Your Word is a Lamp Unto My Feet...

And a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

When there is darkness surrounding us, and we are prone to stumbling on our way, God's Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light to our path!
It's amazing to have Scripture memorized, especially during hard times.
I started doing the National Bible Bee in 2012, and the year that we didn't do it (2015), I really missed it. I love spending time in God's Word, and it really motivates me to memorize! It's so encouraging to make friends who also love God - I met Katie in 2014, and we're still friends - I'm so thankful for that and I'm really looking forward to chatting with her this afternoon! :D
The National Bible Bee registration opens on April 1st - it's amazing, and I've missed doing it! I'm praying that I'll be able to go with my family to Nationals this year!
So, over the summer, you study a Scripture passage and memorize verses. At the end of the summer, you can either go to locals and recite your verses, or just take the test online! If you're in the top 120 of your group, you qualify for Nationals which is absolutely I.N.C.R.E.D.I.B.L.E.
You won't regret it. Memorizing Scripture is NEVER a waste of time!
ScriptureTyper is a big help to me too!
So, if you decide to talk it over to your parents and sign up for Bible Bee THIS SATURDAY (APRIL 1ST), let me know in the comments below! I'd love to meet you at Nationals one day! :)
~ Light4theLord
To God Be the Glory!

With all my heart I have sought You; do not let me wander from Your commands. Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.
- Psalm 119:10-11 -


Me and my sister, making a heart with our hands - mine is the sandy one on the right!
Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers {sisters} to dwell together in unity!
- Psalm 133:1 -
A friend loves at all times, and a brother {sister} is born for hard times.
- Proverbs 17:17 -
Be devoted to one another in brotherly {sisterly} love; give preference to one another in honor;
- Romans 12:10 -

The Insecurity of Today

Everyone, at one point in their life, has been (or is) insecure.

