truth & compassion

This has been a year of loss.

It has been nearly a year since the world as we know it was flipped upside down. It’s strange to think of what life was like only a little over 365 days ago. I had just spent Christmas in Italy with my husband, carefree, and with a potential virus being one of the last things on our minds.

But as the next few months passed, this potential virus grew into a reality.

At the time our jobs allowed us both to stay home, giving us the opportunity to properly social distance in the hopes of sparing ourselves and others of contracting the unknown sickness.

During that time of physical isolation, I began to sense an emotional one as well. It began slowly but made itself extremely evident halfway through the year of 2020 when a close family member contracted Covid-19. I am grateful to be able to say that they have made a full recovery, but this was only after spending nearly a week in the last available bed at the local hospital. That was a very emotional and fragile time in my family’s life. The unknown was bleak and scary. But the emotional isolation was glaring.

I saw so many compassionate-less social media posts by close friends during this time.

“I refuse to wear a mask with a virus that has a nearly perfect recovery rate.”

“If we give into this tyranny now, what will they demand of us next?”

None of these were directed at anyone in particular. But at a time when my family was facing uncertain times and possible devastation, these are the messages being posted by not only close friends, but fellow church members.

These beliefs have been absolutely shattering to myself as a Christian. People who I once thought so highly of were now propagating such an individualistic and American-ized worldview. These same people are ones who will fight for the rights of the unborn but are now refusing to wear a face covering in the name of their own personal freedoms. The dichotomy of this has been astounding to me. Shouldn’t we as Christians seek to be truly pro-life, not just pro-birth? It is hard for me to fathom not wearing a face covering for the sake of my fellow man. Yes, there are the arguments that they don’t really prevent anything. But even if, years down the road, we find out that the masks did absolutely nothing, wouldn’t we want to say that we tried to do everything we knew possible at the time? Why wouldn’t we want to do all that we can in order to help our neighbors lead healthy lives?

When you couple this pandemic with the social unrest and political events of the year, many people have shown their true beliefs. Christianity has been mixed in with American pride and the waters only continue to be muddied. I have felt physically isolated this year but, even more so, emotionally and spiritually isolated. It’s hard to find love for those who call this sickness fake, this same sickness that nearly took a family member of my own and has taken countless family members of others. And it is hard to find love for those who use Christianity in order to “own” whatever agenda they are fighting against.

2020 was a year that changed many things. But I hope that I will not forget the lesson of how desperately compassion is needed. I fear that many Christians don’t see how often times their crusade for truth and rights is void of any love or empathy. May we always remember that it can’t be one or the other. We need both sides. Truth and compassion.

Making A Holiday Wreath

A few years back, I made a wreath for Autumn to hang on our front door. Ever since then I have been wanting to make a Christmas, and today I finally got around to it!

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Supplies list: wreath ($1 – yard sale); ribbon ($1 – thrift store); berry stems ($2 – Hobby Lobby); dried eucalyptus ($6 – Hobby Lobby); glue gun; scissors

The supplies I used came from a variety of places (yard sales, thrift stores, and after Christmas sales at Hobby Lobby). I love being able to re-purpose secondhand items, so I was very happy to find the wreath at a yard sale! I originally purchased the eucalyptus to use in an arrangement for our mantle. Once I was home, I did a quick Google search and found out eucalyptus can be very bad for dogs if ingested. We have a very curious Labradoodle who can easily reach the top of our mantle when he wants! Unfortunately I had already removed the packaging before I did my research, so I was unable to return it. It’s been in our shed for safekeeping (and away from our dog!) since then. I found a faux greenery alternative for the arrangement, but I’ve been trying to think of how to use the eucalyptus for several months. The package came with a ton of stems! The amount you see in the photo above is after I gave some to my Mom for her to use. When I started thinking about items I already had that I could use for my wreath, I remembered the eucalyptus and knew it would be perfect! Since the wreath would be used on our front door, our inside dog wouldn’t be near it.

I knew I wanted a bow on one side of the wreath, so I went ahead and made that first. Then I played around with some different arrangement possibilities before finally committing with my glue gun!

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I really liked the above option, but ultimately went with the one below!

