Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Day #10 in Kauai!

Aloha from Kauai,

I just forced myself to close my reading in the Mark of the Lion series. Not that my opinion matters one iota in the literary world, but my oh my this book is amazing! The characters in this book have become so vivid to me, I nearly spoke about a couple of them to Nate yesterday in wondering if he knew how they were doing. Oh dear....I do need a life. Grin. 

A couple of noteworthy things have occurred since my last post, so I'm here again, sitting on our porch. My Jesus tunes are going, the oceans waves are roaring, and a rooster is crowing near. [Side note: When we arrived, we learned that roosters would be greeting nearly every island corner we embraced. A hurricane in the early 90's set the farmed-ones loose, and needless to say, they have done quite the job of increasing their boundary lines, outside of their inheritance if you ask me.]

Nate is just a few feet from me, sitting in a chair and painting. He's wearing camo pants, and I've rubbed his back in such an amount of sunscreen, that those tattoos of his all have a nice white glare upon their shapes. Grin... To my absolute delight, Jesus got a hold of that man's mind and heart again in the past few days over an area of gifting that Nate doesn't get to walk in much - that of his art. I have been praying over those holy hands of his, asking them to be an extension of the very magnificent and creative mind of our God. I am increasing in passion for the world of art to be redeemed for our El Roi - the God who sees, and who has created mankind in His image. We are visually-minded people, who are consciously and unconsciously pulled into worship by the visual, be it our strong sense or not. "For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" (Rom. 1:20). 
Nate wants his art to be a reflection of His Glory. His canvases are nearly all filled with nature, as he wrestles with the holy tension to take joy in the gift-Giver and reflect His Glory back to Him in the minute way that he can with the stroke of a brush . I wonder what it would take for us to be filled with the same sense of awe such as that which floods us over a sunset and that of our own human bodies, created in the image of the Most High God. Yahweh made them both, and they are a demonstration of His Glory; we are not to worship that which we see, but the One who has given us eyes to catch a mere glimpse of His Glory here on this Earth.  Before I get myself in a holy hissy fit, don't misinterpret my summarized thoughts here: Girlfriend, you better keep on walking by faith and not by sight! But for a world paralyzed and demoralized in a 'worship' of that which this culture visually displays to us, I am beginning to sense a moving in my spirit for God to redeem the eyes of His people, spiritual and physical. May what we read, view, and look upon reflect the day in eternity where the breathe of God spoke, 'and it was so.' May the literal that we see only feed our minds with what is true and noble. And may we ask Him for a godly view of those around us, realizing that it was YHWH's hands that knitted them together. 

A second matter of importance during our honeymoon, and not in the least bit spiritual, has been another favorite local dining spot discovery. Well, uhmm.....it's not exactly a 'dining spot.' [Let me go get my handy tourist book that I grabbed from Barnes & Nobles before we left.] Yes, here is the description of 'Duane's Ono-Char Burger: 3rd decade, still serving some of the best burgers on the island, specialty burger is the teriyaki burger (scrumptious)...most opt to eat at the cement outdoor tables (ahuh) where marauding wild chickens compete for your fries (yep).' We were straight up Kauai hippie beach bumb styling it for this lunch experience. Y'all, I'm not much of a red-meat eater, but this place was so good, Nate and I have plans to go back and order 2 burgers a piece instead of the 1 per individual we ordered for our first experience. That was a lame move... :) 

Sigh...this post was supposed to be about mine and Nate's adventurous kayak'ing trip. Clearly, I never made it that far, and I've likely already bored you sweet things who are still reading. I'll save it for tomorrow, m'kay? 

*THANK YOU for your prayers regarding the weather! It has improved drastically, and we keep giving Jesus the praise for it! 
*We have plans to go hiking in the Waimea Canyon tomorrow or the day after. My Tarzan could run and climb in this jungle, but princess Jane has not yet recuperated from the kayak'ing trip. [Laughing at myself even now...] 

