What if…

What if the sun turned orange? What if the grass was suddenly the sea? What if cotton candy grew on trees, what if money was free?Three Rivers Deep (book series) "A two-souled girl begins a journey of self discovery..." http://threeriversdeep.wordpress.com/

So many questions, and an imagination of endless possibilities!

In many cases, the “what if” questions can be thought-provoking and helpful. For the inventors, the engineers, pioneers of science, technology, and new products, for the artists, dreamers, writers, a world of creativity and new inspiration can result from the “what if.”

See the existence of Microsoft, animation, live-streaming television and current events. Would the iPhone exist without someone asking, “what if?” How about Disney, or Pixar – would they be where they are without someone pushing the boundaries of art and film?

See the source imageSo yes, the “what if” can be a wonderful question to ask in terms of creativity and invention. However, in many cases, the question of “what if” can lead to anxiety, turmoil, and procrastination.

The flip side of “what if” is where anxiety reigns wild. It is the king of its kingdom, fear is the queen, and chaos and pandemonium are its citizens. Their national product is branded uncertainty, and its shipments are made of all the filaments called “causes and effects.”

Have you ever been part of this kingdom? Found yourself captured in the falsely alluring sensation of looking at something from every angle? Caught within the chains, dangling from your hands – placed in front of Anxiety and Fear like a relentless ping-pong match of millions of possibilities?

I know I have.

It can be very easy to get lost in the “what if” of life. What if I fail this test? What if I make the wrong decision? What if I mess it up? What if…what if…what if……

Oftentimes, I turn these “what ifs” towards God. I worry on whether or not I’m taking advantage of His grace, how to know whether He really wants me to do this – is the trial and error too much to risk? I find my mind wondering towards questions like does He really still give grace when I mess up time and again? Does it really never run out?

What if what I’m doing is incorrect? What if in my attempt to figure out the right thing, I go against His will? What if I’m doing this following God life all wrong? What if…what if…what if……

Recently, when talking with a friend about this, they gave me a piece of advice that I wanted to share with all of y’all. I was telling them about how I’m always worried about messing up, and how I struggle with the concept of God’s grace and unconditional love. We talked about the entire “what if” scenario and how anxiety loves to take hold of the reins in those situations and just go crazy.

They said that when my mind wants to say, “what if” about messing up, failure, grace, God’s love, I need to refute that with “even if.”

Even if…I make a mistake.

Even if…I sin.

Even if…I willingly go against what I know to be right.

Even if…I mess up what God wanted me to do.

Even if…

In whatever the circumstance, as long as we are truly saved and at the heart of it desire to follow and please the Lord, then the “WHAT IF” questions should not be allowed to have any power over us.

Because…even if the worst thing our mind’s can come up with or that we could do comes to pass, even if that happens, God’s love and grace remains.

Romans 8:38-39 says,

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Right here, God says that nothing can take His love away from us. Not our mistakes, not our failures, not our anxiety or what if questions.

Romans 11:6 states,

“But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.”

And then later in Romans, we see grace being addressed. In this short verse, Jesus is saying that His grace is not contingent on our works. It is not determined by what we do, how we do it, or anything in between. God’s grace is purely an unconditional gift that He lavishes on His children. 

When anxiety and fear say “WHAT IF,” the Lord’s grace and love say even if. 

~ Southern Dreamer

Seen

 So I just came back from Passion on Friday and one of the sessions was about letting God have ALL of you, even the parts that are ugly or broken or that you don’t want to show Him. Let Him have 100%, not 99.9%. So basically be seen by God.

As we’re driving home from Passion, I see a huge billboard sign that says, “SEEN.” I was like hmmm ok, might be something *files it away for later.*

Then Friday night, the live action Cinderella was on and I was watching it.

At the very end of the movie, the narrator says, “Was who she was, who she really was, really enough? This is perhaps the greatest risk any of us can ever take, is to be seen as we truly are.”

And I was like LIGHTBULB.

Like that’s me. There’s the prince, who saw her when she was polished and beautiful and together.

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Now, she’s not. Her hair isn’t tidy, there are dirt stains on an old dress, her shoes are worn out. Will the prince still want her, even in this? When she is not put together, not sparkling, where she walks towards him in a dress that has been worn for too many years, mud and mire clinging to it. She doesn’t have ANYTHING to offer him. She has no parents, no dowry, no fancy background, no support. Even her name, has been changed and taken: Cinderella.

