Monday, 29 June 2015

Mary and Martha...

I originally wrote and posted this on Violets and Daisies earlier this year.

Martha and Mary

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
~Luke 10:38-42~
I'm a Martha. Anyone who knows me will tell you that. And up until recently, I didn't even notice. I've always been busy doing something or other, I always have a new project or something on the go. In fact, I cannot recall a time since I was around 11 when I wasn't working on scheme or other. Not that there's anything wrong with having projects, but there is when, as the passage above shows us, it distracts you from what is truly important - our Lord and Saviour. 

It's silly isn't it?! - like Martha, I try so desperately to please the Lord with serving and working as hard as I possibly can, at all times. And yet, I miss the point entirely. If I do not take the time to sit at my Lord's feet and listen to Him, then it is all in vain. 

This is something that has been on my heart a lot recently, that God has really been teaching me about. I was reading an article and it talked about minister who served his church very actively with events, fundraisers, and hundreds of other things, and yet, unless his congregation members really thought about it, they wouldn't know he loved them. That really got me thinking, as I am just like that. I do lots of "things" and feel I'm loving people through them, but unless I actually take the time to spend with them, to pray for them and to show them I care, would they know I love them? Probably not. And that thought really saddened me. That's not what I want at all. 

I love serving, but over the last few years, I'd been doing it out of a sense of duty and not out of the overflowing gratefulness and joyfulness I have from my Lord Jesus. Is it any wonder I'd gotten so tired and lost the plot a little?! ;P Like in verse 41, I was anxious and troubled by many things.
But it wasn't just that I didn't have my focus in the right place, but also that I was judging others for not having the drive to serve as hard and as constantly as I was, which makes me really sad. I didn't mean for it to happen, but some people I was really judgemental to in my heart of hearts. It makes me even sadder that in my sinfulness I couldn't see that it wasn't them who weren't serving hard or constantly enough, but me. I had strayed from the path, trying to do the right thing, but MY way. I couldn't see that those I thought lacking were the ones who had actually chosen the good portion - to serve the Lord first, love their friends and family next, and then serve their community. Isn't it sad how easily we can become blind?! 

I'm so glad that the Lord started opening my eyes to this - I had been missing out, so much! And no one can serve to the best of their ability if they don't spend their time at the feet of our Teacher.
All of this really came together for me this last weekend. I went to a wonderful church service with some of my girl friends on Saturday evening, and the sermon really touched my heart. Jesus at the centre. And then, guess what our Sunday morning sermon touched on? Being like Mary and not Martha. 
I have decided that I no longer wish to be a Martha. I want to serve still, but from a heart like Mary's. I know this won't be an easy journey for me, but God will guide me, He is faithful, and for that I am so thankful. 

So, let me ask you... Who are you? 
Mary? Or Martha? 
Lots of love, 
Nina xx

Thursday, 25 June 2015

The Wedding Registry {Wedding Plans}

Well, it is currently 155 days until Logan and I tie the knot! Woo hoo!! That is so exciting - just over 5 months to go. Now that my first semester of study is over, I'm really enjoying getting into the planning.
-I've been busy on Pinterest - I created a wedding board (of course) which you can see here:
-We've booked the venues
-I have the dress (needs lots doing to it yet, but still!)
-We have 3/5 bridesmaids dresses (!!)
-The flowers are sorted
-The invitations are almost done
And today, I've been working on creating a wedding registry. That has been lots of fun! Logan and I have been given a LOT of householdy things since we got engaged last year (August 13th - we've had a loooong engagement), so it has been somewhat tricky to put together a gift register. 

For one thing, I feel bad effectively asking people for things - it seems sorta rude I reckon (any other brides-to-be feel me on this one?!). But then I started thinking, if one of my other friends were getting married, it would be nice to know what they needed/wanted so I could actually give them something they'd like. That made me feel a lot better!