Love y'all to pieces. Asking for more of Jesus for you right now...you are so dear to me.
Closing with a few photos

Friday, February 20, 2009


I'm currently sitting on the porch of our honeymoon cottage, with some good Jesus tunes going, but not so loud as to drown out the powerful roar of the ocean's waves that are right below me. I prefer my Creator's natural songs of praise; it is absolutely glorious. Nate and I keep the sliding glass door of our cottage open all day and night, with the screen door as the covering, so that we can hear it. I wish the photos I have taken of our view do it justice. They do not...they provide an absolutely pitiful display of the majestic view God has given this Jesus-brat of His.

My man and I have had a wonderful past couple of days. Wait, let me rewrite that...my husband and I have had a wonderful past couple of days (insert me with a big goofy grin on my face). We wake rather early, a fact this sleep-lover shamelessly accounts to the five hour time zone difference. We hop in our tan rental car and embrace one of the most rewarding and seemingly endless twelve minutes of our day. It is rewarding because of the breathtaking views that just envelope us: lush jungle spotted with the most vibrant white, orange, and yellow flowers, rolling mountains on one side, and a turquoise ocean on the other. I comment on their beauty every morning as if we haven't taken this drive before, pointing them out to Nate for the umpteenth time. He nods and smiles ... saying warmly, 'I know baby...' I'm a gush for the beauty of creation - I really do feel like God has just fashioned it for me. I know... selfish and ridiculous, but it's our time together and I love it. 

A seemingly endless twelve minute drive because of what awaits us. The breakfast selections that we have eaten here the past few days have unarguably become my best breakfast meals ever. No joke y'all. Fluffy, light banana and macadamia nut pancakes with freshly made coconut syrup, eggs benedict, and fresh papaya, mango, grapes, and pineapple that leave me so water-heavy from my fill of them that Nate and I both require walks afterwards. 

The second day we were here, we made our way to the pristine beach right by our cottage. Me, being the ever-hungry one, packed Nate and I a cooler. Nate hauled that, along with our little chairs, and water bottles to a sunny spot. We dug our chairs into the soft white sand, and smiled goofily at one another, hearts speaking the unspoken. He opened his 'War and Peace,' and I flipped open the Mark of the Lion series book number one. I forced myself to not bring an academic or technical book with me on our honeymoon. It was a fight y'all: I love to learn and study, but I really felt like the Lord was calling me to learn to rest in all areas, including my mind! I have not read this series yet, and thanks due to school, I am hopping on board four years later after I should have in terms of relevancy. Grin....

Five minutes of beautiful weather passed. And then...well, I got a little cold. Well, more like, I got really cold. I didn't want to complain (who is supposed to be cold when it's 74 degrees outside for crying out loud??! I get on my own nerves in this arena...), so I threw my long sun-dress back on, and a jacket, resuming my reading. Poor Nate ... he was soaking up whatever sun his epidermis apparently had discovered, untouched by the cool ocean winds. And then y'all, it came. That dreaded afternoon shower swept upon us so quickly that we ran back to the car, laughing, flip-flops flapping, and Nate still hauling that untouched cooler. We have sadly not been able to go to the beach yet; the weather has been uninviting. We're asking Jesus to do a miracle for us, because the forecast doesn't seem to be improving. We have plans for kayaking in a couple of days, and I better not get wet :) 

It hasn't been too disheartening yet though. We have greatly needed the rest. The ugly weather has given us an excuse for such. For the first time yesterday, I think I was finally able to rest after everything. I have taken long afternoon naps the past two days, and have had a couple of cry sessions for no apparent reason. I think they are rooted in the emotions from the past week catching up with me. Sweet Nate just holds me patiently, suggesting chocolate and a long walk afterward. Good man  :)   

That's about all for now. Oh yea, we went exploring in this cave today. I am pitifully ignorant of the appropriate terminology to explain it, so I'll just say it was amazing, and post some pictures later :) We've wandered into a number of art stores here; most of y'all probably didn't know Nate was an artist, so he appears in there looking like what I would look like if I were in a library or something. I love watching him stare at the art. He has been living high on his ahi wraps and fish tacos; I have preferred the fresh coconut that I was given yesterday. I walked back down to our car with it, holding it clumsily in my hand for another two miles, drinking out of my umbrella straw. Could someone puh-lease write tourist on my forehead. :) Oh well. 

