Friday, December 25, 2015

Oh Praise His Name


Merry Christmas, y'all!

It's a widely known fact that today is the day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, God incarnate, who came to earth to live of perfect submission to God and His will so that He could take our place and die. Even if you're not a Christian, you've probably heard the story: no room in the inn, shepherds watching their flocks by night, three wise men bringing gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

The story of Jesus' birth has been Americanized throughout all its years. To some, it's no more than a cool story that children can act out every year. Some really do celebrate His birth, but only during Christmastime. All the rest of the year, we live our lives like we want to, except maybe when we go to summer camp; then we really appear on fire for Jesus.

American "Christianity" has been so de-radicalized. We've become lukewarm and indifferent. We throw around God's name like it's something so everyday, so lacking of awe. Jesus Christ's name is so often used as an expression of annoyance. When did we start tolerating this? When did we let our God's name become so dumbed-down?

To completely understand the awe we should feel at the mention of God's name isn't possible because that would require completely understanding just how great our God is. But if we can begin to grasp the wonder in the story of the Incarnation, our appreciation and love of God increases so much.

We must try to grasp the holiness, the omnipotence, the true greatness and awesomeness of God. When we use the word awesome, we're using a slang term that can be replaced by impressive or cool. Awesome is defined as "causing or inducing awe" or "inspiring an overwhelming feeling of reverence, admiration, or fear."

God truly is awesome. Just think about the wonder-filled mystery of the Incarnation, that God would take on a body of the fallen human race, but never sin; that He chose to be born in a stable filled with filthy, stinking animals; that He chose to live a life of obscurity and finally be spit at, mocked, and nailed to piece of wood.Our perfect God, without one blemish, someone too great to fathom, chose to humble Himself to the likeness of the creation He made so that He could save us from death. And we rejected Him still.

I love this part of a song by Sidewalk Prophets called You Love Me Anyway:

See now, I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking ground
Yes then I turned away with the smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life...

But You love me anyway

Not only this Christmas season, but every season, every day, would you all join me in celebrating the true awesomeness of our God? Meditate on this today, and I pray that it will increase your love for the Father and inspire you to share His Good News with everyone you meet. All glory to Him.

Merry Christmas, y'all. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

best dressed



It was Christmas Eve, and rain poured.

It wasn't snow, not anywhere close. The car thermometer read seventy-three degrees Fahrenheit. She sat on the left side of the car, as she always did, but her legs were crossed in an unusual fashion due to minimal leg room and the dress she wore. 

Her camera sat in her lap, and she held it with both hands, guarding it almost. The way the streetlight made the raindrops glisten fascinated her, and she tried to capture it through the lens. Her friends often laughed at her. You take that thing everywhere. 

They laughed now; she heard them distantly, detached. She clung to her camera, holding it, remembering.

Best dressed.

She had walked into the party with three inch heels. They gave her extra height, extra confidence. A fifty dollar necklace hung around her neck. She hadn't bought it herself; it was a gift, but she didn't tell them that. Her dress came one about an inch from the top of her knee, school dress code, but somehow people still stared. Perhaps it was a good kind of staring -- she hadn't yet learned the difference.

She didn't dance, only hiding behind her lens. It was her solitude, her break from the stares. Were they good stares? Was a stare ever good? She would never know. By the end of the night, she was named best dressed. 

Funny. Best dressed, and she couldn't even manage a smile. She hid behind gray eyeliner and cherry blossom blush. Falsely whitened teeth tried to smile at the people she never had enough guts to talk to. And that was that. 

Best dressed.

Now she sat in her car, her father and mother in the front seat. They talked about her grandparents visiting the next day, Christmas day. A rain-filled, seventy-five degree Christmas day.

Her house wasn't far. She took off her heels before climbing out of the car and into her room. There lie two weeks of dirty laundry, and unfinished thank-you note, and now, her paper plate award: best dressed. She still clung to her camera, flipping through the pictures. Best dressed.

She found a picture someone had taken of her. She was smiling. She didn't remember ever feeling happy. She would post it, she thought, and perhaps the gullible public would fall under the spell they so often did. That her life was perfect, that she never cried, never had a free Friday night, always had seats to the football game.

She looked at her paper plate award once more, holding it up in the mirror and flashing her winner smile. 

Best dressed.

It seemed that, in reality, that was all she ever amounted to. 