For the other thing, we have loads of crockery (2 different full sets! How blessed are we?!), pots, pans, teas sets, pillowslips, table mats etc. So I've been trying to think of things we need that aren't too expensive (i.e., furniture) and that people would actually like to give. I've probably failed a little by making nearly everything practical, and not so many things pretty or home-y. But since we already have a lot of those things, I guess this will have to do. 
I've written this note along with the Register, which I hope will make it sound nicer, and less demanding haha. I have no desire to be that "nightmare bride"!!
"Thanks for considering getting us something to bless our new home! Please feel free to get similar alternatives to anything you see here if you prefer - we are not particular! :) I am partial to blues and browns though! ;) If there's nothing you would like to give, please feel free to give a voucher, as we'll happily use them! Or just give us a big hug - we'd be happy with that too!"

I had lots of trouble thinking about how to create a wedding registry that would actually work since we don't just want people to feel they have to shop at one store. Then I found by accident an online wedding registry used by Duck Dynasty's John Luke Robertson and his fiancĂ© Mary Kate for their wedding (which I believe is in 2 days - how exciting for them). Sadly that site is only available in America, but I managed to find a super cute one in NZ called The Lovely Register. I've been using that. Basically, you can URL link any product from anywhere on the internet to your register, and people can mark off if they've purchased it, or are planning to. Super handy. 
I haven't quite finished with it, as I still need to check everything with Logan, but I've really enjoyed putting it all together. It is going to be SO much fun starting our new home together and having all sorts of cute new things. I can't wait!

Talk soon, 
Nina xx

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

//Thankful Heart// (3)

So much in my life to be thankful for - here's a snapshot from this week:
My favourite "little" brother turned 17 today! Happy
birthday Boo! I'm so glad God blessed my life with you :)
Or not so little... Haha
-My beautiful, WONDERFUL friend who was away in Tennessee for 3 months got home!! Wooooo!
And getting to spend lots of time with her and her precious sister
(I like to pretend they are my sisters too!) over the last few days!
- Surprise visits from my friend Charlotte after school was over for her <3
- Uni holidays - a change to get things sorted for work and to start wedding planning properly!
- BUYING BRIDESMAID DRESSES!!! Sorry, I would share photos, but that'd ruin the surprise!
- Reading old favourite books.
- Hearing Violet's 21st plans - exciting!
- Going out to dinner with my family for said brother's birthday.
- Going on a day trip to a town a little south of us to visit Trampoline World (also for my brother's birthday) - so much fun. 
- Living in a beautiful, safe country!
- Giggling like a mad person with my friends <3
- God's overwhelming faithfulness and forgiveness - how can I not be thankful for that?!!?!
- Studio C videos (I can't vouch for all of them, but we LOVE this one and this one)
- A nice peaceful week ahead!

Talk soon, hope you've all had lovely weeks too,
Nina xx

Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Day It Rained... A Lot!

So... It rained hard all of last night. And it rained all of today.

By lunchtime, this was what our area looked like:
This is normally a very shallow stream...

There were loads of cal-de-sacs in this predicament

The river by our house burst it's stop-banks - so much water!! 
We last had floods like this in 2004 - and we were told they were "once in one hundred years" floods. Huh. Maybe not...
The water was less than a metre from the road in places!
Powerlines in water - not ideal!
All around my home-town roads were being closed due to flooding, and where we went in the afternoon (where I took photos) was all substantially worse by evening. This video below is on our street - about 1km from the river... We had to drive through that to get home, and then I walked back to video it - crazy huh?!
Other places in our area are much worse than my city, so please keep those people in your prayers, especially those having to be evacuated, or having to travel (such as my friends)! 

Quite the adventure! 
I must admit - I am exceptionally thankful for the rainbow and the promise of Genesis! :P
Nina xx

Friday, 19 June 2015

Saving Mr Banks {Movie Review}

My girls and I had a movie night this evening - so much fun! We took heaps of crazy photos (couldn't resist sharing a couple of them!), made dinner, destroyed a carrot (long story...) and, of course, watched movies! 
Right, now we've got through those... Onto my movie review! 
Okay, Saving Mr Banks: For any Mary Poppins lovers out there (such as myself), if you want a further glimpse at the story, here it is! I absolutely loved it!