*My second disclaimer: Again, don't you sweet little ladies worry about my being on the computer on our honeymoon. Nate and I both love to write; this down time has been renewing for us both. He was so inspired yesterday, he poured his heart out over a film script he has been stumped upon in terms of writing while yours truly was napping. That's my sweet Jesus...allowing me to love Him more by giving purpose and vision to do that which we love to do, and which brings Him glory. 

'Our God Reigns' just came on my iTunes mix. And Nate just came out here to give me a kiss, letting me know that he's going to make us some chicken and zucchini. I'm totally undone, and totally in love. All the more for my Jesus....

Love y'all to pieces...
PS - I so appreciate some of you long-time hidden 'lurkers' leaving your sweet comments. My heart has just swelled over the power of the Father to bring His body together here in blogworld. May my words be ones that denote my joy in 'knowing' you here, and the privilege we have to serve the Most Glorious One...I do so smile at the thought that he takes note on a scroll as we boast in Him (Malachi 3:16). 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Becoming Mrs. Griffin

Hey ladies.
It's the Matron of Honor again. I interrupt this string of live-blogging from Shelly's honeymoon to bring you a video. I'm the one with all the vid footage, and have a few clips I think you'll enjoy.

Here's one:

Activate! from mandy thompson on Vimeo.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My husband...and Elizabeth Pointe Lodge

I'm not writing too much of a post, just posting a link so that you can see where Nate and I have been these past couple of days. We fly out for Kauai so early tomorrow morning that only the One who never slumbers nor sleeps will be awake to care. 

Currently,  all Nate and I want to do is sleep. I feel like I've been hit by a truck. And I kinda look like it too; but I don't care  :)  I have the blessing of waking in the morning next to this fine hunk of a man who is now my husband. Most of the time, Nate and I look at each other and start laughing. Sometimes I get weepy over the fact that this godly man before me is the one whom my Merciful Father has given me....an unspeakable picture of grace. My weary mind cannot seem to process anything else other than that. 

We roll out of bed in the mornings and head down to the lodge's breakfast room, where the suns rays' wrap warmly around us. I obsess over their orange juice and fruit (b/c I have a love affair with fruit like no other), while Nate grins over his favorite: eggs benedict. I then manage to gobble down some amazing french toast with warm berries on top and some sugar free syrup, while Nate drools over his beloved piece of orange bread that is literally like orange-flavored poundcake. Yes mam, you better believe we took several slices of those back to our room for later. 

We strolled on the beach yesterday. Nate found two little shark teeth. He was like a little boy who had found his hidden treasure. I loved the look on his face. But the one he has on his face these days makes my heart melt and brings a lump in my throat. We are so overwhelmed at God's goodness over our pitiful lives that we do not know what to do with ourselves. We are humbled and deeply indebted to some loved ones who served as wedding slaves in order to pull this wedding together. [Mandy deserves the biggest matron of honor award you could ever imagine. If it were not for her, I would not have been sane or stress-free.]

I'm about to go grab us lemonade and cookies :)  Nate's sitting here beside me watching some man-channel on television :) His silver wedding band keeps catching my eye, and I breathe heavily once again to keep my tears down. I cannot believe that my Jesus loves me so to unite this spoiled-Jesus brat daughter of His to this fellow imperfect brother whose name I now share. Our hearts' cry is to glorify the Lord with one voice (Rom. 5)...He is our absolute delight.

*Note: Don't you sweet ladies worry that I'm not enjoying my honeymoon because I hopped on here to write a blog. Believe me...I am! But y'all know that writing is an outlet for me; and I am wanting to remember these days as well. Love y'all...

Shelly Elizabeth GRIFFIN!!! 

Monday, February 9, 2009

5 days before we get married!


I'm sitting in our new apartment, drinking a cup of coffee, staring outside at the sunshine who has graced us today with her enveloping presence. I just finished
some carpet-time with my Jesus; now that I think of it though, everything Nate and I have done here in the past week has been carpet time as we are 
completely furniture-less. Grin. I wouldn't trade it either. There is nothing like trying to create a dinner with the few pieces of kitchen appliances that you have and one old knife, and then sitting down together on our floor to dine. Personally, I could care less about owning much of anything, so I am more than content to prop our plates on one of my yet-unpacked moving boxes from Boston and laugh about it. 

