Thursday, November 14, 2013

Life without Lane Lines

A large intersection down the street from the Seminary has been under construction for a few weeks. Last week they poured new asphalt and the street is nice and smooth. But there are no lane lines yet and suddenly a street with previously three lanes now has four! The first time I approached the intersection I almost ran a red light. I had no idea where to stop and, like a typical mother, my right hand instantly stretched out to protect my purse, as I just missed the traffic coming from the other direction. After I had calmed down and crossed the intersection safely I started thinking about how much I really like rules. I want to know where on the road I am supposed to drive and where the other people on the road are supposed to be.

This spills over to the rest of my life. I want to know what I am expected to do and when I am expected to do it. I want to know that others will follow the same rules I am trying to follow. In my mind this creates order and predictability, which I am very comfortable with. As a matter of fact, the people who really seem to not bother about rules, or make them up as they go, scare me a bit. I never know what they are going to do next.

However, the step from liking rules to being legalistic is very small. When I start measuring my success in how well I have kept the rules I have taken that step. Or, worse, when I start judging people according to how well they keep the rules I have come up with, I have really succumbed to full on legalism. Rules, in and of themselves, are benign. As a matter of fact they are there to provide guidance for us to live in society together. How I respond to my, or anybody else's ability to keep them is not.

Dr. Fred Chay from Phoenix Seminary has compiled a legalism self test. Here are a few highlights from his list of "You might be a legalist if...(condensed)

  • You feel you have to meet everyone's expectations and win the approval of others
  • God's love depends on what you do
  • You think you fall short because you didn't have enough faith, it's not strong enough, you haven't prayed enough, or you need to be a better person
  • You are convinced that God is predisposed to be angry with you, and that your goal in life is to keep Him happy by doing things that will impress Him
  • You worry that people might take advantage of grace if it is preached too much
  • You feel that your "superior commitment" to follow Christ allows you to be above others in your church

Scripture has the antidote: Live by the Spirit; walk by the Spirit; follow the Spirit; listen to the Spirit. Galatians 5:18 actually says, "But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law." Paul is referring to the Mosaic Law, but the point is that if we become so in tune to the Spirit that we don't need to worry about whether or not we are following the rules. The Spirit leads us in every circumstance to do the right thing.

One of my favorite verses has been Isaiah 30:2, "And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, 'This is the way, walk in it,' when you turn (deviate) to the right or when you turn (deviate) to the left." I want to learn how to live like that. Even when there are no lane lines.

Monday, October 14, 2013

On Why Being Called a Strong Woman Sometimes Bothers Me…

I get called a strong woman a lot. At first, I took it as a compliment. And I usually still do.  I am a strong and assertive female who knows what I want with my life. I take care of things. I put coolant in my car and change my furnace filters. I do on-the-fly plumbing and plan birthday parties and work and go to graduate school. I am a strong woman, but sometimes I feel like by using that is just a label that keeps people from knowing the true complexity of who I am.

First of all. All women who rely on the strength of the Lord do to whatever work God calls them to are strong. I am not strong simply because I choose to operate in a male dominated field. The stay at home mom is not weak because she doesn’t. That choice requires a level of strength I will never understand until I have children of my own. While it is true that my personality can be strong and my dreams are strong and my God is strong, I don’t want strong to be a new badge women use to start organizing ourselves into greater thans and less thans.

Another issue I have with being called a strong woman? The assumption that I am always strong. Coupled with the fact that I am an introvert who is unlikely to share lots of personal information, I often feel left dangling on the edge of a cliff. People assume that I am ok because I am strong and I clearly must have it figured out. I am strong, but sometimes I am also weak. Sometimes I am at a loss and I don’t know what to do but because I am “strong,” I don’t know how to ask for help.

A lot of that is on me. I am continually reminded how I need to be more open and vulnerable with people. I can’t really expect people to know when I am struggling if they don’t know me. But some of that is on other people, particularly women. In our desire to be strong (whatever that means for that particular woman), let us not allows our strength to keep us from having support when we are weak.

Let us not allow strength to become another label we hide behind. You can be strong but you are so much more than that. If you are strong, you can also feel free to be weak. Because we serve a God who is always strong and it doesn't get much better than that. 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Babble on in Babylon

This is the second time I have bumped into the following poem by a participant at a Beth Moore Daniel study. Hits me every time. It was worth sharing.

Babble on in Babylon

Brimming closets, shoe racks bulge,
one in every color, I’ll just indulge.
My wildest whim will oft be met, bigger, faster, give me, get.
Travel on in Babylon.

May I go first? Knew you’d not care,
for my time’s precious. You’ve lots to spare.
I’ll slip in front and off I’ll go.
See, I’m quite fast and well, you’re quite slow.
I and me fast friends, life-long.
Prattle on in Babylon.

Nip it here, just there a lift.
I just turned forty, it was a gift.
The eyes, the lips, the bosoms do,
sculptured, lasered, injected, too.
No wrinkles left, the tummy’s gone.
Journey on in Babylon.

Enough of me, how do you view me?
You get one, but give me three.
I couldn’t bare to just say no,
it’s my desire and rightly so.
Add another and on and on.
Shuffle on in Babylon.

No end in sight that I can see,
today is blocked by the mirror in front of me.
A wreck, a death, tsunami tide,
it mildly stirs me, I must confide.
TV claims tens of thousands gone.
Oh well, let’s see what else is on.
Numb to the stunning sight of each new dawn,
Sinking fast in Babylon.

Like a lobster in a pot
who begins to like the water hot,
I’ve been duped, been tricked, been had,
convinced that truth was somehow bad.
Evil, coddled and cooed and purred,
and beckoned me and called and lured.
Now in a place with the lights turned on,
I’m racing home from Babylon.
I’m racing home from Babylon.

--Lynn Parker

Taken from the video series in the study of Daniel. Thank you Beth Moore for speaking the truth and your study of God's word. Praying God's abundant blessing and protection on you, your family and ministry.
Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Post-Africa Reflections

The Congo Team
One of the things that I most enjoy about life is how in each season I often find myself drastically different than I was just previously. Sometimes the change is hard and sometimes the change is obvious, but more often than not, I suddenly look up and find that somewhere along the way I changed and I am not even sure how. There was no big moment or life crisis (although I have had plenty of those too). There are just slight changes of course and interactions with people both pleasant and troubling. Sometimes there are decisions you make without much thought. It is just a culmination of everyday things, some barely discernible.

While God has certainly worked in my life in big ways, I find that He tends to work in the minutiae of my life, changing my heart a little bit each day. As I sit and write this nearly a week after I have returned from Africa, I ponder His work in my life. I went into the trip expecting for my life to just implode. I expected that I would have some crisis of conscience where I would need to choose between academics and mission work. In spite of my best attempts to not have expectations of the trip, I found that I had certain ideas of how it would affect my life.

I thought I would put my feet on African soil and fall in love immediately. That didn’t happen. I thought I would spend a fair amount of time crying. I cried only once. I thought my life would be changed. But it didn’t really feel like it had. I worried that I wasn’t connecting to people like I should. I was worried that I was protecting my heart. I was worried that I hadn’t had some type of crisis where I evaluated every aspect of my life.

I returned to the U.S. and began to process. People asked me what the highlight was and I couldn’t answer. I hadn’t thought about it enough yet. Experiences don’t mean much to me until I figure out how they fit into my world. I had to think. I had to process.

I still have no highlight of the trip to offer people. There were certainly funny moments and overwhelming moments. There were moments of sadness and ones of joy. But that is life isn’t it? At the end of the day, there was nothing that special about the trip. I simply entered, thanks to God’s planning, into the daily life of my African brothers and sisters. The bombs and fighting are nothing special to them, it is just their life.