It's sad, yes, but it's true.
Ever since I was little, these verses have been instilled in me:
For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very 4 well.
- Psalm 139:13-14 -
I am made in God's image (Genesis 1:26), and henceforth I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
But... I especially struggled with insecurity a few years back. I'm homeschooled, yeah, but it doesn't mean I've never experienced cliques. I'm a Christian, yeah, but it doesn't make me immune to the hurt of cliques. I've been 'the odd one' for a while.
There's a group, even at my church, who are definitely their own little clique. It's hard for me, because I'm different - waaaaay different. Evidently, I'm 'weird' for being a homeschooler, for being ahead in school, for paying attention during class, for playing with dolls still, for dressing modestly....
Even recently, I went home and just cried. I'm serious. I was deeply hurt by several of the girls (maybe they meant to, maybe not, but...) and it didn't help that I had already had a bad day.
Especially when I was younger, the insecurity would grip me like an iron fist. I have an extremely talented, smart, and pretty older sister, and I was always comparing myself to her. No matter what, where, when, how.... I felt as though the whole world did the same - compared me to her, and I'd never be good enough.
She played a piano solo at the orchestra concert that we were both in, and afterwards, someone came up and praised me because they though I was her. I had to tell them that it was my sister, and not me. But ever since then, I've longed for someone to say that to me and not mistake me for her (even though we're really started to look alike - it's crazy, we might be taken for twins!).
I was scared that I was a failure, a disappointment to everyone because I wasn't as good. She was 'the musician' and everyone knew it. I played the piano and violin too, but did anyone know? No. It was especially discouraging when even though I worked 10X as much as she did for the concert, I was behind everyone else and no one saw me at all. Everyone praised her, and acted like I hadn't even practiced, even though it was the other way around.
It was around there that I longed for someone to tell me, "I'm proud of you." My sister was getting that all the time, and she acted like she didn't even care - I would've given anything for that.
I was insecure.
I was relying on people to make me feel secure.
I didn't know who I was in Christ.
I knew in my head, but not in my heart, that I was fearfully and wonderfully made... but I didn't believe it.
I worried about not being pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough. I stressed over getting ahead in school, and was depressed when I got a bad grade.
But everything's different now - I definitely still get insecure at times (just keep reading, and you'll see another example), but I know that no matter what, God can still use me. It doesn't matter if I'm not as perfect or talented as someone else, He made me for a reason, and I'm the perfect fit. Not my sister, not my brother, but ME. When I realized that I was unique, and important to God and that HE could use me whether or not I was as good at playing the piano, it changed a lot of things.
I've found that it's actually pride that made me insecure. I wanted to be praised, applauded, and I wanted others to be proud of me. But you know what?
In a few years, anyone who has ever applauded or praised me, will probably forget me. Some of the people who have hurt me will forget me. Now, don't take it that I don't like being encouraged or praised, and don't take it wrongly that I want people to forget me (no, I want to leave a legacy for God! I want to be a light that shines into the darkness, and that others will never forget the light that shone through me by God)... it's just that fame is fickle.
It's true, just find a superstar or celebrity from 2000.... where are they now? Who knows, who cares, for the most part. It's sad - people work all their life to become famous, only to be forgotten a few years later. Fame is very fickle, and so is popularity. I used to long to be popular, to be part of the 'in-crowd', and to be the 'ringleader' of the clique. But now, there's a different ringleader of the current clique, and hardly anyone remembers the old one. It could be depressing if it weren't for the fact that popularity doesn't matter to me anymore. Yeah, I think it'd be cool to be on TV or star in a movie once or twice, but I'm not dying to. (seriously, though, it'd be pretty fun to act.... :) )
God made me for a reason, and the only thing that should matter to me is HIS approval, HIS applause, and doing HIS will. I'll still remember the few times that people have said, "I'm proud of you." but most of all, I'd like to hear God tell me, "I'm proud of you." Wouldn't that just be amazing? I'd love it. I want God to be proud of what I do, and I don't want Him regretting giving me talents or abilities to use for Him. What's the use if I don't use the gifts He's given me for Him?
I used to despise music and hate the piano, because I knew I'd never be as good as my sister, so I figured, 'Why even try?' I wanted to make my own mark on the world, be a gymnast, or a ballerina, or a figure skater, or a horseback rider, or a famous actress.... but pretty much all of those things were impossible.
God's given me different talents, different abilities. I might be able to do a cartwheel, and I still think it'd be pretty awesome to be able to do an aerial (seriously, that's awesome!), but I've got different ambitions and higher goals.
I want to be a missionary doctor with my pilot's license.
Some people say that's a lofty goal, or pretty ridiculous that a teen would already know exactly what she wants to do... and that it's even more ridiculous that I'd want to serve God with the rest of my life.
I always knew I wanted to be a missionary, but I thought (especially when I was 8 or 9) maybe I could do one of those other things on the side.
The sad part was that I figured, "Hey, I've got plenty of time. Why should I spend my childhood studying the Bible or spending time with God? I'll just start whenever I become a missionary. It'll be okay."
NO, it isn't okay for me to just wait until I'm 'grown-up' to start serving God. Just because I'm a kid, or a tween, or a teen, doesn't mean I get to just waste my life. That's why I want to serve God NOW, HERE, and in everything I do. I have to admit, I fail a LOT at that goal.
One of the most impacting things that my brother yelled at me when we were arguing was,
"You call yourself a light for the Lord, but I don't see it! You might call yourself that, and be a light online, but what about in your real life? You're always on the computer, and you're not being a light for the Lord in your real life, off the computer."
Boy, did that hit hard. He was right. I wasn't trying very hard to be a light in the world that I'm living in. I thought that if I was light online, it'd be pretty impacting. Sure, maybe I'll reach a lot of people, but there are people spiritually dying all around me, and I need to be a light in the world around me.
What he said scared me, really... even more, it motivated me to move, to start living a life for God in the world around me. I thought I was already 'good enough', that I was already 'memorizing Bible verses and knowing the Bible from cover to cover'... maybe I looked perfect, like a light, but I can do better. I might be doing enough for the world, but I can never do enough to thank God for what He's done for me.
I'm easily encouraged - my love language is words and time. If someone actually takes time out of their busy schedule to spend time with me, it means a lot to me. And if someone sincerely encourages me with words, it means more than you know.
A few Sundays ago, the same Sunday that I was deeply hurt, the church was having a lunch afterwards. Now, let me explain - the church I go to has an absolutely incredible, amazing, wonderful grand piano that I love playing but hardly ever get to because my sister gets there first. :)
I skipped lunch, because our church pianist generously lets me play whenever I'd like (though I still get a little shy). I loved it. It was absolutely incredible.
Right before she left, she told me something that I don't think I'll ever forget.
"You have a gift," she said. "Don't ever stop using it. I'm proud of you."
That meant the world to me - and God has given me a gift that I don't ever want to stop using. It wasn't the first one that I would've chosen, but I've come to love it.
I was actually really surprised, because I didn't realize someone was in the sound booth, and then they complimented me and I really needed it, especially after what had happened that morning. And then of course, my best friend who happened to sneak in and scare me half to death when she started clapping. Ahem. :)
I also found my niche - the niche that no one else in my family has, the niche that makes me feel special: writing. Yeah, others write, but that's my thing. It just is. That's why I could spend all day writing these, and I just love it.
I thought I had finally escaped my sister's shadow (haha, #isabellegoty2014) in writing when I joined the writing community... and then one of the comments on my profile was, "Hey, I know this sounds weird if I'm wrong, but do you have an older sister named _______?" *facepalm*
At first it bothered me that at Bible Bee (Nationals, mostly), people would come up and say, "Oh, you must be _____'s little sister!" And I'm just like, "Uh, yeah, I'm ____'s little sister."
I've always been referred to as _____'s little sister! :D The troubles of having an older sister... :) I don't mind so much anymore. Now it's kinda a compliment to be mistaken for her! She teaches a Sunday school class to the little 2 & 3 year olds at our church, and one of her former students (he's like, 5) came up and said, "_____, _____, I need your help!" It was so cute! I did help him, by the way... :D
Blogging and writing are something I can do for God's glory that is uniquely mine (at least in my family). I'm so thankful that I'm fearfully and wonderfully made!
I wish I didn't have to go through being the 'outsider' sometimes, but it's taught me several lessons and most importantly, I can understand why some people put on a façade because they're insecure about who they are - I almost did last week. I hadn't seen one of my friends in almost a year, and I was afraid she wouldn't want to be my friend anymore because we've both changed a lot (but in good ways, I just wasn't sure) and I was afraid that everyone else at the party would know her better than I did. I was overly concerned about my appearance, and I was trying to think of everything I could say that would make me feel better. I wanted to put on an outward appearance so that I wouldn't be hurt like last time. I was scared, really, and insecure of who I was. It's a long story, but I looked into the mirror and realized something. I was doing exactly what I hated seeing in others - pride and vanity.
I was so concerned about what others thought, that I had completely ignored what God thought.
But now that I've experienced it, I can reach out to others who aren't part of the in-crowd, and know exactly how they feel. I can work against letting there even be in-crowds, and I can understand those who put on an 'I-could-care-less' attitude because they don't want to be hurt again.
I don't know exactly what I want to say. It's just nice to be able to write (well, technically type) again (I was sick for several days and missed writing).
But I think my main points are that YOU are uniquely, wonderfully, and fearfully made in God's image and NEVER forget that. No matter what you're going through, God's always there, and HE is the one we should look to for praise, because it's the only lasting praise.
It doesn't matter if you're as pretty, talented, or as smart as someone else - God has made you just as He needs you to be for the plan He has for you. Even if you don't think you have anything to serve Him with, just offer your all - your everything.
~ Light4theLord
To God be the Glory!

