A Place to Belong

* Apologies for this late post! I was gone all weekend, and only remembered after I’d left that I had forgotten to put a post up. 

This week I’m going to be sharing a sort of casual essay.  I wrote it as a school assignment, but it quickly turned into something much more personal than a simple essay. I hope your hearts are encouraged by this!

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In this culture of vast variety, it is sometimes hard to find your niche. A place to fit in, a place to belong. You look around at everyone, seemingly so different from you, and wonder ‘Is it really possible to find a place to truly belong?’ I have struggled with those same feelings, and so I invite you to join me, as I explore just a little bit about finding ‘a place to belong’.

As a conservative Christian girl, my values are almost always the opposite of the world’s values. As I look around, I see sinful people who are bound and determined to do what they want, when they want and how they want. People who dismiss God and his Word the Bible, on the grounds that it is old-fashioned/irrelevant/not for them/flawed/etc. People who don’t care about others; they only care about themselves. People that have twisted love into a gross, lustful, self-gratifying thing that consumes their lives. People that only care about the next movie coming out, the new Instagram filter, their iPhone, their computer, or the new fashions on the runway. People who can’t fathom living without luxury, Wi-Fi, all their stuff. People who need entertainment 24/7, whether it comes from their phone or their computer, or their computer games or movies. People who have an insatiable drive to get to the top of the pyramid, whether it’s career or social or something else. They long to have the best car, house, family, wife, friends, or stuff. I see families being broken apart because of selfishness, lust, anger, greed, or just plain sinfulness. And as I look around at all this brokenness, at everyone who holds such different values and morals than me, I wonder ‘where do I belong?’

Because as I look at the world, I’m struck with the massive difference between their values and mine. I look at myself, and I see sinfulness. But I also see values and morals at a complete opposite end to the majority of the world. I hold God and his word the Bible in high respect. I believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation, and that I am a sinner saved by grace. I believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word to us, and should not be taken lightly, twisted, or dismissed. My whole life is completely changed because I am a Christian. I have conservative views on love, believing that marriage is something between one man and one woman, and that sex should be saved for after marriage. I believe that dating should have boundaries and goals, and that it is something that should not be taken lightly. I also believe that woman should dress modestly, so as to not make it hard for men to keep themselves pure. I have a high view of life, believing that children are a blessing from God, and that a baby is a person from the moment it is conceived. No child should be killed because it is unwanted or the wrong gender. I also take a high view of family, trying to honour God with the way I treat my parents and siblings, though I fail often. As for schooling, I am home-schooled which automatically makes me different and weird from the rest of my peers. Some of my peers look down on me because I am ‘sheltered’ and ‘enjoy learning,’ two things that are very different from their lifestyles. Even little things, that my internet is monitored and restricted sets me apart from the rest of the world that craves 24/7 entertainment. Pretty much everything in my life from school to personal values is completely different from the world.

And honestly, it’s hard. It’s hard not being able to fit in with the crowd, not to understand the inside jokes, not to be ‘one of them’. Though I know deep down in my heart that I am doing the right thing, sometimes you just want to belong somewhere.

And you know what? That longing is something that has been gnawing at the human heart for all of time. The longing to have that hole filled, that heart-longing satisfied, the desire to find a place that you can truly say you belong. But since sin entered the world, people have become lost. They don’t know where they belong or how to have that hole filled and that desire satisfied. They search and search, but never truly find.

Some go the way of love, trying to fill the hole in their heart with relationships and promises of love and all they find is that people are fickle and at the end of it, the holes in their hearts are deeper than ever before.

Some go the way of entertainment, trying desperately to satisfy that heart desire with movies and books and friends and phones and unlimited wifi. But there is always some unattainable ‘something’ that they can never quite get, and so that heart-desire is never quite satisfied.

And some try and find a place to belong in their work, striving to fit in, to achieve the goals, earn the money, and climb the pyramid. But then either something snaps and their carefully crafted lives come crashing around their ears and they’re left with nothing, or they come to the end of their carefully crafted lives and realize that everything they’ve built… means nothing.

At the end, their hearts still have un-filled holes, their deep desires for something more are unfulfilled, and that cry for some place to belong goes unanswered.

But that is where I am different. Because of one thing.

My heart has been filled with unspeakable love. My desire for something more has been fulfilled, and my heart-cry for a place to belong will ultimately come true.

Because of Jesus.