“- you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give,” ~ Isaiah 62:2

She has everything against her, and yet, HE came to find her. To seek her out. But now she’s worried, because yeah, sure he liked her before – she was together, beautiful, looking like everyone else he hangs out with, and now? Well, she’s untidy, dirty…locked in the attic of a home with mice for company. Will he still want her?

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Here is the prince’s answer: “Of course I will.”

“And they shall be called The Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken,” ~ Isaiah 62:12

No hesitation, no well, I don’t know. You really haven’t got much going for you. She offers him the only thing she can, her heart, and without a second lost, he accepts her.

That’s Jesus.

I know so many times when I mess up, I feel like I can’t go to God then or spend time with Him. I just really screwed up, why would God want me to spend time with Him? My first instinct is to try and “better” myself, to try and make myself look, in analogical terms, prettier.

light and shadow

Do you do this too?

The notion of thinking that if after we mess up, if we can only do some good things then we’ll be able to approach Him.

But that’s not how God works. He doesn’t act like humans and demand distance from us if we mess up, tell us to “go to our room” or slam a door in our face. He doesn’t tell us that we can only approach Him once we’ve done enough good to outweigh the bad.

“And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” ~ Hebrews 4:13-16

Jesus already knows our sin. During Passion 2019, Matt Chandler said, it doesn’t surprise God when we sin. He knows we’re going to fall short – it’s not a matter of if, but when (paraphrasing here).

In Hebrews, it says several things that I think we should pay attention to. One, none of our sin is hidden – God sees everything, even the yucky parts that we want to hide from Him. He already knows. Further, the Scriptures say, “we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are.”

FaithI love that! After all, who wants to risk something for someone, who you cannot relate to? By experiencing humanity, Jesus truly is our Great Comforter (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). And not only does He comfort us, but it says, he “sympathize(s) with our weaknesses.

Merriam-Webster defines sympathize as, “to share in suffering or grief, to react or respond in sympathy.”

In The Complete Word Study Dictionary of the New Testament, the word used is sumpathéō, and this means, “to sympathize with, be compassionate, have compassion upon.” Something that I found interesting about this, was one of the synonyms for this word: sullupéomai, meaning “to experience sorrow with, console.”

I think it’s really fascinating how for both of these definitions, similar words like sorrow, grief, and suffering come into play. I don’t know about y’all, but when I think of someone sympathizing, that’s not the first thing that comes to mind.

And yet, this is the context that the Bible uses it in.

Next time we fall short – in whatever way that may be, I hope all of us, myself included, can remember the truth of God, instead of what our perfectionism/fear/performance-based self thinks: that Jesus wants us to come to Him, just as we are – whether that means we’re frustrated, tired, or just screwed up, He wants us to come.

~ Southern Dreamer

 

What’s New?

How are all my fellow shopping and fashion lovers out there doing?! With school starting, I thought I would let y’all know some of my thoughts on the current fashion trends!

Let’s start off then!

First of all, off-the-shoulder pieces are super popular right now. Everywhere I go, I’ve been seeing them: bathing suits, tops, dresses – you name it, and someone has probably made it into this style!

Blair Off The Shoulder Crochet Shift Dress

Sammie Off The Shoulder BlouseNote: both of the above are from Francesca’s, you can find their website here.

Another trend are jumpers and rompers. I’m sure y’all have seen them in several different stores. This past semester at college, I purchased a cute romper from Kinnucan’s. The top part has a ruffle, there’s a bow/belt you tie around your waist, and it has a white plus neutral striped pattern. I love it!

Besides that, my aunt graciously bought me an adorable, simple white romper from D’Squared. The material is really light and airy – perfect for summer!

With my height, finding a romper that is actually long enough can be a challenge. Luckily, I found two that have worked so far. If y’all know any good places to shop for tall girls, comment below! 🙂

Image may contain: Lanie Dean, smiling, standing
I couldn’t find a picture of this romper anywhere online, so here is me in it xD
Be Bop Juniors' Printed Drawstring Romper - Multi Stripe XL
Romper from Macy’s!