Not Seen, Not There

How many people have this misconception?

Evidently, a lot.
Little kids in hide-and-seek: Well, I don't see them hiding here. I guess they aren't here. I give up.
Older kids: Well, I don't see the dirt and dust, so it's definitely not there and I don't have to clean it.
Adults: I can't see God. He must not be there.
The last one isn't just adults, I promise. Too many people have this idea, "If I can't see it, it's not there."
It's hard to trust in something that our human eyes can't comprehend and can't acknowledge the presence. It's a natural response to a LOT of things to have to be able to see something before believing it.
That's actually how poor 'Doubting' Thomas made his 'doubting' debut.
So the other disciples were saying to him, "We have seen the Lord!" But he said to them, "Unless I see in HIs hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.
- John 20:25 -
But you know what? It's called... faith.
He said to them, "Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?"
-Matthew 8:26a-
Believe me (pun unintended!), I totally thought about this for an hour and a half. I was assigned the chore (well, actually, it was one of the rare ones that I got paid for! :D Mwhahahahahaaa...) to clean off the tops of the cabinets in the kitchens (it's complicated, but there's this little decorative railing with a place for whatever you want to put up there for décor) and I agreed thinking, Oh, come on... it can't be that hard. Hmph. I'll dust it, wipe it down a little, and claim my reward!
Uh, not.
Evidently, it hasn't been cleaned for a while (hehe...), hence the layers of grime... and the layers... and the layers. Whenever I thought I was finished, I found another spot! (I still don't think it ended up perfect, but I mean, seriously... I spent over an hour on that.)
I cleaned.. and cleaned... and cleaned...
I thought and prayed while I did it (even though I felt it was somewhat a waste of part of my Saturday *sighs because it's almost gone*), and I came up with two reasons to tell you about this today
1. I felt like slacking off halfway through. I mean, seriously? Who is actually going to climb up ONTO the counter, peer OVER the little railing and inspect the ENTIRE railing around the ENTIRE kitchen? no one... but...
Just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it's not there. At first, I couldn't see any of it, so I thought there wasn't much there. And besides, God would know that I never finished the job - and so would I.
2. All those layers of grime pile up... like our sins. We might think that no one sees them, and that no one knows they're there, but they are.
Be sure your sins will find you out.
- Numbers 32:23b -
Others might not see our sins, and think they're not there (they might even think we're perfect - ha!)... but they are.
And most of all, God knows. And we know.
We can also take that another way.
If we don't scrape off the rough scabs and edges of our grudges and wounds... if we don't forgive.... if we don't apologize... if it builds up...
It's going to take a lot longer to clean off all that piled up grime (wounds, hurts, tears) and even longer to fix your relationship with that person.
I know this was somewhat short and I haven't been able to do this as often since I was sick several days (Thank the Lord I'm healed! :)) and tried to do a variety of other things for part of my Bible. It's not a great excuse, but I have been out and about for a while. :/
Anyways, I'm planning on doing a little life update to tell you guys some exciting news for me!
~ Light4theLord
To God be the Glory!

Prayers, Please!

There are several little (as in 6-11 year-old) kids in the neighborhood that I live in.

I don't think any of them except maybe one knows Jesus.

That's why I'm asking you to pray. Several of them have families who don't care a whiff about where they are. Those kids just roam the neighborhood.
I would love it if you prayed for their salvation, and also that I'll be a light for the Lord to them. My brothers easily reach out to the boys, but the other girls are just lonely, bored, and they don't know Jesus. When I went out to play this afternoon, I brought some of my dolls - they loved it.
I'd like to do a club this summer - maybe rollerblading/rollerskating or some other sport (even though I'm horribly un-athletic) so that in between, during snack break, I can tell them about Jesus. Most of them would probably shied at the thought of a Bible club, but I want to be a light in the world around me.
So if you would please pray for my family and the kids around us as we try to reach them with the gospel. Thanks!
~ Light4theLord
To God Be the Glory

Spring has Sprung!

Well, at least, it HAD sprung last week. Today it was in the high 20s.... Fahrenheit.
Insane. Anyways, spring comes with gorgeous flowers and baby goats!
Welcome to the farm. :)

And yes, the shadow is another goat...

Peek-a-boo! Are they not absolutely adorable?!?!?!?!?!??!!?!?

Meet the baby goat twins, born exactly four weeks ago!

'Why, 'ello there! Are you looking at me?'
Ohmygoodness - this little guy was so, so, so, so, cute! The camera was literally d.e.a.d. It had this annoying little 'CHANGE THE BATTER PACK'. But, I prayed that I could get a picture of this adorable posing goat (he was literally WAITING for me to take this picture!), and God answered my prayer! As soon as little Mister Goat here took off, the camera totally died. And I mean, like, you couldn't even take another picture.