His life-changing, glorious, all-consuming, sacrificial and amazing love has come into my sin-filled, holey, desiring heart and turned it upside down and around and torn it apart and recreated it and… filled it. In him, all heart desires are satisfied, all the holes are filled, and he has promised that one day, people changed by him will no longer live in this sinful, messy, broken world where no one can truly belong, but will be with him in the most glorious place we could ever imagine. Heaven. And there we will no longer wish to be a part of the crowd, to have a place to belong. Because there  We. Will. Belong. There we will see Jesus face to face, and all our heart’s desires will be immediately and completely and utterly satisfied. There. With Him.

So, as I look around at this broken world that I live in, and wish that just once, I could be part of the crowd, to have a place to belong. I stop. And remember. That though this world has troubles, take heart, because Jesus has overcome this world. And he has overcome my sin on the cross in the most magnificently sacrificial love we could ever imagine, and he has filled my heart with his love. And because of this glorious truth, I no longer need to wish for a place to belong. Because I have the hope that I know, one day, I will have one. In Heaven. With Jesus. My ‘Place to Belong’.

 

c s lewis

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Poem – What if?

Have you ever had something just write itself, and then you look back later and aren’t exactly sure how that came out of your brain? I’ve had a couple poems like that, and I’m going to be sharing one of them today. Re-reading it, I can’t remember under what circumstances I wrote it, and I’m not even sure if I fully agree with the message of it. But, it came out of my head, so I must have had some ideas about the subject before I wrote it! 😀 So let me know what you think – do you agree/disagree with it? Why?

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WHAT IF?

‘What if?’

Is the great questioning shadow

Over humanity.

 

‘What if?’

Is the eternal question

That will never be answered.

 

‘What if?’

Tells the story

Of question marks.

 

‘What if

I had tried?’

‘What if

I had risked it?’

‘What if

I had taken the leap of faith?’

 

The nagging question

The haunting question

The question that lingers

In the dim corners of

Humanity’s brain

The question of

‘What if?’

 

The reminiscent question

The haunting question

That weakens the foundation

Of all our decisions

The question of

‘What if’?

 

Humanity seems unable

To always fully look forward

They always look behind

And the

‘What ifs’

Trail like shadows

In their wake

 

Doubts

Fears

Tremulous questions in the dimness of the night

Uncertainties

Suspicions

Nagging whispers piercing bubbles of happiness

 

‘What if?’

 

I wish I could remind people

In the moment of decision

That it is better

To say ‘oops’

Than ‘what if?’

It is better

To live with a lifetime of experience

Than a with lifetime of regret

A lifetime of asking ‘what if’?

 

Because

When you try

At least you know what happens

When you don’t try

You will never know

 

And you are left with

‘What if’

Ringing in your ears.

 

*Note: This is my 20th post on ‘The Way of Delight’, and this blog has been around for nearly 4 months now! Thank you all for sticking with me on this journey!

 

 

Liebster Award x2!

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This week I have another blog award post for you! I was nominated for the Liebster Award  by both Cora from  Cora’s Bits and Pieces and Anna from Northern Hearts Alaska . Thanks,  Cora and Anna!

Here are the rules for this award:

  • Acknowledge the blog that nominated you and display the award on your blog.
  • Answer the 11 questions that the blogger gives you.
  • List 11 random fact about yourself.
  • Nominate up to 11 other bloggers who you think are deserving of this award (with less than 200 followers).
  • Let the bloggers know you nominated them.
  • Give them 11 questions to answer.

Okey-doke, here are the answers to the questions!

Cora’s Questions:

  1. Do you have a pet? – Yes, I do! I have two rabbits named Sandy and Sleepy that are very old, but still very cute. 😀
  2. Favourite topic to blog about? – It’s probably a tie between sharing my favourite books, and sharing my favourite pieces of writing. And since that is what my blog is about, it’s a good thing I like doing that! 😀
  3. What’s your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?  Well if I’m in an unhealthy mood, I love a good cinnamon roll… Mmm! But if I’m trying to be healthy, I really like having fruit smoothies!
  4. What is your favorite school subject and why? – It’s a dead-on tie between History and English. I’ve loved history for as long as I can remember – something about all the stories hidden in the past just waiting to be discovered thrills me! But then I absolutely love putting those stories down into writing – i.e. English. Writing gives me a huge amount of joy, and learning how to write better is something that I’m trying to work at. So I guess I’ll just just leave it at that – History and English, my two favourite subjects. ❤
  5. What’s your favorite colour? – Blue, all the way! I love pretty much every shade and variation of that frabjous colour. 😀
  6. Favorite song? – Ok, now that’s hard!! Just one song?? I like so many different types of music! But I guess if I narrow it down to my favourite Christian song (since that is the genre I listen to most) and even further down to ones we sing at my Church, that leaves me with… still a very large pool of songs. 😀 I guess I’ll just go with one of my favourites. Which would be ‘This is Amazing Grace’ by Phil Wickham. I really love that song a lot! The message is so true and so encouraging!
  7. Do you like sports? If so which ones? – By  like, do you mean to play or to watch? I guess I’ll do both. I’m not really a hugely sporty girl, but to play, I enjoy swimming and martial arts. To watch, I love gymnastics and figure skating.
  8. What’s the strangest place you’ve ever been? – Strangest? Ummm… Strange situationally or strange geographically? I’ve been to lots of random places, but I’m not sure if they count as strange. But would the engine room of a ship count as strange? That was pretty interesting but in a randomly strange way. 😀
  9. Favorite fruit? – Oooh, again, that’s a hard one! I will have to say peaches. Because seriously, can any fruit be better than a warm-from-the-sun, juicy, sweet peach?? Mmmm…
  10. Do you like to be hot or cold better? – I would say hot. Because that means it’s more likely to be summer, and I love summer!! But not super-duper hot, and not humid. I like around 25 degrees Celcius (which is pretty hot for England) ( that would be 77 Fahrenheit for my American readers) with low humidity.
  11. Why did you start your blog? – Well, I wanted a place where I could share my writing with others, but also something that would keep me writing on a consistent basis. And a blog fit the bill!

Anna’s Questions:

  1. What is your favorite season? – SUMMER!!! I love the warmth and the sunshine and the freedom of cool dresses and bare feet. Plus the fact that everything is alive and that there is no school stress, just relaxing to be done!  I love pretty much everything about summer! ❤
  2. Coffee or tea? – Well I don’t drink either. But I love the smell of coffee, and I sometimes drink herbal teas. But that gets me to an even position again. Soooo… both..? 😛
  3. If you could go one place in the world where would it be? – This might seem kind of mundane, but I would absolutely love to travel around the East coast and down to the South of the US. There is so much history down there, and I would love to see all the places I’ve read about in my history textbooks. Especially all the places involved in the Civil War!
  4. What’s your best article/story you’ve ever written? –  I think a story that won honorable mention in a contest was probably one of my best. I might post it on here one day! 😉
  5. Dream vacation spot? – A beach in a warm place. Preferably with turquoise waters, pearly sands and shimmering sunshine.
  6. Why do you write? – Because I love it. Writing gives me joy and satisfaction, it poses a challenge and it draws me to it. It’s something that has become more and more a part of myself as the years have gone on. 
  7. Do you read mostly in the Old Testament or New Testament? – I try to read a good mixture of both! I’m aiming to read the Bible through at least once this year. I’ve been in the NT for the past couple months, but I’ve just recently come back into the OT for a nice dosage of some prophets – Isaiah to be precise!
  8. The Lord of the Rings or the Hobbit? (books or movies) – I know that probably most my readers are going to recoil in horror at my answer, but… neither. Because I haven’t read or watched either yet! It’s on my list of ‘things I will do someday in the future’. And I will do it… one day in the future. 😀
  9. ‘If you could make a cake in whatever flavor you wanted, what would it be? – Something peanut-buttery. My family is conflicted over the subject of peanut butter – some like it, some love it, and some vehemently hate it. So even though I love it, I’ve never made a peanut-butter-something cake because there are too many people to shout the idea down. But I have loads of recipes on Pinterest that I would love to try! That’s another thing on my ‘things I will do someday in the future’ list. 😀
  10. What’s your least favorite holiday, and why? – Probably Halloween. It saddens me to see people celebrating darkness and evil. (For you Americans – in England the dark side of it is a lot more pronounced here than over there.)
  11. Who is your hero? – Jesus. He is the one person who I would love to completely and utterly copy every action and thought from. And that’s what I’m trying to do, though I fail more often than not. It’s a good thing he is overflowing with grace and love for fallen people like us!

11 Facts About Me:

  1. I’ve read 122 books so far this year.
  2. I have never been to school in my life. (#homeschooled :D)
  3. I play guitar and bass guitar.
  4. One of my best friends lives over 4000 miles away from me.
  5. I’ve lived in 6 different houses in my 16 years.
  6. I witnessed the birth of my youngest sibling.
  7. I do not own a phone.
  8. I have two passports – one English, and one American!
  9. Chocolate chip cookie dough is one of the best things ever. 😛
  10. My current WIP story/book that I’ve been writing is just over 25,000 words long.
  11. I am going to Holland for two weeks tomorrow! (posts will be scheduled, but no comments will be moderated until I return.)

And now for the people to nominate… I’m going to nominate:

Anyone!

