25 December 2005


I woke up this morning, taking the time to lie in bed and just thank God for His gift of Christ's incarnation. He felt that we, as unwilling to seek Him and as sinful as we are, were worth subjecting Himself to what it took to save us from our sins.

Loving a person just the way they are - it's no small thing
It takes some time to see things through
Sometimes things change - sometimes we're waiting
We need grace either way

[[Sara Groves, "Loving a Person"]]

I have struggled a lot lately with worry about people getting sick of me or being annoyed with me and, yet, God still loved me enough in all of my sin to redeem me! He didn't look down and say, "She's going to annoy me someday, so let's skip her."

How beautiful are our justification and sanctification!

Being constantly surrounded by and finding new music to satisfy my ears makes me slightly ADD sometimes (a habit I've picked up from John and Chris, among others). But every once in a while, I buy or receive an album that hits me right where I'm at.

Granted, Sara Groves has always been an amazing songwriter, but this particular album is... wow. There are so few words that would do it justice.

Love, wash over a multitude of things
Love, wash over a multitude of things
Love, wash over a multitude of things
Make us whole

[["When It Was Over"]]

There has been so much I learned this past semester about how God's love can cover all of our sins and, when reflected upon, it is impossible to even fathom how much it cost.

I'm going to live my life inspired
Look for the holy in the common place
Open the windows and feel all that's honest and real until I'm truly amazed
I'm going to feel all my emotions
I'm going to look you in the eyes
I'm going to listen and hear until it's finally clear and it changes our lives
The glory of God is man fully alive

[["Just Showed Up"]]

In some ways, it is almost like I'm learning to live all over again - learning to accept that there are parts of life that God created for us to enjoy, even though they have been corrupted through our sin... Despite the fact that the earth is cursed, we are still to be stewards of it, and I think that includes enjoying it. Other things, like being happy, which we do not feel that we are "allowed" to feel, were created by God. Our emotions, whether they be good or bad, are there for a reason, and we experience them everyday - Christ experienced them, too!

I am the moon with no light of my own
Still, You have made me to shine
And, as I glow in this cold, dark night
I know I can't be a light unless I turn my face to You

[["You Are the Sun"]]

And yet we cannot forget that, apart from Christ, our lives are truly not lives! He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6); no one comes to the Father, but through Him! He came so that we might have life and have it to the fullest - He came so that our lives would be redeemed, that we might be able to come into the presence of the living and holy God who designed us for fellowship with Him.

We come with beautiful secrets
We come with purposes written on our hearts, written on our souls
We come to every new morning
With possibilities only we can hold, that only we can hold

Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces
Calling out the best of who we are

And I want to add to the beauty
To tell a better story
I want to shine with the light
That's burning up inside

[["Add to the Beauty"]]

And our response to that is surrender - full surrender of our lives, including our time and our talents, our futures and our desires, our comfort and even our minds.

It is for His glory that we are here to begin with!

There's a story burning in me
I want to tell it again and again
It's a story of redemption
Bound to change the hearts of men

I cannot find the words
and sometimes it's sounds absurd
and I don't even know myself
all the depths, the heights, the wealth

How can I tell this story again to make you wonder when
You stopped believing?
How can I paint a picture of this kind of love -
This kind of healing?

[["How Can I Tell"]]

As I prepare to commit a semester to music, it becomes an issue of whether or not I trust that God will give me all that I need - that He has prepared me to tell of His love and grace by gifting me with the talents that He has so graciously given me.

How little I truly trust when I am stripped bare!

And yet, so much of what I was given for Christmas gives me even fewer excuses for putting this off - there is nothing I need (not that there was before but, now, I truly have no excuse). Laura got me a notebook for writing songs in, as well as a binder to keep finished stuff in (and staff paper to write it on); my parents got me a keyboard (which I'm really excited about) and an audio recorder (small tapes - I actually asked for this). Pray for me - I am so susceptible to pride here and, yet, I only need to remember my previous disobedience in this area to remind me of my true place.