Which goat picture was your favorite?
How do you like the new design? I figured it was time to kinda announce my own little personal blog. I might blog some random stuff here and there, but mostly I'd like to share my photography, writing and the devos I've been writing. It's kinda fun to have a separate blog, other than my doll blog. It is rather time consuming though, to make sure 100D4100G stays updated. Oh well, it's fun!
~ Light4theLord

The Master Potter

The Master Potter

                The Master Potter chose his lump carefully and examined it. He whistled as he worked, setting the clay delicately on the wheel. As he spun the wheel, fashioning a lovely earthen bowl, the Master Potter dreamed of the things his creation could do. Day after day, he had been laboring tirelessly over the clay lumps, turning them into vases and pots, dishes and toys. As the sun began to set over the mountains near the workshop, he finished another piece of pottery: a mug. When the Master at last locked the door to the pottery shop, it was dusk. He went home, tired and exhausted from the heat of the kiln and the spinning of the wheel.

                The next morning, he sang to the birds outside his window as he ate, anticipating the workshop. He smiled, just imagining the scene he would encounter, for before he had returned home the evening before, he had plucked some yellow wildflowers and filled a vase of water for them. The Master Potter knew exactly what he was going to do that morning, and he knew exactly where He had set the paints the last evening: on the shelf in front of his wheel.

                He strolled happily down the path to the workshop, waving to the children playing in the streets. But as he opened the door to his shop, his joy diminished immediately. What a shock it must have been to open the door to that particular shop that particular morning!

                “No!” “Me! Me!” “I want that!” “Give me that!” “I don’t like me!” “Why do I have to do that?”  Yelling and shrieks of ungratefulness greeted the Potter that morning. The yellow daisies were wilted on top of a plate and the water was spilled across the floor. The paints that had been so carefully set on ledge were splattered everywhere. A blue, orange, green and yellow cup was wrestling with a purple and black whistle. But as soon as the Master Potter opened the door and the set the bell ringing, all cries stopped.

                “What have you done?” asked the Potter, dismayed and sad. The dishes and other creations climbed shamefully back into their spots. The Master didn’t expect an answer, but instead scooped up the dead plants and tossed them outside. He mopped up the spilled paint and water, and then sat down, his face in his hands. The room was silent, with only a sneeze or a cough interrupting.

                “Why have you done such a terrible thing?” The Master Potter asked at last, rinsing the paint-splattered dishes in a case of water.

                “I wanted to be a cup!” “And I have to be like the vases!” cried the pottery pieces, each one wanting to be like the other.

                “Don’t you see?” asked the Master Potter.

                “See what?” all the vases, plates, mugs and bowls chimed together.

                “I made each of you different for a reason. Vala Vase- I have chosen you to bring cheer into these people’s lives by holding flowers and water.” The man cupped his hands around a fat vase with a skinny neck. “I didn’t make you, Batya Bowl, to be a whistle, or to make music! I made you especially to hold soup for the sick and hold food for the hungry. Each of you has your own unique shape, purpose, height and color for a reason. You just have to trust that I know what I am doing.” The tall vases, the fat cups, the flat plates and the heavy bowls were ashamed of their actions and mumbled in acknowledgement. The Master Potter then arranged them back into place and salvaged as much paint as possible. For the rest of the day he painted the stoneware different colors, each with their own pattern and design. When the sun began to set again, he was still brushing on the turquoise onto the whistle. It was far into the night when he finally untied his now colorful and stained apron and hung it up on the hook by the door.

                At the crack of dawn, he was already working at the table in his kitchen of his cottage. His body was bent over an elegant sheet of writing paper and a bottle of ink.




You’re Invited

Time: Noon meal Place: The Master Potter’s Workshop

All the children of this household are invited to participate in the noon meal of Friday at the Master Potter’s Workshop on the edge of town. Bring your favorite food and yourself. The Party will include the meal and games, with party favors afterwards.


                The Master Potter worked hard, copying by hand each invitation and exhausting three bottles of ink and two packages of stationery. After he finished the invites, The Master Potter took a walk around town, delivering the envelopes into the hands of each housewife and street child. Not only did he deliver the invitations on the way to his workshop, he also carried a bag of groceries for a mother of five children and washed the floor for a widow, chased runaway marbles and helped a washerwoman hang the linens. By the time the Master Potter got to the workshop, he had helped many people and was, not surprisingly, dusty and dirty.

                “I suppose I ought to go wash up!” He chuckled as he opened the door to the workshop. He was quite relieved to find the workplace in order. The Master Potter then went down to the creek near where he had previously picked the wildflowers and cleaned up.

                Back at the pottery studio, The Master Potter dragged the heavy wooden worktable outside into the sunshine and washed it down. The next day would be Friday, the day of the children’s party. Setting out the stools and chairs, The Master Potter greeted every child that passed by.

                “How you do today, Clara?” He called into the street.

                “Quite fine, thank you!” She answered, running off with her friends.

                “Hello, Peter, how are you today?” He asked the little boy beside him.

                “I’m fine, what are you doing?” Peter asked.

                “Well, I’m setting the table for tomorrow’s party,” The Master Potter replied, placing a mug before a plate.

                “Can I and Andrew help you?” Peter questioned eagerly.

                “Certainly! I could use your help- Andrew! I didn’t see you there for a moment!” He smiled kindly and sent them to gather a bouquet of flowers for the table. When they returned, The Master had a vase prepared.