Due to lack of time to find people that haven’t done it yet, I’m opening this award to anyone who reads this post and wants to do it – either in the comments or on your blog! Have fun! 🙂

Here are your questions:

  1. What are your top 3 favourite books?
  2. How do you like your eggs – fried, scrambled, or other?
  3. Are you an early bird or a night owl?
  4. Would you rather live for the rest of your life without pillows or without blankets?
  5. If you could meet any author from any time – past or present, who would it be and why?
  6. What is your favourite joke?
  7. Introvert or Extrovert?
  8. What is your favourite thing to write (e.g. – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, etc)
  9. What is your dream job?
  10. If you could time travel, would you go to the past or the future? Why?
  11. What is your favourite holiday, and why?

Okey-doke, that’s it for this week. Thanks for sticking with me through this very long post! 🙂

5 Things God Taught Me on my Short Term Mission Trip

This past week I had the pleasure of guest posting on Heather’s Ambitions. I wrote about some of the lessons that God taught me while I was in Ireland. Click here to view it on her blog.

Today I’m going to be reposting it here on my blog. I hope you enjoy it!

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Recently I had the opportunity to go to Ireland for a two-week mission trip. I worked with an organization called OM Ireland (OM = Operation Mobilization), and I participated in their Impact Ireland short-term mission. The first week the teams were given training, and the second week we split up and went to six different towns all over Ireland. During that next week, my team worked with a local church doing a variety of outreaches – kids clubs, street evangelism, visiting nursing homes, and doing community outreach events. It was a challenging time for me, as I was stretched and pulled out of my comfort zone in many different ways. However, I came out of the two weeks feeling very encouraged by all that I had experienced, and blessed by all the things that God taught me. Here are a few of the main lessons that I learned during that time.

  1. God’s love really does transform lives – I was so blessed to meet many different people during my time in Ireland. As I got to know my team members and local believers, I was constantly being confronted with the reality of God’s transforming love. I met people who had been Christians for many years, and came from normal, average places in life, but were willing to come to Ireland to share the love that Christ had so freely lavished on them. I met people who were local townsfolk, who have incredibly rough and broken pasts. But they are on fire to share the transformation that had come about in their lives through Christ’s love. Each person had their own story of how God had changed them, and it was amazing to see!
  2. God has the power to unite random, ordinary people – My team was composed of people from 8 different countries, aged from young teenagers to middle-aged adults. Coming from all sorts of backgrounds in life, both socially and spiritually, we were a random bunch of just ordinary people. Because of Christ’s transforming power in our lives, we were all united in the same Saviour, with the uniting passion to share the Gospel. That is what is so amazing about being a Christian! You automatically have a giant family of brothers and sisters who, though very different in many ways, are all united with the same bond – Christ. I saw the power of that bond very clearly during my time in Ireland serving with the team.
  3. God uses random, ordinary people to make an impact – When the Gospel transforms people, it then unites them, and then it empowers them to make an impact in other people’s lives. God loves variety, and when a variety of united people serve him, he uses it to his glory! Because of how diverse my team was, we were able to reach out in many different ways. Some people were amazing at children’s work, others were better at engaging people on the streets. Still others found their niche in serving practically by cleaning and cooking. But God used everyone’s unique talents to reach a wide spectrum of people with his love.
  4. God strengthens those who serve him – I’m surprised at the amount of energy I had considering the intensity and busyness of the two-week outreach. During the first week we had at least 3 training sessions a day, covering a huge amount of information that we would need during the next week of outreach. The second week was crazy busy with full schedules of kids’ work and evangelism. Every night was a late night (or very early morning, depending on how you look at it!), and there were last minute changed plans and working around holes in those plans. Under normal circumstances, I probably would’ve crashed and burned at some point due to the lack of sleep and hectic nature of our schedule. But, I didn’t! God kept giving more and more strength, energy, and grace. When I felt like I couldn’t go on, I found I could. It wasn’t in my own strength that I was working; it was in Christ’s. He sees when we strive to serve him, and he gives us the strength that we need to continue. He truly is good!
  5. God cares about the little things – Sometimes you just have to laugh at how impeccable God’s timing is. I can think of many occasions during the two weeks when he brought just the right person along at just the right time when we desperately needed help. I remember the many divinely appointed conversations we had with people while we were out on the streets. I could tell many stories about all the times God showed he cared about details. He sent just the right kids along to the kids clubs, he provided new face painting brushes just when we needed them, he brought specific people we’d prayed for along to a Gospel presentation – all very little, and sometimes seemingly insignificant details. But not in his eyes! He sees everything, and fits every little detail into his perfect plan. I was reminded so many times of how much he really cares about the details.

