Mar 28, 2014

praising through pain // amazing grace

Amazing Grace
John Newton

Is there a more well-known hymn that this? It has stirred the hearts of different generations, cultures, and social statuses. It was linked to historical events such as Martin Luther King Jr's famous "I have a dream" speech, Nelson Mandela's prison release, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and to comfort Americans after the attack on 9/11. It is a song of hope in the grace that saves.

"My memory is nearly gone, but I remember two things:
That I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior."
[John Newton at his deathbed]

Grab a cup of tea and enjoy this thirteen minute video on the history behind Amazing Grace [which was so graciously sent to me by one of my favorite bloggers, Natalie]. It is a beautiful portrayal of the life of John Newton and the trials and suffering that eventually birthed this hymn that still carries so much power today.




Mar 27, 2014

spring wish list

Spring is here! So excited to see the early blooms and chirping birds outside my window. I liked being intentional last winter about goals, so I wanted to continue to tradition and list a few things I hope to do the next few months of Spring!

>> visit a tulip farm (such as Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn, seen below)

>> plant a balcony garden (I already started a small one but want to expand soon!)

>> bike, walk, and/or have a picnic near cherry blossom trees

I caught sight of these beauties at Seattle's Greenlake Park this past weekend!

>>  run outside in different nearby trails

my favorite place to run near my apartment, so very lovely in the spring!

>> visit farmer's markets and buy flowers (like these ones from a few years ago)

>> cruise around with this beauty again!

Mar 25, 2014

Travel Tuesday // Laguna Beach

Orange County adventures!

I spent Valentine's weekend this year in the sunny OC this year visiting my BFF. We had a blast catching up and gushing about the current exciting things going on in our lives as we walked on sandy promenades of several different beautiful beaches of the OC.  

First off is the beautiful Crescent Bay Point at Laguna Beach

Mar 21, 2014

praising through pain // how deep the father's love for us

How Deep The Father's Love For Us
{ Stuart Townend, 1995}

I have loved this song for many years and was very surprised to read tonight that this beautiful hymn is not even twenty years old! I assumed it was an age-old hymn but was pleasantly surprised by its modern roots. It has been a song that has brought me hope and reassurance of God's love as a perfect, unfailing Father. What a difference it makes to really see God as a Perfect Dad. Even if you've had an amazing earthly father (I was blessed to have a GREAT dad!), he will still fail you at times because he is still human and a sinner. But God does not leave or forget you. His love holds no end, nor does He leave us to figure out life on our own. He desires us to surrender our hopes and desires to Him and trust that He knows what He is doing, especially in times that things do not work how we think they ought to. 

But the greatest testament of the Father's love is that He gave His Son Jesus to pay the payment for our sin. Jesus bore the guilt and shame that you and I rightfully deserve. My own mocking voice has called out among the scoffers. And because of Him, a wretch has become His treasure. What beauty in those lyrics because they tell the story of the gospel. 

Read the story behind this beautiful song from the words of the man who was inspired to write it, Stuart Townsend:

" . . . I'd been meditating on the cross, and in particular what it cost the Father to give up His beloved Son to a torturous death on a cross. And what was my part in it? Not only was it my sin that put Him there, but if I'd lived at that time, it would probably have been me in that crowd, shouting with everyone else 'crucify Him'. It just makes His sacrifice all the more personal . . . all the more humbling.

As I was thinking through this, I just began to sing the melody, and it flowed in the sort of way that makes you think you've pinched it from somewhere! So the melody was pretty instant, but the words took quite a bit of time, reworking things, trying to make every line as strong as I could . . . "
* * *
How deep the Father's love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that left Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

Source: Then Sings My Soul, Book 3 (Robert J Morgan)

Mar 17, 2014

travel tuesday // downtown san antonio

On my last day in San Antonio, I joined a few friends for a double-decker tour of the downtown area. We tried listening to the commentary, but it was so much for fun catching up with each other, so I cannot extend any fun trivia or history about the buildings. I can just say it was super windy, so do not let the sunny skies fool you! Also, it was gorgeous, despite the aforementioned wind :-)

See the other San Antonio posts:
--- the missions ---

Mar 13, 2014

praising through pain // a new series

I am so excited to finally get the ball rolling on a series that has been on my heart the past few months. I have always loved old hymns. There is just something about their Truth-filled words that bring peace to a weary heart. Hymns like "It Is Well With Me Soul", "Amazing Grace", "Blessed Assurance", and "In Christ Alone" strengthen my trust in a God who is faithful and true, no matter the generation or era.

