Tuesday, January 27, 2009

On Having an Attitude of Gratitude

I came home from school today and noticed that there were dishes in the sink, so I rinsed them off and loaded the dishwasher. No sooner than I had put the very last dish in the dishwasher, The Child comes along, fixes herself something to eat, and drops her plate (not even rinsed, mind you) into the sink. Then, The Child fixes herself something else to eat and leaves a mess. Then, The Child proceeds to go back into the livingroom to watch Degrassi or Zoey 101 or whatever shows The Child watches.

As I peered at the dirty dishes sitting in the sink and the crumbs on the counter, I thought, "What an ungrateful little brat." I thought of telling her to come clean the kitchen, but The Child would have said, "I'm only 11 and 11 year olds shouldn't have to clean!" I would have replied with, "If an 11 year old can fix herself something to eat and dirty the kitchen, she can clean it."

I decided that The Child isn't mine so it's not my job to teach her responsibility, so I grudgingly put her dishes in the dishwasher along with my own and cleaned up her mess. As I was doing that and thinking about how ungrateful and spoiled her actions are, God said to me, "Amber, how often are YOU an ungrateful child?"

How many times does God rinse the sins off my plate for me to just turn right around and drop another dirty plate in His sink of mercy without a second thought? How many times do I use the excuse, "But I'm only human! And humans shouldn't be expected to always do the right thing because we have a sinful nature!"

By the time I loaded the last dish into the dishwasher, I had a different attitude. Today, I choose to have an attitude of gratitude. When I watch God rinse the sins off my plate, I'm going to thank Him more and show my appreciation by not turning right around and dumping another one in His sink of mercy. And being human, just like being 11, is absolutely no excuse for not taking responsibility for myself and my own actions. The sink of mercy is always there, but like me, God doesn't always want it full of my dirty dishes.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Raising Children

For my daily devotions, I have been reading from the book Patriarchs and Prophets. The book covers from Creation to the reign of King David and discuses the role of our planet in the cosmic conflict between right and wrong. The author talks about the rebellion of Lucifer and fall of man and writes about how this ongoing conflict between God and Satan affects each of us. It does this by showing how the conflict worked itself out in the lives of men and women from the Old Testament. It's really a great book.

*****************If you're in a hurry skip this part*****************

Every now and then, I come across a passage that really means a lot to me. Here are a few such passages:

"God desires from all His creatures the service of love - service that springs from an appreciation of His character. He takes no pleasure in a forced obedience; and to all He grants freedom of will, that they may render Him voluntary service." (pg. 34)

Regarding why God didn't just destroy Satan, "Had he been immediately blotted out of existence, some would have served God from fear rather than from love. The influence of the deceiver would not have been fully destroyed, nor would the spirit of rebellion have been utterly eradicated. For the good of the entire universe through ceaseless ages, he must more fully develop his principles, that his charges against the divine government might be seen in their true light by all created beings, and that the justice and mercy of God and the immutability of His law might be forever placed beyond all question." (pg 42)

Regarding evolution: "Men are so intent upon excluding God from the sovereignty of the universe that they degrade man and defraud him of the dignity of his origin. He who set the starry worlds on high and tinted with delicate skill the flowers of the field, who filled the earth and the heavens with the wonders of His power, when He came to crown His glorious work, to place one in the midst to stand as ruler of the fair earth, did not fail to create a being worth of the hand that gave him life. The genealogy of our race, as given by inspiration, traces back its origin, not to a line of developing germs, mollusks, and quadrupeds, but to the great Creator. Though formed from the dust, Adam was 'the son of God.'"