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It’s so satisfying to be able to re-purpose secondhand items or use items you already own to create something new, and the process can be so enjoyable. While making my wreath I lit a tree scented candle, turned on some Christmas music (Jenny & Tyler – “Christmas Stories” and Josh Garrels – “The Light Came Down” both are wonderful Christmas albums!), and it all just felt so festive!

March Comes in Like a Lion

【ロゴあり】横型キービジュアル

Anime is only a newfound enjoyment for me. My husband grew up watching it, so he made it his mission to convert me to it. It didn’t take him very long! I think that our trip to Japan this past March definitely helped to peak my interest. We’ve watched several different series over the last year of various genres, ranging from action-filled to slice of life. My favorite has been “March Comes in Like a Lion.” This little show came into my life during a dark period, mentally and spiritually speaking, for me. I’ve struggled for many years with anxiety, but various circumstances and health problems pushed my anxiety over the edge and it manifested itself as depression. “March Comes in Like a Lion” deals with themes of anxiety and depression, but it also shows the benefits of friendship and companionship while walking through those struggles.

While the show has a bit of a slow start and some of the Shogi (I like to think of it as sort of a Japanese version of chess) scenes can be slightly confusing for those unfamiliar with the game, it is definitely worth sticking with. Artistically, the show is beautiful. My favorite touch is how the music and animation for the show’s opening and end credits change as Rei himself progresses in finding joy and finally becoming himself again. The colors go from dark tones to bright and vibrant hues. This anime will always be special to me which is why I wanted to share it. Its depiction of struggling through depression is something many can relate with. But the show leaves the viewer feeling hopeful.

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Rei Kiriyama

The show centers around Rei Kiriyama, a teenage Shogi player. His past is full of sad circumstances which go on to haunt him. The story follows him as he copes with these experiences which have left him lost, confused, and depressed. Along the way, he happens to meet three sisters, Akari, Hinata and Momo Kawamoto, who also have difficult pasts. Their companionship proves invaluable for Rei as he fights against his own mental struggles.

March Comes in like a Lion

Momo, possibly one of the cutest characters ever created, provides some charming comic relief.

The vital need of companionship, especially during dark times, was something I was learning myself when I first watched the series. I’m sure that’s part of the reason it is so dear to me. I could relate so much to what Rei was feeling: hopeless, burdened, and unable to escape the darkness that trapped his mind. Realizing I wasn’t alone was one of the biggest things that helped me to cope with my struggles. I also loved how many of the scenes are centered around Rei and the Kawamoto sisters sharing meals together. I think that this is a great image of what true friendship looks like, of breaking bread together as it says in Scripture. Having friends I was able to talk with and be encouraged by was when I began to see that my situation wasn’t hopeless and that I was not the only one struggling. The Christian walk is not without difficulties, and we can’t walk it alone. For many years I subconsciously believed that, because I was a Christian, I shouldn’t feel downcast or hopeless. But God gives us brothers and sisters precisely for this reason. We can find much needed encouragement in the fellow believers surrounding us to continue to fight the good fight.

You’ve probably already figured out that I am now a huge anime fan. I have and plan to watch many more other shows. But I think I can confidently say that “March Comes in Like a Lion” will always be somewhere near the top of my favorites list.

 

Photo credits:
https://comicbook.com/anime/2019/06/06/march-comes-in-like-a-lion-anime-netflix-debut/
https://youtube.com/watch?v=PhS_1FHpcQQ
https://www.ranker.com/review/march-comes-in-like-a-lion/85370955

 

Minimalist Journey

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My journey with minimalism has been a long time coming. Growing up, I would definitely be described as a hoarder, but I always wanted to live with less. It was hard for me to let go of things as I often attached sentiment to them. When I got married, I began to realize how much anxiety all of these material items were causing me. But there was so much stuff, I had no idea where to begin. And really I’m not sure where or when I began exactly. I stumbled upon several accounts on Instagram that I found very inspiring. I read books and articles on the subject. I talked often with my husband about it. All of these things provoked thoughts about what I wanted my home and life to look like. I knew that I wanted our home to feel peaceful. I knew I wanted our lives and our future children’s lives to be focused on experiences rather than things. I wanted our home to be purposeful.

Thinking on these things helped me to form a guideline on what was important to me. It helped me to see what material items held purpose and meaning for me.

I also wanted our home to have a cohesive feel to it. I saved lots of photos of homes I saw on Pinterest and Instagram and began to see the commonality between them. It became so much easier to identify what I wanted our home to look like which, in turn, made it so much easier to get rid of the things that didn’t fit or no longer served a purpose.

