Looking back...and forward!

Another year has ended. A hard year. A wonderful year. I will never forget 2012.
As time goes on...priorities change. I only posted 7 times in the entire year and...I missed it. But I don't regret the things that made me busy this year or wish that things were different.
You see, God works in mysterious ways, so far above our own that we don't understand much of the time. At least for me, the times I get a glimpse of WHY are fewer than the times I must simply have faith without seeing at all.
This year, I went through the greatest trial thus far in my life. I wondered if God was really real. If  He was really in control. If He was really good. And if so...WHY do things like this happen?
This year, I have experienced some of the greatest joy thus far in my life. I wondered how I could ever have doubted God. I delighted in the blessings that I don't deserve. I marvelled that such a feeling of peace and joy could really be experienced. And if so...WHY do things like this happen?

That really is the story of this year for me. Life is hard! But life is beautiful and rewarding, because in the darkest alleys, on the sparkling beaches, and in the deep, cool forest...God remains the same.
His plan is always to make us more like His Son Jesus Christ so we can bring glory to Him. Sometimes He uses times of pain and trial. Sometimes times of blessing and joy. Even when we are faithless, He remains faithful, He cannot deny Himself!

I'm excited for 2013. I started it off next to my dear best friend, with many wonderful friends who love the Lord! I'm enjoying some time with my beloved family before school starts up again next week.
I honestly don't know what this year holds for me. There will probably be times of frustration and waiting. Of trusting and hoping. Of laughing and singing. Of being still before the Lord.
My prayer is that no matter what happens...I will make the most of every moment and that next year at this time...I will look more like Christ.


Visions of Heaven

Ezekiel has reached the age of priestly service to God but has been cast from his homeland and is a stranger in a strange land. Then his life is completely changed. He sees a vision which...goes beyond even my imagination.
He struggles to find the words to describe what he sees--"it was like...a flashing fire, and a stormy wind, and a great cloud!" Over and over he uses the term "likeness," and the phrase "as it were." He tries to describe four fiery angels who have a human likeness, but are so different from us! They glow like bronze, having four faces and four wings. They dart to and fro continually as a unit like flashings of lightning. They are somehow intrinsically connected to wheels...within wheels...that are covered in eyes...and that glow!
Then the expanse above their heads! It shone like awe-inspiring crystal! And the sound of their wings was like...it was like...many rushing waters, and a tumultuous army, and the voice of God! But when they stopped moving...they put their wings down and another sound and image captivated the attention.
Ezekiel looks up...
and sees a throne.
The One Who sat on it had the appearance of a man...but He gleamed like metal. And the BRIGHTNESS! And the appearance of FIRE!
Ezekiel tried to describe the living creatures in great detail. But when his eyes behold "the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD"...he falls to his face. 

This God that we serve deserves our reverence and our respect...but also our fear and awe! We cannot fathom or comprehend His glory! We cannot become accustomed to His splendor! We cannot even describe what He is like!
Ezekiel knows his place and falls to his face. We too must prostrate ourselves before this AWESOME, HOLY, GLORIOUS, BRIGHT, OVERWHELMING, TERRIBLE, SHINING GOD Who cannot be comprehended.

But then, as I was reading Ezekiel 1 this morning...I remembered something incredible.

Hebrews 4:14-16 
"Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to the confession.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.
Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time."

Because of the blood of Christ, we can walk right up to the throne of God because He is our Father. I can boldly enter this heavenly scene in my blood-cleansed white robe, walk right past the fiery angels, and see my Daddy.
The combination of awe and affection, fear and familiarity, glory and grace....is too much for me to comprehend, to fathom, to describe. And yet this is my God. My Father. The Sovereign Ruler. My Friend.

If that doesn't fill you with hope and joy, I don't know what will!


Overwhelmed by Grace

So my resolutions to blog more have epically failed...but life is so good right now because God is always so good!
I am on Christmas break after a wonderful semester at school. I have been learning so much through my classes, through music ensembles, through my relationships with my family, friends, and Garth (which by the way, our 4 month anniversary is today!). I miss writing...and keep determining to do it more, but it doesn't happen very often.
Lately, I have been learning about my need for grace. I fail so often. I fail to treat others like Christ would. I fail to be completely honest in my relationships with those I love. I fail to do my best when I don't feel like it. I fail to set my mind on things above.
But the grace of God is EXCEEDINGLY abundant! It is only because of God's grace that I am His child and I am daily in need of His grace to live for Him!
This is such an encouragement because it is not up to me. I don't need to feel pressure to succeed and be the best. I don't need to be utterly crushed when I fail. When I fall, grace is there. When I sin, grace is there.
This same grace that is daily bestowed on me, I need to bestow to others. When they fail, I must show them grace. When they sin, I must show them grace.
There are so many ways in my life right now that God is showing me this concept of grace. My heart is overflowing with the magnitude of it all!
As preparation for Christmas sweeps us up into a whirlwind,  I am taking a deep breath and letting His grace overwhelm me. Because His grace is so evident in the Incarnation. Because His grace is so evident in the cross. Because the need for His grace is so evident every day of my life.

