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I wanted to tell you all that A Joyful Girl Magazine will be put on hold until I can locate a co-editor or two to help me with the load. It simply has become too much for me to handle alone, especially with my increased load of schoolwork and college work!

I have “frozen” all subscriptions so they will still be valid when JG starts up again. If you would like a full refund instead, please use the contact form to tell me so and I will send it off to you. Please include:

* Your name
* Your email

I would appreciate prayer as I try to find someone to work with!

Amy

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dont-throw-it-away

I don’t need this old sock — I throw it away. I don’t need yesterday’s paper — I throw it away. I don’t need a broken iPod — I throw it away. I don’t need a rusty bike — I throw it away. I don’t need a smashed baseball bat — I throw it away. I don’t need a 2007 calendar — I throw it away. I don’t need …

Right?

Over the course of life, we accumulate many things that no longer hold its value. Things fade. Things rust. Things get destroyed. And we throw them away. But there are some things that never lose its value — that never should be thrown away.

I’m talking about life. Life, human life, is unique! When God made mankind, He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26, NKJV) This verse leads us to two reasons why our lives are uniquely valuable — 1) We are created in God’s image; and 2) We are God’s primary creation.

It is important to note that both of these reasons deal with God. We are valuable because God is valuable. We get our value from God. This is really the heart of the matter. When we begin to value God less, we begin to value life less. When you look around our nation today, this is exactly what you see. Our nation has increasingly failed to value God during this past century and, consequently, we have increasingly failed to value human life.

An exaggeration? I’m afraid not. Last month, during the 2008 presidential election, two initiatives were submitted for a final vote to the American people. The first one was in Colorado and would define human life as legitimate from conception. The second one was in my home state Washington and would permit physician-assisted suicide. One initiative fought for life; one initiative fought against life. When the results came in, the Colorado-initiative was overwhelmingly overturned and the Washington-initiative was overwhelmingly confirmed. Two deadly blows to life.

The American people do not value human life as much as they once did.

This grieves me greatly. God has created us with a unique value and with that, comes a unique love. He didn’t send His Son to die for lions, bacteria, goldfish, trees, ozone, H2O, or computers. He had a unique love for His unique creation. And we just throw it away as if it were an old sock, yesterday’s paper, a broken iPod.

The heart of the matter is our relationship with God. If we don’t know Him, we won’t value Him. If we don’t value Him, we won’t value His creation. So it has to start with us dedicating more of our lives to getting to know our Creator. We have to get to the root of the matter to create lasting results.

Don’t throw it away!

Questions for Thought and Discussion:

* Have you ever felt seriously depressed? How did that effect the way you saw yourself/your life/your worth?

* Do you believe it is right to decide when to end your life? What effects does this stance trigger?

* How do you define murder?

* How is a wasted life similar to an “ended” life?

* Can a price tag be put on human life?

* How does an evolutionary viewpoint effect the value of human life?

* What positive effects could occur if we understood the value of our own lives more? What negative effects could occur?

* What positive effects could occur if we understood the value of others’ lives more? What negative effects could occur?

* Is laying down your life for someone else suicide?

23

Saturday, November 22nd 2008
Today I got up around 8:00. Last night we stayed up and played ping-pong until 10:30 so I was a little tired. Besides, it was Saturday. Jonathan wasn’t so fortunate and had to get up for a men’s meeting at our house at 7:30. The meeting went well, he said, but there weren’t very many people. Still, they ate up most of the apple cake that I made last night. Anyway, today we had a recital at Christ Memorial Church in Poulsbo. I played the first four movements of my Bach French Suite in G Major — almost all of us played! Stefanie, Bethany, Kristi, Aaron, and Noelle all played duets and it went great. Aaron and Noelle (who I teach) did very well too! This is only their second recital so they were a little nervous about it. But they both did superific! When I got home, I worked on cleaning out the fridge, picking up the living room, and cleaning out the van. Then, I practiced 93 minutes of piano … a little less than usual but I got a lot done. Tonight we are going to watch either Flywheel or Facing the Giants which should be sweet. I should go get ready for dinner now so goodbye!