I remember the first time I heard the story behind one of my favorite hymns, "It Is Well With My Soul". The depth and richness of the verses dug deeper into my heart as I read about the despair and brokenness of Horatio Spafford as he penned this hymn. Over the next few years, I would delight in hearing other stories behind popular hymns because it made the songs so much more meaningful when I understood the circumstances surrounding the hymn's beginning.  

Then in late December as I listened to beautiful Christmas carols, I wondered about what stories those carols had at their core and this led me to buying a book I have had my eye on for a few months, Then Sings My Soul: The Story of Our Songs [Robert Morgan]. Soon after, I decided it would be a great series for the blog, but due to a busy schedule [and because I wanted to learn how to make a snazzy-appearing blog post title graphic], there was a longer delay to starting the series than was intended.
Better late than never, right? So without further ado, I want to present the first story in the series, which is the aforementioned hymn story that first captured my heart:

"It Is Well With My Soul"
Horatio Spafford

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

    The famous Chicago fire of 1871 rendered Horatio Spafford void of his fortune. Subsequently, his four-year old son died of scarlet fever. Two years later, after spending time trying to rebuild the city to house the many homeless citizens of Chicago, Spafford decided to take his family -- wife and four daughters -- to Europe for vacation by cruise ship. His wife Anna was in poor health and Horatio was secretly dealing with a financial crisis. He planned for them to see a close friend, famous evangelist D. L. Moody in England, then continue on with exploring Europe with his family. Urgent business kept Spafford from leaving at the same time as his family, but he promised to see them soon. 

    That promise would never be kept, for the ship crashed into an iron sailing vessel, destroying the ship to the point of absolute wreckage. Horatio soon received a cable message from his beloved wife with the bone-chilling words: "Saved Alone".  He booked passage to join his grief-stricken wife. As they sailed passed the site of the wreckage that claimed the lives of his four precious little girls, Spafford went to his cabin, but was unable to sleep. He ended up saying, "It is well; the will of God be done". These words wrought in pain and suffering later birthed the hymn that even today brings hope and peace to those who hear it. 

    Horatio and his wife went on to have two more children, one of whom died from scarlet fever seven years after the four daughters died in the shipwreck. Countless financial troubles also riddled Horatio's story, further adding desperation and suffering. And yet, the words still brought peace. It is well with my soul.
    *  *  *  *
    I cannot even dare to try to understand the pain and devastation of losing six children in the coarse of nine years. How can someone have hope in a time like this? What does one do with a soul that is broken into a myriad of jagged pieces, never to mend again?

    Horatio Spafford seemed to understand a secret that led him to cling to Jesus through the worst imaginable days of his life. His reliance on Jesus through the deepest and darkest valley brought peace that can be found in the true source of Hope, the faithful God who loves with an unfailing love. We find shelter under His care and refuge through the storms [notice it is not refuge from storms. They still happen!]. Following Jesus does not ensure an easy or painless life; usually the opposite is true. But this does not discount or discredit God. Instead, it can showcase His amazing love for us during those dark valleys of suffering and grief. He can carry us through the mourning of the night in the the joy of the morning. And we too can declare, "though sorrows like sea billows roll . . .
     it is well with my soul"

    [see Mars Hill Church's story of this song during The Rebel's Guide to Joy series]

    Here is Chris Rice's version of this beautiful hymn

    ---- stay tuned for this weekly series! ----

    Source: R.J. Morgan. Then Sings My Soul (Book 3, 2011)

    Mar 11, 2014

    travel tuesday // sunset boat river tour

    Travel Tuesday today is a continuation of the beautiful Sunday in San Antonio in January [see our early afternoon here]. In the past year, I've come to love sunset boat cruises [see NYC and Paris sunset boat tours], so I hoped to see the beautiful SA River Walk's twinkling lights and romantic glow. We ended up having a perfect evening to conclude our fun day exploring the missions. 
     I had a rough day at work, so reminiscing the moments of joy on this day have brought me some relief from stress. It is such a simply beauty to enjoy a few hours with dear friends admiring the wonders if a new city. 

    Mar 8, 2014

    happy international woman's day!

    happy international woman's day, 
    you fantastic lady! 

    I was clueless that there was a Women's Day until last year when my Facebook feed imploded with instagram photos of flowers and chocolates received. I did not think too much of it until this week when I randomly bought flowers for my friend and they were on sale for Women's Day. Score! 

