Tuesday, April 27, 2010


My new blog url is: justineblake.wordpress.com The new one will be replacing this Blogspot one, so from now on visit that site instead!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

MY Reckless Abandonment

A few months ago my friend Martha posted a blog entry on "Reckless abandonment" for Jesus. Here's a snippet (directly below, in italics) that speaks so much to me in the place that I am at right now. God is asking me to let go of the tight grasp I have on certain people and things that replace his satisfaction, fulfillment, and joy in my life. I have also included a portion of a devotional entry that spoke the same message to me very recently (further down).

I love that phrase – Reckless Abandonment.  I can just feel the freedom saturating those words.  In order to abandon things, truly abandon them, there is a wild passion behind it.  It is the type of passion that drives crazy people to do the impossible.  It is the type of passion that makes people believe that dreams are possible, and that Kingdom can truly come.  I have been learning this month, that to truly go to the deeper places of God, we must because people of Reckless Abandonment.  There are so many things in this world that are holding us back from the dynamic things of God.  How tightly do I hold on to things, and am I willing to break everything at Jesus' feet in order to follow him.  As much as I don't want to admit it, abandonment is the message of the Gospels.  Every person that Jesus called to follow him had to completely abandon their old life.  They didn't just have to leave their past mistakes behind, they were even called to abandon the good, God-given things.  This is the place that God has been calling me to this month.  A few days ago, I felt God calling me to abandon even more than I already have.  At first I was resistant.  I kept praying, "God I've given up my family, my home, my bed, what else do you want me to give up?"  And yet he called me deeper.  I began breaking the things that he was asking me at his feet in a sign of submission and abandonment.  Even though it is hard to break the things that you love, it is also the most freeing thing in the world.

"From Center to Circumference," Come Away, My Beloved (Frances J. Roberts)

I ask you not to do, but to be. For whatsoever is of the flesh is flesh; but when you allow My spirit to have FREE COURSE, when you cease to interfere with My moving within you, then those things that shall be accomplished both within and through you will be truly the LIFE OF GOD. For My Spirit is the Spirit of Life, and My Spirit is the motivating power of Divine energy. All else is death. As it is written, “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor. 15:50) Neither can man through any endeavor of his own, however holy his purpose, produce this life, which does not exist apart from the direct activity of the Spirit of God.

For I am with you and I am in you to make you neither barren nor unfruitful. I am in you to give you life, and to give it to you abundantly, yes life without limit. For all I am able to do for you is limited only by My omnipotence and My eternal, everlasting life and power. And to these there are no limits! Lo, I wait to bless you; I wait to give you of My fullness. I delight to do for you, because I love you beyond your power to begin to know. Only drop those things you grasp in your hand, and place your hands in Mine. Only pull your eyes form those things you hold precious, and I will fill them with My glory. Release your affections from all others. Place in My hands those you hold dear. Leave them in My keeping: for so shall your heart be set free to seek Me without distraction. For when I am to you more precious than all else; and when you love Me more than you love any other, THEN shall you know COMPLETE SATISFACTION. Your peace shall flow as a river, and your joy shall overflow as a fountain, and My glory shall be poured out as the fragrant anointing oil upon all your other relationships.

For I do not intend to strip you of earthly ties and joys, but I long to have you give Me the center of your life that My blessing may flow out to the circumference. For My Spirit moves not from the circumference to the center, but from the center to the circumference.

So yield to me your inmost consciousness. Offer Me not some random portion of your affections, but give Me that deepest portion of your heart, yes, that which seems to be your very life itself. In truth it is so. For you yield Me your life only as you offer Me your love. For this reason I have said love is the fulfillment of the law. So give me wholly your heart’s affections, and I will meet your every need.

Seek first the Kingdom of Heaven; set your desires wholly to obtain the riches of God, and all other things shall be freely supplied as the needs arise.

Only be very diligent in the quest, for the enemy always lies in wait that he may through evil device turn you aside. Be not overtaken by his wiles. Set your face like flint. Lay aside every weight and deliberately remove every hindrance. Give yourself to prayer. You have My word, yes, you have My promise, that those who seek shall find. And My promises are sure, and My Word shall never pass away  (Matthew 24:35).  --Come Away, My Beloved (Frances J. Roberts)

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Cry of a Father's Heart: From Genesis to Revelation

A friend shared this with me today, it makes me melt. Hopefully it speaks of God's love to you as it does to me.