This all had sort of a domino effect. Thinking on my desires for our home not only affected what items I kept, but also what items I brought in. Now I think about and examine a purchase before I bring it into our home. I think about how and where it will fit within our house; what purpose will it have? Do I already have another item that can serve the same purpose? If it’s a home decor item, will it blend well with my other items? I feel so much more confident with my decision to purchase or leave an item behind now.

Minimizing has been a tool that God has used to help me begin to live more purposefully. It’s brought reflection on how I can be a better steward of not only the material things but, also, the time that God has given me. I pray that it would result in continual purposeful living.

{bedroom before/after}

I recently started re-painting our house, and, although I’m only two rooms in, I am loving how it is turning out! Minimalism has played a large part in the process, so I wanted to share some photos of the progress in this post. The rooms in our home are fairly small. I wanted to brighten them up, so I decided to go with a crisp white for the walls.

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I’ve been searching for months for a new pair of nightstands and haven’t been able to find any that I absolutely loved. This was a situation where I really was able to put to use the question I talked about earlier of whether I already had something that served that purpose. I already had a great set of nightstands that fit my space perfectly, so there really was no need to purchase a new set. Instead, I was able to update the ones we had with a can of paint from Walmart for $20! I got an off white color and love how they turned out.

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I de-cluttered the top of my nightstand by hanging a vintage accordion peg rack ($3 from a thrift store) on the wall to hang my jewelry from. I’m storing my rings, earrings, and any delicate necklaces/bracelets in my Gramma’s jewelry box that I keep on my nightstand. It’s one of my favorite possessions. I love incorporating family pieces into our decor.

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{my Gramma’s jewelry box}

Secondhand Style

I’ve always loved the hunt for a bargain and spent many hours thrift shopping with my Mom while growing up. 

That enjoyment has only increased over the years. It has really come in handy as I’ve begun steps towards building a capsule wardrobe by weeding out pieces that are no longer my style and replacing them with classic pieces that I love wearing. I plan to write about my steps towards creating a vision for my wardrobe in a later post… but to give a short summary: my favorite style icon is Audrey Hepburn, so my goal for my wardrobe is to follow her classic and feminine style with a small amount of prep thrown in.

With that being said, I wanted to share this almost entirely thrifted outfit that I wore last week. I’m really pleased with how my wardrobe is coming together and buying secondhand has proved to be a great way to add in new pieces!

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Top: Target – thrifted ($3)
Pants: Old Navy – thrifted ($3)
Shoes: Target – thrifted ($3)
Purse: Kohl’s ($14)

 

This post may seem quite off topic in comparison to my other posts, but I believe secondhand shopping is one way that my husband and I can steward well the finances God has given us. I also want to live a life of grace in every aspect, including the way I dress.

Changing Seasons

“Every leaf speaks bliss to me, falling from the Autumn tree.”
-Emily Brontë

 

Autumn is finally here! I love the crispness that comes with Fall; it’s seen in the colors and felt in the air. I love going to a pumpkin patch and picking out the perfect pumpkin. I love wearing scarves and drinking hot chocolate. I love sitting outside in the crisp, cold air but being warmed by a fire.

 
As you can see, there are many reasons I love the changing of the seasons.

 
Having a house to make a home is honestly one of the things I looked forward to the most about being a wife. Combine that with my love for the changing seasons and it only makes sense that one of my most favorite things of all is getting to add little things around my home to make it feel festive.

 
I put out our Autumn decor a few weeks ago and loved how the small, seasonal touches turned out.

 

 

{Mine and my husband’s pumpkins from our recent visit to the pumpkin patch}

{My Aunt gave us these cute pumpkin salt and pepper shakers for our wedding! I was so excited to use them for the first time this year}

 
Something I am constantly striving to do is to truly enjoy each season as it comes, whether the literal changing of the weather or the various seasons of life.

 

In America it seems we jump straight from Halloween to Christmas. We immediately start searching for ways to make the Christmas holiday perfect through decorations, food, or gifts. We miss the month of November in between because we can be so focused on the month of December that is coming. The holidays turn into a to-do list rather than a precious time to be enjoyed.