When fear engulfs your mind
Says, 'You protect your own'
You still extend your hand
You open up your home

When sorrow fills your life
When in your grief and pain
You choose again to rise
You choose to bless the name

That's a little stone, that's a little mortar -
That's a little seed, that's a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom's coming

[["Kingdom Comes"]]

So often, I look to the coming months and years, and I find myself terrified at the prospect of what may occur. But, as the sluggard says, I am merely saying that there is a lion outside or that I will be murdered in the streets (Proverbs 22:13). We are to glorify God and show His love to people, even when we are afraid (which we shouldn't be) and even when things are difficult. Christ told us we would be known by our love for others - holding our tempers or our tongues might just be all it takes to plant seeds to be watered by others and ultimately reaped into the harvest!

I know this is long, especially when it would be easier to just list in detail what I received for Christmas but, perhaps, the best gifts are in what we learn - in what we glean from what we receive, not actually in what is received.

And, despite the unrest in my heart right now, I know that God still is sovereign over everything - His purposes are always proven good for us (Jeremiah 29:11) and His timing remains perfect, despite our impatience or questioning.

In three weeks, I will return to school for another semester - only two to go! But, perhaps, this semester will look different (because of my plans for it, but also because of what is to come that I do not know).

And, again, I pray that I will return a changed child - if I am not growing, if I'm am not becoming more like Christ, what is the point?

The kingdom is coming... May I always look forward to it as I do now - even more so than I await other things that God may set before me to enjoy in my redemption.

Life to the fullest!

Rejoice! Rejoice! Our God has come and dwelt among us - and He has redeemed our very lives!

Mood: Anticipatory Listening to: Sara Groves, Add to the Beauty
Reading: Jan Karon, Light From Heaven

24 December 2005

How a week flies by...

It's crazy to think that I've already been home for a week, that my grades have come in and my Christmas shopping is fully done and my brother's leaving again in a week. So... what have I been up to? Hmm...

I worked! I managed to find a temporary assignment for the day, filling in for a receptionist at an excavating company. I answered phones, filed receipts, opened mail, put things away, made photocopies... It's really not the most exciting job, but it pays well. And it's always nice to know that people value your "skills"... the woman who kept giving me stuff to do wanted to hire me mid-day as a part-time assistant.

But also in the mid-day time frame, I got a call from the staffing agency I've been working for and they found work for me from December 27th through January 10th, and praise be to God for that! It allows me time with my brother until he leaves because it's mostly part-time, but it gives me stuff to do and allows me to make some money, so... I won't go crazy this break!

Chris came up for most of the day, which was good. We went out to lunch at Cici's Pizza and played Scrabble with John (John won). Chris and his family play with different rules than our family does, so... it was interesting. We went to TNL, where the newest CORE pastor (I don't know his name yet) talked about Christmas from the perspective of the earth (it signals its redemption from our sin, as well), so... that was really cool. We missed all of the opening music, so I was kind of bummed, but we did get to eat dinner with Mom and Dad, so that was good.

I think I was a bum on Wednesday, but I'm not quite sure.

My grandparents' 64th wedding anniversary!
I actually got some stuff done Thursday. I got most of my dad's Christmas present finished (well, one of them, 'cause the others required no finishing, if that makes sense). I crocheted a bit, wrapped the rest of Dad's presents for Mom, did laundry, unloaded the dishwasher.

And then I made dinner because Mom called me up and told me to make dinner: meatloaf, baked beans, mashed potatoes, and... ta-da! Maple fudge, which is really good, but which I really should not each much of ('cause it'll make me fat).

I was supposed to go to bed after I hung up with Chris (on the phone - by the way, phones are stupid), but I didn't... I wound up talking to John until 2:30, which was really good because it's been so long since we got to do that. It's been a big semester for both of us and God is blessing and challenging us in so many ways, so it was great to get to talk to him.

One year since the hot tub burned down
I got up later than I was supposed to, but I still managed to get done what I needed to (with one exception, but that's okay - that was just because I forgot about it). I dropped off my timecard so that I can get paid, got my dad's present finished (although it was more pricey than I was thinking it would be), ate lunch, and got my hair cut.

Now, until about a year ago, getting my hair cut was a big ordeal. I normally didn't get it cut at all, which is why my mom got irritated at me, I think. I would go two years or so without getting it cut or trimmed because I was growing it out and trying to get it back to normal after I cut it following my high school graduation and after so much of it fell out.