                “You’re gonna need more vases!” Peter called from afar, holding up an enormous gathering of flowers, and his wasn’t even as large as his brother’s! The Potter laughed aloud and went inside for more casks. With the help of Peter and his brother and their friends, the Master was finished by sunset and walked the boys’ home.

                Morning came and so did the party. Children arrived in their best party clothes and laughed and played with one another. The table was set with colorful pottery pieces and streamers and fabric flags flew overhead. Each child had brought food: chicken, green beans, cookies, potatoes and macaroni noodles with cheese and so much more. When it came time to eat, the children happily seated themselves and the Master Potter sat at the head of the table. When the children had quieted down and began eating, the Master Potter began speaking.

                “I hope you all are enjoying yourselves,” he paused and the children clapped as their answer. “I’d like to tell you a little story. Once upon a time, there were some pottery pieces, just like the ones you are eating off at the moment. Their maker made each one special with its own size and shape, height and purpose and each one was unique. But one day their maker came into his kitchen where he had set the table for his dinner. And alas! The dishes were jumbled up; his tea was in his bowl and his biscuit in his cup! And oh dear, his soup was all over the table, and only a bit in his plate. And would you believe that the fork was trying to spoon sugar into his tea? And the spoon was trying to butter the biscuit!” At this point the children all laughed and giggled. Then the Potter became serious again.  “But did you know that each of you can sometimes be like those dishes? Have you ever wanted to be like someone else? Maybe taller or prettier? Or smaller? Listen to this: God has made each and every one of you special and maybe you aren’t tall yet, or maybe you have freckles now. But maybe when you are older, you will be a doctor and cure the sickest people, or become a missionary and tell others about your Maker. So what if you are tinier than everyone else? You can fit in smaller places when you play hide-and-seek, right? So here is what I want to tell you- be satisfied with who you are and don’t be like the dishes, okay?” The boys and girls nodded and smiled. Then the Master Potter handed out a small package to each child. Squeals of joy and contentment filled the air as the paper was ripped open to find either a bag of clay marbles or a whistle for the boys and a flute or an elegant jewelry dish for the girls. The party was a success and the children learned a lesson… and so did the dishes.





Jeremiah 18: 3-6

Then I went down to the potter’s house, and there he was, making something on the wheel. But the vessel that he was making of clay was spoiled in the hand of the potter; so he remade it into another vessel, as it pleased the potter to make. Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does?” declares the Lord. “Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.


Isaiah 45:9

“Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker- An earthenware vessel among the vessels of the earth! Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’ Or the things you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?


Romans 9:21

Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?


Psalm 139:14-15

I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, and my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth;                                                                                                                                                                                             

The Podium of Your Heart

Who has first place on the podium of your heart?

Or should I say what has first place on the podium of your heart...