Moving along!

Blush pink is IN. Everywhere I go, I’ve seen tons of items that are blush pink. And not only clothing, but others as well – like bedding or stationary!

I absolutely love this color, so I’m super excited that it’s one of those “in” shades.

Funny story for y’all, when I was getting ready for my first year at college, I started to look for bedding and decorative items. I found a picture on Pinterest that I loved, and decided that I was going to try and model my dorm room after it.

One of the main colors, along with gold, was blush pink. My mom and I looked everywhere, but for the life of us, we could not find anything! So we decided to switch the blush pink for a soft teal color.

Looking back, it’s funny to think about, because now I see blush pink items everywhere!

Another popular color, similar to blush pink, is rose gold!

So pretty!

How is y’all’s summer/school fashion coming along? Did you find any cute pieces? Let me know in the comments below!

~ Southern Dreamer

 

Liebster Tag!

Ruleses:

  • Link to Global Aussie’s Award blog post. Comment with a link to your Award post. And put the official Liebster Award stamp on your blog. (borrowed the stamp from Hannah’s post)
  • Acknowledge and link to the blogger who nominated you. (Thanks Kinsey!)
  • Answer the 11 questions your nominator asked.
  • Nominate 11 more bloggers and spread the ‘new blogger’ love.
  • Ask them 11 fun questions of your own.
  • Let them know on their blogs that you have nominated them.
  • Optional Rules

Optional Rules:

  • Write a paragraph about what makes you passionate about blogging
  • List ten random facts about yourself

Onto the questions!

  • Why did you start blogging?
    I first started blogging to get more practice writing – something to kind of keep me accountable to write consistently. It’s also good exposure so there’s that 🙂
  • What is your favorite blogging memory?
    Oh! Definitely when my favorite author – Robin Jones Gunn – commented on a post where I had done a review on one of her books. I had gone to her blog and in a comment told her about my blog post, but I never expected in a million years for her to actually comment on it!
  • What is your favorite writing memory?
    Ah, that’s hard! Either the reaction my Pietro/OC fanfiction got on the TPS forums, or my creative writing class with TPS. So basically with TPS xD
  • If you could have any breed of cat or dog (or snake, or hamster, or horse, or whatever), what would it be?
    Ahhh, do I have to pick??? I’ve always thought Australian Shepherds were pretty dogs, and Ragdoll cats are super cute (my cousin has one!). Not sure what horse breed I would want…
  • What is your favorite memory of a pet or pets?
    We recently got a new puppy (I PROMISE TO POST ABOUT IT SOON), and he’s adorable. Doesn’t have coordination quite down yet, so that’s always funny. And any memory with my cat, Kit, is hilarious – she’s got a huge personality, despite her being a tiny cat.
  • What is the one book everyone in the world should read?
    Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
  • Do you like rain?
    I do like rain, as long as I’m not caught in it haha xD
  • Cauliflower or broccoli?
    Broccoli.
  • What is the longest book you’ve read?
    Oh dang, I’m not sure??? I never really think about the length when I’m reading. Maybe Emma by Jane Austen?
  • What is the longest book or story you’ve written?
    My current WIP (in order) is at 29K, but the longest one I’ve written has been 41K.
  • What do you consider your biggest passion or cause in life?
    My biggest passion is definitely writing, my pets, my family, and God.

Alright y’all! There you go!

My questions will be…

  1. Does your blog have a theme? If so, what is it?
  2. When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? Or do you?
  3. How long did it take you to decide on a blog name?
  4. If you’re having writer’s block, what inspires you?
  5. What is something that happens in your favorite book, that you wish didn’t? How would you change it?
  6. On the other hand, what’s something that did not happen, that you wish had?
  7. What genre do you like writing for best?
  8. Top three favorite book series’, go!
  9. How many pets do you have?
  10. What’s your Myers Briggs type? (if you know it, if not, describe your personality)
  11. Best writing advice you could give?

I nominate…Greta (When Almonds Blossom), Abby (A Glimpse of Starlight), Victoria (Through The Wasteland), my mom 😉 (Life on the Other Side), Dani (A Ball of Glass), Grace (Snowfall of Dreams), Shiphrah (Books and Crannies), BeautyBeyondBones, Naomi (Elsewhere),  Allyson (A World Within Worlds), and Elisabeth (Embassy Kid).

