are. I also love manatees. I learned about them a few years ago. They are so docile and I think they’re absolutely adorable. If I had a manatee I would name it Barbara (Barbara Manatee from VeggieTales, anyone?) Or an elephant…they’re cute too. 😀

2) Out of everything you’ve ever written (stories, poems, songs, anything) what is your favorite?

My favorite is definitely Mrs. Willows, the novel I have been working on for half of forever. At least that’s what it feels like; I guess in reality it’s only been on-and-off for three or so years. It’s been on my mind so much lately–maybe because I only have a few more chapters until completion–that I may or may not be talking about it quite often. I wonder if my family is sick of hearing about it yet. (Sorry?)

Poem-wise, however, my favorite is Beautiful to Me, and I really like Take My Hand. (Both of which are also songs.) If you click on the title you can read them on my story blog. 🙂

3) Do you have a personal goal of how many followers you want for your blog and if so, how many?

Well I was thrilled to hit thirty followers…and now I have eighty-seven?? I get giddy with excitement every time I receive a new follower email. I don’t have many goals when it comes to blogging, so I’d never given this much thought. But 100 would be kind of cool. Triple digits. 100 people like what I have to say enough to get my posts delivered to their email?! Yeah, that would be neat. 🙂

♥~♥~♥ Shout out to all my followers: Thank you!!! ♥~♥~♥

4) What’s been your biggest blogging mistake?

On one of my first posts I used a blurry picture. It was horrible. I cringe when I come across it. What was I thinking when I gave that the A-OK to be posted? Several times I’ve considered retaking the picture and exchanging them.  I should have just used a stock photo!!! But hey. I was young. Inexperienced. What did I know? I’ve come a long way since then.

5) What is your favorite genre to read?

Christian fiction. From there it branches off into several other genres, as I’ve read westerns, contemporaries, historical fiction, Biblical, romances…. I loved Lynn Austin’s book Waves of Mercy. It was a story of past mistakes and redemption, of lost love and renewed hope. A story in which their pain was my pain–their joy, my joy. It was really quite fabulous. Waves of Mercy is the first book I had ever read in present tense. That took some getting used to, but once I did I got into it and was really able to connect with the characters.

I’m also a fan of Neta Jackson. I’ve read three series of hers: The Yada Yada Prayer Group, House of Hope, and SouledOut Sisters. They are so well written, and I’ve learned a lot from those books. They are written in a “parallel universe” where all the stories interrelate, so it’s fun to see characters I knew from Yada Yada show up in the House of Hope series.

6) What drink are you most likely to order at a cafe?

At a cafe? Hot chocolate. I love hot chocolate. I’ve mentioned this to a couple of people, but you know how there are wine tastings? What about hot chocolate tastings? I mean, not everyone is 21 and likes to drink wine. Everyone loves hot chocolate. There could be triple chocolate hot chocolate, toasted marshmallow hot chocolate, peppermint hot chocolate (not that I would go for that but some people would love it).

On a whim I searched for it and found one in Boston! Except I am not in Boston. Maybe you are not in Boston either, but want to taste delicious hot chocolate. To ease all your disappointment, I will share with you how to make the best hot chocolate with those Swiss Miss packets. I learned this from my Gramps. Instead of water, use milk. Instead of one packet of hot chocolate, use one and a half. Stir, sip, and enjoy. You’re welcome.

Back to the hot chocolate tastings…. Maybe this will be my next business venture. I can see it now…Emma’s World Renowned Hot Chocolate Tastings ~ 50 Different Varieties! I’ll see you when I’m a millionaire, hosting hot chocolate tastings around the country. Ciao!

7) What’s your favorite color to wear?

Anything with color, and anything bright. As long as it’s not yellow. I look awful in yellow. A few years ago I had a yellow shirt that looked good on me, but it was a very specific shade of yellow, and I haven’t found another one since. I will wear neutrals, but I prefer the happy colors.

8) Stripes or spots?

I went shopping with my friend two months ago and found the cutest striped shirt ever. The front of it is white with green stripes, and the back is green with white stripes. Soooo cuteeee! So I’d choose stripes. I can’t remember ever wearing a polka-dotted shirt actually. Maybe when I was little?

9) Have you ever traveled out of your country?