The film follows Mary Poppins' eccentric authoress P.L. Travers, on her journey with releasing her precious creation to Walt Disney to make it into the motion picture we now all know it as. But as she journeys through this, she must also face her past, and all that has brought her to this point. Touching, endearing, humorous, serious, deep, inspiring - this film seriously has it all. 

Okay, I'll admit, there are times when "Mrs Travers" (don't you DARE forget the Mrs part!) and her family members really irritated me, and other moments where they frustrated me beyond reason, but that only serves to add to the beauty of this film. Without those moments, one could never appreciate it as it truly is. 
I'll also admit there were points where I cried. All too often in movies like this, I find there is so much I relate to and it just seems to hit me so hard. This movie is such an emotional journey, with such a beautiful ending. But that's all I'm going to say on the matter - I'd hate to give anything away and ruin it if you haven't seen it!

There is some alcohol misuse portrayed in the film, but it is handled very well and shown in an appropriate light. There is also some minor bad language. Some of the themes in this movie are quite deep, so I would recommend this to a teenaged + audience :)

I've seen this musical live in Sydney - SO very special - and even more so, understanding a little more of the back ground!

All in all, my verdict is Saving Mr Banks is "practically perfect in every way" ;)
Bon nuit from me, 
Nina xx

Thursday, 18 June 2015

A Hilarious Dream+Beautiful Friends+Wonderful Whisperings of God

"Man, you know you're a dedicated best friend when you have nightmares about your bestie's wedding FOR her!" -Quote, my best friend Violet 

My precious friend "Violet" had the strangest dream the other day... About my wedding! Of course, she's going to be one of my bridesmaids, and we had been talking about the wedding the night before.  Here's what she dreamt:
First, we were shopping for shoes for the bridesmaids. I apparently wanted them to wear these really high-heeled brown shoes, with black tipped toes (eww!!). And I wanted Violet to wear this blue dress which she wears on a daily basis (how boring!). Then we went to a bridal shop in our local mall (it doesn't actually exist haha). Whilst we were there, I told her that our wedding was TODAY. She panicked, as no one knew, as I was only planning to send out the invitations in the afternoon - oh boy! So she ran through the mall crying and panicking. Then she went to a local bookshop and bought me Little Golden Books as a wedding present (for our future children I assume). She came and brought them to me at the bus stop (just casually...) and apologised for panicking. Hahahaha!
Sunshiny walk!
I'm so thankful for my beautiful friends. They really draw me closer to the Lord, and are such an encouragement to me! I honestly don't know what I'd do without them <3
What a special heart she has!
Violet and I had such a great talk the other day about anxiety and trust, and how we really need to learn to set our eyes on God. We met up with a wonderful older mentor of ours - the wife in the couple who are doing the pre-marriage course with Logan and me - this afternoon and talked all about it. She was really encouraging us to move past our fears and anxieties, giving them totally over to the Lord and seeking His face above all else. 
Iced chocolate for Violet and iced tea for me
- perfect!
Since I haven't been studying the last week, I've taken time to listen to some sermons, and to really get my eyes back on my Saviour! One of the things I've really felt pressed upon my heart, the little things being whispered to me by Him is that I really need to focus less on the weight of this world and more on finding my joy in Him. Our salvation should bring us an overwhelming joy that covers over all the rest of our lives. Our lives should be so filled with joy that people see it, they will desire the joy that we have too (reminds me of a scene from the Psalty show we did!). 
Cracking up! 
I love how our Father teaches us things through His word, and then moves in our lives to whisper the same thing over and over again. And hopefully, we catch on and learn from it :D A quote I loved from that sermon I was listening to was this: 