But anyway, it's actually good because I trust the lady who cuts my hair to cut my hair. She does a good job and it lasts for the six months it will take me to get around to getting it cut again. I think all of my curl is gone this time, though, so that is somewhat of a bummer, but it also means that my hair is back to normal!

After my haircut, I went down to the Springs to see Chris (and his family). He and I went through the first part of Colossians 2, which was good even though it was shortened. We hung out with his brother and sister-in-law a bit and played Scrabble again. Chris and I played darts and I won - all three times. It's amazing because I could barely hit the board with the darts, so Chris moved me forward a bit, at which I still missed the board quite often, but at which I (obviously) did better.

His godparents and their son came over for dinner, so we all spent the evening with them. I left around 10 to get home by 11. It's hard to leave. I feel so selfish because I usually see Chris everyday and then, when I don't, I don't like it. God's working with me on that, but I don't think I really want to work on it - so I'm trying to work on an attitude change.

I came home and went to bed (eventually), but I was really twisted when I woke up this morning.

Christmas Eve
I have an hour until Laura charges over here to play Santa (not really confused by the concept, just more the reference), so I need to take a shower. Also on my to-do list are wrapping my dad's present, calling Chris, cleaning my room, and attending one of the Christmas Eve services tonight. Hopefully, I'll get some more stuff in, too.

So, in the spirit of the season, I really hope you're not reading this until after you've spent time with your family and fallen at the feet of your Savior - the baby born in a manger who is not dead because the tomb is empty. He is risen, indeed!

And that is why Christmas is important - not because of the presents or lights or time with family or whatever you might associate with it, but because our God came to earth as a baby so that He could live and then die for we who would not seek Him on our own. The tomb stands empty and our King risen because of greater promises on which we can rest.

Greater promises! For us!

A kind Savior waits for you.

Mood: Contemplative Listening to: Acceptance, Phantoms
Reading: Nothing, actually, because I finished The Chronicles of Narnia again

18 December 2005


When did we forget the baby in the manger –
The One who came to die for sinful strangers?
Was it among the shopping trips and politics
Or did the world just carry us along?

When did we forget the Father’s gifting –
The one that keeps us safe from sifting?
Was it among the bright lights and red knights
That we lost the Light of men?

When did we forget the holiness –
The glory of that child?
When did we forget His purpose –
That He crawled on knees to die?
From our first sin, His promise was this:
That our conflict would be over.

When did we forget the lowly shepherds –
Those who beneath the angels cowered?
Is it the suddenness of their journey that keeps us from learning
That this Savior is deserving of our lives?

When did we forget the kings who left their thrones
To travel to and worship One they did not know?
Is it their forfeiture of honor for that of another
That captures our fears of letting go?

When did we forget the holiness –
The glory of that child?
When did we forget His purpose –
That He crawled on knees to die?
From our first sin, His promise was this:
That our conflict would be over.

When did we forget the empty tomb
Is as much the story as the mother’s womb?
When did we forget His gift of grace –
The family found where He’s prepared a place?

For one day, we will gather ‘round the throne –
There will be no lowly manger in that home.
And all the songs we’ll sing will be of our baby King
Who died so our conflict would be over.

©2005 Alyssa Kate Grinstead

17 December 2005

#200: Return of the Elf

So, in honor of my 200th post on this here blog, I would like to inform everyone that I have finished another semester (as of 8:30 this evening, sadly) and I now have two semesters left before I graduate and join the real world where homework does not exist. :)

Anyway, finals have pretty much consumed my life over the past week and a half or so, starting with my copy-editing final the Thursday before finals week and continuing with my other exam first thing Monday morning. I had a paper for myth due by Friday (I actually managed to finish it on Wednesday) and an article due by today (thanks to my professor's gracious extension).

Other than that, I crocheted and crocheted and crocheted some more. I made a few hats, some other stuff that I'm not at liberty to talk about because the people that are receiving them as gifts are not yet aware of what they are getting, and I am still working away at my blanket and started on a scarf for myself which, if finished in the next week, will result in my having another gift under the tree courtesy of myself.

I like wrapping presents, and most everyone knows that I like wrapping presents. I like choosing the wrapping paper and matching the ribbon/bow to it. I like writing tags and finding just the right place to put them. Basically, I'm a Christmas wrapping nerd. That's right.

And I'm proud of it.