No, but that does not mean I don’t want to. You can blame that on my wallet. I would love to travel to Europe. I want to climb all the steps on the Eiffel Tower. I know, I know–there’s a lot of steps. And we don’t have to mention the fact that I have this thing with heights (remember when I went ziplining?). But it’s all part of the experience.

After I would take the elevator down and eat in the restaurant that is apparently in the Tower. Which might be interesting, seeing as how it costs at least € 87 to dine there. (Google tells me that is equivalent to $104 American dollars. That might end up being my only meal for the whole trip. O_O)

I also think Australia would be cool, mate. I want to see a kangaroo.

I would be satisfied with seeing the ocean and palm trees and picking an orange off an orange tree, though, all of which can be accomplished here in our great U.S. of A.

10) What’s the longest phone conversation you’ve ever had?

Two hours? It’s rare that I talk on the telephone for extended periods of time. I know for sure that I have talked for an hour.

Someone ask me about the longest letter I’ve ever received! That was a sight to behold; a true masterpiece. All one piece of paper, it measured 8.25 inches wide and 18 feet 9 inches long. I’m not even joking. She rolled it up on a dowel and shipped it in one of those tube mailers. It was amazing.

11) Has anyone ever said you look like a certain celebrity?

When I was a baby people told my mom I could be a Gerber Baby. I think that’s as close to celebrity look-alike I’ve gotten.


As usual, it’s now time to nominate some new blogs for the award and to write up some questions for them. (Psst, if you do it, comment the link below so I can come a-visitin’ and read what you have to say.)

Zielle ~ My Homeschool Notebook

Julia ~ Pencils and Paper

Sunny ~ Everything Fun Under the Sun

Sassafras ~ Treasured Friendships with a Flair 

Sarah ~ The Life of a Homeschooler

Questions

  1. What inspired you to start a blog, and how did you come up with your blog’s title?
  2. Can you do a cartwheel?
  3. If you could live in any fictional story world you wanted to, what would you choose? (i.g. Star Wars, Ella Enchanted, Zootopia…)
  4. Would you consider yourself good in the kitchen?
  5. What is something (new hobby, skill, etc.) that you would love to learn?
  6. Do you have any advice you would give to beginning bloggers to make their blog the best it can be?
  7. What was your favorite childhood story? What is your favorite story now?
  8. Do you have a favorite Bible verse right now? Why is it your favorite?
  9. If you could have a super power, what would you choose and why?
  10. You can only have one meal – one main dish, two sides, and one dessert – for the rest of your life. What is it?
  11. Do you like to have your picture taken?

That’s all for this post, but I’m always up for discussion in the comments. So I’m curious: how would you answer some of the questions I was asked? (For example, stripes or spots? has anyone told you that you look like a celebrity?)

Lots of love,

Em xo

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An Unexpected Adventure – A Guest Post

Hey all! Emma here. I am here with a GUEST on the blog today! My brother Ethan, whom I so frequently refer to as The Bro in my posts, has agreed to share his latest adventure with you all today. This is something I have been hoping to do for a long time, so I am very excited. So without further ado, may I present…


An Unexpected Adventure – by Ethan


Once upon a time, I was bored. And by bored, I mean pretty much every day I have off. Since my hobbies consist of metal detecting, an adventure, or fishing of some sort, there’s not many times I can fulfill my desires because I cannot yet drive and I must rely on someone else to take me.

So with the help of Google Maps I found a pond and it’s the only body of water within feasible bike riding distance. So without hesitation I packed my equipment and fishing pole into my backpack. Luckily the fishing pole broke down into two pieces so it could be transferred safely. I rode like the wind with high hopes that I may have just found a fishing hole.

Once I arrived I realized what I had found. It was, in fact, a hole. What Google Maps did not tell me was that it was a retention pond from the gobs of parking lots surrounding me. My enthusiasm shrank as I was preparing my tackle and readying my pole. This wasn’t quite the paradise I was hoping for.

Though there were fish that I saw, I was targeting bass and as I gazed across the two acre retention pond I realized that the depth was slightly lacking. (Depth is usually a good thing with bass fishing.)

I strapped on a fake minnow and cast it out. It is my go-to bait. Within minutes a bass had started following my lure up to the shore, where I was standing. And then I knew. I had found my heaven on earth.

A few months later…

Once again here I am, bored, on my day off. I had already begged my parents and sister to take me fishing. With no surprise, they said no. Even though my paradise was an answer to prayers, it felt as though the challenge had left because the pond was so small. But as it was my only choice, I packed my tackle into my backpack. I returned to the pond in hopes of catching a bass worthy of mentioning.