 
I was thinking about this a few days ago and it occurred to me how often I do this in my own life in other ways. How many times do I miss the gracious gifts God has given me by looking towards a future I’m not promised? It is so easy to overlook the daily graces when I’m always focused on what may be to come or what I want next.

 
The parallels between the changing of the physical, earthly seasons and the seasons of our lives are great. We may go through times of change like the changing leaves in Autumn. We may have times of darkness like a bleak, cold Winter. Or we may have times of joy like the first blooming flowers of Spring.

 
But no matter the season, I want to use the time well that God has given me on this Earth and enjoy every day that I am given.

 
May we find joy in the changing seasons because we have an unchanging God.

 

Veracity

“I want God, not my idea of God.”

-C.S. Lewis

One thing I have discovered about myself as I sojourn through this life is how easy it is for me to fall into the trap of thoughtlessly taking the words of others as Scripturally true. At times I have even leaned on them to build me up. However, I also quickly discovered that I cannot rely on these things to nourish my spiritual need and realized my need to know Truth for myself.

Scripture, the unchanging and steadfast Word of God, is where believers must seek nourishment and truth.

Biblical books, articles, and quotes can be beneficial tools in the life of the believer. However, they must be based on Scriptural truth. Unfortunately, things cannot be accepted as true simply because they are labeled “Christian.”

As followers of Christ, we are also to be followers of His Word. This means testing all things against the ultimate authority of Scripture.

However, in order to test things, we must first know what Scripture says.  We must know the Truth ourselves, not rely on the things we are fed by books, music, or even our pastors.

The constant fight against our flesh makes the battle to daily read Scripture difficult at times. The fight against false doctrine and misinterpretation is also unending because they can creep into our beliefs so easily. Add these two things together, and it is easy to feel that we are already conquered.

Proverbs 2:6 states “the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.”

The war for truth is a tough and exhausting one, and it is so easy to feel defeated. When we come to difficult passages, our first response may be to read over them, quickly moving on to the next topic. But this promise from the book of Proverbs is one we can cling to as we run the race of faith. God will give wisdom, knowledge, and understanding to those who seek Truth from His Word. In reading Scripture, we will inevitably encounter hard and difficult passages. But rather than skirt around those issues or ignore them, let us seek true understanding. May we long to know truth so that we may worship God rightly.

One question that I have been wrestling with for several years now is this: how much of what I believe is Scripturally based and how much is simply tradition that I have mistakenly equated as Truth?

Seek God, read His Word, pray for understanding. Talk with older believers who can come alongside you as you grow in deeper understanding of Scripture.

It is easy to downplay the vital role of theology. But if we don’t have a correct view of God and the Gospel, what God are we worshiping?

May we never be guilty of denying our need for theology because, without it, there cannot be true doxology.

Sparrow and Roses

“Dear old world. . . you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.”

-Anne of Green Gables

 

This earthly life can so often seem harsh. Our days are like waves, high and low: perfectly beautiful one hour and miserably cruel the next. Our emotions seem to ride these waves, causing our hearts to rejoice or despair. How do we stabilize our fickle selves? How do we fight against the current of life that seems to seek our constant oscillation?

I’ve found that my only true place of rest is in the saving work of Christ and the immutable character of God. His unchanging Word provides peace and comfort to fickle, changing people. In Him there is stability, and this comfort is incomparable.

The freedom found in Christ brings joy to the humblest of mercies, and God’s creation is one of the places I see this most displayed.

My favorite days are those when I walk outside to a deep blue sky, sprinkled with clouds, while a shining sun pours down on the green grass. A bird’s song floats through the air on a breeze, and bright colored flowers burst forth among the blues and greens.

This world is truly beautiful, but so often we miss it when we allow the cruelty to overshadow the lovely. Finding joy in the seemingly mundane can be a hard task at times, but it is one that is so very worth it.

The title for this blog came from one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite bands, a husband and wife duo named Jenny and Tyler. I took my title from the last line of the second verse:

“But the sparrow and the roses remind me there’s still so much good.”

Soaking in God’s Creation is a mercy that we so easily overlook in our fast paced society. But I am thankful that He is teaching me to find joy in the sparrow and the roses. And I want to keep finding joy in the daily mercies that He so graciously provides.

My hope is that this blog will be an outlet to share about the modest mercies that God has graciously given as I sojourn through this life.