        Nate and I are getting married in about 5 days. Oh...my....word. Y'all, I really need your prayers. My marriage to Nate feels so unreal that I cannot believe it's happening! I fear I'm going to get half-way down that aisle and drop flat on my face, veil flying forward, when the fullness of the reality hits me. The last few days, I have spent a lot of time in my car, repeating this to myself: "I'm getting married....I'm getting married....I'm getting married." I keep hoping it will resonate in this ever-active brain of mine. 
      Unfortunately, it seems more than my heart and mind can wrap around. It seems too good to be true. God has done so much in the 'more than you can ask or imagine' category in terms of my marrying Nate, that I really truly can't! Bless me, and help me! :) 

       We leave for St. Simons Island, GA tomorrow to prepare for the Day. I'll have friends flying in all the way from Boston 
(I treasure them so), and his troop of godly warriors and best buddies are likely going to take over the island. They are having his bachelor night Friday evening. Pause....Did y'all catch that? That's the night before we get married!!! That's all I'm going to say about that.....

      The ceremony begins at 2 pm, and the reception (aka - you better bring your dancing shoes and give Jesus some praise time) will follow immediately. According to my future groom, he truly believes we should only have to stay at the reception for 
approximately thirty minutes. Bless his heart...  :)   We'll then stay in Amelia Island for a few days, and spend the next 2 weeks of our honeymoon in Kauai (the 4th island in the Hawaiian Island chain) with cell phones turned off! 

      This isn't a creative or inspiring post, but for those who wanted to be 
informed of the 'Shate and Nelly' future days, here it is. I love him to pieces y'all. I actually want to get back on my carpet and bawl thinking about it. We are wonderfully imperfect (I say 'wonderfully' b/c I know God gets the glory in our weaknesses), but that man is absolutely perfect for me.  I hopped in his very manly and sporty car yesterday to go to church and grinned sheepishly over how handsome he is. And then, I realized that he had put my CeCe CD in his player; he said he wanted to get his upbeat praise time on this morning. I nearly died laughing. 
      That woman (CeCe) makes me want to bust out in Jesus-based aerobics - so I did...in the car, on the way to church, with my man shaking his head at me half the the way. After he surprised me with flowers later that evening, and cooked dinner for us while I worked on the wedding, I decided he, and Jesus, were due some more praise. 

     Nate makes me love Jesus more. And I know that the only way I can serve
and love that man as I should is by keeping myself bound to my Only True Love. Anything Nate and I have to offer one another is only as a result of the overflow of our personal relationships with the Lord. I'm thankful the Lord has set things up that way. Because ain't nobody allowed to get in the way of my Jesus and I :) I love y'all sweet siestas. Nate and I have coveted your precious prayers - I mean that so sincerely. You could never imagine how they have covered us in this past year and a half. 

     So I leave you with the very last post as Shelly Elizabeth Bland. I am dropping the last name of the man whom I love more than words express; no name is necessary to remember him. How could I forget my first hero and love? I trust and pray that the life Nate and I live will be an offering of gratitude towards him. I am sure that if my Daddy had the blessing of meeting Nate, he would have given us quite the blessing; He and Nate are alike in many ways. Twinkle in his eye, and lump in his throat, he would undoubtedly have handed his little
girl over to the man she loves. And I would have danced with him one more time at the reception, on top of his feet, held upright by his strong arms, as always. I'll surely dance one for him on that day...

      Yes indeed, there will be much to celebrate on this Bland-Griffin wedding day. I suspect the celebration in heaven may be just a little rowdier than ours: If He does dance, God would likely be tapping his holy feet on His heavenly Throne, the angels giving Him praise,  and a cloud of witnesses cheering Nate and I along. 

     We give you all the praise, glory, and honor oh Lord. You are absolute Life to us. It is you that we adore....come sweet Jesus, and may we be a blessing back to you as we join, with one voice (Romans 5), to shout praises unto your holy and magnificent Name. We bless you Jesus.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

I should be planning a wedding...but He's divinely jealous

My dearest siestas,

I would love to grab your sweet hand and take you on the walk of my last two months, but time simply does not allow me to do so. I'm going to post a puny little update after this one regarding my personal life. If you would just cover me with grace though, I'm entering into blogworld tonight with a bit of audacity and rusty writing skills :) I know I left 'your' worlds, but I have felt your prayers, realizing that by Jesus' sweet grace, you never left mine; I think of you often, wondering if you are getting to know and love Jesus more.

