He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. - Jim Eliot

Moved Out

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14.5.12

Hello readers,

Thank you for faithfully following my blog or simply stopping by for a visit. I should have posted a notice awhile ago (and by 'awhile' I think I mean almost a year), but yes, I am still alive. I decided to move my blog over to WordPress. Find me there at the same name, Myriad of Mementos.

To my friends on Blogger, I'm still keeping up with reading your posts as much as I can. I simply preferred the layout and features over at WordPress more.

May God keep you and bless you!

Dana

P.S. I plan to leave this blog up for some time still at least.

A Time For Everything

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14.8.11

Credit: Aurelen of DeviantART
Nearly the entire summer has dashed by, quick as a hummingbird darting between tree-branches, and I have written not a thing here. In fact, I am returning to college in less than a week's time now, and all the craziness of the new semester will bear upon me. I look forward to it, though, for there are abundant good things I will be returning to; at the same time, I will miss home and family again dearly. It is always a little bittersweet, but of course, it is simply a choice of which part (the bitter or the sweet) one chooses to focus on.

It is safe to say this summer has been a whirlwind, in more ways than one. I have learned much and (hopefully) grown from it, and as the old saying goes, the more you learn, the more you realize how little you truly know. So, I would say it has been humbling, too.

I suppose right now I am going through a bit of a strange phase. I am content - in Christ, and in my lot - yet a little melancholy. I am cheerful and enjoying the slivers of pleasures throughout daily life, yet there is some sadness present for the things passing in and out of my life: the events, the people, the relationships. Another adage, is it not, that "you don't know a good thing till it's gone." An almost tragic means of walking through life, I think, and I try not to make it true for myself. Yet, I am human, and that fleshly Take It For Granted and Restless nature of mine will rear its head sometimes. So, when I say I am still content, though a little blue, it is not because there is anything or anyone that has moved on and away from my life-path that I pine to have back or regret releasing, but simply, that the memories inspire a faint aching in my heart. Not one of bitterness or regret or emptiness, but - Missing. I am not sure it is the best word, but it is the one that comes to mind first. The Missing you experience when you graduate high school, when your family moves to a new town, or when you drive home from a lovely beach trip. It is as if something sweet and dear is fading, but it is not quite heartbreak and does not leave a hole in your heart for Christ's infinitude is ever-filling. It is a beautiful thing, but you know and accept it must end (and even that end is part of what makes and keeps it beautiful). Yet, mixed in with that acceptance and even knowledge that God's will is being accomplished, there is still some sadness at things passing away, and yes, a fleeting sense that I should cherish them more while they last.

Still, every good thing and every trial has God's purpose stamped upon them, and true Spirit-filled peace is not fleeing the trials but trusting the Provision. That is one thing I am learning, though slowly and sometimes painfully. Quoting it is vastly different from living it, and as it is truthfully and quite humorously put, "In theory, theory and practice are the same." We lived in a practice-based world, and as Christians, we are called to the high and often difficult duty of pursuing a practice-based, not simply theory-based, life. 

It is very difficult, if not impossible, to allow good things to come and go from our lives as guided by the hand of God if we do not have a right perspective for the seasons of this earthly life. The world says the one constant in life is change, though the Christian can stoutly say there is another, and that is Christ. Most all else is fleeting, and simply out of our control and influence as to their direction and length of stay in our lives. But better than listen to me speak to this subject, there is a Spirit-inspired text written by Solomon on this same issue.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

It is as Gandalf, from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, aptly notes: "I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil." Solomon also acknowledges that there is "a time to weep" and there is no shame or sin in that, just as we can say there is "a time to laugh." And though there are times for mourning, our time of dancing will also surely come.

The Riches Of Relationships

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2.6.11

It has been a mad dash to the finish line in the latter half of my spring semester, and as such, I have hardly had a chance to reflect and collect my thoughts to blog, let alone actually write a post. Thankfully, I have a brief hiatus from the insanity of classes, homework and exams for these sweet, summer months. It was a strange feeling when my flight touched down on the runway, given how quickly the end of the finals rushed upon me, like a surfer caught at unawares by a sudden wave. A bittersweet sensation, I think: While I was relieved the difficult semester had drawn to a close (and really, I had more than my share of inductive proofs, thermodynamics, and circuit design), there was also a deep pang at the thought of leaving - well, I cannot simply say the term 'my friends' suffices. I have had numerous friends throughout the young years of my life: the neighbor who came over to play with my toys every day, the boys I poked fun at mercilessly in elementary school,  and the girls I would gossip with and talk of things I could never be proud of. No. It was a deep pang at the thought of leaving, even temporarily, my family.

The implications stun me. I skimmed over some of my posts from last fall, where I remember struggling with relationships and fighting the roots of loneliness I felt creeping upon me. Not a loneliness because no one was around me, and I do not think I have ever had that, but a loneliness where others were visibly there, but my soul feels detached still. I have always struggled with maintaining close relationships, and I had grown increasingly insecure as experience seemed to instruct me that distance and time frays and wears upon even the best of comrades until the bond is almost cut entirely. You could say I did not have much faith in relationships; or in other words, I did not have much faith in people.

To a large degree, I do not think that goes unjustified. Apart from Christ, how much can one expect of relationships between wretched sinners? Certainly, acts of kindness and consideration, sympathy and well-spoken words to an extent. I am not saying non-Christian friendships are doomed to fail and unbelievers are incapable of selflessness; some of my closest friends are not believers, and I freely admit, are naturally kinder and more generous people than me. But ultimately, at heart, we are all selfish creatures, and without the freedom from sin paid for by Calvary's Lamb, the universe would seem to revolve around our own self-centered needs.

Yet, God has graciously shown me the invaluable worth of relationships, especially those founded upon the Unshakable Foundation, the Solid Rock and Savior King. At my Bible Study's Spring Retreat, which was entitled "The One Another's," an excellent sermon was given from Ecclesiastes 4, speaking of the vanity of material pursuits and riches of relationships. For a long time in my life, I had the two reversed. When I felt relationships were fickle and vapors in the wind, I exerted my time and energy in chasing other things. While they may not have been material goods, which have not held too much sway over me, I would pine for worldly success and the empty praise of man. In the end, it is a hollow pursuit. For what good is it for a man to gain the world and lose his soul? Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, understood that most profoundly. 

I cannot praise God enough for the brothers and sisters He sovereignly placed in my life to not only teach me such a lesson, but to grow me closer to Christ. At the heart of every pure, Christian relationship is a desire to know and love the Savior more, and as we run towards Him, we grow closer to one another because we are striving for the same purpose and in the same direction: for the Kingdom, and heavenward each day. God has knit my heart closely with others in the Body, and that fellowship is sweeter than wine. While that sometimes meant I made a conscious, and not always easy, effort to sacrifice time I could use to study for that midterm I am not entirely prepared for, I do not regret nor would I want to take back a single conversation with a fellow believer where we battled sin together, prayed together, laughed together and longed for eternity with Jesus together. It is a small foretaste of heaven on earth. 

I looked back at previous posts I wrote regarding relationships, and in Summer Thoughts, scribbled out nearly two years ago, I briefly mentioned I hoped for close Christian friends and a Christ-centered fellowship. Nearly one year ago, I penned Times of Trial, wherein I struggled with loneliness and distanced relationships. All I can say is, oh, how God answers prayer, and how unshakably faithful is He. I do not think I could have imagined the work He would do at those points in time, but where I am today is nothing but a testament to His Providence. Tests and grades and earthly achievements will fade in time, but relationships in Christ endure. Though I miss my closest brothers and sisters dearly at the moment as we are spread out across not only the country, but the globe, we are unified still in spirit, running the Christian race in different ways and different parts of the world, but always running alongside one another.

Yes, I miss my family wholeheartedly, but as it is simply but poignantly put by one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis: "Christians never say good-bye."

Where Glory Met Grace

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23.4.11

It has been awhile since I last posted, mostly due to the hectic nature of student life. I still don't have the time to craft a full post, but I just stumbled across this soul-piercing prayer from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers. A number of my friends have already posted this on their respective blogs, and I am just snagging and re-posting this for more people to see, and simply to remind myself of the miraculous triumph we celebrate at this time of the year. 

My Father, 

Enlarge my heart, warm my affections, open my lips,
supply words that proclaim ‘Love lustres at Calvary.’
There grace removes my burdens and heaps them on thy Son,
made a transgressor, a curse, and sin for me;
There the sword of thy justice smote the man, thy fellow;
There thy infinite attributes were magnified,
and infinite atonement was made;
There infinite punishment was due,
and infinite punishment was endured.
Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy,
cast off that I might be brought in,
trodden down as an enemy that I might be welcomed as a friend,
surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best,
stripped that I might be clothed,
wounded that I might be healed,
athirst that I might drink,
tormented that I might be comforted,
made a shame that I might inherit glory,
entered darkness that I might have eternal light.
My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes,
groaned that I might have endless song,
endured all pain that I might have unfading health,
bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem,
bowed his head that I might uplift mine,
experienced reproach that I might receive welcome,
closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness,
expired that I might for ever live.
O Father, who spared not thine only Son that thou mightest spare me,
All this transfer thy love designed and accomplished;
Help me to adore thee by lips and life.
O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise,
my every step buoyant with delight, as I see my enemies crushed,
Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed,
sin buried in the ocean of reconciling blood,
hell’s gates closed, heaven’s portal open.
Go forth, O conquering God, and show me
the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save.

Lives Woven In Words

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3.3.11

A couple of my friends blogged a Meet The Characters post recently, and me being me, I shamelessly copy a good idea when I see one. My excuse for taking the time to do this is simply that I needed to take my mind off of schoolwork for a short time being. This was rather therapeutic. Well, I suppose I mean the graphics-making was therapeutic; the Hunting Down of proper faces to match with the characters was more on the grueling side. I tend to have a specific mental image for most my characters, and there is not always a real, photographed face to match with it. You may recognize some of these as well-known actors, while others are random unknowns I found in the dusty corners of cyberspace. In any case, here we are. Meet the cast of A Fool's Glory:


CORNELIUS. The only son of a wealthy Roman family, Cornelius was every bit on his way to the top of status ladder within his materials and success-driven society. With raven-colored hair, olive eyes and a broad build, he could nearly have won the heart of any respectable lady in the Empire. Yet in spite of his luxurious upbringing, his life mirrored that of most affluent Roman citizens at the time: he would conduct business deals, attend grandiose gatherings and balls and seek out entertainment at the Coliseum's gladiator games. Like whitewashed tombs, his outward wealth and comfort was envied by many, but his heart was empty, corrupted by all kinds of immorality and idolatry. Being brought to the end of his brokenness, he cried out, and God opened his eyes to the Truth. Radically transformed by the saving power of the Gospel, Cornelius determines to follow Christ. However, he begins to learn that the narrow way is a hard path, and following a Savior reviled by his nation comes at a high cost as he is stripped of his freedom and condemned to death. In the face of all despair, the once proud Roman grows to understand the painful but eternally rewarding lesson of denying himself and joyfully taking up the awesome cross of Christ.


DANIEL. Raised in a comfortable home in the city of Jerusalem, Daniel, the narrator of the tale, experienced a fairly peaceful upbringing. His father was a Jewish man, well-respected by his community, and his mother was a sweet woman with a great love for her family and for books. His largely undisturbed childhood and young adult years were broken by the Roman invasion. As they tore through Jerusalem, Daniel's family was killed in the chaos. Daniel was captured and brought back to Rome as a prisoner, and his once sensitive nature turned into bitterness and hatred. He rejected his traditional faith in God and trusted no one. It is in such a defeated state that he encounters Cornelius, a man who embodies both a people and religion he detests, in prison. Despite a terribly rough beginning, the two strike up an unlikely friendship as Daniel grudgingly recognizes the quality of Cornelius' character. As time progresses, Daniel develops a close bond with his fellow prisoner in spite of his Roman blood and polarizing beliefs, sharing memories and stories and burdens with one another. However, he is painfully aware that their friendship develops in the haunting shadow of death, and he simply cannot bring himself to believe in his friend's hope of Life and glory beyond the blood-stained sands of the arena.


ALEXANDER. Another life pierced through with tragedy, Alexander was from a Germanic tribe on the outskirts of the Roman Empire. He was an esteemed and fierce warrior, though at the same time, a loyal husband and father. As the Empire determined to exterminate all barbarians and rebellious non-Romans within and along their borders, Alexander's tribe suffered fatal losses under the swift and sure hammer of Rome. He himself was taken captive and deemed potential gladiator-material, though his outright refusal to participate in Rome's bloody sport earned him a place in prison and a sentence to die. While behind bars, he receives news that his tribe was wiped out, and his entire family was dead. In the midst of such horror, he encounters both Cornelius and Daniel in his cell. Can the strange Gospel Cornelius fervently preaches mean anything to a man who has known only his tribe and war his whole life, and finds himself robbed of it all? From the ashes of tragedy remains the possibility of rising hope, as the sovereignty and glory of God is placed upon full display.


LAEL. She is Daniel's sole love interest from his past, though their story together amounted to little with social expectations and religion barring the way. Lael, Hebrew for 'belonging to God,' was raised in a comfortable home not too different from Daniel's and had a sweet, unassuming nature about her. Their parents developed friendships, drawing them together as playmates at a young age. But when they hit their teen years, they began to drift apart and there was a lingering awkwardness between them, especially as Daniel began to see her as more of a woman than simply a girl or playmate. She was not beautiful in the traditional sense, but had striking, dark eyes and distinct features. However, Daniel's attraction to her seemed to become meaningless when Lael and her entire family turned from Jewish tradition and converted to Christianity. In spite of their close, family friendships, the expectations of his family and community would never allow Daniel to cross the religious barrier. When Lael and her family are also killed in the Roman invasion, Daniel buries all memories of her until he finally reveal to Cornelius in prison the woman he lost his heart to.



FLAVIAN. Flavian is the father of Cornelius, and a stern but well-respected figure in his community. Like all ambitious fathers, he pushed for his son to similarly obtain all forms of worldly success and gain. Though a proud man, he cared deeply for his family and loyally loved the Roman Empire. Few things break his composure, but the groundbreaking reality of  Cornelius' conversion to Christianity drove Flavian to threaten disowning his son. However, the imminence of Cornelius' execution due to his faith overwhelms Flavian with grief. While he cannot seem to halt Death's march in spite of his position and influence, his son's stalwartness may leave a legacy that brings into view something greater than all the Empire's crowns.




LUCIA. The wife of Flavian and mother of Cornelius, Lucia was a sweet, nurturing soul. While she enjoyed the comforts of Roman wealth, she was more practical and down-to-earth than most women of her time, one of the few in their echelon of societal status that owned no slaves. She placed her family above all else, and was thoroughly broken by her son's imprisonment and condemnation. With his execution looming tauntingly close, is there any possibility of restoration for her torment? The only hope, if there were any, seemed like it could only be found in this Gospel Cornelius is ready to die for, but it is for her to determine now if there might be any Truth to this fool's glory.


(So, a couple of notes: These photographs are not mine, and I do not own them, and I make no claim to them, except I manipulated and fancied them up a little bit for graphics purposes. However. This story is mine, as are the character, so if you would be so kind as not to steal any of them, I would be much obliged. And you will be spared a well-deserved beating. And my final comment is that, no, Flavian is not some creepy reincarnation of Snape. I simply thought Alan Rickman suited the role. Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed this mild indulgence in fun on my part.)
 

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