God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him. ~Aaron Ironside

And that is SO true! The people who most reflect Christ and glorify Him in their lives are the ones serving Him out of an abounding joy. I love that I get to see that in my friends - how blessed am I?! It is my hope and prayer that I will grow to a place where people see that in me too!
Another of our sweet, sweet friends <3
Talk soon, 
Nina xx

Sunday, 14 June 2015

My Freedom and Joy

{Photos from a performance with my trio last Saturday! Aren't they lovely?!} 

I had a realisation a few weeks ago when I was singing at the local vocal competitions. I am never happier than when I am singing, whether I'm on the stage performing - with a group or as a soloist - or when I'm simply alone, singing my heart out. Those are the moments when I feel free. They are the moments I feel truly alive. 
Sometimes, I feel as if I was created just to sing. Haha.
 Now, don't get me wrong - I don't think I have the best voice in the world, or the greatest technique. All I know is that singing is communicating, and for me, it's the best way to communicate joy, sorrow, love, happiness and thankfulness. I'm not a super emotional person (ask my friends!), and I find it difficult to show emotion most of the time, but when I sing, I feel I can express myself in a way I would otherwise not try. Singing is my way of releasing my soul to be free - wow, that sounds clichĂ©, but it is perfectly true.
 I love to lift my voice in praise of the Lord, and it is my prayer that every note I utter, I do to glorify Him. Unfortunately, being human, I fail at that far more than I would like to. Still, that is my heart's desire. In singing, I experience, and express the fullness of the joy I have been gifted by my Saviour.
Of course, the true fullness of my joy and freedom isn't found in the soaring of my voice. It is found in the blood of my Saviour, and the love and forgiveness that flow from it. If it were not for this, then my singing could not bring me the feeling of freedom and happiness that it does, as true joy is only found in the Lord. But, man am I thankful for my singing!
I think this verse says it all for me really, sums up exactly what I feel when I sing!

Psalm 28:7 “The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”

Lots of love, 
Nina xx 

Thursday, 11 June 2015

God Wrote A Book

This is such an amazing and inspiring video! Really made me think about my Bible reading habits - and how they're going to change... :D

Nina xx

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Freedom!! (Aka - my exams are over!)

Wahoooooo!! I'm done exams! Here's hoping I've passed all my papers :P

I'm so looking forward to having time back to do important things like PLANNING MY WEDDING!! Eeee! So exciting!

I don't really have anything interesting to say today other than that I'm done exams! Also, you could have listen to my trio's new cover - Something in the Water by Brooke Fraser! You can find it on Facebook here! Please give our page and share it around if you like it - we'd love your support!

We sang at a midwinter Christmas thing yesterday evening, and we're singing at it again tonight which will be fun, then I'm sleeping over with my wonderful best friend <33
Such fun!
Well, hopefully I'll have something actually interesting to post soon! :) Hope you like my new blog name - can you guess why I've named it this?! ;)
Love and God bless,
Nina xx

P.S. I've just joined Twitter! Feel free to follow me - @ninajessica316

Monday, 8 June 2015

I Can Go The Distance

Today, I have my first exam! It's the first proper exam (aside from music ones) I've done since I was in my first year at high school (before I moved back to homeschooling). I'm pretty nervous, so I'd appreciate your prayers!

Today's exam is a 3 hour, 4 essay exam. Then I've got my second exam tomorrow, and my third one the day after. Then I'm done. Phewf! Now, if only I can keep all the concepts I need to in my head... Haha :P

This song is one of my all-time favourite Disney songs, and today, I'm playing it over and over to remind myself of why I'm doing this - so that eventually, I can work in media to glorify my Lord and Saviour. I need to keep reminding myself of that, and not get swamped by thoughts aside from that or worries.

My sweet best friend sent me a card yesterday to tell me she was praying for me (thanks so much!!), along with a card with the verse "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13). Such a great reminder - that's what I need to focus on :) 

Talk again once my exams are over, 
Love Nina xx

P.S. We went out to breakfast to celebrate my lovely Grandparents wedding anniversary - 64!! Pretty amazing huh?! Go Gran and Grandpa, I love you both HEAPS xxx

Sunday, 7 June 2015

//Thankful Heart// (2)

It's been a long week! But I have so much to be thankful for, even in the midst of exam stress!