But, anyway, this leads to a somewhat strange tradition where, every year, I come home and things are in my room with the expectation that I wrap them for other people in the family.

I like this tradition because I like wrapping; however, I feel like an elf because I'm hidden away with paper and ribbons and bows and Scotch tape and scissors and no one sees me for hours on end because I'm measuring and folding and tucking and everything that goes with wrapping presents.

So that's what I've been doing the past few hours (and I do mean few...) It's been fun because it means that I am finally done with my semester and can just enjoy being home with no homework and getting to wrap presents.

'Cause I like wrapping presents. It's a good way to wind down after a strange and/or stressful day.

I went to Colorado Springs today for Chris' grandmother's Christmas party and, in the process, met much of his dad's side of the family (I already met his grandparents a while back).

It was good, but it was weird. Meeting people's families always is.

Granted, it's because there is an established pattern for social interaction that doesn't include you. They don't know what to do with you in that situation and you haven't built up wrinkles in your brain yet for how to interact with them, so...

...it just ends up being a big old awkward, hugging mess.

I got a hug coupon, but that's a whole 'nother story.

Anyway, John and I met up with Mom and Dad at the mall and went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner before coming home.

Excellent food. Excellent cheesecake. Too many choices.

I wrote my last final when I got home... it took me about an hour and a half and then I just didn't care anymore.

And then I wrapped presents.

And now I'm writing here.

And, as soon as I'm done here, I'm going to go sit at Jesus' feet for a while 'cause He misses me.

So... 200 posts later and you are now reading the writings of an elf.

One week 'til Christmas! He is risen indeed!

Mood: Mellow Listening to: Bethany Dillon, Imagination
Reading: C.S. Lewis, The Magician's Nephew

06 December 2005

Something Laura sent me...

"If the popular culture suffers from shamelessness, much of Christian culture suffers from respectability. Too many people in church, far from seeing themselves as confessed sinners surrounded by other confessed sinners, are obsessed with making a good impression on those around them; in the very place where pretension should be lowest and humility highest, the opposite is often true."

I mean, just think about it...

03 December 2005

The Weight of Waiting

The clock ticks on
And I'm waiting to see
How You fit this part of me back into me.
The calendar turns
And I'm waiting to find
When the time will come - when it's time.

Can I jump back in yet?
Can I get my feet wet for the second time around?
Is this waiting over?
Or do I still have to shoulder the weight of this waiting around?

The page sits blank
And I'm waiting for words
That I can write right on the page - just for You.
Is this vessel empty?
Will it never be filled?
Has it lost its place in Your will?

I'm afraid that I have lost what You gave me
Like a child who has forgotten the rules.
I'm afraid that I'll bring anything and something,
Everything and nothing to You.

Can I bring something that will make You smile?
Or will I bring something not worth Your while?
The least I can do is to leap from the ground -
No more of this waiting around.

©2005 Alyssa Kate Grinstead

Racquetball and Snow

So... my headache finally left me Thursday night.

And then, Chris taught me how to play racquetball yesterday.

And since I am really bad about exercising on a regular basis (or much at all anymore), I'm really sore. There's a bruise on my wrist from where I hit the wall (at least I think it was the wall).

I am really bad at hitting the right wall. You're supposed to hit the front wall, but I really like the side ones. Hmm...

I scored two points in four games. That's really sad. Especially because one was just Chris messing up.

The footwork is really similar to volleyball, so that's the easy part for me. The hard part is the racquet and the tiny ball in place of my hand and a much larger ball.

But I will get better and Chris will eventually lose. That's my plan, anyhow. We'll see how things shape up.

In other news, I got to sleep this morning! In doing so, however, I missed the snow. I mean, it finally snowed in Fort Collins and I missed it... sad irony.

The boys went to the mountains to play in the snow because the ski resorts have gotten a lot more snow than they normally have this time of the year (and the boys have season passes, so they feel inclined to use them - not that I blame them at all). But it's kind of quiet around here.

And, now, I am going to go wrap some presents and read for a while. Putting in my contacts and doing schoolwork are also on the list, as is changing into a shirt that I didn't sleep in, but we'll see how that goes.

Mood: Sleepy Listening to: Kutless, Strong Tower
Reading: 1 Samuel, Proverbs, Acts