Sunday, November 23rd 2008
X

Are any of you journalists? I don’t mean “journalist” as in “reporter” but “journalist” as in “a person who keeps a journal.” Well, I used to be. And, now I am again.

On November 18th 2003, I had a recital in Bremerton. I was taking lessons from Miss Cole (now Mrs. Mandery) and we were having a fall recital. My good friend (and former neighbor and co-editor) Jenna Cooksey was also taking lessons and performing that night. I also met the Henning family on that night. But all that to say, the reason why I remember all of this is because I wrote it down. I had gotten a journal recently and had decided that it would be fun to keep a journal. For some reason, I believed that a journal wasn’t a journal unless you wrote in it every single day. So from November 2003 — May 2006, I wrote in a journal (which ended up filling 5-6 journals) every day. Sometimes I had to make up a day and write it down the following day but that’s my little secret so don’t tell anyone. J

So I used to be a journalist. But then I stopped. Life got busy and I got tired of writing.

But not anymore. My grandfather recently gave our family his journals from his entire life (or at least while my Mom was growing up until the present). I can’t wait to read them! That kind of inspired me to start up again so four days ago I started up again — on November 18th 2008. We’ll see how long it lasts! My goal is to get one whole year without missing a day … will try to keep you updated!
Then something else hit me.

While I was writing in my journal last night, I suddenly stopped writing, my pen suspended in midair. What if the story stopped here? What if this day were my last? What if this was it?

One thing interesting about writing a journal is that you are basically writing an autobiography. The difference is that you never know what will happen next — or if there is a “next.” You don’t know how many years, months, days, hours, minutes, seconds, milliseconds (and whatever comes after that) you have left or if you have any left. I may never finish this post. All we Christians know is that the story ends with a “happily ever after.”

That’s the second inspiration. Writing down what I do each day with the possibility that I just lived my last day on earth has really encouraged me to live “all out” each day. My Dad ran 8 marathons and told me that when you run a race, you want to cross the finish line with nothing left. You want to give every ounce of strength and run all out until you’re all out. That’s the way I’ve been encouraged to live each day — if I would die tonight, I would be able to say that I gave it my all. It has also helped me to prioritize my life; what would I spend my last day doing?

This doesn’t mean we should freak out and be preoccupied with death. That’s a danger — living with death always in sight. But I guess it depends how you look at death. Because of what Christ has done, I don’t have to fear death and I look at death as a gate, an arrival, a beginning, a passageway, a wardrobe J. It’s just the beginning. We also shouldn’t get preoccupied with “what if’s.” God is in control and is sovereign. He is working out His Story and we know what the last chapter says.

But, we can still benefit from asking ourselves, what if this were our last day? What if this day were my last? What if this was it?

A Fellow Sojourner,

Amy

Additional Resources:
* Check out www.therebelution.com. They have a series going on their blog that is really beneficial to read! Here’s the link to their most recent post: http://www.therebelution.com/blog/2008/11/your-life-story/

* Listen to this song that I don’t really know who wrote it or what it is called but it has this line that says, “You only got one shot at this — one life, one chance, at the one thing you don’t want to miss. One day when it’s all said and done …” It’s a good song whatever it is called! (Note, if you know the name, please leave me a note below! Thanks!)