-------------------------------------

Hi, all! So, I know this is a little heavy for a season that is supposed to be so joyful, but it's fictional, I promise :)

 I got to thinking about this the other day. Sometimes, I think we look at people on social media or even in person and we think that their lives look so put together. They always look nice, always have perfectly whitened teeth, always seem to top every other girl. I think we forget that no one's life is perfect, and the pictures posted on social media are just the good side. 

It's important for us as high school students to remember that everyone has struggles. No one is perfect, so to compare ourselves to others is ridiculous. The lesson is this: girls, stop comparing yourselves to other girls and be content in the way God made you. We're all unique, all made for a different purpose. 

Psalm 139:13-16 says this: 
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

You know what this communicates to me? That God spent a whole lot of time making you you. To be discontent in the way God made you is to be discontent with His works. Take care of the body God gabe you, and be content with it. I promise that God is using you and your story for His glory right now.

Merry Christmas, y'all! 

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Outcome of a Refreshed Soul // Love Fully



With the early winter air comes a certain chill and dimness that can dampen a spirit. We huddle in our homes with hot chocolate and a crackling fire and complain about the cold. We dream of summer and yearn for spring. The cold never bothers me, though, because there's something about the chilly air that sends a message of hope. Leaves fall off  trees, but they still dance in the wind. The trees are bare, but still very much alive. The pines hold their green, and against the bareness of everything else they look their best yet. I love winter, not just because of warm sweaters and fuzzy socks, but because of the hope that clings to us so closely.

Things will get better; I promise. 

People go through winters sometimes. We close our hearts and stop blooming, refusing to reach out to anyone. Those wonderful pines, though, the ever-true evergreens, the people of hope, reach out. I've encountered quite a few of these evergreens lately, and they've been a huge blessing. This holiday season these evergreens have reminded me just how much I have to be thankful for.

Thanksgiving morning we six Reids boarded our Chevy Traverse at 6:34 a.m. with coffee, Pop Tarts, lots of blankets, and my camera in hand. We drove to Cades Cove, a wildlife reserve in Townsend, Tennessee, and watched cotton candy clouds rise above the Great Smoky Mountains. 







It was a simple journey, but it was enough. My depleted soul was looking for refreshment, and the reminder that God is always in control was exactly what I needed.


- (excuse the blurriness; I had my telephoto, manual focus lens attached with no tripod.) -

We drove through the eleven mile loop twice, making sure I was able to adequately capture the true beauty we saw. Though the pictures don’t do it justice, I am pleased with how they turned out. We were able to get right next to a group of turkeys. They were monstrous, and the way the sun shone on their feathers was beautiful. I was able to get probably ten or fifteen yards from a huge buck, and though I’ve seen more than my share of whitetail deer in my lifetime, this one was the biggest yet. 



- two turkeys on turkey day. how about that?-


We then hiked to Abrams falls, a “moderately difficult 3-4 hour” hike that we were able to accomplish in two and a half hours.  The view was stunning. Several times I found myself humming How Great Thou Art because of the awe I felt. God’s beauty and power was so evident in these moments. My soul was full, and because of that I was driven to worship. It amazes me that the very thing we do to glorify the Lord we cannot do on our own. God places the desire to worship Him in our hearts. Without His help, we cannot even give thanks to Him. 








We drove home with renewed souls and tired legs. (If I were to be honest, I’d have to say that they still are a little sore.) God started accomplishing a little heart-work within me at that moment, and I haven’t been able to shake it since.






These past few days God has reminded me just how dependent upon Him I really am. I need Him for the most monotonous things – every breath I breathe is borrowed from Him – yet I only call upon Him in times of distress.  During and after the terrorist attacks on Paris, the hashtag “pray for Paris” was trending. The world called out to God that night. If only we could realize that we need God every single day, not just during wars or terrorist attacks or times of distress. I need God when I wake up in the mornings. I need God to have the strength to go to school with a joyful heart. I need God to stand up in front of a whole classroom of people and tell them all that He has done for them (more on that later). I am forever in need of God. I need His grace on good days and bad. I still need His grace when I get up and read my Bible and pray. I need His grace when all I have time to do is throw on a t-shirt and jeans and grab coffee to-go. I always need God, and this week He has communicated to me just how much I need to live in His grace.