I came away from Ireland with a myriad of different emotions swirling in me. Sadness at having to say goodbye to the team that I had so closely bonded and served with. Excitement at seeing how God used us and how he is continuing to work in Ireland. Wonder at seeing how God has the amazing power to lavish love on sinners and totally transform us. And probably most of all, gratitude: for the opportunities I was given to serve and be stretched, and for all the lessons that I learned.

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My team and I praying together on our last evening together.

Bonus Post! Awesome Blogger Award

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Thanks to Cora for nominating me for the Awesome Blogger Award! Check her blog out at Cora’s Bits and Pieces.

Created by Maggie

This is an award for the absolutely wonderful writers all across the blogging world. They have beautiful blogs, are kind and lovely, and always find a way to add happiness and laughter to the lives of their readers. That is what truly defines an awesome blogger.

The RULES:

Thank the person who nominated you.

Include the reason behind the award.

Include the banner in your post.

Tag it under #awesomebloggeraward in the Reader.

Answer the questions your nominator gave you.

Nominate at least 5 awesome bloggers.

Give your nominees 10 new questions to answer.

Let your nominees know that they’ve been nominated!

The questions:

  1. What’s your favorite food? – Ummmm…. just one food? That’s practically impossible. 😀 Can we go for a whole meal? But even then, that’s really hard… I’m just going to say chicken enchiladas. Because I really like those!
  2. What’s your favorite part about blogging? – The writing! I love writing, and I love sharing my writing. So blogging is a great combo!
  3. What’s your least favorite part about blogging? – Well, I haven’t even been blogging for a month yet, so I can’t really say I have anything I don’t like yet. Everything is still new and shiny and fun!
  4. Cats or Dogs? – Dogs, just marginally. They’re bouncy and loving and fun! (They have to be big dogs like Labs or Golden Retrievers or German Shepherds. No yappy little things for me, thank you :D) (No offence to owners of small dogs. They just aren’t for me) Though cats seem that they would be great writing buddies, as they just sit around and purr a lot. But then I’ve never owned either as a pet, so I can’t really say for sure…
  5. Do you like fiction or non-fiction books better? – Definitely fiction. I just love stories and all they contain! Though I am trying to widen my horizons and read more non-fiction…
  6. Do you write any fiction? – Yes, I do! That is actually primarily what I write. My current main story is about a girl growing up during the American Civil War, and it will probably feature on here at some point.
  7. Would you rather be inside or outside (generally)? – Ohhh, another hard one. It really depends on the weather. If it’s a gloriously sunny day, I love being outside! But if it’s rainy or dull, then I’d much rather be inside with a good book. Actually, as long as I have a book, I don’t really mind if I’m outside or inside. 😀
  8. Android or Apple? – Well, I don’t have a phone, so that kinda knocks this question out. But I do use our family iPad quite a bit, as well as our family iMac desktop. (I’m writing this post on it right now, actually!) So I’ll just say Apple, since that’s what I use the most.
  9. Favorite blog post ever (your post)? – Again, I’m a newbie at blogging! This will only have been my 5th post. 😀 So I can’t really judge accurately yet. But I do have to say that my last post with my favourite books I read in May was really fun to write!
  10. What’s your favorite girls name? – Oh dear, now you’ve opened a floodgate. So you probably don’t know this, but I am a self-proclaimed name nerd. Seriously. I love names!! I have a whole word document dedicated to my favourite names, and I’m always adding to it. So this question is great fun, but practically impossible to answer :D. I’m going to cheat a bit, and say my top 5 girls names, because I simply can’t narrow it down to 1! And my top 5 would have to be: Arielle, Avonlea, Jayda, Quincy/Quinn, and Zaylee. As you can probably tell, I have a rather eclectic/funky naming-style. 😀 But I really do love those names!

Thank you Cora for those questions, they were really fun!

So now for my 5 nominees for this Awesome Blogger Award. I nominate:

Naomi Sarah from Wonderland Creek

Heather from Jeans and Dresses

Lydia from Noveltea 

Julia from The Barefoot Gal

Emma Jane from Truth and Tailgates

And my questions are:

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What is your favourite part of blogging?
  3. Would you rather have a few loyal commenters or lots of silent followers?
  4. What is your favourite childhood memory?
  5. What is your favourite topic to write about?
  6. Funniest moment of the week?
  7. What is your favourite word and why?
  8. Who is your favourite fictional character?
  9. What did you have for breakfast this morning?
  10. Who/what inspires you the most?

Right, there we go! See you back here on Saturday!