Many of us say that God has first place in our lives, that He has first place in our hearts, in our minds, and in everything we do....
but does He?
I know I question myself often on this subject. I wrote in the back of my Bible a while back:
"Who/what is on your podium?"
Above this question for pondering I sketched a little podium with a question mark on each place.
To discover who/what really has first place on the podium of our lives, we have to find out first who/what qualifies for the podium in the first place.
A few questions to ask yourself before immediately coming up with automatic answers like, "My family, God, friends" are these:
- What/who do you spend the most time with/on?
- To what/who does your mind wander to when you're bored?
- What/who preoccupies your mind?
- What/who do you dwell on?
- What/who do you spend the most money on?
- What/who do you tell others about?
Everyone's answers are different, but when I examine myself I find that the following are often applicable to those questions:
- the computer
- dolls
- games/books
- my friends
- my family
- school
I know that honestly, I'm putting other things before God. Instead of having my time with God first thing in the mornings, I push it aside and say, "I'll do that after I finish my schoolwork." But after school, what do I really do? I read, I draw, I take pictures, I play with my dolls, I call friends.... I do a lot of things, but hardly ever does it consist of spending time with God, who should be my best friend. None of the things that I really spend my time on are eternal - friends don't always last (though I know of several friends that I hope do last forever!) forever - but God does. He's waiting for us to spend time with Him.
We have many podiums in our life - social podiums, podiums of our minds, podiums of our hearts, podiums of our time.... these podiums make up the podium of our lives. The first-place winners of each podium fight for places on the podiums of our lives.
The social podiums often consist of the following: friends, social media, family, people, popularity, etc.
The podiums of our minds are awarded upon what we think about, what we store in our minds, what we dwell upon, what we read, see, hear, and heed.
Our 'heart podiums' are often stolen by people, emotions, or speech.
The podiums of our time are the easiest to award- the winners aren't always bad things, but even good things can turn bad if not used/taken/had in proportion. If we eat too much chocolate - even healthy chocolate (hehe, as in dark chocolate), it's still bad for us. Reading isn't necessarily bad, but if we let reading take over our lives and our time, then it can turn bad (it's also dependent on what you read).
So how can we really let God have first place on the podiums of our lives? Of course, the easiest way to put Him first overall is to put Him first in each smaller podium.
Let's begin with the social podium. For me, emailing, chatting, and calling friends are the easiest ways for me to fill up my social podium. I'll have the urge to run and check to see if my friends have replied to my emails or comments, and I have to resist that temptation. I have to really cut back on doing that - it's a really big temptation for me.
When we cut back on doing the other things on our social podium, it's much easier to let God rise to the top. I'm trying to take Sundays off the computer and spend more time with God (though currently it hasn't been working - I'm trying harder each Sunday not to go to the computer out of habit). Starting this week, I'm trying to only check my email three times a day (believe me, that's a scale down of my current rate). To have a social podium in the first place, you have to communicate. We can communicate and spend time with God just like with any other friend - just talk to Him. We don't have to call and leave a message, we don't have to wait for the computer to load to send Him an email - we can just talk to Him! Anytime, anywhere...
The podiums of our minds is a tricky one, especially for me.
You see, I have a huge imagination.... and I mean h.u.g.e.
It's really hard for me not to let my mind wander (even during school) to stories I want to write, blogposts I want to post, pictures I want to take, books I want to read, things I want to try.... again, this goes back to time. The more time we spend doing each of the things that our mind preoccupies itself with makes it easier for our thoughts to drift toward that thing. The Bible says in Philippians 4:8,
"Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things."
Sometimes our minds drift to very unwholesome things. I have to ask God to help me not to think about some things that are in this world (that I wish weren't here).
How is it that I can read a book, listen to an audio drama, or watch a movie once and then be able to memorize and quote lines from it? It's so effortless that my mind can recall large portions of the book dialogue and bring it to mind, and that I can almost hear the movie playing in my head. The more I watch that movie, the easier it is. Each time I re-read that book, the easier it is for my mind to quote it. Right now, for instance, I can quickly quote Light of the Last or Cloak of the Light (by Chuck Black). I can even remember distinct scenes of The Inspectors episode that we watched several weeks ago.
While those things that I read and watch aren't necessarily bad, they definitely can become a distraction from my school, my time with God, and just plain life. Now that I really think about this, I admire my sister even more for taking the stand not to watch The Inspectors during the school week (even on movie nights) because it's so easy for our minds to think about that instead of what we should be thinking about it.
So what would happen if instead of leaving copies of other books to read whenever we have spare time, we leave copies of the Bible on our tables and shelves? I know that even if I look at the cover of a book, I can quickly recall the entire storyline (I have a pretty good memory...).
Our thoughts can also be contaminated by other thoughts that creep in- thoughts of greed (like when you're in the mall, or in my case, at the AG store or looking at a catalogue), thoughts of selfishness and self-pity, thoughts of anger and hate towards others, thoughts of resentment...
That's why I love the National Bible Bee. If I spend hours memorizing and studying Scripture, it's much easier to refer to that and think and dwell on that instead of movie lines or book plots. 
"Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You." - Psalm 119:11
No matter how many times we hear/read that verse (I've heard/read it a lot), it's still applicable.
As a young lady, it's the world's way to 'be swept off our feet in love'. That's why even at my young age (I most definitely should not be swept off my feet in love - that would be insanely ridiculous and inappropriate) I've given my heart to God. My heart will always be His first. No matter how old I am, my heart is still His - it will always belong to God first.
We have to fight emotions that creep in to try to steal our hearts from God. But,
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
I'm trusting that the peace that God gives will guard my heart and my mind from many things.
All of the above podiums contribute to the podium of time. This is a tricky one. Everyone, sometime in their life, has to learn how to manage time. It's so, so, so easy to be caught up in something and completely waste hours on it (the definition of Youtube: time waster, black hole of time). It's even easier to lose track of the time and forget all about what we should be doing. There is a wonderful way to spend time that never wastes it - spend time with Jesus. It's almost funny that out of all the school subjects that I trudged through today, even before writing this very time appropriate (no pun intended) devo, I really thought that I would have to sludge through Bible too. I kept putting it off. But now that I am feasting on the Word of God and spending time with Him and writing this post, I've spend nearly an hour and a half on it and it seems like just a few minutes. This morning, when I did Grammar & Composition for half an hour, it seemed like hours and hours of time spent on punctuation. :)
It's so easy to make God a part of our lives, but it's even easier to push Him out of our lives. I for one, tend to give Him control of my life only to yank it back a few hours later. Then, I'll give it back to Him, but as soon as I stop acknowledging that He is in control, I take it back.
It's the same with the podium of everything else. I award first place to God, and then strip Him of it and hand it over to the computer, or friends, or school, or even family. We wouldn't dare do that to anything else... would we?
We have to. Today, I challenge you (and myself) to strip the current first place winner of your (and mine) social podium, mind podium, heart podium, time podium - and most importantly, the podium of your life.
It's hard, no doubt. It's hard to make other things relinquish their throne over your time, your mind, and your heart. It's hard to fight off the temptation to 'temporarily' allow those things back into first place.
But believe me, there's no award wasted on God. He's an amazing manager of your time, your thoughts, and your life. You won't regret it.

Maybe if you're like me, you need to tell God that He has first place in your life. If you'd like, you can say the little prayer that I just did:
"God, thank you for being willing to forgive me for taking back first place. I know that somewhere in the future I'll probably have to say this again and recommit my life but I hope that it's not for a while. God, take my life and don't dare give it back. Don't let me take my life back. Help me to be fully yours, and yours forever and first. Please help me not to be distracted with my social life, but help me to shine for You no matter where I am or who I'm with. Please preoccupy  occupy my mind with You. Help my heart not to be taken with anything or by anyone else. Help me to mange the time You've given me the way You want me to, and please let me serve You in whatever I do."
~ Light4theLord
To God be the Glory!