I had walked around and fished half the pond with no success, when finally, I was able to outsmart one of the bass and haul it in. It was no trophy, being sixteen inches and two and a half pounds, and it only partially fulfilled my craving for fishing. I released the bass when another fish came up out of nowhere.

I quickly changed my lure for another presentation when I heard rustling in the leaves. I had seen a bird earlier so I glanced over my shoulder, but the foliage was too thick to see anything. I was having difficulty changing lures and again I heard rustling in the leaves next to me. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw.

It was a skunk.

Among the many expeditions I have undertaken, never once have I encountered a skunk so close. It was five feet away, under a bush. I was startled by the white-striped mammal and immediately I dropped my pole and, faster than a bolt of lightning, ran along the trail. I thought it inevitable that I would be taking a bath in tomato juice but to my surprise he didn’t spray. I stopped about thirty feet later, to make sure I was out of range. I had never felt so hunted in my life as I realized it was following me. I yelled and threw a branch near it to try and scare it away, but my attempts were futile. It kept walking along the same path as I, with its own signature waddle.

This saying has never been more true to me: Between a rock and a hard place. On one side there was the retention pond I hoped never to enter. On the other, an eight foot chain link fence, lined with barbed wire. I was truly trapped. With one way to go and the path not wide enough to go around the skunk, I had to simply retreat farther down the trail. It seemed that nothing would stop this juggernaut. (And the definition of juggernaut would be, a massive force, not to be persuaded, moved, or stopped.)

Having retreated all the way, I finally got to the point where it was wide enough to hide in the bushes, hoping it would pass. As I stood in the bushes, not only had the skunk lost sight of me, but I lost sight of it. Thinking I had outsmarted it and it would walk by, I stood there for a while. I couldn’t help but entertain thoughts of the furry ninja sneaking up and ferociously attacking me. With every passing moment I expected to get a closer look at this animal, but it didn’t happen.

Once I realized it wasn’t coming I stepped back out onto the trail. I crept up to where I last saw it and it had vanished. With my experience in the woods I had not forgotten to look up. Yes, up–into the trees. It was no surprise that it hadn’t ventured upward, but I wanted to check, just to make sure. Better safe than sorry.

With further investigation I stumbled upon a hole in the ground. It was in fact the only hiding place that the skunk could be. I deemed it wise to end my investigation there, as provoking the skunk any more, might have resulted in a foul stench on the ride home. I placed a stick over the hole so that I’d know if it crept out again. I hustled to where I’d ended my fishing expedition and packed up. The stick had not been moved, and I made it safely back to the bike, and headed home.

The moral of the story would be: There’s always the chance of adventure in anything that you do, even if you’ve done it over and over again for months.


Thank you Ethan for being a guest on my blog! I hope y’all enjoyed the post. We had a lot of fun putting it together! If anyone has any questions or comments, comment below and Ethan will answer for you. 😉 Ciao! ❤

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Faith Over Fear

I am in a new season of life, and it’s scary. I am not a person who is overly fond of change. I’ve grown quite comfortable in my little bubble. The past week and a half, and especially the past three or four days, have been hard. God is leading me on a path that I hadn’t planned on taking. I’ve prayed–my parents have prayed–my friends have prayed–that God would lead me and make His way clear. And He has.

It still hasn’t been easy for me. Too often I have been swimming in fear. Everything has happened so quickly, much faster than I had ever expected. I was letting myself get worked up over all the unknowns, the things that could happen. Allowing myself to dwell on “I don’t want to do this. I am not going to be good at it. I can’t do it.” Was I putting on my belt of truth? No, I wasn’t. I was believing a lie instead of God’s truth, and it was keeping me in a place of discouragement and overwhelming fear. Where was my hope? My joy? It was gone, because I was too busy focusing on fear. But what has God said, over and over again?

Do not be afraid. I am with you. Do not be dismayed, I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Is. 41:10)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified or discouraged, for I am the Lord your God. (Josh. 1:9)

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. (Is. 43:2)

I have not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind. (2 Tim. 1:7)

Surely, I am with you always, to the very end of the age. (Matt. 28:20) 

I will never leave you nor forsake you. (Duet. 31:6)

Let me fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Me, so you may overflow with hope in the Holy Spirit. (Rom. 15:13)

I am always with you. I hold you by your right hand. (Ps. 73:23)

My joy is your strength. (Ne. 8:10)

Take captive all your thoughts and make them obedient to Me. (2 Cor. 10:5)

YES!!!!!!!!!!

