Monday, December 29, 2008
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Friday, December 19, 2008
In front of the stoor, as is so common this time of year, was a Salvation Army employee ringing a bell, asking for donations. And on the street corner was a homeless man, with a sign that said: "Homeless veteran. Anything helps. God bless." And I wondered...how ironic it seemed that the Salvation Army employee stood not forty feet from the homeless veteran, that people were giving money to the employee, that the homeless man continued to be avoided.
I am not in any way doubting the good things that the Salvation Army does in our community, as in many others around the country. I just found it odd.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
So the other day, my friend Sarah asked me to go with her to David's Bridal to look at gowns for her wedding. I agreed because it's becoming something that I enjoy and that I'm knowledgeable about.
Anyway, the bridal consultant was busy helping someone else and joked around with me about doing her job for her. I joked back, asking if they were hiring. "Yes, we are," she told me. "And you should get an application." I went to the front and got an application and was planning to take it home, and with exams and everything going on right now, I figured, I might get around to this. Besides, what good would an employee discount do me at David's? (actually that thought didn't cross my mind at the time). Anyway, the lady stopped me and told me to fill it out while I was still in the store and went to get the assistant manager, who promptly asked me when the soonest was I could come in for an interview. So, the following day I had an interview with the manager, who asked me two questions and then talked about job duties and my "future at David's Bridal."
I go in to observe on Saturday and then I start training on Sunday. Wow. Who would've thought that I would be a bridal consultant at 20? But apparently I did something right that day because the whole store is talking about me. Lovely.
It's a job and I am so blessed to have found one that will work with my schedule next semester. I'm kind of excited and a little nervous too.
Friday, November 28, 2008
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be, so that you can act without fear and in total confidence of His power.
May you be confident knowing you are a child of God.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
But this weekend, she surprised me. We were in the Outer Banks together and I had gone to take a shower in our suite. When I returned, there was a note card and a small box on my pillow. I knew what the notecard was going to say because I had helped her type the poems for all six of them and print them up. She was then going to hand-write notes to each girl, asking them to be a bridesmaid in her wedding. So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened the card, read the poem, and where I had typed it to say "Will you be my bridesmaid?" at the bottom, it instead said, "Will you be my Maid of Honor?" I just sat there at first and the first thing I said to her was: "You typed up a whole other card." She just laughed. I was so shocked and so honored to be asked to play the biggest role in her wedding party. And of course, I accepted.
(Oh, and we had a lovely time in the Outer Banks).
Thursday, October 16, 2008
"No, I do not," replied Whitfield.
"Why is that?" the reporter probed, surprised.
Whitfield answered, "Because I believe that John Wesley will be so close to the bosom of God that we will not be able to see him for all the surrounding glory."
Saturday, October 11, 2008
And I realized yesterday that my expectations of other people in this way stems from the fact that I don't completely trust God. I don't trust Him to be in control. I don't trust Him to take care of me. I don't trust Him to be good. I don't trust Him to...be God. So, I decided that that's not okay. (I know, I know I'm brilliant).
I am trying to live in the core truth that God is good and that His plan is perfect, whatever that means for my life right now.
Whatever You're doing inside of me,
It feels like chaos but somehow there's peace.
And though it's hard to surrender to what I can't see,
I'm giving in to something Heavenly.
Whatever You're doing inside of me,
It feels like chaos but I believe
You're up to something bigger than me,
Larger than life, something heavenly.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
I recently quit my job as an RA, which also means that I no longer sit on about five Departmental committees. It also means that I am not on the Exec Board of the RA Association. Obviously, the Department is trying to fill a gap because they are missing a staff member, but for some reason it hurts when I feel like they are just flippantly asking whoever comes to mind first if they'd like my job. I'd like to think that I was better at my job than the typical joe-schmoe.
My guess is that my need to feel irreplaceable is deeply rooted in my insecurity about my worth and whether or not I am good enough. It's an interesting revelation that at 20 I question monumental things like this. Shouldn't I be certain by now that I am worth something? That I am valued? Why is such an elementary idea so difficult for me to grasp?
And unfortunately, I don't just feel like this in my job. I feel like this in many areas of my life and it bothers me that I question in relationships if people could replace me with someone they liked better. Shouldn't I trust my friends and family and community more than that? Shouldn't I understand their love isn't going to just vanish?
Yeah, I don't know.
1. I've come to realize that my hair...does not want to be straight or flat, regardless of how long I work on it in the mornings.