You may not know me, but I know everything about you: Psalm 139:1

I know when you sit down and when you rise up: Psalm 139:2

I am familiar with all your ways: Psalm 139:3

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered: Matthew 10:29-31

For you were made in my image: Genesis 1:27

In me you live and move and have your being: Acts 17:28

I knew you even before you were conceived: Jeremiah 1:4-5

I chose you when I planned creation: Ephesians 1:11-12

You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book: Psalm 139:15-16

I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live: Acts 17:26

You are fearfully and wonderfully made: Psalm 139:14

I knit you together in your mother's womb: 139:13

And brought you forth on the day you were born: Psalm 71:6

I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me: 1 John 8:41-44

I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love: 1 John 3:1

Simply because you are my child and I am your father: 1 John 3:1

I offer you more than your earthly father even could: Matthew 7:11

For I am the perfect father: Matthew 5:48

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand: James 1:17

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs: Matthew 6:31-33

My plan for your future has always been filled with hope: Jeremiah 29:11

Because I love you with an everlasting love: Jeremiah 31:1

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashores: Psalm 139: 17-18

And I rejoice over you with singing: Zephaniah 3:17

I will never stop doing good to you: Jeremiah 32:40

For you are my treasured possession: Exodus 19:5

I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul: Jeremiah 32:41

And I want to show you great and marvelous things: Jeremiah 33:3

If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me: Deuteronomy 4:29

Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart: Psalm 37:4

For it is I who gave you these desires: Philippians 2:13

I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine: Ephesians 3:20

For I am your greatest encourager: 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles: 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you: Psalm 34:18

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart: Isaiah 40:11

One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes: Revelation 21:3-4

I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus: John 17:23

For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed: John 17:26

He is the exact representation of my being: Hebrews 1:3

He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you: Romans 8:31

And to tell you that I am not counting your sins: 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled: 2 Corinthians 5:18-19

Jesus' death was the ultimate expression of my love for you: 1 John 4:10

I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love: Romans 8:31-32

If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me: 1 John 2:23

And nothing will ever separate you from my love again: Romans 8:38-39

Come home and I'll throw the biggest party Heaven has ever seen: Luke 15:7

I have always been Father, and will always be Father: Ephesians 3:14-15

My question is...Will you be my child?: John 1:12-13

I am waiting for you: Luke 15:11-32


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Don't Worry!

I didn't fall off the face of the earth! Perhaps by this point (2 1/2 months after my most recent post) my already-small following has abandoned me, or my blog rather. But if there are any of you out there still holding on to that last glimmer of hope...fret no longer. I am going to make it my goal to muster something up during my time off over the holidays. This might be a let-down since this post in itself really doesn't offer much useful information. I don't really know what I'll share with you, perhaps some information about what's going on up in Duluth or else some thoughtful words as I take in new things as a newlywed, recent graduate, new assistant teacher to preschoolers, Duluthian of almost five months, among the many other roles I play. 

I kind of miss taking time to write and transcribe thoughts to a readership in an organized fashioned, so this should hold me over for a bit. 

Okay, well sister-in-law Lindsey is coming over very soon, I must make haste!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Going with God's Flow

The past month and a half or so I have been so eager to meet people in Duluth, find a job, get connected and start life with Peter. After about, oh, two weeks, my eagerness started to turn into impatience and restlessness. God knew what he was doing the whole time though and his timing was perfect as usual. After fruitlessly pursuing an AmeriCorps position that was unknowingly already filled and several other jobs, I started to assume that I wasn't going to find work for five years at best (note: exaggeration).

On Monday, however, I found myself searching Craigslist out of desperation and found a posting for an assistant teacher position at Summit School Duluth, an early childhood education center less than ten minutes from our house. I sent an e-mail with my hours of availability and resume and was very pleasantly surprised when I received an e-mail the next evening from the school's director asking if I could make it in for an interview the next morning. Unfortunately, I already had plans to clean, write thank yous and run errands.

Kidding! (You were on the edge of your seat, admit it.) I went in for the interview yesterday late morning and it went really well, but I didn't want to get overconfident. After telling Peter how perfect it sounded and how the interview went he urged me to follow up so the director was aware that I wanted the job if they were interested in hiring me. I e-mailed her several hours after the interview and found out just before bed that she wanted to offer me the job! I start on Monday! What an awesome blessing!

I originally thought it was a part-time position, but I will be working Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. with Summit's junior kindergarten class (four- and five-year-olds). Before the interview I wasn't sure with which age group the position was available, but I was drawn to the junior kindergarten and kindergarten ages and, as it turns out, that's who I'll be working with! The best part is that the school's curriculum includes French class (French in Duluth? Who would have thought?), art, music, writing, phy ed, library time and, of course, the usual play time, snack time, recess, etc. I have hoped I'd be able to put my four semesters of French to use someday and this will be a great opportunity. I feel very humbled and somewhat undeserving of this awesome job opportunity, but I know that God very much led me to it and that I'll be successful as a loving and encouraging teacher only if I let him work through me.