THOSE are God’s promises to ME! To you! 2 Corinthians 1:20 says that for no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through Him the “amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God.

We don’t HAVE to be afraid. God is WITH us.

Do I believe it?

Yes. I do. Because I will CHOOSE to have faith over my fear. I will CHOOSE to believe that God is working out HIS purpose for my life. He is holding me, He is with me, He is so very near to me, even when I felt like He was far away. God is not limited by time, as we are. He is working ahead of us, preparing the way for us. He is not apart from this, where I am at right now. He is very much involved.

My God is an AWESOME God. I was losing sight of what truly mattered–Jesus. I was neglecting to keep my eyes focused on my King and Savior, my wonderful, beautiful, all-powerful Jesus. When I lost sight of Who God is, I began to stumble, just like Peter, when he was walking on water, began to sink when he looked away from the Lord. I became focused on my circumstances, and not the Author of my story.

I was neglecting to remember the TRUTH that has been hidden away in my heart. The truths that I do not have to be afraid. If my God is for me, who can be against me? My Jesus LOVES me! He wants what is best for me!

My Jesus. My Jesus loves me so much. He died on the cross to SAVE me. He turned the cross–a symbol of death–into a symbol of HOPE. What crazy, in-depth kind of love is that?!

And the most wonderful thing is, guys…He didn’t just do this for me…He did it for you.

Because everything that I have mentioned here, God’s great love for me, how He will never leave me, will always hold my hand…

Guys, this is all for you too. This is for everyone.

God loves YOU. He wants YOU to live in FAITH and not FEAR. He doesn’t want you to be crippled by fear, scared to move and afraid of what is going to happen next. True, we don’t know what is going to happen in life, but God does. God does. And if God knows, do we really have to? Isn’t it enough to trust? Because when I look back at my life, at those times where I thought There is no way this is going to work out, I see where God has done powerful and wonderful things.

There are verses in the Bible about Jesus refining us as silver is tried. (Ps. 66:10) What does that mean? I found this video on Facebook, which I will share at the bottom of the post for those interested. But the short version in words is, when silver is being refined, the refiner has to sit, keep an eye on it, and make sure that the fire is not too hot. And he knows the silver is done when he can see his reflection in it.

Wow.

What a beautiful word picture. When God says He is refining us like silver, He is saying that He is using the fires we walk through to make us more like Him. He’s using those scary, painful experiences for good. The hard times I went through made me more like Jesus. They brought me closer to Him, and I trust Jesus that He will continue doing that, if I continue to keep my eyes focused on Him and Who He is, and allow Him to do the work in my heart.

It’s easy to let fear have free reign. I know, because that’s what I’ve lived with for the past three days. It’s not fun. But when fear is bigger than your faith, go to God. Go to His Word. Cling to His promises. Look back on all that God has done, because He has done so much.

When I think back, I remember all the times God has healed.

I remember when God has provided.

I remember when God has redeemed friendships that I thought were gone.

I remember when God has closed one door, and me being so upset…because at the time, I had no idea what God was working on in the background. And now, I am so thankful, and have been so blessed…because He knew what was best.

I look back and see what God has done…

and I have faith.

That the God Who did all of that in my past, is doing the same thing in my present, and in my future.

I will choose to have

Faith

over

Fear.


 

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Music…Tuesday – August 15

For a period of approximately 3.614 seconds I was under the impression that today was Monday and therefore, I’d be right on point if I posted a Music Monday post. (It’s Tuesday!) So under the present circumstances of it being Tuesday and not Monday, may I present you with…

♫♪ Tuneful Tuesday! ♪♫

Beckah Shae

One of my favorite music artists is Beckah Shae. I love her meaningful, Scripture-filled lyrics. That’s probably the thing that I love most about Beckah; how so many of her songs are taken from Scripture. Especially her Scripture Snack albums, which are just Bible verses put to song. She has a beautiful voice and so much God-given talent in her songs and singing. Her latest album release was Mighty, which is my favorite album! The songs are all so happy, especially I’ll Be Alright. (the music video for that is so colorful and beautiful!)