I went into our little cabin’s small bedroom last night knowing I should talk to God, but I picked up a book instead: The Discipline of Grace, a book that was a “stretch goal” for my summer internship, but I never got around to reading it. Jerry Bridges, by God’s power, convicted me of something. My lack of loving others.

I’ve always thought I was pretty good at loving. My church family always tells me how much I smile, and I know that’s by God’s grace alone. People at school call me a “sweet girl,” and I never really doubted it. But last night I realized just how much I needed to start loving others. Jerry Bridges put this list together adapted off of First Corinthians 13:4-7:

·         I am patient with you because I love you and want to forgive you.
·         I am kind to you because I love you and want to help you.
·         I do not envy you because I love you and want you to have the best.
·         I do not boast about my attainments because I love you and want to hear about yours.
·         I am not proud because I love you and want to esteem you before myself.
·         I am not rude because I love you and care about your feelings.
·         I am not self-seeking because I love you and want to meet your needs.
·         I am not easily angered because I love you and want to overlook your offenses.
·         I do not keep a record of your wrongs because I love you and “love covers a multitude of sins.”

Are you letting God’s love manifest itself in your life this much?  I know I’m not. I didn’t think it was possible for anyone to be this selfless, and I know none of us can all the time. However, with God’s grace in our lives, anything is possible, and if we depend on Him to love like this and let others know that it’s God’s love we’re showing and not ours, it is beyond possible. 








Next week life starts back up again. I have two weeks of school then a week of midterms, and then Christmas break. But I know those three weeks will drag by, perhaps slower than than the whole school year combined. Will you start asking God for the grace to love others this much? Comment below if you're in. I'll keep you updated here as well as on Instagram at @thereidwhowritesblog and @mur_shells ! As Christians, we are supposed to be people of love. Will you be known for God's love shining through you?

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Blogtober Day 2 & 3 // Fall Essentials & To Be Read


  
Hello, Readers!

I've been a terrible blogger lately. As I write this, I have a terrible cold, and South Carolina has turned into a rain forest. (so much rain) It has proven hard to keep up with blogging when it's as dreary as it is. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

In the World but not of it: A Call for Knowledge




It was my first day of school, but something inside of me knew it would happen. I slumped cowardly in my desk as my history teacher proclaimed proudly that because “Christians think that evolution is just a theory,” they’re crazy, demented, intelligently compromised even. I was baffled that a school employee could speak against a faith that at least fifty percent of the school held. I was even more surprised that not one, including yours truly, tried to prove him wrong. And I live in the Bible belt. Sure, we all rolled our eyes, but no one offered a reasonable defense for his faith, for his God.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

the art of letting go




I was determined
not to write him poems,
not to sing him songs,
not to limit him to the boundaries of my pen.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Too Long


How long has it been?

How long has it been since I let them speak?

How long has it been since I let the deepest worries of their souls flow out from them? How long?


Monday, June 22, 2015


Have courage, little heart;life can be hard sometimes, but God is always good.

 Let the riches of His love fill your spirit to the brim. Let it bubble out of your heart and soul and shine through your eyes. 

Monday, June 15, 2015

Be Beautiful: Thoughts of a Daddy's Girl

     I attended a wedding on Saturday. It was absolutely magical. I cried. Very hard.

     I also learned something as I watched father and daughter dance their hearts out as they said goodbye to an old phase of their life and stepped into a new one. When the father gave his daughter away, he said he "happily" gave her away. (That was probably the moment I started crying, considering I am super sensitive to anything Daddy-Daughter related.) I was thinking about how hard that must have been, to let go of the daughter who was convinced at age five that the only person she would ever marry would be her father (that was my attitude, at least) and willingly give her away to God and her husband. But then I realized something: her father had given her away to God already, a long time ago, perhaps at the very moment she was born. I also realized that God had made her for the exact purpose of marrying this man and going off to anywhere and everywhere to give God the maximum amount of glory. And those two realizations made me realize something bigger, something I probably should have realized a long time ago, and something that I continue to realize as I grow in Christ: 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Four Lessons from a Growing Soul

 
   
      I spent last week at The Wilds of North Carolina and I learned so, so much. We were in the Word about six times a day: morning chapel, God and I time, God and I time follow-up, Christian Life Seminar, and an evening service. And oh, it was such a blessing. I've learned too much for one post, but perhaps I'll sprinkle a little bit of what I learned into later posts. For now though, I want to communicate the main idea of the whole week: