Of Love

Love is a thing that is so confounding that it has been an endless inspiration for artists and thinkers.  I think of all the poems that have been written and vow NEVER to write a poem about love.  I would have to be VERY inspired before I ever would attempt it.  I have, however, enjoyed reading what others have to say about love. 

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
I suppose that anything less than this is not love, but I have to wonder if maybe I would seek a peek every once in a while because I loved to see that "he" was looking the same direction.  This is also true in other types of relationships and friendships.  In a high school assignment, I remember writing that friendship requires a sharing of similar values and life goals--not of the specific kind.

“It is a curious thought, but it is only when you see people looking ridiculous that you realize just how much you love them. ”
― Agatha Christie, An Autobiography
This first makes me laugh, but I think I agree.  It is a curious thought.  Perhaps those moments make you realize that you truly love that person for who they are.

“We accept the love we think we deserve.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
 Sometimes, for hurting and insecure girls especially, this is sadly true.

“Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings.”
― Anaïs Nin
 ahh...so it is our duty to keep it a live.
“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.”
― Rainer Maria Rilke
 I find this male perspective very intriguing.  Is it true?  Perhaps.

“Every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.”
― Plato
Here is one that is so puzzling, I like it.  "Those who wish to sing always find a song."  What does that mean?

“I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men. I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness. Many times in romance I have been a victim of my own optimism.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
 Perhaps this is true for many women. Do we create the character before we know the person?

“Love is an irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”
― Robert Frost


Whom the King Delighteth to Honour

Esther 6:3,4,6  And the king said, What honour and dignity hath been done to Mordecai for this? Then said the king's servants that ministered unto him, There is nothing done for him.  And the king said, Who is in the court? Now Haman was come into the outward court of the king's house, to speak unto the king to hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him...So Haman came in. And the king said unto him, What shall be done unto the man whom the king delighteth to honour?...
The end of Mordecai's story was victory, and the end of Haman was destruction.  Haman had evil planned for Mordecai, and it looked as if he had the power to accomplish it.  The king--the one with the real power--turned everything around.  Haman came to the court to get permission to hang Mordecai, but he left with an order to honor the Jew he hated so much.  What a delightful story that makes!  The evil prince plots to hang Queen Esther's cousin, but everything goes wrong.   He is humiliated and has to run through the streets honoring Mordecai--the one he hates.

Satan wishes to destroy us all.  He has plans and schemes, and his gallows for our souls are seen rising in the distance.  Does that sound discouraging?  The story, however, has been told, and we know that the soul that is hid in Christ has the assurance of victory.  All the evil plans of the Devil will be turned into a victory for God's children, and the devil will be defeated once again.  God has all power, therefore, we are safe from the threats of the devil.

The devil's most evil scheme--the crucifixion of Jesus Christ--was his greatest defeat.  When Jesus rose from the grave, sin was forever under His feet.  We now have the power through Jesus Christ to resist temptation, claim the victory for each day, and watch as evil is turned for our good!


Fixing Photos

One of my favorite past times is photo editing.  I enjoy transforming a picture from "meh" to "wow".  I mostly work with free programs and websites.  Here are some of my favorites.


I have not purchased the premium version, but I have fun with layering different effect to get a unique, artistic look.  I just wish that they would develop a way to save a series of edits as custom filter so that I could give a group of photos a unified look.


 This site makes it easy to get a uniform look, but creativity is limited.  You can only apply one filter for one photo, however, the outcome is pretty neat.  It is very quick and extremely simple.
(from the site's public album)
A Japanese site that will age you pics.  It allows for no creativity or choice, but again, the effect is pretty neat.

Download this for basic edits and effects.  It's nice for touch-ups or fixes.
Download this if you can't afford Photo Shop.  It's not as tech-y, but it has similar tools.  Use layers and filters to fix you photo.

Perfect Peace

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee."  Isaiah 26:3

I extremely enjoy privately studying subjects out of the Sunday school book (Bible Lessons for Adults and Young People).  I like to sit down with an old issue and read the truths it has to offer.  The topic for May 1, 2011 was "The Peace of God".  I was blessed with the thoughts and wrote some notes in my Journal.

The peace that God gives us is perfect.  It passes all our understanding and is not like the false peace that the world offers.

How can we have peace? (1) We must stay our mind on God.  (2) We must trust in God.  (3) We must be righteous.  (4) Instead of being anxious or fearful, we must earnestly pray with humility and thanksgiving and bring all our needs and requests to God.  (5) We must love his law.