Recently I’ve discovered that Beckah has been taking secular songs and rewriting them. Using the same tune and beat, she has been adapting non-Christian songs into Christian ones. And I have to say, I’m impressed! The lyrics are so powerful! I love it, and I could not resist sharing them with you.

Take your pick from the videos below. These are my top four favorites (so far). Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

“Stay” turned into “Pray”

“Shape of You” turned into “I Worship You”

“Scared to Be Lonely” turned into “Set Apart to Be Holy”

“Sorry Not Sorry” turned into “So Good, So, So Good”

May your week be filled with His love and blessings!

With love, Emma xoxo

A Flamingo Flocking Adventure

Before I can share on my most recent adventure, I should make sure everyone knows what I’m talking about so we’re all on the same page. Flamingo Flocking. Have you heard of it? People place a bunch of plastic yard flamingos in a someone’s yard with a sign that says “You’ve Been Flocked!” The recipient of these birds must then give money to a fundraiser or a charity before the birds will be removed from their yard.

PC: Amazon

For the month of July a group of us has taken to flocking our friends. Our flock is rather puny. Twenty birds. Three of them don’t have stakes. One of them doesn’t have a head. But that’s the best we could do.

And what would you know–we got flocked! You’d think that maybe we’d get a free pass, but no. All in good stead because after all, the money we’re raising is going for a good cause. Since the Bro and I are a part of the group responsible for the flocking, we get the pleasure of moving the birds to a house of our choice. Oooh, the possibilities…we pondered over this for a while, and then picked our victim.

Late Wednesday night the Bro and I drove out to our victim’s house, pink birds in tow. Upon arrival we saw that they were still up, watching TV. We’d have to make sure that they didn’t see us. We parked the car on the side of the road, and just as I was about to close my door, I hear from the Bro,

Don’t lock the car! Do you have the key?”

The reason for the Bro’s inquiry would be this: I have a history of using the button inside the door to lock the car, not the actual key. The members of my family live in a constant state of worry, wondering if I’ll ever accidentally lock the key in the car this way. Of course we all know that I would never do a thing like that. I, of course, had the key safely in my front pocket.

We gathered the birds and crept into our victim’s yard. This was our first time flocking a house, but we knew enough to wear all black. Still, we were careful to move slowly and hunched over so we didn’t give ourselves away. Totally ninja. We decided that we would only take a few birds at a time, sneak up to the house, plant them, and return for more. By doing this we could be sure we wouldn’t make a bunch of racket trying to untangle the birds’ necks from each other.

It was good fun, sneaking back and forth. Also a little disconcerting when I thought about the fact that we were this close to their house and they didn’t know we were there. We staked our flock in their front yard, and I even put one of the stake-less ones on the front porch. Our mission accomplished, Ethan and I decided to run back to our car and git outta there.

On the run back I checked my pocket to make sure I had the key. The pockets in my jeans are so shallow, it’s ridiculous. But yup, the key was still there. Good to go.

I slowed to a walk, panting from the exertion, as we crossed the road to our car. I reached into my pocket for the key…and it wasn’t there. I checked my other pocket, and my back pockets as well. I had just had it, but now it was gone!

I ran my hand through my hair. “I don’t have the key,” I told my brother. I shook my head in disbelief.

“Yeah you do,” he replied. Pretending I don’t have the key had been a prank I’d pulled on him several times, albeit, unsuccessfully. Except this time I wasn’t joking.

No,” I said, “I’m not joking. I don’t have the key.”

Not only was it dark outside, but their yard was also huge. Huge-huge. Hard-to-find-a-key-in-the-daytime-let-alone-at-night-huge. Was this really happening?!

“I did have it,” I said. “I checked before we started running. It must have fallen out while we were running.”

Well, we had to find it, but we couldn’t do it without a light of some sort. I was the only one who had a phone so I turned on the flashlight. It was bright! I tried to shade it with my hand so that our victims wouldn’t see the light out their window. We’d been successful up to this point and we couldn’t get caught now, not while we were looking for the car key lost somewhere in their yard!

“Where did you lose it? Where were you running?” We tried to backtrack as best as we could. The flashlight on my phone was too bright and I worried that they would see the light so I turned it off and used the light that came from the screen instead.

“I think…I think I was over here.” I moved to the right a bit and continued walking forward, towards their house, in search of the little black and silver key.