2 Corinthians 8:9 
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich."

2 Corinthians 9:8 
"And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work."

2 Corinthians 4:15 
Indeed, everything is for your benefit, so that grace, extended through more and more people, may cause thanksgiving to increase to God’s glory.

Ephesians 2:4-10
"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us,
made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!
Together with Christ Jesus He also raised us up and seated us in the heavens,
so that in the coming ages He might display the immeasurable riches of His grace through His kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—
not from works, so that no one can boast.
For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them."


Thanksgiving - Psalm 103

OVERWHELMED with THANKFULNESS!!!! Thank you Lord for everything in my life that points me back to praise and bless Your Holy Name!!!!! 

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! 
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and FORGET NOT all his benefits,
3 who FORGIVES all your iniquity, who HEALS all your diseases,
4 who REDEEMS your life from the pit, who CROWNS you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who SATISFIES you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He DOES NOT DEAL WITH US ACCORDING TO OUR SINS, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
13 As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him.
14 For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 BUT the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children,
18 to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.
19 The LORD has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Bless the LORD, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word!
21 Bless the LORD, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will!
22 Bless the LORD, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the LORD, O my soul!
Psalm 103


Life is Beautiful :)

Along the side of my blog, there is a listing of my most recent posts entitled "lately..." And the latest post is from February. Hmm...maybe it should be entitled, "Once upon when Sophie kept up on her blog she posted about..." :)

As I read my "latest" post, from the day I opened my birthday gifts, I am astonished at the grace of God in me writing that when I did. That VERY NIGHT, my life changed forever as my dad went into the hospital in the middle of the night and our family entered the darkest valley and trial we've ever experienced. And yet that night, I typed the words: I can grow through trials. I can sing in the rain, because I am not alone! I have a family and a God who love me and want the best for me!

God so graciously and faithfully brought us through that trial. He was still good in the darkest, hardest moments, and HE IS THAT SAME GOD today! I need Him just as much today as I did then, even though I don't have recognize that! He lovingly guides and directs my steps every day and His Word is my delight!

Since there are some of you who may not have heard from me since February (or before!), here are some highlights of what has gone on in my life since I dropped off the face of blogging world:)

I had the amazing opportunity to travel all summer with a singing group from my school, Faith Baptist Bible College
 I learned so much from my teammates as we traveled together for 11 weeks singing in churches, helping with conferences, encouraging the people of God, having fun together, and Lord willing, bringing glory to our God!

I am now a sophomore at FBBC and loving it! I am taking 17 academic credits, including Bible Doctrine, Music Theory, Office Procedures, and Women's Ministry Foundations. In addition, I am also involved in the choir and handbell ensemble.

Another thing that has been going on recently is...God brought a special young man into my life! The way the Lord has led in our lives is amazing and wonderful and I would love to write an entire post about sometime! But in a nutshell...Garth and I have many close mutual friends, and so have known each other casually for a few years. In January, the Lord brought the thought into his mind to pray about pursuing a relationship with me. So he talked with his parents and prayed for 4 months and then talked to my daddy in April about getting to know him better. While I traveled around the country singing and having no idea, my dear father and Garth talked on the phone, got together and PRAYED A LOT!
When I returned home in August, we went on a family vacation to Northern Minnesota. On the trip, Dad took me aside and told me about Garth's interest. I was amazed and agreed to pray about it. Since Garth had prayed about it so long and had peace about it, and my Daddy had vetted him out and approved of him, it didn't take me too long to agree as well. About a week later, Garth and his parents came over and ate supper with us. Two days later, we officially began courting on August 19th:)
It has been quite the lovely adventure! I am so blessed to be in an intentional, God-focused, parent-guided relationship with such a godly young man. He loves God with his whole heart and is an amazing example to me of what a consistent relationship with the Lord looks like.

I could say so much more...but that's a start:) God is good. All the time! I don't deserve the rich and manifold blessings He has given me, but I am so thankful. Life is beautiful. And I'm loving it!