Another exciting change this week is that last night I met up with a group of six women for our first weekly dinner-and-a-small-group small group. One of my sister-in-law's friends (Marissa) is co-leading it and we are discussing the book Beautiful Womanhood. It's really great to have one definite night a week set aside to just be with women (some younger, some older), have fun, eat dinner and encourage each other in our marriages. Up until this week I hadn't met any of them except Marissa, but I can tell it's going to be a great opportunity to start some strong friendships. I think there is the possibility that a couple/few more women will be there next week, so it will be fun to see who else shows up.

Lastly, we're eager to see some family and friends this weekend and next as:
  • Natalie comes to visit Duluth this weekend while Peter heads to the Brule for both his first steelheading venture of the season and the last weekend of the stream trout season.
  • We cheer on Joey for the Andover Huskies' biggest game of the year against Champlin Park.
  • We celebrate the marriage of former co-worker Mindy and her fiancĂ© Jimmy.
  • We celebrate my niece Raina's 7th birthday (How is she already 7?).
Okay, that's about all for now. This update covers much of the briefly mentioned topics in the past couple blog posts. Below are a few photos from a day trip Peter and I took last weekend canoeing part of the Brule River in Wisconsin. It was a fun day with sunny, "warm" weather, and we were able to see Cedar Island (my favorite part), an estate built in the late 1800s that was visited by fly-fishing presidents Hoover, Eisenhower and Coolidge. It's really beautiful and still well-kept.

See some of you soon!

Miss Justine (my new name as of Monday)

"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." (John 7:38)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

JAMmin' with Justine

Okay, so maybe the title is a little over-the-top, unnecessary even. But I can't help myself, the alliteration makes it just so catchy and, dare I say, punny? Alright, I'm done. I'm still alive and living well in Duluth--if there's even anyone on the other side of this screen to wonder. Time is flying by and autumn is creeping up on us here in the Northland. The colors are already starting to turn colors of bright red, orange and yellow, which, in combination with the crisp morning air, is making me somewhat nostalgic for school. Not so much college school, more so...second grade school.

Anyway, I am really eager for the fall here in Duluth. We already have much planned the next month or so. A weekend visit from best friend and ex-roommate Natalie is not too far off, little brother-in-law Joey's biggest football game of the year, a wedding celebration for my former co-worker Mindy, a visit to brother-in-law John at Michigan Tech in Houghton, MI with sister-in-law Lindsey, a visit from my mother and sister Laura and, of course, Halloween will be here before long. Peter and I were going to try to cheap it and go as Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova, but now I am thinking that might be a) lame and b) cold. We could at least try to pull off Venus and Serena, right? Maybe not. I guess we need to find a reason to dress up first, unless we just plan on trying to blend in with the children.

I am really getting off track here. So the past few weeks are kind of a blur, but they've been enjoyable nonetheless. Near the end of August Peter and I attended his unofficial company picnic. I was caught off guard when Peter's 60-something-year-old computer station buddy asked me whether the food on my plate was compliant with my PKU diet. "Are you supposed to be eating pasta? Doesn't that have protein? There's a lot of fruit for you over there. Maybe there's an insulin-like shot you can take for that, have you looked?" He was certainly a charismatic old man and it was good to finally meet him after all the "talk-up" from Peter. I also made my first batch of homemade jam, which was as successful as my first attempt could be. It tastes really great! I'm not sure if the texture is exactly how it's meant to be, but I'll get more familiar as I get more experience I suppose.

The same weekend I made the jam Peter and I took a short one-night camping trip at Eckbeck Campground near the town of Finland. We did a little hiking in Tettegouche State Park and tried to make a meal before the rain could put out our fire. We cut our stay short because the weather was hindering our enjoyment, but it was still a fun time away from home.

This same weekend my parents also stopped for their first visit to our new place in Duluth. We got lunch with them at Fitgers Brewhouse, visited some of the shops, drove them to Hawk's Ridge lookout (where we were apparently interrupting a very important birdwatching session) and got treats from THE Malt Shop on the Lakewalk. It was really fun to see them and spend time with them. They seemed to really like the area (horrible roads set aside).

