Sunday, December 30, 2012

Reflections on 2012

Another year has come to a close. It's hard to believe how fast this year has gone by. I look back at this year, and see that my life has changed in a lot of ways. I have done more growing spiritually this year than ever before, and I find myself more and more in love with my Jesus every day.

When I think of words that sum up this year for me, the lessons that I've learned, these are the words that come to mind.

Surrender --- Trust --- Contentment --- Patience --- Self-control  --- Discipline --- Witnessing --- Brokenness

There is much more that God taught me this year, but these are the main words that come to my mind. God has taught me how to pray, and given me hard lessons on just learning to be still, and listen to Him.
At the end of last year, I made several goals for myself. I actually accomplished a three of those. My goals that I accomplished are:
  1. Read my Bible and journal every day.
  2. Tell at least 50 people about Christ, even if it is just by handing them a tract.
  3. Get my weight down to a certain level.
I am excited that the Lord gave me the discipline, and the self-control, and the passion that I needed to get these three things accomplished this year!!
These are all of the journals I have filled this year. 8 journals, which comes out to 1539 pages. I can't believe how much I wrote about my life this year! But I am glad I did, because so much happened, and I have every single bit of it is written down to remember for years to come. There is a verse about writing down the things that God has done for you (can't remember where the verse is), so that you can remember them, and generations after you can know of God's faithfulness. Well, I have definitely done that this year, and I plan to continue this discipline next year, and hopefully each year after that. I would have to say that a great deal of my spiritual growth is due to the fact that I did journal this year. It is as if God was waiting for me to sit down with a pen and paper before He just started pouring out insights to me. I also discovered this year that I pray much better when writing it out in my journal. That's not to say that is the only way that I pray, but some of my deepest most heart-felt prayers are the ones I wrote in my journals. It's amazing now to be able to go back and see the prayers I have prayed, and the way that God answered them so specifically. Journaling has been an amazing journey for me, and it's one I encourage each one of you to embark upon yourself.  
Something else I completed this year is "My Utmost for His Highest" 1-year journal. These have been wonderful devotionals to do every night! Oswald Chambers is a very wise man, and a lot of this has been life changing for me.