One of the Greatest Lessons Ever Learned

I've learned plenty of lessons in my life. One of the most important though, is the one I'll stress today:

the lesson of learning how to be taught

I'm sounding cryptic, aren't I?
I'll explain
One of the greatest lessons I've ever learned is how to be teachable. Being teachable means humbling yourself beneath another (often more knowledgeable) person. It means that you have to admit that you don't know what they do, and that you're willing to submit and listen to them - even if they're younger. It means that even if you don't feel like listening and heeding this instruction, you're still going to. It means that even when you don't want to be taught, or if you think you already know it, you're going to let the teacher... well, teach.
That's hard for me. Even harder is when I think I should know something, and yet I don't.
But if we're not willing to be taught (and sometimes broken so that we can be re-taught the right way) what God wants us to know, how can we be used?
For example, if you're hiring a computer technician for (let's say) your computer business, you're not going to hire someone who thinks they know everything and won't listen to you, the boss. You're not likely to hire someone who isn't willing to learn how to fix the computers the way you want them to.
So really, it's more of submission to authority. It's being willing to be taught by someone else.
You turn things around! Shall the potter be considered as equal with the clay, that what is made would say to its maker, “He did not make me”; or what is formed say to him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
Isaiah 29:16
“Woe to the one who quarrels with his Maker—
An earthenware vessel among the vessels of earth!
Will the clay say to the potter, ‘What are you doing?’
Or the thing you are making say, ‘He has no hands’?
Isaiah 45:9
But now, O Lord, You are our Father,
We are the clay, and You our potter;
And all of us are the work of Your hand.
Isaiah 64:8
If we want to be used by God, we must be pliable, like clay. We have to smother our pride in humility and let Him use us the way HE wants to use us, not the way WE want Him to use us.
It's not easy to be humble. It's not always easy to be teachable (especially if the teacher is a sibling). With God's help, though, nothing is impossible!
~ Light4theLord
To God Be the Glory

VOTD: John 16:33

These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.
John 16:33

VOTD: John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be dismayed.
John 14:27

Gifts Given to Glorify

God has given each of us gifts.

You beg to differ? Well, look deeper. God has given us each unique gifts - yes, others may have it (there's always some one better and always someone worse) as well, but it's unique to YOU because of God's plan on how He wants you to use your unique gift to His glory.
You may be academically gifted and really smart, you might be athletically gifted (I am DEFINITELY not!) and super sportsy, you might have an artistic gift and be wonderful in the arts, or you might have the gift of encouragement or possibly the gift of organization or leadership.
Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly...
Romans 12:8a
Now you might be asking, "So yeah, I have a gift. But I really and truly don't think I can use it for God's glory. Seriously."
I thought the same thing... last year.
You see, I found that I have a gift in serving, photography, and writing. I also have a passion for dolls and blogging.
Now, how might I use that for God's glory?
Yeah, writing might be easy - sure, I can glorify God in that... but hardly anyone saw my writing.
Photography... huh?
Dolls... wait, what?
Blogging... I don't think so.
But even if I didn't think so, God did. I had asked Him to give me a way to serve Him through my gifts and passions. And what did He give me?
Now I can use my photography, serving, love for dolls, blogging and more for Him!
My writing is now all on this blog (though it lacks in technical design!).
God is amazing!
Ask HIM how you can use your gifts for HIS glory - after all, it's only fitting since He has given them to us, we should give back!
~ Light4theLord
To God Be the Glory

VOTD: John 14:1

Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me.
John 14:1

Writing Tip #1 & My Writing Journey Update

Hey there! This is just a fun little update about writing, and my writing journey. Maybe you've noticed that I've been posting more often :)
I am LOVING writing more often. I've finished several short stories and poems lately, as well as getting a lot accomplished in re-writing my books.
I've also been participating in YWW - Young Writer's Workshop. It's hosted by Brett Harris and Jaquelle Crowe, both of which got published while in their teens. It's fantastic! I'm loving all that I'm learning. I found a couple of tips that help me write, and so I thought I might do a little series on them. :) I'm still debating on whether I should solely write my devos on this blog, or add to it to become my own personal blog.

Writing Tip #1

Develop Your Characters

Obviously, this is a fiction writing tip. :) I've found that developing my characters not only makes it more exciting, it makes it easier and more accurate to write them.
It annoys me to no end when people just add in a ton of characters and never really develop any of them. It turns me off.
In short stories, you don't necessarily need a timeline of their entire life (though I tend to write one anyways!), but in books it's a lot easier to write when you know their story, their life, their dreams, and their sorrows. Developing characters helps the reader to be able to really understand them. For example, in a short story I'm writing (which I still haven't named... hehe), Adrianna (the protagonist) lives in a very quiet home. 
Most people around her don't understand why the family hardly ever socializes, hardly speaks, and never participates in anything. They live simply, and hardly ever wear new clothing.
But behind it all, Adrianna really lives in a loving home - even though her mother never shows it. Her father died when she was only eight, four years before the story begins. He died while saving another family during a storm on the ocean. He was the lighthouse keeper, and a jovial, handsome young man with life to look forward to with his family of two daughters (at the time) and a beautiful wife.
When he died, his wife struggled with the fact that their baby was born too early because of her stress over his death. The baby was born only a few days after his death and nearly died, which caused her even more sorrow. Yet she never grieved, holding it all on the inside, which caused her to clamp shut against the world. She never grieved for the sake of her three daughters, because she had to be strong for them. She had to help the family survive on the meager salary she earned as she took her husband's place as the lighthouse keeper. She had no family to turn to, because they had all disowned her after she fell in love with a sailor of all people rather than someone of the same high social standards and married him against the family's wishes. She shut off the world, and kept to herself.
Adrianna doesn't understand completely, and even though she is a young lady, she has no friends but the ocean. Her father had always told her that the ocean was her friend, if she respected its strength. So it is no surprise when she disappears, only to find her...
Alright, that's where my example ends. How's that? :) When I'm writing from the POV of one of the characters, I tend to act out their situation - most of the time in my head, thank goodness! Arissa, one of the characters I write the part for in To Find the Royal Truth (a series that I'm writing with my best friend, and one that I doll-itized a teaser trailer type thing for - you can read it here) is one of the characters I like to imagine her part as. That way, I can accurately write what I think I would say if I was in her position... it's rather fun, if not eccentric. :D
I hope this helps, if you're a writer! I love writing, and I love meeting other writers!
~ Light4theLord

