Many things kept me away from my computer last weekend, including a 5k through the neighborhood for my church. I am being deceptive, in that I didn't actually run. I simply took pictures of the runners. The scenery was especially beautiful.
We also headed to Malone to watch Di (Luke's sister) kill it in her volleyball game. Pun intended.
Later was the Ohio State Game. We watched it at Sarah and Doug's house with friends. I made these jalapeno cream cheese poppers, and they were a pretty good, easy party food. Check out the recipe here.
I had to snag a picture of Elin sitting between Luke and JC during the game. E is a little nervous around Luke usually, so this had to be documented. Too cute. My cousin Rachel (Elin's mom) posted almost the same picture on her blog yesterday.
Sorry for the graininess. My new iPhone should be here within the next week or two, so hopefully that won't be such a problem anymore. (camera, what? That's way too much trouble to carry around).
Also, I just have to mention that we used our fireplace for the first time this week! It turns out our logs were not good, so it lasted about 2.5 minutes, but it was so cozy! It made me so excited for the months to come. And mostly for Thanksgiving and Christmas break, when I can really enjoy the coziness of our "new" apartment. (It still feels new to me!)
I think that pretty well highlights all the big blessings in the past week.
Now onto more serious matters. My Beth Moore Bible study on James is still totally blowing me away. One day in particular, she wrote about James 1:16-18: "So don't be misled my dear brothers and sisters. Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven's lights. Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows. In His goodness He chose to make us His own children by giving us His true word. And we, out of all creation became his choice possession."
Beth goes on to write about God's gifts to us. That every perfect gift comes from above. This makes me think of Christmas morning. I have to admit, I am not the best gift-picker-outer (that's the best I could do in that sentence. I turn my brain off Thursdays after my last class before the weekend). That talent belongs to my husband. But every once in a great while, I find a Christmas gift for someone that is just perfect for them. On those occasions, I carefully wrap the gift in a pretty package and wait impatiently for the moment when that person opens it. It is exciting and fun to know that that person is going to love my gift, and it is going to bring them joy.
The Lord is not only the best gift-giver, but he also knows us better than we know ourselves, because He created us! He loves to bless us!
I'll be honest: sometimes in the moment, God's gifts don't seem much like gifts at all. Sometimes I want to say, "God, I asked you over and over for a baby, and instead you plopped me right in the middle of a crazy hectic graduate program that sucks up almost all of my free time! This is not what I asked for!" But then I have to realize that I'm being like a selfish child. Again I will say that if God knows us better than we know ourselves, He obviously knows the gifts that are perfect for us better than we do.
I underlined this line in my Bible study book in dark purple, and put giant stars beside it: "Out of God's grace, a very imperfect person can still receive a delightfully perfect gift precisely because it's perfect for her. God's gifts are given with goals. They're prefect because they're perfecting. They don't just give today. They give toward every tomorrow."
Every time I read those words, I want to go out and conquer the world. God's gifts may not seem perfect, or even fun at the time. But they are all adding up to something amazing. They are shaping us into the people He created us to be. Someday I feel like we will look back on our lives and say, "Ah, I totally get it now!" Or maybe we won't. But right now, it is enough for me to trust that God loves me enough to give me His perfect gifts, instead of the ones I want right now. He knows me better, and has plans for me: plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Plans to give me a hope and a future. (I've been saying that verse to myself about a million times a day lately, when my heart starts to let discontentment sneakily leak in).
Beth Moore finishes that day by saying, "Wait on the Lord! So many presents are wrapped under your tree that it will take a lifetime to open them. That's God's way. He keeps telling us that there's something that He's not telling us, like exactly how this whole thing is going to work out. This we can know: it's going to be perfect."
...gives me chills every time!