What is the effect of peace?  (1) quietness (2) lasting assurance (3) rest (4) a heart that is not troubled or afraid (5) the keeping of your heart and mind (6) nothing will offend or vex you


Turn Aside and Inquire

Today, I listened to a message by Sis. Angela Gellenbeck titled "The Burning Bush".  It was very good, and I took a little break from my housework to jot some notes down.
Exo 3:3,4  And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.  And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses.  And he said, Here am I.
  • "God puts burning bushes in our way every day, and he is waiting for our response.  If we will turn aside from our business and the things that we are so busy doing, and investigate and seek, God will speak to us personally.  He is waiting for us to turn aside."
  • A burning bush may be something in life that we don't understand. We may wonder why we have to go through a trial or why someone else is afflicted.  Those are burning bushes.  God is waiting for us to ask him about them so that he can talk to us.
  • God is a Consuming Fire. How then are we not consumed?  He is Judgement.  How then do we still live?  It is because he is also Mercy.  If it were not for his mercy, we would be consumed.
  • God wants to reveal things to us.  Some people have to get hit over the head to see anything.  With some people God wouldn't dare do that because all he has to do is look at them and they go and weep bitterly.
  • Turn your thoughts to Him in the morning.  Let your first waking thoughts be holy meditation.
(listen to the message here)


    Pray Without Ceasing

    So many times in my life I have been reminded of the importance of prayer.  I have learned that I can go to God when I am confused, discouraged, angered, hurt, sorrowful, stressed, or joyful, thankful, hopeful, etc.  Yesterday, I was thinking and praying about some confusing issues in my life, and I was comforted that I could mention them in a prayer to my father and he would care.  However, I also began thinking that God would be pleased if I prayed more.  I know that he wants us all to talk to him when we feel a need, but he also longs for a communion that is not born out of distress.
    I was flipping through some of last year's journals and I ran across an entry that I thought was worth reading again. In a brainstorm, I had listed a few passages in the Bible that tells us what to pray about.  Because I don't have references, some of them may not be verbatim.  However, they are pretty common scriptures, and you may recognize most of them.
    1. That the word of God be not hindered
    2. That the Lord of the harvest will send laborers into his field
    3. That thy [my] faith fail not
    4. For one another
    5. That they [we] may be one as we [the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost]  are one
    6. That they [I] may have their [my] joy fulfilled
    7. That thou keepest them [us] from evil


    About Me

    Well, I have a little desk. It's an old writing desk my mom and dad gave me as a present when I graduated high school in 2010. It stands by my east window where the sun comes in each morning and makes the pale yellow curtains glow, dappled by the tree that's near. Sometimes the moon shines its light in too, delighting me with its silver flood. I think my desk is especially pretty in the moonlight. The desk has two little top shelves. The upper-most shelf is quite packed with my growing little personal library: Emma, The Scarlet Pimpernel,The Shepherd of the Hills, Jane Eyre, Pilgrims Progress, Best Loved Plays (Shakespeare), about four or five poetry books, some books I found at the flea market and intend to read sometime, Grimm's Fairy-tales, Thai folk tales that Pintip left here, Uncle Tom's Cabin, and others. Right now there is a huge vacant spot next to Jane Eyre. When I am done with David Copperfield, the vacant spot may shift to, perhaps, where Shakespeare's plays now sit. For Christmas, Aunt Anita gave us all a framed picture of Nanna with Trenton and Irene of their wedding day. This picture is the centerpiece of the second shelf where it is flanked on the right by a beautiful book of Jane Austin's seven novels and on the left by another copy of Pilgrim's Progress which is stacked on top of a complete set of Shakespeare's poems. There also lays a couple of dried roses. Those are not the only dried flowers laying around my room. I like getting flowers, and I don't really like having to throw the whole bouquet away, so sometimes I save one or two of the petaled beauties. Then there is the writing table, which when folded down, reveals a row of little vertical cubicles. I do not know the intended purpose for these little slots, but I have dedicated some of the space to house my devotional books.  I can also file away those letters to which I need to respond.  I keep some stationary on hand in case I am inspired to write some snail mail. I really do like letter writing--and receiving.  It takes time and thought--and a little bit of money--to write and send a letter, so I always consider them an extra-special gesture.  I sit at my desk and read the loopy handwriting of a friend or cover a page (or two or three) of stationary with stories and thoughts and life.  Here, I also open Bible and journal, and sometimes spend quite a bit of time.   I have a little empty chocolate box that I decorated and re-purposed to hold my return address labels. There is also a single puzzle piece that I painted. I think it is pretty, so I keep it there. Some peacock neck feathers flutter a little each time I open the desk to use it. Patrice Doolittle gave those to me when I stayed at her house down in Louisiana. Below the desk is a low shelf where I keep a little assortment of things.  A scrapbook stands upright in the corner.  It is the Senior memory book I had to write and compile for English. I read some of the entries now and cringe at my awkward style. I intend to develop my voice more and improve my writing. Next to that book of myself is a vase full of paint brushes, and next to that lays my high school diploma and two Seneca yearbooks (2007-08, 2009-10) with my yellow graduation rose resting on top. And there the little desk stands, under the sun or stars, a little sample of "me".

    Stop and look around you.  Is there something you see that represents you.  If you like to write, try writing a similar "about me".  If you think writing is a chore, I am so sorry you feel that way.  You might be surprised at how enjoyable it is to write about something you love.  Try it.


    Grumpy or Giving?

    I suppose I have always been interested in personalities.  It is such an endless topic with so many opinions, factors, and views.  I find it entertaining and enlightening to compare and contrast the reactions, actions, thoughts, and feelings of those around me.  We are all so unique!