What a Friend

In life, we lose friends. They leave, they move, we lose contact....
except for one very special Friend... because...
What a Friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and grieves to bear
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer....
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness
Take it to the Lord in prayer
- Joseph M. Scriven
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
- Proverbs 18:24b
Even if our friends leave, or desert/ignore us, there's a Friend that will never leave our side.
He is the one who is always there, always willing to listen, and is always there to comfort us.
I really don't know how many times I've just poured out everything on my mind and heart to Jesus, and He comforts me. The song above, 'What a Friend We Have in Jesus' is so true - can we find anyone as faithful? Who will share our sorrows? He knows us better than anyone else in the whole universe - because He created us!
Jesus knows our weaknesses, our hopes, our dreams, our sorrows, our thoughts..
He is our best friend - forever!
True friends are hard to find - True Friends (the poem)
They are a blessing, though! Friends that encourage us, and point us to Christ are true friends.
If ever you have no one to talk to, no one to listen to you, no one to share your burdens...
talk to Jesus - He always listens!
~ Light4theLord
To God be the Glory!

Applause of Our Audience

For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ.
Galatians 1:10
The passage for today is short, but is pretty hard to live out. Several other cross-references to this verse will be added below, so don't worry, it's not just this one verse!
I struggle with having a fear of disappointing people. I hate disappointing anyone. It's hard, because I'm two grades ahead, and lots of people have high expectations of me. I don't mind high expectations (I actually love setting high goals), but I sometimes am fearful of not fulfilling those expectations and disappointing that person.
If we are seeking the favor of men, and striving to please men, we cannot be servants of God as well.
No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
Matthew 6:24
It is true that no one can serve two masters. Our lives cannot have two authorities. God is a jealous God, and He will not stand to share our lives with the world. We can't be half-hearted servants for God. It's either our all, or nothing.
Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17
We cannot love the world, and love God. To quote my favorite book other than the Bible (Light of the Last by Chuck Black - a.m.a.z.i.n.g. page 226) when Drew (the main character) is questioning the angel (Validus), "How can I know you are real.. and an angel?" (You have to read the whole book to completely understand) Validus then replied, "This world is temporary, ours is eternal. Which one do you suppose is more real?"
The things of this world, the lust of the flesh and the eyes and boastful pride, is not from God. It is of the world. As John wrote in 1 John (the above passage), "The world is passing away... but the one who does the will of God lives forever."
Which world is more real?
John goes on further to tell us something else that is very important,
Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you. - 1 John 3:13
If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. – John 15:18-19
Satan doesn't want us to follow God. Satan wants to tempt us into being one of the world's. The world hated Jesus before it hated us.
Christians across the world are persecuted why? Because they have chosen to follow and serve Christ instead of the world. If they were of the world, the world would love them. But because they are not of the world, and have chosen to follow Christ instead, the world hates them.
The thing that comes to mind is this song, Audience of One:
(lyrics credit to the writer)
It’s such a strong temptation to live for man’s applause, but I don’t want to buy into the lie ‘cause I know that’s not a worthy cause. So to keep things in perspective, I hung a sign up on the wall. The sign is nothing special, but it really says it all. And the sign says,
I’ll be content to serve an audience of One. Only His approval counts when all is said and done. And this is my prayer, when the race is finally run, I want to hear “Well Done” from the audience of One.
When the drive for recognition starts to get the best of me, I’ll I’ve got to do is look around at the people serving selflessly, and they don’t serve for glory and they’re not keeping score. There’s a sign that’s written on their hearts, a sign I’ve seen before.
I’ll be content to serve an audience of One. Only His approval counts when all is said and done. And this is my prayer, when the race is finally run, I want to hear “Well Done” from the audience of One.
In the not-too-distant future, when the crowds all fade away, I’ll stand alone before my Lord, and this is what I long to say:
I’m overjoyed to serve an audience of One. It’s what I’ve been created for ever since day one. And this is my song, as I bow before Your throne, I love to hear “Well Done” from the audience of One.
So this will be my prayer, ’til the race is finally run. I want to hear “Well done” I long to hear “Well done” I want to hear “Well done” from the audience of One.
It's such an amazing song. I love it! It really says it - when we long for recognition from men, praise from others, and approval from the world, we really should be looking for HIS approval.
So, whose approval are you seeking today?
~ Light4theLord
To God Be the Glory!

Introducing... Charis Rae!

I'm so honored to be a part of Charis Rae's blog launch (a.k.a. Grace from The Girl Upstairs), and here it is!