Then miracle upon miracles–less than five minutes into our search I bent over and picked up the key lying in the grass. “I got it!”

“Oh my gosh. Good. Let’s go!”

Gripping the key tightly in my hand, we booked it back to the car and hopped in. We heaved big sighs in relief. “I can’t believe that just happened,” I said.

“How could you lose it?”

I told him how it fell out of my pocket, then I added, “Wouldn’t it have been funny if I’d locked the phone in the car too?”

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Isaiah 61:10-11

This afternoon I was flipping through my Bible, looking for a verse. I didn’t have a particular verse in mind, all I knew was I wanted something to add to the bottom of the letter I was writing. It’s sort of a habit I’ve gotten into, writing Bible verses at the bottom of my letters in the PS section, as a way to encourage my pen pals.

Sometimes I write down a verse that I had read in the Bible earlier, or sometimes, like today, I page through it and scan until something catches my attention. I love it when they write back and say, “That verse you sent me was exactly what I needed!” Because it isn’t just coincidence, it’s a total God-Thing!!!

Anyways, today I found a cool verse in Isaiah. I also realized I’ve been rather absent in the blogosphere lately. And so I concluded that I would share this verse with you, too.


I love the first line – I will celebrate because of my Lord God! It makes me picture a celebration – a party – with confetti and raised hands waving in the air and lots of smiles, simply because of who God is. And considering its summer and there’s flowers all over the place, I like the part about praise coming like flowers blooming in a garden.

Have a Bible verse that you found cool or meaningful lately? I’d love to hear! ❤

Emma xoxoxo

 

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Encouragement for the Discouraged Writer

I should be writing on my novel right now, but frankly, I’m a little overwhelmed at the moment. I am smack dab in the middle of editing 60,000 words for the third time, page 65/114 to be exact, and I just realized that I have a bunch of scenes that I need to rearrange. I’ve been fine-tuning my timeline this time around and now need to make it all fit together, something I thought I’d been doing pretty well with…until now, that is.

It’s a little overwhelming.

This is not to say that I don’t love my story, because that isn’t the case at all! This is the story of my heart, the story that God has called me to write, and I love it so much. In fact, I know that when I’m finished, 100% done with it, I’m going to miss working on it. It’s just that, like everything, it’s difficult sometimes. To the point where letting it sit seems like a pretty good option, even if it does get me no where.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing.

I look forward to the day where I finish editing the last line and click Save. I look forward to using up a load of ink and copy paper to print off my masterpiece. I look forward to measuring that stack of paper with a ruler to see how thick it is, and sharing my excitement with my family and friends who have encouraged me as I’ve written it. I look forward to holding a physical copy of it in my hands and paging through it, seeing all the words that I have written.

The thing is, I’ll never be able to experience that sense of satisfaction, joy, exhilaration, and excitement if I don’t climb the mountain first. The mountain can be anything that makes writing difficult for you right now. Plotting and outlining that’s not going well, description and/or characters that seem flat, not quite sure how to get your thoughts on paper. Realizing that, after having completed the first draft, you have a lot of work ahead of you to make anything decently readable. For me, it’s knowing that I need to rearrange and major-edit some scenes to make them work with what I’ve got going on now.

And yeah, it can be really discouraging sometimes, but like I said, if you don’t work through the hard stuff, climb up the mountain, you’ll never get to savor the result at the end, or enjoy the beauty of the view at the top.

Sometimes I think that it won’t be any good when I get done, hard work or not. Sometimes I think, “I do things differently than this-famous-author-person, so maybe it’s not as good.” So let me remind you (and myself) that what you have to say? It matters. Why? Because you matter. Everyone has a unique voice with something unique to say. On the subject of writing, one guy said, “I could tell 100 different students to write a story about pirates on ship and get 100 different stories.” And this is not a bad thing! Everyone tells stories differently because they have their own voice, perspective, and imagination. So just because you have a different approach or style to writing, doesn’t mean that it’s bad or you’re not a “good enough” writer. Strive towards improvement and honing your skill and create something that is uniquely you!

The story that I’m writing, I’m writing for me, and I’m writing for God. Having other people read it (eventually-maybe-probably) is just a plus! I don’t know what God wants me to do with it when it’s done. Maybe nothing, maybe something. Who knows! The struggle is still real though, because I still want to create something that’s of good quality, you know? Even if I’m the only one who ever reads but especially if other people read it!!