    I recently discovered an article on the internet about personalities.  I skimmed through it and found it to be very interesting.  First of all, he discussed the words we use when we describe others.  We talk about the features that stand out, therefore most of the words we use tend to be extremes (tall vs. short, talkative vs. quiet).  There is no word, however to describe the averages.  When I think of this, it reminds me of a project I had to do in drawing class.  We had to draw a pile of boxes using only black and white shapes.  While attempting to do this, boxes began to merge and the picture became very abstract.  Describing people is the same way.  If we tried to fit all the people in the world under two labels, it would require a lot of merging of personalities.  Just as realistic drawings incorporate many shades of grey, realistic representations of our friends may require more than just dubbing them as "outgoing" or "shy".
    I snagged a few ideas about this from the article I was reading.  Below, are five groups of descriptive words corresponding to five generic terms.  When we place one of these five words on a scale with its opposite, we can satisfy ourselves with visualizing the "grey tones" even if there are no words to describe them.
    {click on picture to view a larger version}

    However, this does not solve all our problems.  We still may find it hard to decide where on the scale we belong.  What if we view ourselves as generally "stable", but remember that sometimes we experience some unpleasant emotions.  The simple answer is to average, ignoring the rare extremes.

    As I reviewed these words, I noticed that some of them reminded me of literary characters.  I had to laugh when I read the definition for "neurotic" because it seemed it would be more clearly defined as "Mrs. Gummidge"!  I suppose fictional authors find that characters with a dominant, exaggerated personality trait are more interesting and useful in the plot.

    This is my own attempt, but an average of others opinions would make it more accurate.
    Try placing yourself on the scales.

    To give credit to the article, here is the URL: http://personalityspirituality.net/articles/what-is-personality/
    This does not mean that I agree with his philosophy on other topics.


    God Glasses

    There are times in my life when it is easy to trust God.  I laugh at the devil when discouraging thoughts come to mind, and I just smile and remember that God always works things out.  There are also those times, when I start thinking about my future.  I’m planning and dreaming, and then, WHAM! I’m hit with a dart—I mean doubt.  Or, sometimes I start focusing too much on the immediate circumstances (an upcoming test, or—my big one—a decision to be made).  It is easy to get caught in either of these two types of snares and let them steal our peace and take our eyes off of Jesus.  God does not intend for his children to be in this type of bondage, and he has the answer.
    Recently, I was afflicted with both worrying and nearsightedness (yes, that is a word).  I was distressing about those unknown elements of the future and dreading the events of the next day.  Finally I took a step back and thought, “Alyssa, you are looking at it all wrong.  You better put on your “God glasses”.  I went to my Bible and began reading.

    “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1  “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that”  James 4:13-15
    It was quite a change of perspective to be struggling with worrying and then read about boasting, but I began to see the similarities.  Both Miss Worries and Sir Boastful need to remember God is the authority over the future.  Miss Worries knows so little of what will happen that it is vain for her to fret.  Sir Boastful knows so little of the future that his plans are foolish.
     Then I read that precious passage in Luke 13 that I have probably read ## times.  The foolish rich man thought that his future was secure, but he did not know the mind of God.  The ravens and the lilies are small, helpless things that cannot prepare for the future or even provide their own needs.  I know I have seen God’s hand in my life, and it is a witness to me that he is planning my future.  He has proved over and over that he knows my needs and will supply every one of them.  Why then do I agonize over those things I cannot control?
    I only need to be sure that I am following my Master, and then I can be sure that the things I meet are all for my good.
    “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”


    His Pleasant Plant

    Isaiah 5:1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes...5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: 6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.7 For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant...

    I read this chapter and had to think on it a while before I understood some of its practical meaning, and then I was able to receive a blessing from it.  It sounds like a passage full of depressing judgment, but if you turn it around, it is very encouraging.  First of all, if you are saved and living a new life, you are his "pleasant plant".  Now, how do these verses apply to you?  It means that all those hedges and walls, all that pruning and digging, and all those rainy, dreary days are good for you!  They are God's blessings on your life!

    May I not complain when I feel like God's walls of holy standards are too high and restricting, nor when I feel like the hedges of conviction are a nuisance.  May I not grumble when the Lord digs around me and my little routine in life is upset.  May I not draw back when he desires to prune away some part of me--perhaps a habit or desire--that is taking nutrients from the good fruit he desires to see in my life.  Oh, and those rain clouds--those days that aren't so cheerful--may I rejoice in those as well and receive the refreshing rain God wants me to have.  If I can but remember that these things are for my good, I can have joy.  If I do not forget that God is only tending to his pleasant plant, then I can live with a grateful heart.  Woe unto me if I turn from him and bring forth wild grapes when he looks for good.

    That all sounded good when I wrote it, but a few minutes latter I realized that I needed to apply it.  I began searching my life for anything I might be struggling against:
    • standards
    • convictions
    • change of routine
    • unhealthy habits or desires
    • bad days
    I thank God for his Bible and the promises, encouragement, and guidance we find in it.