I’m Back!

It has been a long time. Last spring, I took a long break from blogging. I think I gave the excuse that I wanted to get some more book writing done. That was true. But there was another reason, too.

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Yes, there was a man involved. On December 27, I married him. I seem to have trouble doing more than four or five things well at a time. So, when I took some time off blogging, I was trying to decide whether I ought to marry Jonathon Hill, teaching 38 students, writing assignments for Union Gospel Press, working on my film script, and teaching Sunday School. As you know, I decided to marry him.

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Aren’t you glad? Of course, once I decided to marry him in September, I had to plan a wedding for December. (It was either that or wait until June, which simply would not do at all. At thirty years old, both of us felt it was high time to get on with things!) The wedding went off beautifully, thanks to God’s grace and the help of my friends and family. Wasn’t my dress pretty?

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So far, these are the only pictures I have to share. But expect I’ll have more share with you in the coming weeks. There might even be a video.

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How did we meet? Well, you can read that story here. Jonathon is in the South Carolina House of Representatives. He is in session from January to June for three days a week. I am, in fact, typing this from the house floor. He likes me to join him there from time to time to watch the proceedings. It’s interesting, though I usually have about a ten-minute struggle between my desire to be a supportive wife and my equally strong desire not to be conspicuous. During the days he’s not at the capitol, Jonathon does nerdy computer stuff.

Cora has grown quite fond of him. In fact, just this morning, she did the unheard-of . She flew from my shoulder across the room to land on Jonathon’s—not once but twice. I think he’s a winner.

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As you might have already surmised, I have moved from my lovely Michigan lake town, St. Joseph, to Jonathon’s home in Townville, SC. In fact, before I get into all that, why don’t I just tell you what has happened since my wedding. We headed off to our honeymoon (a cabin in the woods a few hours away), traveled back to St. Joseph to pack up the rest of my stuff, drove the twelve hours south to my new home, proceeded from there to Columbia for the opening of the legislative session, from there we drove to Atlanta where we barely caught our flight to San Francisco (there’s a whole blog post I could write about that). After a few days there, we flew to Japan, flew from Japan to Manila (the Philippines), then from Manila to Dumaguete where we met my brother, Justin, and his fiancé, Felis. (Oh, did I tell you that my brother also got married?)

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Nice-looking couple, aren’t they?

At that point, we hopped on a bus and bounced, jolted, and swerved for three hours to our destination on the island of Negros Oriental, Felis’ hometown of Basay. At the end of that week, Felis and Justin were wed and we began our long journey back to the states. From Dumaguete we flew to Manila, then to Guam, then to Honolulu, then to San Francisco, then to Los Angeles, then to Atlanta. (The tickets were cheap.) From there back to Townville where I promptly fell ill and laid around on the couch for the next two days. Suffice it to say that I do not intend to look at the inside of an airport or set foot on another airplane for at least a year.

I am still uncertain about how often I’ll be writing new entries. After one rather crazy month of marriage, I’m not yet sure what is a reasonable frequency. But I can say that it will be far more frequent than once every six months!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you all in print as soon as I can.

Yours truly,

Amanda B….Hill, I mean

Oh, Rest in the Lord

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It’s good to have Scripture memorized, and even better to have it come back to your mind through song.

I felt bone-tired on Saturday evening. I’d been going great guns all day. Truth be told, I’d been going great guns all week and I was tired in every sense of the word. My mind was tired. There are, at present, many responsibilities crowding in on me, and so many things to think about. There are details to iron out and decisions to be made. There are questions I have no answers for. There is an endless pile of work that I can never seem to get done. There is fatigue that comes on after my mind has been working away to come up with solutions to problems and not solving any of them. There are the many cries for help I send up to God at all hours of the day, and the many worries underneath everything that threaten to reach up, grab me by the ankle and pull me under. Resting in the Lord. It’s such a phrase of beauty, such an attractive prospect. Saturday night, I was wondering why it was so hard to actually do it.

Instead of caving to my weariness that day, I had filled my mind with God’s word while I went about my household projects and chores. Thank God for sermonaudio.com! Every sermon is like an hourly meditation on God’s word. Then I sat down to write, that evening, and my load of care came back with a rush. I shook my head to myself, wondering if it was because I was such a rotten Christian, overly-tired, a female, or all of the above. Just about then, a song that I’ve taught to a couple of voice students came to my mind. It’s from the oratorio, Elijah, by Felix Mendelssohn and features Psalm 37:7. I’m sure the words are familiar to you, “Oh, rest in the Lord. Wait patiently for him, and he shall give thee thy heart’s desires.”

There was a wealth of things to learn from that small handful of words. Things like: rest only comes when I stop trying to control everything. Or that answers to prayer don’t always come right away and waiting on Him is required–specifically, patient waiting. That my heart’s desires may need an overhaul if its desires are not something God can righteously give. But I think the most encouraging thing about the incident was that those particular words attached to that tune spontaneously came to my mind when I most needed them. The wisdom behind God’s commands to hide His word in our hearts was evident to me.

So, I thought that today, I would share the song with you in the hopes that it would prove to be a blessing now and perhaps in the future.

Some Ordinary Stuff

I’ve started this post at least five times now, trying to come up with something to say. But, you know, even authors of novels can be idea-less at times.

It’s one of those calm-before-the-storm kind of weeks. A bunch of writing needs to be done before the end of the month, orchestra rehearsals resume on Monday, and…I have this vague and uncomfortable sensation that I’m forgetting something important. I’ll probably sit up in bed at three in the morning and remember it. Tomorrow night. When it’s too late to do anything about it. Continue reading

My Week in San Antonio

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I’m home after a week in San Antonio, Texas, at the Christian Worldview Independent Film Festival. If you recall, I was there last year along with the film I wrote, The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club. We had a couple of well-attended screenings, lots of good feedback, and our movie made it into the final five feature films at the awards ceremony. That was pretty neat. Continue reading

He Remembers I’m Dust

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Sometime last year, I was pouring my heart out into my journal, expressing my frustrations over my faults, foibles, sins, failures, stupidity, weirdness, etc… I have since then lost that particular journal. (Good Heavens! I hope no one finds it.) Anyway, I remember writing something along these lines, “Does God look down at me and shake His head when I stumble over the same stupid things again and again and again? Or does He look down at me in pity, knowing that I am but dust?” Continue reading

In Which Amanda Can No Longer Wear Contacts

It’s the end of an age. My days as contact-wearer have come to an end. I had hoped to wear contacts until I was old and gray and required bifocals. I’m afraid bifocals may, indeed, be in my future because bad eyes run in my family. Both my older siblings, Jeremy and Monica, wear thick, heavy glasses and so do my parents. I started wearing glasses at that age when kids are already so self-conscious that adding a huge pair of glasses is nothing short of torture. It was either that or headaches. I wore thick glasses until my early twenties when I gladly switched over to contacts and bid farewell to my nerdy days. Ironically, it is now the fashion to wear big, nerdy glasses. Go figure.

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On Lack of Sleep

fireplace_shutterstock_104497967It is approximately a quarter to two in the morning as I write. As family and friends of mine know, I don’t sleep too well sometimes. I can go for several months, sleeping great and then something will trigger me and I’ll have a period of  another few months where I have a much harder time sleeping. I’m not sure if I’d call myself an insomniac at this point, but when you lay down to sleep and don’t seven or eight nights out of a month, well, I guess that’s getting close. I simply refuse to get stuck on sleeping pills, so here I am, wide awake. My biggest gripe against my dratted body for keeping me awake at night is the boredom of it all. There are only so many things you can do in the dead of night that won’t wake the whole house. Continue reading

My Christmas

This Christmas season was quite enjoyable all things considered. It started out with a bang by producing this wonderful film, spreading Christmas cheer and cookie dough with Justin and Peter Brown:

Around the middle of the month, I flew to Colorado to visit my family. As I mentioned before, I had not seen most of my family members in that region for over a year. It was really good to catch up with everyone. The first thing I noticed right away was that I am short. As you can see by this highly unflattering picture to all parties,  my nieces, Katie and Constance, have surpassed me in height by at least a good inch or two.

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However, I was somewhat mollified to note that my oldest niece, Kristen, is still shorter than me:

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IMG_0566I enjoyed meeting my sister and brother-in-law’s new dog, Gretel. If Gretel could speak, she would probably introduce herself thusly, “Hi! My name is Stop That. Sometimes they call me Stay and Get Back Here. Mostly they just call me, “Awe, You’re So Cute!” She is very cute and enjoys hanging out on my niece’s comfy bed.  IMG_0571Or really any place that involves cozy blankets and padding.

IMG_0554I had my heart warmed by the gifts my nieces thoughtfully bought or made for me. They don’t have a lot of spare money lying around and having them spend what little they had on me showed me what generous and kind young ladies they are becoming.

Remember in my last post, how I said that for all I knew, I could be walking into a trial next week? Well, I found out what it was already. A number of years ago, probably five or six, I had almost constant abdominal pain which my doctor told me was irritable bowel syndrome. I’ll spare you the gory details, but IBS is pretty miserable. Through some supplements and tender loving care, I became symptomless, to my great relief. This last month, though, most of my symptoms came back with a bang, and I found myself feeling pretty under the weather throughout my entire Christmas vacation. Thankfully, I had a few hours each day where things subsided enough to enjoy my family and go on a couple of outings. But I still don’t feel quite right and I would appreciate your prayers. I’ve got to return to my full work schedule next week, and I don’t especially look forward to dealing with all of my current problems while teaching. At the same time, I was encouraged by the growth I saw in myself by the way I responded. No, I wasn’t completely cheerful and grumpy-free and I could have responded better, but over all, I did respond to my situation far better than I would have five years ago. I’m praying that the Lord will help me to grow even more through this return of symptoms.

In spite of all that, I enjoyed this Christmas vacation so much. My nieces and nephews are growing up so much and it is tremendous fun to see how much they’ve matured.

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Or something like that. Happy New Year to all!

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Sing!

nativityI don’t know how much overlap there is between those who read my blog and those who follow me on Facebook. If there is, some of you may have noticed that I’ve been putting up videos of myself singing Christmas carols every evening for over a week, and I promised last time that I would tell you why. (If you’d like to watch them, you can scroll to the bottom and have a listen.)

Well, the short answer is that I wanted to give you something for Christmas, and a video of some sort seemed the best possible way to reach as many of you as possible. The long answer is a bit more complicated and only just came to me in a fuzzy way after I began my Twelve Days of Carols project.

The last couple of years have been difficult for me. Without dwelling too much on details, I can say that I experienced heartache a couple years ago, which seemed to color most everything. Life looked pretty bleak, lonely, and uninspiring. After that happened, I more or less stopped singing. Sure, I sang at church, but I didn’t sing much of my own accord. Where before songs were on my mind and in my mouth just about all the time especially as a teen and in my early twenties, they just weren’t there anymore.

Right now, I feel almost back to normal. Emotionally, that is and however you define “normal”! God has given back the joy of living. And while I doubt anyone completely “gets over” heart pain, mine has to a certain extent scarred over and sunk to the bottom instead of waiting to boil over at the least hint of a memory. I have begun to sing again. At home, in the car, washing dishes, and even at the store (not loudly mind you)! Much of that has been born of self-discipline, but now I do have songs randomly coming to mind often.   That’s a nice phenomenon.

As I began to post my Christmas carols last week, I began to ponder. I know that life is a series of testing, trials, and temptations. Some are easier to deal with than others, but it seems that we grow the most through the hardest. God wants us to grow, so it shouldn’t be surprising when hard trials come. I know I need to be prepared for the next round. One of the few constants in life is that they will come. For all I know, I could walk into one next week. Next time, though, I don’t want to stop singing. I want to sing through it, even if my heart is breaking. God deserves to be praised whether I am happy or not. In His mercy, obeying Him through praise is one of the most comforting tools for people in distress. Singing about Him reminds us of who He is and that He keeps His promises to provide for us, never leave us, or forsake us.

So that is my goal for the coming years—to keep singing. As I’ve been putting up my Christmas carols lately, it occurred to me that putting up videos might actually be a practical way of making sure that happens. One a day would be a bit much to sustain, but I may commit to one a week. How does that sound to all of you?

I know that what I’m writing isn’t exactly Christmassy, but in another way it is. What better season to sing than at Christmas time? I hope you will carve out some time during this festive day to gather your family around and sing some Christmas carols. The Incarnation is something to sing about. Sing through the pain, the tears, and the disappointment, because Jesus is here with us. Without His coming there could be no time to look forward to without any pain, tears, or disappointment. Merry Christmas!