“Citizenship in this age is a shadow of what is to come,” the Lion said, smiling down at them with understanding, fatherly affection. “Neither you or anyone here is a citizen in any world as hard or as deep as I am in the Land Beyond the Sea.” The children looked up. “You are passing through this world just as you are passing through your own. When you are there for the moment, be a respectful citizen of that world. When you are here for a time, be a respectable citizen of this world.” (Taken from one of my inklings)

There‘s a song that goes: We’re pilgrims on a journey on the narrow road
And those who’ve gone before us light the way.
I really like the perspective that this verse gives. We’re merely pilgrims — travelers — in this world. Our true identity, citizenship, and homeland is heaven. Our life is like the train ride to the sea; the plane flight to Washington D.C.; the cruise to Hawaii. It’s just the traveling part of our life — we finally arrive at our destination when we walk through death. Too often we think that this life (the train ride, the plane flight, the cruise) is all there is. Little do we realize that the best is yet to come, for those who are saved.

C.S. Lewis adds some insight on this subject (perhaps paraphrased — I don’t have it memorized perfectly): “If I find in myself a desire that nothing on this earth can satisfy, the most natural assumption is that I was created for another world.” So, the question is: Am I living as if the best is yet to come? Do I put too much value on my comfort, happiness, and health during the journey? Has my love for this passing world caused me to forfeit my eternal life?

Here’s the litmus test: Where is my treasure? The Bible says that “where your treasure is, there your heart be also.” And our heart often leads our actions. And our actions will determine our eternal destiny. And our eternal destiny will produce either eternal joy or eternal torment. So, it really matters! Where is our treasure? If we could only keep one thing, what would it be?

Questions for discussion:

* What is more weighty — our citizenship in heaven or our citizenship on earth?
* How do the two citizenships work out?
* What does the Bible say about our earthly citizenship?
* Have you ever felt truly satisfied?
* What caused that satisfaction?
* Do you believe that there is more than one world? (Random question!)
* If you could only keep one thing, what would you keep?

Additional Resources:

* Desiring God (John Piper, http://www.desiringgodministries.com) This book goes into deep detail about why and how we make God our treasure. The book’s main statement: “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.”

In the newly released Disney/Walden Prince Caspian there is one scene where an evil dwarf tries to call up an ancient witch. Caspian is unsure about the whole thing but is curious. Then the witch, still half ghost, begins to reach out to him, straining to grab hold of him. That is the picture that comes to mind when I think of temptation. All you need is a little spark to get you to look the right way. Then, the temptation proactively tries to “reach out” to you, using deception, lies, and false promises. We need to, like one of the characters did in the film, take positive action against the temptation — smash the illusion, crush the lie, and turn away.

C.J. Mahaney’s book Humility affirms something that I hadn’t fully realized. Paraphrased, it says that temptation and sin doesn’t take a break, grab a cat nap here and there, or sleep through the night. Sin is always there. When we wake up in the morning, although we may be tired, temptation is not. Sin is not. It’s right there, waiting for your eyes to open and hungry for victory. There’s no “down-time” here on earth. Whenever we stop fighting, we start retreating.

Perhaps we have never pictured evil and sin as proactive. But Satin is real. He schemes. He plans. He deceives. He doesn’t just wait for people to stumble into one of his stumbling blocks. He actively and purposely throws stuff in our path to trip us — with God’s approval, of course. We cannot fail to remember that Satan can do nothing without first clearing it with God. Take Job, for example. Satan didn’t just wait around for something to mess up Job’s faith. He went to God, asked for permission to tempt him, and then did it. We face a proactive enemy. In response, we must be proactive as well.

It is important to remember two things: 1) God never tempts anyone to sin. James 1:13 says that “let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.” God allows temptation in our lives so that our faith and trust in Him will be reaffirmed. Every time we say NO to sin, we are saying YES to God. (James 1:12) 2) God never tempts us beyond what we can bear. I Corinthians 10:13 says that “no temptation has overtaken you except what is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation, will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” This is why we have great hope — every sin can be avoided because God has freed us from it’s bondage. This is also why we should feel great shame — even after all God does to help us ward off sin, we still fall for Satan’s lies so many times.

This is also why morning-time, noon-time, afternoon-time, evening-time, all-the-time prayer and studying of God’s Word is so crucial! We fight against an never relenting enemy. We, on our own strength are powerless to oppose sin’s temptation. It is only by the grace of God that we can overcome, through Christ.

Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” James 1:12


So begins a new category of posts that I have entitled “inkspirations” … random ideas and thoughts that come to mind as I have my personal devotions. I hope these “inkling-inspiration” articles benefit you in some way or encourage you in some way!

It has been said that there are more slaves today than there were during the Civil War. In fact, every single person in this world today is a slave. There are people who are in bondage because of man-created laws and rules — a.k.a. religion. There are people who are in bondage because sin ins holding the reins in their life. And there are people who walk into a slavery, of sort, willingly (we can explain this later on). Yes, slavery is rampant in the world today just as it was since the beginning.

But things changed — at the birth of Christ. Now, we have a choice (that we didn’t have before) between two masters — we have the strength to turn from the evil master to the holy Master. It says in Hebrews 2:14-15

that “Inasmuch then as children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself has likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear and death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

When Jesus died, He created a way out of bondage from sin and fear of death.

So … Jesus came to rescue us from sin’s jaws. But it doesn’t stop there. James (as in the author of the book of James) describes himself as a “bondservant”. Out of gratefulness to God for rescuing us from death, we should surrender our lives to Him. You often hear of tales of the rescued becoming servants of their rescuer. That same heart of gratefulness should motivate us to surrender our rights, desires, plans, and lives to our Savior.

Two thoughts for consideration:

– Am I living as if I am freed from sin Or, am I willing returning to that bondage?
– Have I turned the reins over to Christ now that I am freed from sin Or, have I just taken hold of the reins myself?


We are very privileged to live in a country where we can share and declare our faith without fearing persecution (at least governmental). We can meet together to praise God. We can talk together about God. We can reach out to others and share the gospel with them. I don’t know about you, but I don’t appreciate this as much as I should. Sometimes it seems that

The easier something is to do, the harder it is to do it.

Okay. That sounds really backwards. Let me explain.

Let’s say that you lived two hours away from the Grand Canyon. Your summer vacation probably wouldn’t be the Grand Canyon just because of a little thing inside of you that says “You can do that anytime! Summer vacation is the time to do something that you can’t normally do!” While this isn’t always accurate, we can all probably relate to some extent to this scenario. On the other hand, say we lived in New York city instead. You would probably have a greater chance of going to the Grand Canyon. Sometimes the easier it is to do something, the harder it is to do it.

This plays out in our family too. We live next to 18,000 acres of forested land that anyone can hike, bike, walk, etc. in. (with the exception of motorized vehicles — random information) When we lived down in Port Orchard, we drove over half an hour to go biking there. But, in the last three years that we have lived adjacent/bordering this land, we have only gone there once a year. It’s strange how that works out.

Maybe I’m getting a bit side tracked … let’s dive into the message of this post.

Because it is easy to share the gospel in America, we don’t do it as much as we could or should. Sometimes the easier something is to do, the harder it is to do it. It is hard to motivate ourselves to do it because we figure that we have all the time in the world.

But that’s not totally true.

First of all, we have to realize that others don’t have all the time in the world to make a decision to follow Christ. People die. People are dying. Time is ticking. Just this morning, my Dad went to visit one of his patients that will probably not make it through the end of next week. As far as we can tell (not that we are at all the judge), he is not saved. So, today, Daddy went to talk with him and share the gospel with him. We are praying for him but he is still resistant. He doesn’t have much time. How can we wait?

Secondly, we Christians are commanded to share the Good News. In China, daring people choose to share the gospel with an “all or nothing” mindset. They give their all — they put everything on the line, including their lives. There are no half-hearted Christians in the shadow of persecution. Imagine if every Christian in America lived with that same passion! We must take advantage of the freedom that our forefather’s created, our military has preserved, and God has blessed us with.

Are you ready for a challenge? Share the gospel with someone today. Find a track. Memorize the Roman road. Find a way to show them the way.

do. hard. things.