About the fall of man: "Adam understood that his companion had transgressed the command of God, disregarded the only prohibition laid upon them as a test of their fidelity and love...he must be separated from her whose society had been his joy." Talks about being with God and the angels and blessings... "Yet all these blessings were lost sight of in the fear of losing that one gift which in his eyes outvalued every other. Love, gratitude, loyalty to the Creator--all were overborne by love to Eve. She was a part of himself, and he could not endure the thought of separation. He did not realize that the same Infinite Power who had from the dust of the earth created him, a living, beautiful form, and had in love given him a companion, could supply her place. He resolved to share her fate; if she must die, he would die with her." (pg 56)

"If the law could be changed, man might have been saved without the sacrifice of Christ; but the fact that it was necessary for Christ to give His life for the fallen race, proves that the law of God will not release the sinner from its claims upon him. It is demonstrated that the wages of sin is death. When Christ died, the destruction of Satan was made certain. But if the law was abolished at the cross, as many claim, then the agony and death of God's dear Son were endured only to give to Satan just what he asked; then the prince of evil triumphed, his charges against the divine government were sustained. The very fact that Christ bore the penalty of man's transgression is a mighty argument to all created intelligences that the law is changeless; that God is righteous, merciful, and self-denying; and that infinite justice and mercy unite in the administration of His government." (page 70)

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This morning, I was reading about Abraham. There was one passage in particular that really stood out to me and has been on my mind all day long. If you know me at all, you know that one thing I want to be more than anything is a wife and mother (ok, I guess that's two things). What an awesome responsibility that Christian parents have to raise their children to love and fear God!

"On the part of too many parents there is a blind and selfish sentimentalism, miscalled love, which is manifested in leaving children, with their unformed judgment and undisciplined passions, to the control of their own will. This is the veriest cruelty to the youth and a great wrong to the world. Parental indulgence causes disorder in families and in society. It confirms in the young the desire to follow inclination, instead of submitting to the divine requirements. Thus they grow up with a heart averse to doing God's will, and they transmit their irreligious, insubordinate spirit to their children and children's children. Like Abraham, parents should command their households after them. Let obedience to parental authority be taught and enforced as the first step in obedience to the authority of God. . . Not until parents themselves walk in the law of the Lord with perfect hearts will they be prepared to command their children after them." (pg 142-143)

I don't know about you, but that makes me desire even more to spend time with God and make sure that my relationship with Him is strong. I want to be a good mother one day and clearly that starts with being a good daughter of God.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Guarding the Fortress

My heart is secured by lock and key,
bound by walls you cannot see.
What was once a hospital for healing,
has become a prison of my own design.

You're chipping away at the fortress within,
and I desperately long to let you come in.
A pebble slips out, small and unnoticed,
mortar crumbles, stones fall, keys turn.

I must remain on guard and alert,
so my walls will not fall down and I
will not with reckless abandon escape
to place my whole heart in your hands.

--Amber Hill
Jan. 19, 2009

Monday, January 19, 2009

The One-Minute Writer: Today's Writing Prompt: Obama

The One-Minute Writer: Today's Writing Prompt: Obama

I don't know that I could speak to him. I voted McCain/ Palin and I'm proud that I voted McCain/ Palin.
Beyond being civil like I would to almost anyone, there is very little beyond civility that I could say to him and REMAIN civil. I do not like him. I did not vote for him. I do not agree with him. I am not looking forward to inauguration tomorrow. I do not believe that he is the best thing for our country. I don't care that this is "a big deal" because the first black president is being inaugurated and it's a big day in history (seriously? It's crap like this that continues to allow racism to prevail -- people continually pointing out the difference between black and white). So, at most, if he spoke to me first, I would speak back like I would to any random person I sat next to on a plane, but I would say as little as possible.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


One Minute Blogger Question -- What is the last thing that made you cry?

Exhaustion. Sunday night, due to excitement about school starting mixed in with some anxiety and just a generally difficult time falling asleep these days, I didn't sleep at all.

Monday was an intense day, filled with frustrating things and so as I sat there, I just felt like crying because I was so completely exhausted. So, I did.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

One Minute Writer Prompt: What one moment in your past do you wish was immortalized in a photograph?

When I look back on my past and the things that I will remember most, there are a few times that stand out for me. One is cutting the grass with Papa or reading on the couch with him. He had a huge yard and he'd let me ride on the lawnmower with him whenever he cut the grass. We read so many books on the couch too -- Old Mother Hubbard, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, that book about the little girl who's dog/cat had puppies/ kittens and she took them around in her wagon to get rid of them and ended up trading them for other animals.