2. I've come to realize that my legs...appreciate high heels less than I thought.
3. I've come to realize that my job...became my identity.
4. I've come to realize that when I'm…becoming increasingly more relational the longer I'm in college.
5. I've come to realize that I need...to be around people.
6. I've come to realize that I have lost...my ability to keep people at arm's length for fear of getting hurt.
7. I've come to realize that I hate it when…people aren't listening to me.
8. I've come to realize that if I'm drunk…I can't answer this one, sorry.
9. I've come to realize that money...is easier to give away the more I understand that it isn't mine to begin with!
10. I've come to realize that people...aren't all going to leave; people will stay and they'll walk beside you.
11. I've come to realize that I'll always…believe that I can change the world.
12. I've come to realize that my significant other…will come along in God's perfect timing.
13. I've come to realize that my mom...does the best she can and loves me more than I know.
14. I've come to realize that my cell phone...is worth going back for even if I'm already running late.
15. I've come to realize that when I woke up this morning I…wasn't sure I wanted to face another day.
16. I've come to realize last night before I went to sleep…the world keeps turning and each day is a fresh start.
17. I've come to realize right now I am thinking about ...how much I want to accomplish as I grow up.
19. I've come to realize that when I get on Myspace…I am creeped out and almost immediately log out.
20. I've come to realize that today...I'm where I'm called to be, for good or bad.
21. I've come to realize that tonight...I'm still sleeping poorly (clearly, since I'm blogging well past midnight and have been up since 7am).
22. I've come to realize that tomorrow...is another opportunity to be used by God to further his kingdom- NOT mine.
23. I've come to realize that I really want to…grow up and be a mommy.
24. I've come to realize that life...is a journey and there is joy all along the way!
25. I've come to realize that my friends…aren't giving up or going away.
26. I've come to realize this year... has been crazy but I'll look back on it in the future and be amazed at the things God brought me through.
I'm not tagging people 'cause it's doubtful many people read this anymore.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
BUT, I quit my job this past Friday, for a number of reasons. So tonight when someone came to me with a monumental problem, you'd think protocol and resources would be jumping out at me, that what had been drilled into my head at every training opportunity would come naturally tonight. Well, friends, it didn't.
I stumbled through advice. I hestitated to make a decision. I had more questions than answers. I felt more alone in dealing with this situation than I have in a while. And after calling a couple people, I knew what I had to do: bow out. This wasn't a good time for me to handle this and there were plenty of other people around to help, so what was I doing? I know that at this point in my life, the stress and anxiety of everything that's going on is almost more than I can bear on a daily basis, and here I was trying to take on someone else's needs too.
So, after being given "permission" (or orders, whatever) to pass the buck to someone else, I did. And I learned an important lesson: that bowing out isn't selfish, sometimes it's selfless, because you know your limits well enough to know that you could end up doing more harm than good; and it means giving others an opportunity to come around this person and love and support them.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
This is Waldo.
This is Emerson.
And Squirt, the littlest one, was hiding from the camera. They're so fun. They swim all around and wrestle with each other and kick and hit each other and climb up on the rocks. I'm more attached to these reptiles than I thought I would be-- though I'm still a very big dog (and cat...ish) person.
Monday, August 25, 2008
But as I go to classes and hear the same speeches about class expectations, rules, academic integrity, assignment policies, blah blah blah blah, over and over again, I find myself bored, wishing I was finished with college. And as my RA job sometimes feels more like babysitting and crowd control than valuable experience and mentoring, I find myself frustrated. And as I feel like there aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done that everyone expects me to do, I find myself feeling like a failure, like I'm letting people down. And as I spend time with friends, who will graduate in December or in May, leaving me alone for my senior year, I find myself wishing time would stop right in its tracks.
But today a professor said: "Enjoy this time. It's the best four years of your life."
Here's the thing. This better not be the best four years of my life. Not because I don't love college. I do. I love almost everything about it. But my philosophy is that if my life is not getting (overall) progressively better as the years go by, I'm doing something wrong. When I leave college, I shouldn't then have ahead of me fifty years of letdowns, of wishing I could just be in college again. That isn't to say that life will be a breeze or that there won't be hard times, but I feel like if I'm miserable or upset about something as I go through life, I should work to fix it. I want to be in control of my "destiny" so to speak. I can choose to be happy or choose to spend the rest of my life lamenting about how college was the best four years of my life. I want the former.
Life should get better, not level off or get worse. College shouldn't be it. It should just be another springboard to get to where I want to go.
Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be. -Abraham Lincoln
Friday, August 08, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
My response wasn't a cry of agony or a groan of pain. I looked Laura Jo square in the eye, and said indignantly, "Your dumbell didn't move when I kicked it!"
"Gee, Linds, it's an eight-pound weight. What'd you expect?"
"I dunno. It's light green and cute and pretty. I just figured it would float away when I kicked it."
And then there was lots of laughing and realizing the insanity of all that had just happened.
Monday, August 04, 2008
There’s a quote: “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” Let’s be honest, I never had plans to murder him. But there were times when I sure thought I had it in me. But murder only makes me feel less threatened. It doesn’t bring true closure and in the end, it only hurts more people. Forgiveness fully liberates me from having this define me. It has shaped me, to be sure. I will never be the same person I would have been had I not gone through all of this. But I’ve learned a lot and grown so much from all of this. That’s not to say it isn’t painful almost on a daily, if not hourly, basis. Forgiveness is harder than murder. It takes more strength, more drive, more emotion. It forces me to relive what I went through, to accept that what happened cannot be undone, and to love myself in spite of all of the trauma, and to know that I am worthy of love as well.
I spent almost four years believing that I was at fault for what happened. That I could have screamed louder, said “no” more times, fought him off, etc etc etc. But the truth is that, regardless of whether that would have stopped the abuse or lessened it, I am still not to blame for what happened. But coming out of that mindset was hard… and it led into something equally as difficult to move past: being a victim. I hated being a victim, because I felt labeled and defined. I began to conclude that I would never be able to be close to anyone because I was so afraid of having their trust violated, or of being hurt physically and emotionally.
I had been held captive for so long. I was a prisoner to my rage, a captive to my bitterness, and enslaved by the feeling of being worthless because of what had happened to me. And forgiveness—not murder, not isolation, not fear, not anger—could open the prison doors for me. It’s ironic to me that while I spent four long years wanting this guy to go to prison for what he had done, I had in fact been behind the cell doors myself.
I’ve spent too long being captive to something that caused enough pain to begin with. The grudge I was holding and the bitterness I felt was about power—because victims feel powerless. It was about me saying that I could forgive on my terms, unlike the abuse, which was on his terms. But that’s so contrary to what Jesus demonstrates on the cross, when, as He’s being crucified, He is praying that God would forgive them/us for they/we do not know what they/we are doing. What a beautiful model of perfect forgiveness.
I’m still on the road to fully forgiving the guy and myself. It’s a daily process, and one that will take many years. I’ll probably never hear him say “I’m sorry.” I’ll probably never get to see whether or not he is remorseful in any way. I’ll likely never watch him being led off in handcuffs to jail. And one day, I’ll be okay with that.
I will never forget when my pastor told a story at church about a small group that he and his good friends were in during high school. The guy who led the small group was a pastor and claimed a lot of outlandish things. My pastor found out later that a couple of his friends were being sexually abused by this pastor. He also said that after years of bitterness and rage, he finally forgave the guy and he even said he wanted the guy to go to Heaven.
I’m not going to lie, that’s hard for me to swallow. And I told my pastor that. And he smiled and said that we could talk about it... and that I'd get there too, one day. I am very justice-minded. Laura Jo is forever telling me that my passion is justice. And in some ways, that’s accurate. I like to be justified in what I do; I like for other people to be justified as well. And it was no different with my own story: I needed God to justify to me what happened.
In my mind, God created me and He created the man who would abuse me, knowing full-well that it would happen. So I have spent years wrestling with God about why He didn’t just not create one of us. I was putting God on trial, basically. I was trying to get Him to explain his rationale, to tell me, with all my finite understanding, why He would create both of us and why He would not stop the abuse while it was happening.
Mac, the main character in the book The Shack, (which if you haven’t read, you must!), wrestles with almost an identical set of questions. In fact at one point, Mac says to God: “How are you going to justify what happened?” after his daughter was murdered.
And God says to Mac: “I have not come to justify it. I have come to redeem it.” How much greater is redemption, O Reader, than justification? Justification levels the playing field. Redemption brings it full circle, heals the wounds, and builds a foundation for the future. It also glorifies God.
And so even though it’s hard for me, to this day, to pray for my enemies and bless those who curse me, I try. And when I can’t find love and grace and forgiveness for this man, I pray for God’s love and grace and forgiveness to flow through me.
Monday, July 28, 2008
David Holthouse, a victim of child sex abuse, was once a man plotting murder, planning revenge. “I arrived at a point in my mind,” he says, “where it seemed to me that murder was entirely rational, justifiable, and even a morally responsible course of action.” That, my friends, is sanity. I should take a moment to clear up that what is right is not necessarily what is sane. What is legally acceptable is not necessarily the same as what is rational. We like to think that morality and legality are both synonymous with rationality and justifiability.
Let’s think for a moment about battered wives. Many of the women serving long-term or life sentences in the prison system were abused by their husbands until one day they couldn’t take it anymore, and whether in self-defense or out of the helpless feeling of being trapped in a dangerous situation, they killed their husbands. That’s rational. That’s almost justifiable in my mind. And it’s certainly sane. Insanity is staying in an abusive situation. Granted, that was not the best example, because for battered women there are safe houses and other programs available, though the women do not always see those as viable options.
But let’s get back to Mr. Holthouse. He was sexually victimized by an eighteen-year-old, when he was just seven. The perpetrator? The son of his (Holthouse’s) parents’ best friends. Holthouse never told a soul. He spent the rest of his childhood avoiding the guy.
Fast forward about twenty five years. He became a journalist and moved all around the country. While he was living in Denver, Colorado, his father called to tell him that the same guy, the one who abused him as a child, was living in Denver too. And he had a wife and kids. And so, quietly, and without leaving a trail, Holthouse began to make plans to have this guy murdered. There would be no motive to link it to him, because no one knew about the abuse. It seemed to be the perfect crime.
But, as fate—or whatever you’d like to call it—would have it, his mother found his childhood journal and figured out what happened. His plan was thwarted. Now, though, Holthouse was forced to confront the man he calls “The Bogey Man” instead of just doing away with him.
Let’s stop right here. It seems to me that when you do something wrong, you ought to feel some guilt, some remorse, some negative emotion as the smallest of consequences for your actions. Perpetrators have a conscience too, right? Why is it that while a victim is racked with guilt, shame and emotional trauma for years on end, the perpetrator goes on to have a family, lead a productive life? Or worse, offend again?
Being a child and being victimized instantly makes the crime unlike any other. Child victims are different from other victims for multiple reasons. First of all, the adults around them do not always believe them, so the child quickly feels isolated. Second, if the case even gets to court, the child is often considered an unreliable witness, prone to mixing up facts or getting easily confused by the cross-examiner. Third, and most importantly, the child will likely never come forward because the perpetrator is in some position of power or authority: a parent, an older relative, a teacher, a coach, etc. The perpetrator’s abuse the trust and authority they hold with the child/teenager, and not only is that ability to trust any other person altered, but there is fear of what sort of “retaliation” could come as a result of telling someone about what happened. There are, as with most other victims, also negative emotions involved, such as guilt, fear, and shame, and often those are so burdensome that the child may feel at fault for what happened and be unable to see the truth and do something about it.
Holthouse often tells other victims of child sex abuse: “Not only do you have the right, but arguably, you have the obligation to exact some form of revenge on the person who sexually assaulted you when you were a kid.” Why? Because you know a predator. Although I still do not condone murder or any other form of revenge, I can certainly sympathize with this. There were many days when I was sure that the only way I could ever move forward with my life was to see the permanent incapacitation of my abuser. I wanted him to suffer. I wanted him to regret what he had done. I wanted him to spend time in jail or feel remorse… Something, anything, to even partially compare to the trauma I had experienced at his hands.
I was sixteen when I was sexually abused for a series of days by a man. Until I had become a victim, I didn’t understand the power of hate. I didn’t understand how passionate rage could drive you to feel so out of control. I didn’t know what it felt like to want deeply to see someone else’s pain come full-force and want to witness their suffering.
Again, I’m not in any way excusing people who kill. But I am also not about to say I haven’t been in a place where I was sure that the only way I could move forward in life was to hurt the person who hurt me. That’s sanity. And sure, what is sane is not actually “right,” but it makes perfect sense if you follow basic human reasoning. The best way to ensure the hurt never happens again is to eliminate the source... the source of so much pain, physically and emotionally in my life, the source that has forever affected who I am and who I will become.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
I have acted out
I have questioned Sovereignty
And had my share of doubt
And though sometimes my prayers feel like
They're bouncing off the sky
The hand I hold won't let me go
And is the reason why...
I will stumble
I will fall down
But I will not be moved
I will make mistakes
I will face heartache
But I will not be moved
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
I will not be moved
Bitterness has plagued my heart
Many times before
My life has been like broken glass
And I have kept the score
Of all my shattered dreams
And though it seemed
That I was far too gone
My brokenness helped me to see
It's grace I'm standing on
I will stumble
I will fall down
But I will not be moved
I will make mistakes
I will face heartache
But I will not be moved
On Christ the Solid Rock I stand
All other ground is sinking sand
I will not be moved
And the chaos in my life
Has been a badge I've worn
Though I have been torn
I will not be moved
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want
Than take what You give that I need.
And I’ve beat my head against so many walls,
Now I’m falling down. I’m falling on my knees.
I have always struggled with surrender. I don’t want to lose control, even if I know that God being in control is far better than me. It’s like that line in the Casting Crowns song: “Just how close can I get, Lord, to my surrender without losing all control?” I would begin to give God control over small aspects of my life that I felt like were “destined” to go well, but when He would demand control over the more scary things, like my future, or a relationship, I would fight Him for it.
Last Sunday, after Laura Jo and I had hung out, and said goodbye, I was heading back to Raleigh with a heavy heart. I wanted desperately to be in Greensboro because I associate Raleigh with negative emotions, with hurt, etc. I wanted to stay. I didn’t want to go home, and I admitted that aloud. As I was driving home it started to rain. And then I started crying. And then I started praying out loud. I looked up and I heard God ask once more for control. I knew that giving control wouldn’t make everything happy and wouldn’t solve my problems, but it would simplify them. Not because they would become fewer in number but because my desire to “fix” everything and everyone, including myself, would lessen. I relinquished control on I-40 and something has changed this week. I am freer than I ever imagined possible. I think I understand now that verse that says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Somehow I’ve always viewed the idea of giving up control as becoming apathetic. It’s quite the opposite, though. I haven’t stopped caring about the things or people in my life, in fact I care so much about them that I know I must release my desire to control them in order to love them well. When I live under the assumption, or when other people believe, that me being in control is healthy and ultimately good, we’re fooling ourselves.
I also realize now that I was my own false infinite. You know how people are always saying, “He alone is God?” I always think of that in terms of idols, like a golden calf, but I was my own God in a lot of ways, and my own false infinite. Although surrender isn’t natural for me, I truly have traveled down enough other roads and seen the ultimate destruction they lead to. And I know where true life is found.
And the surrender thing? It’s a daily prayer. I didn’t just pray it once on the interstate last Sunday. I pray it daily, because daily I am tempted to take back control over things when they seem hard.
And my guess is that that innate reaction is born out of a lack of trust in God. But that’s a whole other post.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
I don't know if it's a general inability to handle change, loss and abandonment, or a result of experience, or just a genetic, inherent character flaw, but I deal horribly when people decide to "leave." In fact, I often will unconsciously distance myself emotionally from people if I forsee that they will leave. And my freshman year of college, when I began to form close friendships, (when my intention was to keep my distance so that, at the risk of being lonely, I couldn't be hurt), I would make my friends promise that they wouldn't "leave" until I got to see them again.
So I've been reminded again that the unfortunate reality of college is that people are all in different stages of life-- whether they're just older than I am and graduate and get real jobs sooner, or whether they transfer out, or whether I work with/for them and they find another job somewhere else-- and I will have to choose in the next two years to continue to form relationships and be real with people, even though I may end up feeling hurt when those relationships change or end, through no fault of anyone.
After tears and long conversations last night, I'm feeling at least a little better about people leaving. But with each person, the sadness is reopened and revisited, although I couldn't be happier for these people as they discover passions and pursue dreams; I guess that's part of love too. Being so happy for someone because that's what they want and so sad that you have to say goodbye.
Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Monday, June 30, 2008
Even if you're not in a place where you're struggling with where God is in the middle of the pain we see all around us, you should still read this book. It's not written in a sermon or intellectual-type style. It's a story about one man's struggle to reconnect with God after he has been wounded by unspeakable pain and heartache. It's the story of his encounter and subsequent dialogue with God.
I'm telling you, read this book. You won't regret it. In fact, you'll be recommending it to everyone you know.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Friday, June 13, 2008
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
Sunday, June 01, 2008
So, when mom moved in with Jennie when I was eight and a half or so, I was afraid (and I'm talking terrified, won't go anywhere near...) dogs. And Jennie had two-- an English setter, which is a medium sized dog, named Finney and a Yorkie (a small, yappy dog) named Max. Max and I quickly became inseparable. He followed me around, slept in my bed, lay with me while I did homework, etc.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Friday, May 30, 2008
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
Monday, May 12, 2008
Emotion is a God-given gift. And I think it's so important to validate people's feelings in situations, because it helps them feel understood and ... well... (for lack of a new and different word) validated.
Recently, I've been going through something that's thrown me for a loop, to be cliche and put it gently. I'm frustrated, I'm confused, I'm scared (I'm using commas instead of periods or semi-colons), and I'm angry. Someone asked me the other day how God and I were doing in all of this... mess... so to speak. My response was: "There's a country artist that put it best: I can't seem to talk to God without yelling anymore." This person was taken aback that I would even dream of yelling at God. Here's the thing, if God's not big enough to handle my emotion in the midst of a really trying time, He's not a very big God.
This person just kept telling me that it was all going to be okay. And that I shouldn't worry. Here's the thing. One, I'm worried. Too bad. And two, yes, it will be okay, but the only time we can be certain it will be okay is when we get to Heaven. There aren't guarantees of anything being "okay" on earth.
Okay, once again, don't get me wrong. I know that people mean well, and are probably trying to encourage me, but what I guess what I feel would be more appropriate is love and validation, understand that me feeling like I need to yell at God because I'm angry doesn't make me a heathen, a bad Christian, or even all that far from normal. I'm pretty sure that makes me human-- someone struggling with the messiness of the world. Rather than offering trite solutions to my problems or tsk-ing because I'm frustrated with God and the situation, maybe love me, meet me where I am, and try to understand what I'm feeling. I can quote the Bible just as well as anyone else, and I can offer up scripture for many situations, but sometimes I think people just want to be listened, not told that they shouldn't feel that way or that if they had more faith they would feel differently.
Okay. Rant's over.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
Greg talked today about LOVE. This wasn't a big surprise, since the sermon series right now is on 1 Corinthians 13. It was a really good sermon. He talked a lot about unconditional love, and how it's odd that we desire, crave, long for, and need it since we've never experienced it here on earth. Why, then, do we want so badly to find it? Because, he said, God hard-wired our DNA to crave unconditional love. We're like beached whales, he explained, because we were made to be surrounded constantly with unconditional love, like whales are made to swim in water. But, when whales are beached, and as we often find ourselves here on earth, we continue to make the same motions we do when we're in "water," but it just looks awkward and it ends up leading to our demise instead. That's the way I feel a lot, like there is something I will never fully attain here on earth and I'm just waiting for the day that it is fully realized, like Paul talks about.
Greg talked about how we often look for other things-- be they relationships, work, success, money, looks, etc-- to fill the void we feel because we long for unconditional love. He said it's like being in an airplane and seeing the pretty, fluffy clouds and jumping out of the airplane to see if the clouds are heavenly trampolines. They're not. They're just water vapor and we'll fall right through. That's the way it is when we try to fulfill the needs we have with earthly things, with "false infinites." They're unsatisfying, in the end. But there is hope in the promise of Heaven, and the goodness of God.
I also really liked (and this is a sidenote), Greg's explanation for the verse that says, "And these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." I've always wondered what about love made it greater than the other two, and Greg explained that faith and hope are things that we only need for our temporary time here on earth. We won't need faith when we're face to face with Jesus and we won't need hope because all of the perfection of God and the beauty of eternity will be laid out before us. But love, we will be drowning in love. A perfect love. Jonathan Edwards, Great Awakening author of "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," wrote that "Heaven is a world of love." Simply put. Wow.
"All the suffering in the world is as one bad night in a hotel from the perspective of heaven."
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
So tired from walking
And Lord I'm so alone
And Lord the dark
Is creeping in
To swallow me
I think I'll stop
Rest here a while
And didn't You see me cry'n?
And didn't You hear me call Your name?
Wasn't it You I gave my heart to?
I wish You'd remember
Where you sat it down
And this is all that I can say right now
And this is all that I can give
I didn't notice You were standing here
I didn't know that
That was You holding me
I didn't notice You were cry'n too
I didn't know that
That was You washing my feet
-David Crowder Band, "All I Can Say"
Thursday, April 24, 2008
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies
Or being hated, don't give way to hating
And yet don't look too good, nor talk to wise
If you can dream-- and not make dreams your master
If you can think-- and not make thoughts your aim
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on."
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue
Or walk with kings-- nor lose the common touch
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you
If all men count with you, but none too much
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it
And-- what is more-- you'll be a man, my son.
Friday, April 18, 2008
About a month ago, I went to Greene Street, a club. I didn't drink and I don't plan to before I am twenty-one. I didn't do anything that I ought to feel guilty about, but people in IV have let me know how "displeased" they are that I was even there in the first place... I get that I'm not suppoesd to be "of this world," but it's not the same thing.
We talked in our small group about coffee (I promise this relates) the other day, about how if someone's never tried coffee before and you invite them to try it, you'll either give them an iced coffee or some hot rich blend. You don't give them lukewarm, room temperature coffee. Right? Right. We all know that iced coffee is good. Hot coffee is good, but the stuff in the middle is terrible, and we don't wnat someone to be completely turned off to coffee just because of one bad experience, so we want their first experience to be good. It's the same way with Christianity, we discussed. We need to be passionate about what we believe, because the completely worldly side looks pretty good too. It's the people in the middle, who call themselves Christians but hurt others so deeply that turn people off to it. The hypocrites, the liars, etc who say they are Christians make it difficult for people to give Christianity a second thought.
But, I argued, because the whole issue with IV is still fresh in my mind, we can't be scalding hot. We'll just burn people that way. We have to admit that we are weak, sinful and self-consumed. We have to admit we are broken, and in need of a savior. I think that's my frustration. That people around me talk to me, and probably to people not in IV, like they have it together, and don't commit "big sins."
Let me give one more example, and then I can be done. My friend (non-Christian) has been asking me questions about God and earnestly seeking answers. Then she made a bad decision with some serious consequences. And you know what? In both instances she talked to me. And I started thinking while she was talking to me about the choice she made... if I had made the same type of mistake with the same types of reprocussions, who would I turn to? And I wasn't sure if it would be a Christian or not... and that made me deeply sad.
Yes, we need to be passionate about God and our faith and stand firm in what we believe. BUT we cannot make our lives a long list of rules and regulations because we think that makes us a good person--- because we're all hypocrites if we believe that... the ones who think they're healthy don't ever go see the doctor. I want to be hot coffee, but not hot enough to burn the people around me.
Sunday, April 06, 2008
The one thing I have felt a longing for, this year especially, is to be so deeply passionate about something. I want a purpose, a drive, a calling, a sense of why I am alive. I want to be thoroughly excited about something... I feel like for a lot of people it's whatever lifestyle they choose. A lot of people are passionate about their jobs, their families, their mission field, etc... Some days I think I'm passionate about social work, about "working myself out of a job," but other days, I don't know exactly why I am getting a degree in social work.
My small group had a discussion last week at the end of our time about the three things we were passionate about. I didn't have three. In fact, I didn't have one at first...
Laura Jo says my passion is justice. That I have this sense of wanting people to be loved and well-cared for. That I want to see "on earth as it is in heaven" more of a reality... I don't know though. Sometimes I mix up justice and idealism, I confuse reality with false hope. I'm frustrated because I want my heart to be on fire for something in the Kingdom... I don't want to just sail through these days...
Thursday, April 03, 2008
"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed I have a beautiful inheritance.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
At your right hand are pleasures forevermore."
I like the phrases "secure," "not be shaken," "not abandon," "beautiful inheritance." THIS is the reality, and even though my feelings are valid, God's not off his throne, He hasn't and won't abandon me, and His plan is divine and perfect... so upheaval can only be at most, temporary and earthly. That may not be any great revelation for you, O Reader, but it was for me.
Monday, March 31, 2008
All the angels sing in Heaven
In Your temple all that I seek
Is to glimpse Your holy presence
All the heavens could not hold You, Lord
How much less to dwell in me?
I can only make my one desire
Holding on to Thee
All the angels exalt You on high
What a kingdom to depart!
But You left Your throne in the sky
Just to live inside my heart
All the heavens could not hold You, Lord
How much less to dwell in me?
I can only make my one desire
Holding on to Thee
I will always make my one desire
Holding on to Thee
"All the Heavens" by Third Day
Sunday, March 30, 2008
-The Taste for the Other: The Social and Ethical Thought of C.S. Lewis, by Gilbert Meilaender
Monday, March 24, 2008
I just thought that was funny.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
1) I have a HUGE (and I mean gigantic!) obsession with going to men's section department stores and basking in the beauty of...(drum roll please)... folded polo shirts stacked (neatly, of course) according to color. It makes me deeply satisfied for some weird reason. If they are slightly out-of-whack, I WILL fix them. In fact, Laura Jo has become accustomed to this obsession and subsequent need to rearrange them that she stops at the shelves and waits patiently for me to do what must be done.
2) I have a teddy bear named Brownie that I've had since I was born. I also have a mint-condition bear EXACTLY like him (minus 20 years of love and general wear-and-tear) that we found randomly at the PTA thrift store for $1. His name is Brownie 2 (for lack of a better name).
3) I don't like roller coasters. I never have. It's not the going down part, it's the going up part... and that stupid psychology term: availability heuristic, where people base their prediction of the frequency of an event or the proportion within a population based on how easily an example can be brought to mind. The only time I see a roller coaster on the news is when it's either crashed, gotten stuck or injured someone. No good.
4) I eat my pizza backwards. First, I eat the crust, then I turn it back around and eat from the tip to the larger end.
5) I am hopelessly afraid of three things: fire, car wrecks and falling down stairs.
6) I don't like movies where the animals are sad or hurt. Old Yeller is out, always, so is Benji, Bambi, Fox and the Hound, etc. I don't even like Homeward Bound just because Sassy falls down the waterfall, Chance goes to the pound, and Shadow falls in the hole. I don't even like the part in Aladdin when Jasmine scales the wall to escape the smothered life she lives in the palace and leaves Raja the tiger behind. Raja is so sad.
7) I don't like people to touch my neck. It's a weird quirk, but I really have issues with people touching my neck. Even if they are just gesturing like they're going to, I might freak out. Hug me. Fine. But don't touch my neck.
I tag: Emily J and KVP.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Lately, I just feel like my heart is divided, like I am trying to balance two different things. I don't know what is wrong with me.
Sorry I don't have anything more interesting to write about tonight.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Unexpectedly, I've seen God start to show me more about prayer. It was something that I've been consciously seeking, but it was something that I'm amazed by and excited about. There are a couple main ways that have really encouraged me. The first is leadership meetings. The way we are able to be vulnerable and pray for each other is really exciting, as our team continues to bond and grow together. I love it.
Today, after the second service of church (though I'm still not sure why I stayed all the way through since I stayed for first service and could have easily left after the announcements portion of second service), I had this urge to go talk to Greg. I didn't know what I was going to say but I went up, he hugged me and then asked how I was. All of the sudden there were words coming out of my mouth, as I heard myself say: "Could you pray with me before we leave today?" I don't do that. I'm not bold and I don't request random things of people that I'm not super-close to, or that I am unsure of how they will respond. And he was really excited about it. He asked if it would be okay if he let another woman, someone I don't know, pray with us. I didn't know what to say. But apparently there was a physiological response because Greg said, "From the way your body just tensed up, I'm guessing you're not comfortable with that yet. That's fine, we'll pray just the two of us." So after everyone left, we sat down and talked and prayed and talked and prayed. He has asked this other lady to sit quietly in the back of the sanctuary and pray for us while we prayed. She heard a lot of what I said and what Greg said and afterward, came up and talked with me, and said that she just wanted me to know that whatever she heard she took straight to the Lord. I was so comforted that that was her response and that this woman who didn't even know me would pray for me.
Then tonight, after leadership meeting, Nicole and I walked back to Phillips-Hawkins from across campus, and we took the long way. Why? Because we were doing a prayer walk. We prayed for many different things and it was such an encouragement to walk with her and pray for Intervarsity, for leadership team, for our campus, for our nation, our world and individuals by name.
And earlier this week I had a phone-date with Karen and we talked for over an hour, and at the end of it, I was driving somewhere, and she asked over the phone if she could pray for me. I said that she could and then I put her on speaker phone, laid the phone down and just drove while she prayed. It was a really different form of prayer, but it was just another way of God reminding me that even people I don't see on a regular basis are praying for me and the power of prayer stretches beyond what we can imagine.
"Pray continually and give thanks in all circumstances..."
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Thursday, March 06, 2008
"The crazy truth is that as much as we complain about it, we actually want to be seduced by busyness. But why do we love the killer? In part, it's because when we're busy, we don't have to think about important matters we prefer to avoid. Busyness enables us to quiet the voice of the deeper issues that trouble and haunt us. Plus busyness makes us feel important."
We love being in demand. I realize when I look at my daytimer, which is the one thing that ensures I stay organized and on top of my game, I frequently am concerned with the volume of activity that fills my days. My daytimer has three different types of calendars: months at a glance, where each day is listed with a line next to it, so you can write major events, a month spread where there are blocks you can add a few major things to, and then a day-by-day that breaks my days down into 15 minute increments. My friends have started realizing that if they want my time, they have to get scheduled in. That makes me really sad. It makes me sad that, as was the case last night, I couldn't fall asleep until after 4am, not because I had slept in or taken a nap or had an easy day... quite the contrary. I had had meetings, classes, or activities from 9am until 9pm, and then we had a massive "crisis" in the building with a fire alarm, smoke, and a forced relocation of students for a half hour to another building. I had run myself ragged sure, but my mind still had a hundred things to mull over before I could fall asleep.
"For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life?" -Matt. 16:26
I saw this All State commercial the other day, where they had people eating dinner or something in the middle of a highway. And the voice over said "Let's start treating people like they are in our homes, not in our way." It was talking about driving, but I realize that that is, sadly, my mindset a lot: that I have a hundred things to get done, and unless you're scheduled into my daytimer, I've got other things on my mind. My prayer recently has been that I would slow down and be blessed by the things that I see as in my way, that I would believe that God's love for and acceptance of me are not things I can earn, and that my worth and value are found in Him and not in what I can accomplish by adhering to a strict schedule and being productive.
"If I had set out to destroy my identity as a beloved child of God, I couldn't have done better than living in America at the start of the twenty-first century. The greatest threats I've encountered are not the arguments of skeptics or the lure of drink, drugs, or sex. The greatest threats are the constant busyness adn frantic hurry that demand my allegiance."
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Let me back up. I'm often saying that I wish people in InterVarsity were more "real" with each other; I have felt like we're really safe, as a whole, especially recently, and I desired for that to change.
So, what God's been teaching me recently is how to love who He created me to be, in all my messiness, struggles, emotions, etc. That's hard to learn, in fact He's clearly been trying to teach me this for a while. I wrote a poem in the last year called "Shattered but Satisfied" about the struggle to embrace your brokenness and grow and learn to love who you are, rather than putting on a facade and pretending to be someone you're not. I'm very guilty of pretending to have it together because I think everyone else has it together, so I need to too.
Anyway, I got up at IV and said that God had been teaching me that messiness is beautiful, that we are broken and that although we need His healing, His grace, His love, we also need to realize that our goal ought not to be to walk around pretending we've got it all figured out, but rather our goal ought to be to get comfortable enough with ourselves that we can wade into each other's messiness. That's the beauty of God's love flowing through us: we get to love others and jump down into the hole that they've fallen into-- not because we have the answers, but because we've been down there before. As Greg puts it, "I'm just a beggar showing another beggar where to find the food."
So, I got real. I shared very blatantly some of the messiness I've experienced and am still dealing with.
Would it set me free,
If I dared to let you see
The truth behind the person
That you imagine me to be?
Would your arms be open?
Or would you walk away?
Would the love of Jesus
Be enough to make you stay?
It was a really big leap, especially for me. I wanted people to see that I'm not the person I often appear to be-- I have some deep hurt in my life and some serious struggles. But that's beautiful. And the fact that there are people in my life already who are wading into that with me is a testiment to God''s love in them and the power of Christian community. But it was a big risk. It wasn't safe, so to speak.
But regardless, I felt freer than ever and I have continued to feel free-- free to not have it together, to not be super-human all the time.
Friday, February 15, 2008
‘But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you.' -Luke 6:27-31
We talked some about how revolutionary it would be if for example, we were robbed, and knowing who robbed us, we took something that they didn't steal and offered it to them in addition the things they had already stolen, rather than condemning them.
For me, though, the material possessions thing didn't really get to me all that much. It was the verse that says "Bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you." As I wrote in an earlier post, I have been struggling to understand forgiveness and maybe this goes along with it. So, I was talking through this with the girls in our small group and I said that it's hard for me to earnestly and honestly pray for someone who has truly wronged me, hurt me, etc. Laura Jo talked about that being a good time for Christian community to help pray for the wrong-doer as well as the wronged. And then I had this moment of understanding: not a standard to which we are held but a standard to which we are called.
I asked my small group what Jesus said on the cross and they thought of the moment when He says "My God, why have you forsaken me?" But I was thinking of the other moment (Luke 23:34) when He is literally being crucified. As Jesus is being nailed to the cross and people are casting lots for his clothing and sneering at him, mocking him, He says: "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."
So, too, are we called to pray for others, even when they are nailing us to a cross, so to speak. That's really hard for me to understand and harded to live out, but I have the perfect example in front of me that I can look to.
And I wonder, if instead of harboring anger, resentment, bitterness and despair, we were called to pray and stemming from that, to love and forgive... how different might the world begin to look?