So I am going to share with you some of the ways that God has taught me those special words this year.
Surrender --- Trust --- Contentment --- Patience
These four words all kind of go together for me. Can you guess why? I think any single young woman can identify that these four are the hardest for us to obtain.
Surrender: Surrendering all our desires, hopes, and dreams to God. Laying them on the altar, not taking them back up unless He gives them back. I had to learn to surrender some things this summer, which was so hard for me that I told God that I couldn't do it. I told God I couldn't, and only He could. He had to work in my heart, and bring me to the point of surrender. And He did!
Trust: Trusting our future in the hands of the Almighty, who has a much better plan for our future than we could ever plan. Trusting Him with the pen to our story, and not making any suggestions as to how the story should go. This has been pretty much the hardest lesson for me to learn, for me to simply let go, and trust God. Even when I don't understand what is going on. I find it interesting that this is the lesson that it seems God keeps taking me back to, since the meaning of my name, Faith Christine, means "A Christian who places their trust in God". It's amazing how God uses our names. Recently, I started trying to create pictures of different things in my mind. Just a couple of nights ago, the Lord gave me a picture of what trust is. And He also gave me a verse to go along with this picture in my mind.
(The Beautiful necklace my sister Grace made me for Christmas which will always serve as a reminder to me.)
My picture of Trust: Me, a blind girl, walking down a path. I have no idea what lay in front of me. I cannot see. I try many different ways of finding my own way down the path. I try different people. But alas, all of them lead me astray. They all lead me into danger. But then One with a soft and gentle voice comes behind me saying, "...This is the way, walk ye in it..." (Isaiah 30:21). I know this is the voice I can trust. This is the voice of The Only One that I can trust. I just have to trust that He will keep me from the dangers that lie on each side, and keep me from falling. He will lead me down the right path, even when I think I know a better way. I just have to trust Him, because only He can see the road ahead of me.
Contentment: Learning to be content with my present circumstances, even if I desire greatly to be somewhere else. This has been the hardest for me to learn. Contentment in singleness. This summer was especially a hard struggle for me, but the Lord gave me victory, because I kept asking Him to create in me a heart that was willing to be content right where I am. And then the Lord opened up the door to Taiwan...and I knew I was content right where I am.
Patience: Sometimes this can be the hardest to learn. Patience---waiting for God to fulfill His perfect plan in your life. Waiting for God to come through on His promises, which He ALWAYS does!
This year, the Lord has given me great victory in these areas. This does not mean by any means that I have perfected these things, but I have come a great distance. About two months ago, I was reading in the book "Sacred Singleness", by Leslie Ludy. She talked about Mary pouring out her most precious ointment, which was the thing of most value to her, onto the feet of Jesus. How much should we be willing to pour out what is most precious to us onto the feet of Jesus? I decided right there and then that I was pouring what I held as very dear to me, my desire to someday be a wife and mom, onto the feet of Jesus. It is all His, and if He has a life of singleness in store for me, then I am ready for it.
There is so much more in each of these areas, but it would take many hours to tell you every step along my journey.
Self-control: God has helped me greatly develop in the area of self-control, mainly getting my weight under control, which has been a huge struggle for me. Also just in controlling my temper, which has been a huge stumbling block for me in the past. Not perfect yet, but I am being perfected.
Discipline: I wanted to become more disciplined in reading my Bible on a daily basis, and this year I have! I'm praying this discipline will carry over into the rest of my life. Gaining this discipline helped to carry discipline over into other areas of my life where I greatly needed it. Still working on this one, but it's well under way.
Witnessing: This has been a huge year for me in witnessing. I have come "out of my box" so much. I have started to get excited about witnessing, and leaving tracts for people. I even start to pray now before plane flights that God would put an unsaved person on the plane next to me (because they can't go anywhere...). So needless to say, I am DEFINITELY looking forward to my upcoming plane trips, if only because it will give me an opportunity to share Christ with someone. I have become more excited than ever about sharing my faith, and have lost a lot of the fears that I used to have about witnessing. God has done an amazing overhaul on my heart in this area. I just learned that I should not fear man who is going to die. Rather I should fear God, and what He will say to me if I didn't do my duty in sharing the Gospel with the lost and dying world.
Brokenness: I would have to say this was the hardest for me to learn this year. Not holding tightly to any earthly friendship, and not placing my trust in a friendship I always thought would be there. I won't go into great detail, but I did lose a friendship that was very near and dear to me, one I was sure would always be there for me. They broke off our friendship, and that did break my heart.
But I realized that God worked through even this to answer my prayers. Exactly one year to the day before this happened, I wrote in my journal "Lord, break my heart so that I might draw closer to you. Crush my spirit, Lord. I want to be so close to you, Jesus." Exactly one year later, I had my heart broken in a very real way, but Jesus did use it to draw me closer to Him, because I realized then just how real the phrase "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" was to me. Jesus means even more to me now, because I know that He will never leave me, He will always be with me. He is the one and only one that I can depend upon to ALWAYS be there for me.
God used this to answer another prayer in a very real way. Five days before this happened, I read 1 Peter 1:6-7, and wrote these words in my journal: "If You need to take me during a season of testing to try my faith, if You need to try it by fire, then do so. I know that this means I am asking for testing, but I want my faith to be found precious and honorable in Your sight." And He did purify my faith through this. So I am able to look back on this brokenness that happened in my life, and I am able to thank God with my whole heart for this, even though I don't understand.

All spritual growth aside, this has been an amazing year!! I had a nephew and a niece born this year, I joined professional adult orchestras in the area, and I found out I was going to Taiwan. Some friendships have gone, others have grown stronger. But my family is even more precious to me, and I am learning to treasure and value the rare family that I have even more every day. I also started going to a girls' accountability group, which has been amazing!!

But most of all, nothing is more precious to me right now than my True Love, Jesus. If He is not your first love, I urge you now, don't waste another minute making Him your first love!! Jesus is the most amazing thing that has ever happened to me. I will leave the whole world behind before I will leave my Jesus. And you can have a deep relationship with Him too. Just tell Him that you want it!

So this has been an extremely long blog post, but God has done so many amazing things for me in 2012, and this isn't even the half of it. I can't wait to see the exciting adventures and surprises that God has in store for me in 2013! Bring on the new year!

My prayer for this next year is that both you and I as Christians will use every breath we have to proclaim the goodness of God, and the love of God to a lost and dying world, before God comes to take us Home. May 2013 be an amazing year of surrender to God, and of telling of His goodness! God bless your new year! Stay strong, and hold fast to Jesus!!