Have at it y’all! 🙂

~ Southern Dreamer

Sitting By The Fire

See the source imageThe past couple of weeks, I’ve been going through a book called Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman. As described in another book, Breaking Up With Perfect by Amy Carroll, there are two different types of perfectionists:

“Some lovers of Perfect live with the Good Girl Syndrome. These women are rule followers by nature and bask in earning the pleasure of the people surrounding them. Others live with the Never Good Enough Syndrome. These women use their flawless exterior to cover the wounds and shame of their pasts. Both kinds of women build an external structure rule by rule and pleasant smile by pleasant smile.”

If you struggle with perfectionism, like I do, then you definitely need to pick up a copy!

Recently, I reached chapter twelve in Grace for the Good Girl, titled “Remain.” Right away, I knew that this chapter was going to be one that spoke to me…since this was the first paragraph in it:

“I’ve never liked the phrase quiet time all that much, but I was a good girl who went to Bible college, so I’ve not always been brave enough to admit it. I never knew what I was supposed to do during a quiet time. Read one verse? Is a chapter enough? Maybe I should memorize the whole book. The list seemed both empty and endless.”

Yep. I can relate to that – not knowing if what you’re doing is “enough” for God, and the overthinking mind and perfectionism only heaping on more confusion and stress.

Do any of y’all see yourself in her description? I do.

It can be hard, for us perfectionists to have to work through this. After all, we aren’t supposed to feel like this, are we? We should be jumping up and down for joy, happiness oozing out of every pore at the thought of getting to spend time with God.

And yet, oftentimes, I find myself doing it out of obligation, duty, or guilt. Then, my mind can’t help but go…

You’re such a hypocrite. 

Not exactly the nicest thought to be thinking.

“Let the beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long, and the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders,” – Deuteronomy 33:12

While researching, I came across this verse, which I do not think I’ve read before, and knew I had to add in. Sometimes it can be easier to see God as a task master and dictator, than a loving Father.

Rules, justice? I can understand that. It makes sense.

But grace? Upon grace? It befuddles me. And yet, that is what God offers us – free of charge, free of punishment. He wants us to come and rest in Him. Even if that’s just laying in bed in the morning and talking to Jesus, and that’s the only time you have.

I know y’all are probably wondering why I titled this post, “Sitting by the Fire,” when all I’ve talked about so far is grace, perfectionism, etc. So here comes the part where it gets explained 😉

For those of you who have wood-burning fireplaces, don’t you love the crackle of the wood and the smell it gives off? Something dangerous, yet beautiful. Something that puts off heat, that we need, but can also cause damage.

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Emily Freeman, describes this and the analogy from her friend Fil Anderson.

“He likened this fire stoking to time spent with God. He didn’t put the fire out and make a brand-new one every hour. He merely kept the same one going, moving embers and logs around to catch the flame in new ways so the warm kept on warming.”

Then, in the next chapter, she adds this, which connects to her earlier point.

“We breathe in air and breathe out worship. We receive love and extend worship. We embrace children, offering worship. We comfort, we laugh, we mourn, we dance, we read, we dream, we exist – all worship. We pay the bills, we run on the treadmill, we enjoy a good movie, we make dinner, we welcome friends with open arms – worship, all worship. We send money and offer prayer and sit with a lonely neighbor, in Jesus’ name. We wait for love, we long for home, we pour out our hearts and hopes and fears and longing; we create with words and photos and colors and food, all beautiful acts of worship.

But we don’t call it that.

We call those things living. But when the Spirit of the living God lives inside of you, then your living is also your worship.”

Y’all, when I read this I was like WOAH. I have always put my time with God in a category, separate from everything else, and if I didn’t get to it that day, well, I wasn’t a very good Christian then, was I?

I had never thought of it like that before, even so, it made complete sense! Of course everything we do is an act of worship! Our bodies are His temple.

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies,” ~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

There are so many things in life that we have to do – school, work, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, visiting friends, etc. As life happens, some days are going to be so busy that we aren’t going to have time to sit down and completely devote fifteen or thirty minutes to God.

In those times, I believe Jesus wants us to just rest in Him. He knows how busy and stressful life can be, and knows that there are some seasons in life that are going to be crazier than others.