And there are other moments I'll never forget -- Stephen and I holding each other and crying everytime he left to go back to Southern, Andrea and I wearing our "beer goggles" around Wal-mart, walking down the sidewalk at Pisgah in the brief moments before sunrise and thinking that there could never be a more peaceful time of day...

But there is one moment that will forever last in my memory and it was captured in a photograph. It was sitting in the dressing room with my best friend before her wedding and laughing and whispering and talking together. I guess it was then that I really began to understand that this friendship is not just another college friendship -- it's forever. Thank you Jeremy Hess Photography for capturing that important moment in my life.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A Good Day

The weather was beautiful today. Well, it didn't start out that beautiful, but it turned into a lovely day. I got up this morning, laid in bed for a long time with my laptop listening to music, catching up on blogs, seeing what was new on the Facebook scene, etc. Then, I got up and went out for a walk. It was cloudy, but warm. I came home, got a shower, and made myself a boca burger to curb the intense hunger I was experiencing... and it was yummy! Then, I went out on the back porch and sat on the swing and finished a good book. I came inside and dinked on the computer for a while and then went back out and started another good book. It eventually got a little chilly out once the sun started going down, so I came back in the house.

I'm really looking forward to going back to school next week, but for now, I'm thankful that today I had a good day.

He Knows My Name

Cyrus, I am sending for you by name. I am doing it for the good of the family of Jacob. They are my servants. I am doing it for Israel. They are my chosen people. You do not know anything about me. But I am giving you a title of honor. I am the Lord. There is no other Lord. I am the one and only God. You do not know anything about me. But I will make you strong.
Isaiah 45:4,5

My freshman year of college, I was at Southern and I was taking Earth Science from Dr. Hansen. Like a good girl I attended class everyday, stayed awake (most of the time), did my homework, made average grades. I didn't speak up in class or do anything to draw attention to myself. I was just one of the other students. Of course, he made an effort to learn our names, but there was nothing about me as a student that was memorable.

I met my two best friends in that class and we've talked many times about Dr. Hansen and how, to this day, when we pass him on the promenade or see him around campus, he always greets us by name. We were just wallflowers and yet, he knows us.

God knows and calls me by name. Before I was born, He knew me and had a plan for me. Before I knew Him, He knew who He was making me to be. God called me and appointed me and gave me a title of honor, Daughter, before I ever knew who He was. And with that calling, He gave a promise that He would make me strong and equip me with everything necessary for His plans for me to be realized.

But Dr. Hansen doesn't just know my name -- he knows Brooke and Beth-Anne's as well. I'm sure that he also knows Desmond, Jonathan, and Jessica too. God doesn't just know my name either. He knows every single person who has ever lived and will ever live.

The God of the Universe knows YOU and cares for YOU personally. I think that's pretty incredible. Even more incredible than a professor who still remembers his wallflower-student's names from three years ago.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Walking with God

I finished reading The Shack recently and did not like it for various reasons; however, the overall message of the book was good. Since reading it there are a few things that have stuck with me -- one being that God is all about relationship.

So often, I think we get caught up in the "rules". Don't drink, don't smoke, go to church, be a good person, don't screw up, don't say bad words, don't have pre- or extra-marital sex, dress modestly, and on and on. I think most of you would agree with me that all of those things are very good things to do/ not do, but I think you would also agree with me when I say that sometimes in trying to keep the "rules", we lose sight of what God is all about -- relationship.

The book brought out the point that without the Holy Spirit's work in our lives, we are powerless when it comes to doing all the right things. Another point that the book brought up is that the law was intended to show us our need for help and that there is no possible way that we could do all of that on our own.

This morning, I went over to BibleGateway to check out the verse of the day and it said, "He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God" (Micah 6:8). I love this verse so much. In the book, Mack asked what it was that Papa (God) wanted him to do when he went back to his normal life and what was expected of him. I think this verse answers that question best. God wants us to walk with Him and let Him take care of making us into what He wants us to be.