    But I wondered about it … So I did what any nerdy girl would do. I googled.

    I knew this was an Eastern European celebration but learned that it was actually Russia that officiated the day into history in 1917 to recognize and uplift women. Eventually, March 8 became a day to celebrate women's achievements and fight for equal rights [click here for more history].

    So, how is International Women's Day celebrated today, you may ask?
    Why, with flowers, of coarse! Men wake up early in Eastern European countries and buy flowers for their significant others, daughters, sisters, mothers, etc. to show their love and appreciation for the women in their lives. They shower these women with gratitude for all they do. 

    I want to do something a bit different to celebrate International Women's Day here at Beautiful Hope [though I do plan on getting flowers for some of the special ladies in my life]. I want to share some of my favorite quotes about womanhood from some of my favorite authors, mainly quotes about Biblical womanhood, which is always an area I love learning about. 
    * * * * * *
    "In order to learn what it means to be a woman, we must start with the One who made her"
    [ Elisabeth Elliot, Let Me Be A Woman ]
    * * * * * *
    "Women are meant to be loved, not understood
    [ Oscar Wilde ]
    * * * * * *
    "A woman is like a tea bag. You can't tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water"
    [Eleanor Roosevelt]
    * * * * * *
    “To me, a lady is not frilly, flouncy, flippant, frivolous and fluff-brained, but she is gentle, she is gracious, she is godly and she is giving. You and I have the gift of femininity... the more womanly we are, the more manly men will be and the more God is glorified. Be women, be only women, be real women in obedience to God.” [ Elisabeth Elliot ] 
    * * * * * * 
    "There is no such thing as an ugly woman"
    [ Vincent van Gogh ]
    * * * * * *
    “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.” [ Elisabeth Elliot ] 
    * * * * * * 
    "If you want real beauty, start by trading in all you are for all that He is. You'll never regret such a glorious exchange". [Leslie Ludy, Set-Apart Femininity] 
    * * * * * * 
    "Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies . . .
    She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.
    [ Proverbs 31:10, 25 ] 
    * * * * * * 
    "Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious." 
    [ 1 Peter 3:3-4 ] 
    * * * * * * 
    "There is no charm equal to the tenderness of the heart" 
    [ Jane Austen ] 
    * * * * * * 
    As a woman, I was created to image God in a distinctive way. I do not need to apologize for being a woman. I do not need to hide aspects of my femininity because they are too 'girly'. I can be at peace with the personality and quirks that make me me. I can trust that my Father God knows all my insecurities and weaknesses, and loves my in spite of them with an unfailing love. And this love is not dependent on my achievements or outward appearance; it's grounded on His character as a God who loves forever with a father's heart. He gives me worth because of who He is rather than who I am. And this, my sweet lady readers, gives me freedom to be a woman. I am all for women's rights and equality, but my true freedom is found in finding myself as a daughter of a loving Dad who sees all the innermost thoughts, desires, and hopes . . . and finds me beautiful and calls me His own. It pumps me up with courage and the desire to go out and love and serve others; not because I need to so I can deserve this love, but as an outpouring of the gratitude I have for what God has done for me. He loves, so in turn, I desire to love because I have been loved with a perfect love. 

    Lastly, here are some of the woman authors who have somehow shaped my understanding of what it means to be a woman of purpose, compassion, and joy in what Jesus has done for me. 

    {from top left Elisabeth Elliot, Amy Carmichael, Jackie Pullinger, Sabina Wurmbrand, Leslie Ludy, Jane Austen, Katie Davis, Gladys Aylward, Ann Voscamp} 

    What women inspire you? Who can you thank today for their impact on your life as a woman?

    Mar 4, 2014

    travel tuesday // san antonio missions

    We had a beautiful adventure strolling through San Antonio's National Missions National Park on a warm late January afternoon. I do not know what I loved most: the well-preserved ruins, the sunshine, or the sweet company I had with two close friends. 
    It was a perfect day. 

    Four out of the five of San Antonio's  Spanish frontier missions are located here (the fifth is the Alamo), which were originally constructed by the Catholic church to spread Christianity among the natives. The priests and natives lived and worked together, mainly in farming and livestock. 

    We only had time to explore two of the four missions, San Jose ("the Queen of the Missions") and  ConcepciĆ³n (the oldest unrestored stone church in the U.S.) 
     San Jose provided sanctuary and cultural community to around three hundred natives
    If you want more info about the missions in San Antonio, check here

    . . . and here is part one and two of our San Antonio adventures!