Now, that doesn’t mean this is a free-pass-never-read-the-Bible-again-ticket. That’s not what I’m saying. There’s a difference in giving yourself grace, resting in God, and completely and blatantly taking advantage of it and making a consistent pattern of not spending time with the Lord.

In the end, as we learn to walk in grace, it’s less about performance, and more about expanding our definition of what it means to be in the presence of the Father – every breathe in worship.

~ Southern Dreamer

Doon ~ Book Review

See the source imageHave you ever wanted to be transported into a magical world? Complete with stunning scenery and a cool kingdom to match?

Oh, and did I mention the amazing guys with Scottish accents? Or the fact that soulmates exist? 

Yep. Soulmates.

Basically, this book was my daydream come to life.

If you love fantasy mixed with the modern-twenty-first-century, plus a good dose of mystery and romance, then this is the book for you.

Written by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon, Doon follows the tale of two best friends – Veronica and Mackenna. With her home life a wreck, dad left and mom is…well, not exactly picking up the slack, not to mention that her choice in men is less than admirable, Veronica is more than ready to escape.

Enter best friend, Mackenna. After breaking up with her jerk-of-a-boyfriend, Veronica calls Mackenna. In the span of a few minutes, her entire summer changes when Mackenna tells her that she wants her graduation present, from her dad, to be a plane ticket for Veronica to come with her to Scotland.

And with that, though they don’t know it yet, this summer will change everything for them.

*note: above is the spoiler-free part of the review, if you don’t want plot spoilers, RESIST SCROLLING, I’ll try to steer clear of the major ones but…NO PROMISES* 😉

*WARNING*

*PLOT SPOILERS BELOW*

Once arriving in Scotland, Kenna notices that something is up with her bestie. When she questions her, Veronica nervously mentions that she keeps seeing a boy.

Specifically, a Scottish guy who’s tall, blonde, and by her own admissions, “gorgeous.”

Kenna tries to logically deal with this, and since her dad used to teach undergraduate psychology, she throws that at her.

“He’d say ‘Kilt-Boy’ is your anti-Eric.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“He’s your knight in shining armor. The perfect boy. Someone heroic who’d never choose their own interests ahead of yours.” Her fingers absently brushed the quilted fabric of the comforter as she continued. “Think about it. He conveniently shows up after Eric dumps you, then again after your mom chooses Bob the Slob. Doesn’t that seem a little bit convenient?”

Convenient, it does seem, and Veronica is inclined to agree with her musical-loving friend. And yet, some part of her, wonders if the kilt boy could be real? Was she actually going crazy, or could there be more to this entire world than she had first thought?

She needs answers, and she can’t rest until she has them. Despite Kenna’s efforts, Veronica is determined to find something. Kenna eventually goes along with it, if for nothing else, than the hope that once her best friend sees that this is not real, Veronica will actually come back around to her normal-does-not-see-random-vision-boys-self.

During one of the days they’re exploring, Kenna and Veronica are told the story about the land of Doon. A magical land. And not only that, but Kenna’s, aunt, Gracie, had been there.

This is all too much for Kenna, who brushes it off as silly fairytales. Sure, her aunt always liked to tell some crazy stories, but another land? With magic? Hidden from the world? 

Way too out there.

On the other hand, Veronica is completely enthralled by the tale. As she listens, she can’t help, but think could this be real? And when she hears the old man speaking mention one name, her heart thuds.

Was it coincidence that her mystery-dream-boy shared the same last name as this person of Doon? Or could it be something more?

Over the course of the book, Kenna and Veronica travel to the land of Doon. They encounter the Scottish boy that Veronica had been envisioning, and upon meeting him, are shocked to see how aloof he is acting.

Still, the girls aren’t two people willing to give up, and so they press forward, despite Kenna’s anxiety about this entire ordeal, and Veronica’s frustration with her Scottish vision. The best friends encounter several obstacles along the way, not to mention the evil that lurks about, though it by no means is all trial, as the romance and magical land state.

If you haven’t read Doon, then I highly encourage you to go and get it! It’s a wonderful book, and I can’t wait to go buy the second one!

~ Southern Dreamer

 

God’s Promise

The rainbow. God’s promise.

“Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “Behold, I establish my covenant with you and your offspring after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the livestock, and every beast of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark; it is for every beast of the earth. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.”

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” – Genesis 9:8-16

In our world today, the rainbow has become the symbol for the LGBT movement. The real message of the rainbow, however, has existed for centuries.

After the flood, recorded in Genesis, the first rainbow appeared.

Can you imagine? Having never seen a rainbow before, and suddenly there is this sheer, sparkling magnitude of light over the horizon? The reds, the blues, the yellows! The purples, the oranges, the greens!

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It must have been absolutely stunning.

Rainbows…God’s promise to us.

Placed in the sky as a declaration of His covenant with mankind.

For me, the rainbow has an even more personal note. If you’ve read my story, then you may remember that I was diagnosed with narcolepsy and cataplexy at a very young age.

When I had first gotten sick, at six years old, God told my family something. I’m not going to disclose it right now, but it was important for us personally. And not long after that happened, there was a huge double rainbow over the sky.

A few years later, my family and I were driving to North Carolina and stopped on the way to take a picture. My dad had the camera, while my mom, brother, and I smiled.

Snap!

The crazy thing is though, upon looking at the picture, we noticed something pretty amazing. There was a rainbow cascading over us. It was as if God was enveloping us in the words He had given just a few years before. My mom said, “I was basking in His glory.”

rainbow3

That array of color was not there before.

Totally God.

Last month, my family and I went to visit my grandparents in Mississippi. Our first night there, we all went to a restaurant downtown at the square. The food was delicious, and the restaurant was lovely, but for me, the highlight of the night came after.

We exited the restaurant. I looked up at the sky, and guess what I saw?

A rainbow.

I was so excited, and instantly called everyone else’s attention to the awesome phenomenon.

“We have to get a picture!” I exclaimed, yanking my phone out of my purse. Once my family realized, my mom came over and my dad snapped a picture. My brother, being the free-spirited person he is, decided to photobomb one of the photos.

rainbow

At first, I was kind of annoyed. We were trying to take a picture. But then my mom reminded me, that Brayden was in the original one too.. No accident, of course; Brayden has been such an instrumental prayer, part of God’s promise to me. He has faithfully gone before God on my behalf. He has walked every step of the way with me.

It’s so crazy looking back now, at the first picture with the rainbow, and then this one recently. Through all those turbulent times, God has continued to be faithful. Even during the times where it didn’t feel like it, when I had doubts, or during those seasons of silence, He has not left.

rainbow2

I love the rainbow, not only because of its beauty, but when I see it, I’m reminded of God’s promise. His promise to me…personally. I am hanging on to it.

Whatever God has promised you, don’t lose hope.

“For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory,” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:20

He is faithful and His word is trustworthy.

~ Southern Dreamer

Summer Fun

Hey y’all!

How is y’all’s summer going? Are you surviving the heat – and humidity?!

I’ve been having a good one so far! The past few months, my family and I have actually been trying to sell our house. We’re still staying in the same town, just moving to a different (currently gutted xD) home! With that, comes all the design decisions to make; so, I’ve been doing a lot of painting to try and figure out what color our kitchen cabinets are going to be. Exciting!

In other news, last week (ok when I wrote this the fourth of July had just happened so…) was busy and a lot of fun! Wednesday, my brother and I went to one of our friend’s home, where they were having a fourth of July party. Thankfully, the weather wasn’t too bad, and we were able to do a bunch of fireworks!

Image may contain: Lanie Dean and Gena Swords Long, people smilingImage may contain: 2 people, including Lanie Dean, people smiling, people standing and night

The next day was the premiere of Antman and the Wasp and you bet I went to it! Griffin, Mallory, Brayden – my brother, and I all went to see the new Marvel film. It was really good! I’m hoping to go see it again this weekend, so I can get a better idea of it, and I’ll definitely post a movie review afterwards!

Image may contain: 6 people, including Tanya Armistead Dean, Lanie Dean, Griffin Smith and Mistee Ingram Smith, people smiling, people standing

Then Saturday, my roomie for this fall and friend, Amanda, came to see me for the day, along with her younger cousin. We went by Swift and Finch, a coffee shop, along with doing some shopping on Broad Street. Now y’all, I have to tell you this story.