So when those hard days of writing hit, remember: It will be worth it. If it’s the story of your heart, the story that you want to get on paper, the story that you feel called to write…don’t give up. Keep on keepin’ on, and don’t give up. Hard work can be a reminder of what will be produced: a masterpiece. Haha, I know, I know! So easy for me to say, right? Yeah, but it’s also true…so…easy or not, don’t give up! The hard work is worth it!

You got this, writer! *fistbump*

PS…if you want, check out Go Teen Writers. It’s my favorite writing site. Pretty good stuff!

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Today Was A Good Day

Today was a good day. I didn’t do anything exceptional; I went to church, read some Trixie Belden with my mom, and went for a drive with my both my parents. We got ice cream, my parents went down Memory Lane as we drove, and I enjoyed wearing my big floppy sunhat. (I love hats.)

Today was a day to rest and enjoy the beauty around me. See, I struggle with the whole productivity thing. I have to be so productive in a day in order for that day to be worth something. For my time not to be wasted. But, as others have been telling me and God has slowly been teaching me, that’s not a good way to think. My worth doesn’t come from how many things I check off my to-do list. It comes from my Savior Jesus. He says I am His child and He loves me with an everlasting love. I am God’s treasured possession. (Exodus 19:5) Nothing changes that. I can rest in the fact that God’s love for me isn’t based on how many things I do. It’s okay for me to set aside the list, take a breather, and do nothing for a while.

Today was a day to let go of the busyness and chill. Believe me–I know how good it feels to have all those neat little check marks on your list, whether that list is on paper or in your head. But as I’m discovering here…it also feels good to sit and be. To notice the warmth of the sunshine and the bright green of new leaves–and not as I’m zipping around the house doing thisorthat. To sit, to relax, to close my eyes and thank Jesus for what He’s given me. While to-do lists help to be organized, they can also be stress factors if they’re not kept in their place.

Enjoy the day. For those of you who have a similar mindset of productivity=time well spent, don’t be afraid to take a deep breath, set aside the list for a day, and refresh. Rejuvenate. Sing a song, read a book, take a walk. You have time to get those things checked off. Your worth is from Jesus, not the number of check marks on your list. And whatever you do, whether it’s being productive or enjoying the day, love the Lord while doing it. That’s the most important thing, as I was reminded not too long ago. No matter what I do, love the Lord…

 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’       Matthew 22:36-39

 

…and enjoy the day.

Lots of love,

Emma xo

The Liebster Award – Part II

Hello there everyone!! I am here with the Liebster Award…again! I was nominated by Faith @ I Like That, and even though I did it last year, I thought why not? It’s different questions than last time and since I’ve gathered a few new followers lately I thought I could use this as a get-to-know-me post. So if you’re new, HELLO! I’m glad you’re here! And if you’re a faithful follower, HELLO! I’m glad you’re here!

1) What made you want to start a blog?

It wasn’t my idea. It was my mom’s. She told me I should start a blog to review books and other things since I like to read so much. So I did, and I wrote a few reviews, mostly on the Anne of Green Gables series. Except the more I did it, the more I discovered that I don’t really like to write reviews. Ha! So now I blog about life, God, music, my stories and poems, and whatever else pops into my head. 🙂

2) What does your first name mean?

My first name–Emma–means whole, or universal, but my parents didn’t pick it for that. They wanted a pretty name that wasn’t very popular. Ironically, by the time I was born, Emma was a very popular name. On another note, I am often confused with Emily.

3.) Did you know when you were younger what you wanted to be/do when you grew up? Do you know or have any idea now what you want to do?

When I was five I wanted to be a vet because I liked animals. When I was ten I wanted to be a baker; fourteen, an author. Now I don’t want to do any of those things. College has absolutely zero appeal to me. I believe that you can live a successful life without going to college.

I don’t know what the rest of my life is going to look like, and quite frankly, I’m sick of planning to try and figure it out. I mean “a man may plan his way, but the Lord directs his path.” So what I want to know is, why bother planning when God’s already got it covered? I am seeking Christ in all that I do and letting him direct my path, like the verse.

However I do have a few goals for the here and now. The first is I’d really like to finish my quilt. My grandma and I are making a crazy quilt for my bed. We’re stitching the crazy squares by hand. It’s taken a long time, but I’m so, so excited to get it done, and my anticipation is rising as we are almost finished. 🙂 Second, I’ve been working on a novel off-and-on for almost four years, which I am pretty anxious to finish. The end is in sight!