- Singing competitions going really well, and being so much fun! One of my students competed for the first time, and loved it, which was great!
- Taking cute matching pictures with my student! We took hers when she competed yesterday afternoon, and then I took one the same after competing last night!
- Drinking a special blend of tea that my darling Logan brought me back from a work trip!
- Relaxing mornings. 
- Inspiring conversations about the Bible
- My lovely Mama who both teaches me singing and accompanies me - I'm a blessed lady!
- Watching Poldark! I am so enjoying that series!
- Important conversations with people going better than you expect. 
- Catching up with friends I see once a year at the singing comps!
- Gorgeous sunsets on cold winter evenings. 
- Less than a week until I'm finished study for semester! 
- Home made burgers :D 

Talk soon and God bless, 
Nina xx

Friday, 5 June 2015

The Beauty of Autumn

I've been really stuck into my study the last couple of days, as I start my end of semester exams next week - eek! I was really stressed out and getting exhausted by the amount of facts I was trying to cram into my brain, so my Mum took me for a walk. That really helped. It's amazing what fresh air can do for you! 

We found this beautiful tree, filled with gorgeous Autumn colours, and as we're into Winter now, down here in the Southern Hemisphere, I thought I better capture it while it lasts! 

What a beauty, huh?! Autumn has always been my favourite season. I love the temperate weather, and the stunning colours!

That tree was a great reminder to me that there is always something to be grateful for! 
Have a lovely weekend! 
Love, Nina xx

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Christy and Todd

For probably about the last 5 or 6 years, my favourite book series hands down has been the Christy Miller series by Christian author Robin Jones Gunn. Her books are wonderful! They journey through the life of a young girl called Christy (duh!) and her journey to finding faith, and then navigating life with it. You journey through her high school life, her years traveling abroad, her college years, her engagement and now, my favourite part of the series - Christy and Todd: The Married Years!

I'll admit, pretty much as soon as any of these books come out, I've ordered it, and it's no different with One More Wish - the 3rd in the Married Years series. I have pre-ordered it! I've become the Robin Jones Gunn book library to many of my friends, as they've all gotten into the series too. One of my friend's and I have read the series probably 3 or 4 times each and one or another of us is constantly reading one of the books, or related series. 

I can honestly say these books have touched my life SO much, and have really impacted my Christian walk. One of the things I love about these books is that the focus really is on God, over everything else. That's so rare these days, even in Christian books I find. 

One of my favourite quotes from the series is in the very first book - Summer Promise. 
          "But what is God's way?" Christy practically shouted. "My uncle keeps telling me to be true to myself, and Alissa was telling me that I've got to make my own way, and all my aunt does is avoid reality and try to think positive. I'm so mixed up!" 
          "I can see how you would be." 
          "At home it was easy. We all went to the same church, and everyone believed in God. Now you're telling me I have to live my life God's way if I want to go to heaven. What is God's way?
         Christy took her eyes off Todd and looked out at the ocean. She didn't like it when she came across so dumb. 
        "It's like this," Todd explained. "You're looking out at the Pacific Ocean, right? Somewhere out these is Hawaii. Imagine Hawaii is Heaven. You'd never make it there swimming yourself. You need a boat. Jesus is that boat. Do you follow me?"
       "Sort of." 
       "Well, it's up to us to make the choice. We can reject a free ride on the boat to Hawaii, or we can sit here and say "Yes, I believe in that boat, and I believe in Hawaii". But unless we actually get on the boat, we're never going to make it to Hawaii." Todd seemed pretty pleased with his illustration, but Christy was only slightly less confused. 
     "I believe all that," Christy agreed. There seemed to be something deeper to what he was saying, but she just didn't get it. 
    "Yes," Todd challenged, "but have you turned your life over to Jesus? Or are you sitting on the shore saying 'I believe in the boat, and I believe in Hawaii,' but you haven't actually gotten into the boat yet?" 
Great, isn't it? 