Ok, so we went in this one shop that I had not been in before, called Elysium. Cool name, right? We went in, and looking around, I was kind of like, well this seems more like older women’s clothes. Nothing wrong with that, just…not the style for younger people. Lol.

We started talking to the two ladies, who were working there – very nice people, and they told us that the items in their store came from all over the world. Then, she pointed to this jewelry display (y’all know, like where they hang necklaces off of), where three BATS were hanging upside down. Their mouths were open in a rAWRG way, teeth showing and wings tucked to the side.

Creepy.

One of the ladies says something like, “For instance, these bats come from a country where the people eat bats.”

And I’m all like…

If we’re being completely candid here, my first thought, upon hearing her say this (and apparently not thinking that selling taxadermied bats as jewelry was STRANGE???) was WITCHES.

I know. I know. They’re not actually witches. The result of too much reading and creative writing. But still.

CREEPY.

Moving along! We went in several other little boutiques like Paula’s and Whistle Britches, along with a second-hand book store. After, my brother met us for lunch at Mellow Mushroom – yum!

Our last activity was going to Berry College and taking some pictures! If you’ve never been there, the campus is absolutely beautiful! Very romantic and picturesque!

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So, that’s what I’ve been up to! What have y’all been doing this summer?

~ Southern Dreamer

Isaiah’s Daughter ~ Book Review

See the source imageHey y’all!

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve last done a book review, so I thought I would change that! Today, I’m going to be doing one on Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews. I’ve read several of her books, and have enjoyed each one. I’ll try to start doing some more reviews to give y’all a better idea of what they’re like, but trust me, they’re great! 🙂

Isaiah’s Daughter: A Novel of Prophets and Kings is a biblical fiction novel tracing the story of Hephzibah – Queen of Judah and wife to King Hezekiah. She is a real person and character in the Bible, however, the only difference in this book or the part that brings the fiction element in, is the Scriptures do not say she was the adopted daughter of Isaiah.

Nevertheless, this book is firmly rooted in truth and the Bible. Each chapter references a Scripture at the beginning, that helps the reader to understand at what point the author is getting this inspiration from – something I appreciated.

Being the list-maker that I am, I also loved how before the story even starts, Mesu lists out all the major and minor characters that appear in this story. She tells you which ones are mentioned in the Bible, and which she used the Holy Spirit, discretion, and creative liberty to create; along with, who they are.

I’ve always enjoyed reading biblical fiction, and this one was no different. If you’ve never read a biblical fiction book before, then I highly suggest you check out some of Mesu Andrews! Personally, I find reading them helps the characters in the Bible to come alive further, makes them more relatable, and reminds me that even though they were great men and women of God, they were still human too.

Some characters that you might be familiar with, if you’ve read Scripture, are Isaiah, Micah – also a prophet, King Hezekiah, and his father King Ahaz. There are plenty of female characters as well, but their names might not be as familiar to y’all – Isaiah’s wife – mentioned in Scripture, but I believe not named specifically? Anyway, Mesu does give her a name! 🙂 Along with, the mother of Hezekiah, Queen Abijah and his wife, Queen Hephzibah.

I found it really interesting that in the book, and I’m sure based on what evidence she could find and therefore make an hypothesis/injecture upon, Isaiah was a royal tutor and had royal blood in him. Now, for this blog post I’ve done a little research, and as far as I can tell, the Bible does not mention either of these.

However, I was reading on BBC’s website, in their article on Isaiah, written from a professor at the University of Oxford, and he said,

“What is more, he seems to have had easy access to the royal court (see especially chapter 7), and to be well informed about the affairs of state. It is therefore generally assumed that he came from a family that would have been included in the ruling classes; whether he was in fact related to the royal family in some way is possible, though entirely unknown.

From the way he writes we can see that he was well educated in the best traditions of the time. It is not just his fine use of language which impresses, but also the way that he incorporates insights from the distilled wisdom of the Israelite people. It is probable that such material will have formed an important part of the national curriculum of the time. Only a few families, whose children were destined to follow their fathers into the court bureaucracy or other positions of responsibility, will have received a formal education, including learning to read and write. It looks very much as though Isaiah should be included among them.”

Fascinating!