4.) If you could see yourself from someone else’s perspective, whose perspective would you choose and why? (It could be a family member’s, a friend’s, your local librarian’s, etc.)

Kozmo’s. (That’s my dog.) For a while now I’ve wondered if he loves me or if he just loves the treats I give him. See, the mutt is nearing 12 years old. Age grants certain privileges. I wouldn’t give a two-year-old dog a treat every day, but after 12 years…why not? He’s a good ol’ dog. But when the dog hops up in the morning, wags his tail, and greets me before I’m even down the hall, is it truly me he loves, or the treat he knows is coming to him?

Mmhmm. Yeah.

5.) What was the last book you read? What was your opinion of it? Did you like it, or not so much?

For the past two-ish months I have been addicted to a five-book series about two teenage sisters in medieval Italia. The hitch? They time traveled there. Like what! There’s knights and battles and danger and romance and oh-my-gosh-what-is-going-to-happen-next drama. I could not stop reading. It was so. good. It’s pretty fantastic. I love it so much that I spent my Christmas money to buy the series after reading the first book. They’re the best books I’ve read in a long time. I plan on reading these books again and again and again. (I do that. I’ve read Ella Enchanted 20 times) So without further ado, may I present the River of Time series by Lisa T. Bergren.

 6.) What was the last movie you watched? What was your opinion of it? Did you like it, or no?

TANGLED! I love Tangled! It’s one of my favorite Disney movies, I think. My favorite character is Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert. I think he’s funny. The whole movie is funny. And I like the songs. It’s just a great movie all ’round, folks.

7.) What is your favorite movie adaptation of a book?

Can I answer this question even if I’ve never read the book that the movie was adapted from? Because…I really like the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit movies, but I haven’t actually read the books… *cringe* (Does it count if I’ve read most of The Hobbit?) Personally, I find Tolkien’s work hard to read. It makes my mind swim and takes me five minutes to finish a page. Dad’s read them and he said that the movies do a pretty good job sticking to the book. That makes The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit an automatic winner.

Otherwise…I’m afraid I wouldn’t have an answer for you.

Actually scratch that. I’d tell you that I like the Love Comes Softly movies. They are nothing like the books (which really bugs me sometimes) but I still enjoy them. It’s probably because I watched the movies before I read the books.

8.) What quote (from a book, movie, or YouTube video) do you find yourself saying often?

Do I do quotes? I don’t know. I speak in song lyrics and blurt random words, but I don’t know if I quote. More likely I’ll do something like this:

Bro: We should have a bonfire tonight.

Me: ♪♫ I was born to be a flame so I’m gonna light a bonfire! Light it up! ♪♫ (Bonfire by Building 429)

Or this…

Mom (after giving the dog a bath): Make sure the dog shakes before he comes back in.

Me: ♪♫ You’ve got to shake, shake, shake, like you’re changed, changed, changed. Brand new looks so good on you, so shake like you’ve been changed! ♪♫ (Shake by Mercy Me)

Or even this…

Mom: Look at the eastern sky this morning. So pretty.

Me: There’s a song about an eastern gate.

Mom: Of course there is. I’m not surprised you know that.

9.) If you could live in any other previous time period, which one would you choose?

I think it’d  be fun to live in the Victorian era and call on people and sip tea with cake and get dressed up to go to fancy balls.

10.) What would you consider your favorite thing to do in your free time? What do you ACTUALLY end up doing in your free time?

This is probably part of the reason it’s taking me a long time to finish my novel.  I sit down to work on my novel but end up doing other things. Like blogging. Which is still writing, just not on my book.

11.) What is one thing that you always want people to remember about you after you’re gone?

Well I hope they’ll remember Jesus. I hope that they’ll see someone whose joy was found in her Savior and did everything for Him. I hope they remember me as someone who radiates the joy of Christ. And I really hope people say “Emma always made me laugh” because I really like to make people smile and laugh. Makes me happy.


In lieu of nominations, I’m going to ask YOU some questions. Just answer ’em in the comments. 🙂

  1.  What is your favorite cartoon?
  2.  Are you a hat person?
  3. Do you enjoy a good mess or are you a everything-has-to-be-in-its-place kind of person?

I look forward to hearing from you!

xoxo

Em