This past weekend Peter and I headed down to Minneapolis for the first time since the wedding and visited his parents for a day, went to the State Fair with Natalie and Joe and stayed at their new place, visited Hope and made some wedding gift exchanges. Oh, and we made a quick stop at Ikea to pick up chairs for our kitchen nook. Complete chaos (move-in weekend for the U of M). Those are the major events for us over the past month, but there have been so many other new, exciting, fun and, yes, challenging things that we've been experiencing. It's a slow transition to a new area and we are eager to get even more connected and meet more people. And of course, staying optimistic about the job search is sometimes tough. But there's something waiting for me and I've finally decided it might not be such a bad thing to get a temporary job at a coffee shop or someplace in town for the time being. I'd get to meet people at least and everyone gets really excited when they hear we are new to Duluth.

Since this entry has become extremely long, I'm going to stop where I am at. Hopefully this keeps some of you up-to-date with what we're up to. I do hope to include more thought-provoking stuff here soon, it's hard to take the time to document all the little things that happen throughout the week or anything I feel like writing. Lastly, "little things" has become one of those overused and sometimes obscure phrases for me as of recent. My goal is to use it less and be more specific in my speech.

To be continued... (cliff hanger)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Meet the Blakes

Peter and I are finally married and getting settled down in Duluth after our honeymoon in Bayfield, Wisconsin. Because we're a few hours from most of our family and friends, I thought I'd share some pictures and short tidbits to give some insight into our new life we're sharing together. Now that the honeymoon has been over for almost two weeks (not quite), Peter's been back working and I've been trying to organize and settle things into our house (having a completely wide open schedule makes it hard to get motivated, strangely enough), work on shower and wedding thank yous, as well as look for a job. We're also trying to get connected with the Duluth community so we can establish a social circle (?). In the meantime, it's been really nice having Peter's brother and sister-in-law so close (although John just went back to school in Michigan this past weekend). So, first off, here's a link to the Flickr site where our wedding photos are posted. As of now, they aren't all posted, but take a look if you want, people keep asking about them. Below are some additional photos from our honeymoon. More to come on our new life in the Northland. On a sidenote, I think I'm already developing a thicker Minnesota accent. "Ya!" seems to become a bigger part of my vocabulary every day here.

First, you must meet the newest member of our family: Diane. She is the GPS "navigator" that accompanied us on our honeymoon and now guides me through the unfamiliar streets of Duluth. Peter and I immediately developed a bittersweet relationship with Diane, as she almost always accurately leads us to where we want to go but often in an overly persistent, almost bossy, manner. We're learning to love her for her faults though, because we would literally be lost without her.

This is my first time having to sign "Justine Blake," on the second full day of our honeymoon, before we set out on a kayaking day trip out to the sea caves on the South Shore. It was beautiful, but windy day, so the trip back to shore was a little slow-moving. Definitely worth it though!

Getting ready to leave shore. There's Peter with our teal kayak. He makes that wet suit look good, huh?

I think we were about to paddle through an arch in this picture. Our guide tried to boost everyone's self-esteem by giving enthusiastic encouragement and praise.

On the ferry out to Madeline Island to do some tandem biking (our team-building exercise for the day), exploring and eating. We walked around, biked out to Big Bay State Park, biked back, got some cheese curds and drinks and decided to head back to Bayfield for dinner where there were more restaurants to choose from.

Big Bay State Park. Great view from a little lookout at the entrance of the campground.

Our last night of the trip, we decided to go camping. It was hard to find an open campground that we liked, so we drove back on a very long and extremely bumpy road to find ourselves near the top of the sea caves. We pitched our tent near where we parked the car and had a five-minute walk to the lookout over Lake Superior and the distant North Shore horizon.

The view below our little lookout. Very cool and peaceful.

We went berry picking our last day in Bayfield, so we could store some blueberries and raspberries for jam, baking & eating back home.

That's a little bit of what we've been up to the past few weeks, or through the honeymoon anyway. More posts to come, but not necessarily all "life updates."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

I thought I would share something I read today:

It isn't the thing you do, dear,
It's the thing you leave undone,
That gives you the bitter heartache
At the setting of the sun;
The tender word unspoken,
The letter you did not write,
The flower you might have sent, dear,
Are your haunting ghosts at night.

The stone you might have lifted
Out of your brother's way,
The bit of heartfelt counsel
You were hurried too much to say;
The loving touch of the hand, dear,
The gentle and winsome tone,
That you had no time or thought for,
With troubles enough of your own.

These little acts of kindness, 
So easily out of mind,
These chances to be angels,
Which even mortals find--
They come in night of silence
To take away the grief
When hope is faint and feeble
And a drought has stopped belief.

For life is all too short, dear.
And sorrow is all too great, 
To allow our slow compassion
That tarries until too late.
And it's not the thing you do, dear, 
It's the thing you leave undone,
That gives you the bitter heartache,
At the setting of the sun.

-Adelaide Proctor