So, while we do not know for sure, whether or not Isaiah was a royal tutor and/or had royal blood in him, the notion of it is not so far-fetched to be impossible.

Another aspect of her book, that piqued my interest was the names. Many times in the Bible, and I believe, if I’m not mistaken, people took the meaning of their names very seriously. I’ve always wondered why, for instance, with Hosea, God tells him to name his children names that I don’t find very pleasant – ex. Lo-ammi (not my people).

Now, in terms of why God said that, we don’t really know, but one of the characters in the book is named, Ishma, which means something like desolation (y’all will have to excuse this paraphrased explanation, we’re currently in the process of moving, and a lot of my books have been packed, so I’m going from memory here xD).

When Isaiah’s wife wonders why she was named that, Yaira, Ishma’s friend, defends her. She explains that right before Ishma was born, Yaira had just been through a very difficult time, and soon after she came to live with Ishma’s family, the little girl was born. Her parents gave her the name, “Ishma” to remind her that even in times of difficulty, there can still be good things ahead.

Anyway, I just thought that was really interesting!

If you haven’t read Isaiah’s Daughter by Mesu Andrews, I strongly encourage you to check it out! It’s a wonderful book that details the lives of some pretty cool people in the Bible.

~ Southern Dreamer

Feeding The Spirit

Everyone always talks about how we’re made up of the mind, body, and spirit. And I knew that. But…sometimes one forgets the importance of spending time with God to your own spirit.

The past couple of months I haven’t been hearing from God as much. Logically, of course, I realize that there are seasons where He is silent and other seasons, where you hear Him all the time. Feelings or emotions though, did not exactly get my self talk. It was more like…

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Yeah. Not exactly the most helpful thing.

It also happened to make my heart/spirit really anxious and worried.

Definitely not helpful.

So, even though I didn’t necessarily “feel” like sitting down and spending time with God. I made myself do it. Sometimes you have to make yourself do something even if you don’t want to.

I grabbed my Breaking Up With Perfect by Amy Carroll – which is a great read by the way for any perfectionists out there, my Bible, and a highlighter, sat down in my bed and closed the door. Now, everyone has their own way that they do their quiet time and I am by no means suggesting that this way is the “best” way or the “right” way. I tend to overthink things so I do better if I can have a guide, that helps me decide what to read in the Bible.

So, I’ll read through a chapter of the book, and then out of the passages of Scripture, Amy Carroll referenced, I’ll pick one to go more in depth to. This usually transitions to me reading that chapter in the Bible, and then having my prayer time.

I did this for who knows how long, I can’t remember exactly. It wasn’t a super long period though, and then, one day I just realized, wow. my spirit isn’t feeling panic-y and anxious about this. 

This does not mean that I don’t still struggle with anxiety, because I do. But there’s a difference in me being anxious, and my spirit part being anxious. At least, it feels slightly different to me. Additionally, this does not mean that I don’t still have questions or doubts or other such struggles that Christians go through.

Sometimes my head can be very full of thoughts going in all kinds of directions. Sometimes I’ll be obsessing over something, making it turn into an unnecessary anxiety.

But.

There is something that completes our spirit when we spend time with God. I’m not sure exactly what it is – if it’s the fact that the Holy Spirit is in me, or that I am formed by the Maker to know Him, or maybe something else.

I honestly find it amazing, since many times my humanness/sinfulness comes into play and I find myself thinking…I don’t want to do this right now. I have other things I could be doing. And in my own mind, I feel like a hypocrite. How can God want me to spend time with Him, when I have to push myself to do the basic quiet time?

“As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him. For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust,” ~ Psalm 103:13-14

Love this verse. Somehow, even in the midst of being the most powerful being in the universe, the one who created the stars and moon and sea, He still manages to see us and remember our humanity. Not only remember it, but to show us compassion for it.

Amazing.

The love and mercy of our God always astounds me, and more often than not, I find that my expectations of what it should be are expectations that exist outside of grace. Many times, I can easily start overthinking what I’m doing for spending time with the Lord, but I’m trying to work on that and to give myself grace, and remember that I am human.

As we all go about our day-to-day lives, let us remember the importance of feeding our spirit and to remove the yoke of perfectionism from ourselves, and take up the mantle of grace.

~ Southern Dreamer