If any of you ever get a chance to, definitely give these a read! :) They will bless your life, promise!

Nina xx

P.S. For those of you who have read the series, give this quiz a go!! 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

The Lord says: "I AM. Fear not"

All my life, I've struggled with fear. Fear of being left. Of being inadequate. Of being despised. Hated. Harmed. Late. The list goes on. Who hasn't had fears? They're a part of life, we're told. 

But they don't have to be! The words "fear not" or "do not be afraid" appear in the Bible at least 103 times. Some people say there are 365 instances of it - enough for one each day of the year! But I've yet to find that out. Either way, it is clear that fear (aside from fear of the Lord Himself) is not of God, but instead of evil. 

I read this quote yesterday, and I think it is so true!
The devil is the deceiver - the illusionist. If he can make us
fear something, and prevent us from doing it, he can make
us less effective for the Lord. That is his main purpose. 
One of my all time favourite quotes on fear/temptation is below. I think this is such a great one!
"When the devil comes knocking at your
door, simply say "Jesus, it's for You." ~ Robin
Jones Gunn~
I was reading Luke 4 - the temptation of Jesus this morning. Something that struck me was the way Jesus responded to the devil each time He was tempted by him. Each time, He starts with "It is written:", then quotes Scripture at the devil. And eventually, the devil gives up and leaves Him. 

If Jesus, our Lord and Saviour responds to temptation with Scripture, shouldn't we be doing that too? It made me think that I really need to memorise more of God's word - not only for times of trial, but also just to pray with and to speak out during every day life. Someone once told me that the Bible is God's love-letter to the church. It is our manual for life, and our link with our Creator. We should value the content of it SO much more. I think there's a lot of truth it that!
I've recently started suffering from extremely random panic attach moments. I'll be totally fine, and then the next moment, I'm gripped by fear. I pray, remind myself of Bible verses and then I'm alright again. I'm not quite sure why it's been happening, other than that I've been working on getting my life on track for the Lord, leading up to my marriage, and perhaps the devil doesn't want that to happen... 

I was once told that the best way to see how evil is influencing your life is to ask yourself "If I were the devil, how would I tempt or try me, in order to prevent me from being effective for God?". Asking myself that, I know that making me fear is one of the most effective ways to get in the way of my own service. Easy. Just make me scared and I'm less effective. 

But it doesn't end there. Jesus. At the Cross, He shed His blood to free me from the fears of this life, and to give me an everlasting hope. That doesn't mean I won't have to battle my sinful nature each and every day - He challenged us to take up our cross DAILY - but it does mean I have no need to fear. He has already WON! I don't need to fear anything! Because in Christ, I can do ALL things! In Christ, I am free of all things wrong - "It is for freedom that Christ set us free!" ~Galatians 5:1a~ How incredible is that?!
When I was in Africa last year, I was really scared of the dangers I'd heard stories of growing up. I had one night of absolute terror when I just couldn't conquer my fears. I was scared of bodily harm. But I need not fear that! Because my Saviour has saved me a place in heaven, where there is no such thing. I don't need to fear that. I need fear nothing! 

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are Mine." ~Isaiah 43:1~

Another time when I was terrified was at the NZ Singing School at the start of the year this year. Only, this time, I was scared of inadequacy. I don't need to fear that either. I've been ransomed by Jesus' blood, and He has chosen me to serve Him. By His grace, I need not fear inadequacy.

"For I, the Lord you God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you 'Fear not, I AM the One who helps you." ~Isaiah 41:3~
Fear not. 
I am going to start a journey of choosing faith over fear. It won't be any easy journey, but if I've learnt anything in my life so far, it's that fear never pays and that God is always faithful. I look forward to taking the next step forward on my life's journey. 
Nina xx