Because of Jesus' Blood,
Faith Christine
Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 15:10

Friday, December 21, 2012

Christmas Recital 2012

It's been over a month since I posted on my blog, but I just wanted to give a quick update on some things that have been happening recently. The most recent event is that my mom and I had a joint music recital for our students last night (12/20/12). It was a wonderful time! I have six students now, four violin and two piano students. I was SO proud of every single last one of them last night!

It's always different going to a recital as a teacher than as a student. In fact, I think it's harder. Because I feel that how your students do can reflect on your teaching. So I held my breath through each of my students songs, but I was so proud of each one of them, who each did such an awesome job!! So to all my precious students, your teacher is very proud! (I guess you needed to hear that just one more time...)

Here are my amazing students!
(Left to right, back to front) Jacob (violin), Angel (violin), Me, Stephanie (violin), Hailey (violin), Stacey (piano), Alexis (piano).
Didn't get a chance to get a picture with Alexis, but just wanted to say a quick word. Alexis is 9, and she has been taking since about April/May, and I started her from the beginning, and she has made quick progress! I can always tell that she comes to lessons well practiced. She's very quiet, so it's extra fun when I can get a smile or laugh out of her. I can tell she really loves to play, and even laughs at her own mistakes. It is such a delight to teach such a sweet little girl. 

Here is my sweet student Stacey, who is 9 years old. I started teaching her around early summer this year, and she is my first transfer student. Accepting a transfer student was a little nerve racking for me, because you never know how she was taught by the previous teacher. But when I had that first interview/placement session with her, I was blown away and so impressed about how far she had already come. Stacey's family just moved here from India at the end of last school year. She is such a little joy for me to teach, and we always have so much fun during our lessons (or I definitely do anyway). I can't wait to see where the years of teaching this precious little girl are going to go! She is already at the beginning intermediate level, and only 9, so I am ecstatic to see where she will be by high school age. Anyway, can't say enough about this sweet little girl. Also a plus is having her little sister come in on occasions and watch me teach her.

Jacob is 12, and took lessons from me for about 2 years, and then had to stop for a semester, but picked violin lessons back up this semester. I am so glad he did, as it is such a delight to teach him. He also takes piano from my mother. He has become my first student to change sizes in violins. When he left, he was playing a 3/4, and when he came back, I realized right away, he was no longer such a little boy, and definitely needed a 4/4. He is progressing so well, especially since he has having to adapt to a new size of violin. Always so sweet, and quick to do whatever I ask him to do. I look forward to the years ahead with Jacob!

Angel is 14, and also another student that takes piano from my mother. She has been taking lessons from me for 1 1/2 years now. She is just like her name. Such a sweet angel during her lessons. We have a lot of great conversations, and fun, but she's always ready to buckle down when we need to get started with the lesson. I'm so proud of the progress she is making, especially since she not only plays the piano and violin, but also plays the flute in band. Three instruments is not easy at all, and I don't know if I'll have her forever, but while I do, I sure am enjoying it!!
Last, and certainly not least, here are my sweet little friends, Stephanie and Hailey. They are not only my students, but also like extra little sisters to me. These two little sisters are both adopted into a sweet family at church. When their mom asked me this summer if I could teach them, I was more than thrilled to take up the "challenge"! They started taking lessons in September, and it has been SO much fun! Stephanie (left) is 6, and is so enthusiastic about playing the violin. She aspires someday to play in an orchestra. Hailey (right) is 8, and she really loves coming to lessons, which always makes my job as a teacher so much more fun. Both of them are so sweet, and bring a special joy to my week with their "little girl giggles". I give them group lessons right now, and just recently, their "little girl giggles" became contagious, and had me laughing too. I'm always thrilled to get the young students, because then they get to grow up knowing you. I can't wait for the many years ahead teaching these precious little girls!! And it's also SO fun to be able to go to the same church as them, and get those precious little hugs multiple times a week. Having known them for several years, and watching these girls grow up, both of these precious girls have found a special place in my heart, and I can't wait to see what God has for them in the future!

So, there's just a special little highlight from this week. I look forward to picking lessons back up in full swing after I get back from Taiwan, and will definitely miss it while I'm gone. Have a great weekend, and a very merry CHRIST-filled CHRISTmas, because CHRISTmas is all about Jesus!! Stay strong in Jesus!!

Because of Jesus' Blood,
Faith Christine
Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 15:10