My current status: Nashville, job-less, just moved into mine and Nate's new place (applause to Jesus please), celebrated my 26th birthday in Jan. (gasp!), and feeling overwhelmingly hunger about every three hours (Nate doesn't know what to do with me!)

I have such a myriad of emotions these days, it is unfair for me to recount them to anyone but my sweet Jesus. He would be the only One that would not be left dizzy! But, I feel like I just must get this one affection out to you. In this present season of substantial transition, and in preparation for marrying my man, I have not been able to deter from a particular truth about my God: His divine jealousy.

It has consumed me. I think of it all throughout my day, with a lump in my throat. Even right now, I am taking a deep breathe to keep these brimming tears suppressed! I ... cannot ... get ... over ... it.

His divine jealousy. Exodus 20:4-5 provides us with the first mention: "You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God,..." In essence, YHWH's jealousy denotes a great eagerness and zeal.

Pause just a moment girlfriend, and let this one sink into the self-protective layers of our hearts where we fear His discipline and avoid the all-knowing gaze of our El Roi. Any time God's jealousy is expressed as wrath in the OT, it is because of idolatry and the breaking of the covenant. The God of the Universe, the God who fashioned you with His very hands, has promised you Himself. Exodus 6:7 reads "I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the LORD your God..." The Giver and Sustainer of Life must breathe a deep sigh of pain whenever He sees His children turn to another god. The heart of God must swell in pain upon our misplaced affections when He so longed to be your God that He disrobed His majesty and became flesh. He is divinely jealous for you child. This divine jealousy, that can take the form of discipline and holy anger, is the very part of His jealousy that I have come to love. For it is this holy passion and eager zeal of His that keeps this wayward child bound to His grace and will.

When I have been out of His will, it is then that He allows me to be dissatisfied and discontent. When I have walked outside of His laws of liberty, He has at times allowed me to be given over to the fleeting passions of my flesh. As painful as those times have been, it teaches this stubborn daughter of His a lesson: There is no One (or thing) like my God. I frequently ask Him to make me flat out miserable over any area of my life where my heart, mind, or soul is not entirely His. For you see, He is jealous enough over me and you to want every ounce of you. And because He is who He is, He's allowed to demand it. If we realize that His divine jealousy is a gracious holy zeal that keeps watch over our affections and emotions, sheltering them from wrong, we would willingly submit ourselves. As a matter of fact, we would probably be begging for His jealousy to be active in our lives. He already is the Jealous One for you, so He can't not be; but we can fight Him over it every misplaced affection on the way.

Isaiah 9:6-8: For to us a child is born; to us a son is given, and the government will be upon His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over His kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

That's the divine jealousy of God girlfriend. If His holy zeal can establish the enduring kingdom of Christ from everlasting to everlasting, I bow myself in absolute humility before His divine jealousy for me, so that He may be my only true love and establishing His enduring kingdom in me. His Glory is worth it; I can promise you that.

And so I close, foregoing the exegetical details that the nerd in me would love to share with you if I had the time. I am doing this subject a pitiful service to how wonderful and mind-blowing it is, but this is all I can offer y'all at the moment, in this season, 5 days away from being married. I trust God through His living and active Word to spur you on to discovering this for yourself. And I ask the Holy Spirit to soften your heart to the wonderful reality of God's protective, beautiful, and accomplishing divine jealousy over you. For it has saved me. It has redeemed me from a pit of despair, depression, and insecurities. It has set me free from disorders and addictions. It has broken paralyzing chains of fear. It has kept me saved for Nate. And it has kept Nate in his position as the imperfect love of my life. And it has changed this heart of unhealthy desires into one that says instead, "I delight to do Thy will" (Ps. 40:8). It has caused me to love my Jesus more than anyone else in this world.

I pray you come to praise Him for His divine jealousy. And I ask that He would develop in us a godly jealousy for Him, and for one another, for the sake of His Great Name. He is worth it sister.