I remained perplexed about my reaction to the trip, but I also knew that I just had to let myself process. And yesterday, I had this moment where I looked up and realized that I am vastly different than the person I was a month ago. I have absolutely no idea how it happened, but per usual, God has slowly molded my heart in the small ways. It was likely each conversation, each prayer, and each story that made a small alteration in my heart. Before I knew it, those small changes had made a big difference. For me, it wasn’t one big moment that impacted me; it was a million small ones.

I don’t even know how to explain in tangible ways how I am different, I just know that I am. I feel like I am more myself than I have ever been. I feel more centered, I feel bolder, I feel closer to Jesus.

There is still so much processing to be done. I spend a fair amount of time processing in my own daily life and evaluating this trip will likely continue for months to come. I don’t even pretend to know what God is up to and what this trip will mean for my future.

But for now, I remain content to continue on, thinking and processing, and allowing God to continue to break my heart for what breaks His.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013

God's Plans Are Bigger than My Pain

Talking with two friends at school one day, I heard myself say, "God's plans are bigger than my pain." It was a startling realization in the midst of an intense discussion about being confronted, challenged, and hurt by someone I hadn't expected to hurt me.

What this person said almost doesn't matter. What matters is that it felt like someone took a cheese grater to my heart. They said things that weren't true and made assumptions about the person I am. I was bewildered, wondering who I really was. If I wasn't a caring, emphatic, safe person... then who was I?

I talked to close friends and said, "Is this true?" And the overwhelming response was that it wasn't. Did the person have some good points about ways I could grow? Definitely. Did they articulate them well? No. And then I got smacked across the head when somebody else I respect, but who doesn't know well basically said they have concerns about my ability to connect with people on an upcoming missions trip. (By the way, the best way for you to ever get proven wrong is tell me you don't think I can do something.)

So, I am sitting in the student lounge with my heart shredded and before I know it, I am spilling my guts. And in the process of this discussion, I shared how much I wanted to pull away and build up walls to protect my heart. Yet, I knew that wasn't really a possibility. It hurts to live with my heart in the open, but it is something I have to do. God's plans are bigger than my pain.

The reason why I closely guard my heart is that I am easily hurt. I might never tell you that you have hurt me, but I am a deeply sensitive person. I feel like I am always offering my heart to people on a platter and saying, "Please, treat me with care." And people often don't. And I turn inward out of self-preservation.

But I don't want to live like that anymore. I want to experience things that I am usually too afraid to because I know that I will get hurt. I want to make new friends and have new adventures. I want to learn how to live with a shredded heart because that is how I feel right now. Like I am sitting here, with a heart that honestly physically feels bruised. I feel vulnerable and I feel scared. That heart that I offer up? People won' t treat it with care. They will bruise it more. They will make me cry and doubt myself. But if I want people to know me better than I have to be willing to show them more of who I really am. Will there be pain in that? Obviously, but there is also great joy.

And ultimately, I love the person I am and the person God is shaping me to be. I love the plan that God has for my life. And if I have to spend my days laying out my shredded heart for people to stomp on in order to live His plan out, then I that is what I need to do.

Because God's plans are bigger than my pain.

P.S. Shout out to those two people in the Seminary Student Lounge. Your words that day mean more than I can ever express.
Monday, March 18, 2013

Being Just A Little Too Much

Side note: I have had all these things I have wanted to write about and share lately, but things have been hectic and I am adapting to a new schedule so blogging had to go for a bit, but this post is something that really hit home for me today and I felt I had to share it.

For many, they struggling with not being enough. Not smart enough, not pretty enough, not cool enough. Just not enough in some way or another.

I struggle in this area, especially related to school. I didn't study enough, I am not smart enough, I didn't work hard enough, I am just not enough to succeed in this. I actually struggled with this today.

But lately, I have noticed I also struggle with the other extreme; feeling like I am just a little too much.

Too Talkative
Too Smart
Too Female
Too Messy
Too Introspective
Too Demanding
Too Ridiculous

You know, just all around too much.

This is one of the reasons, in addition to my introspective nature, that I tend to keep to myself and hold back. I didn't ask questions in school because I didn't want to seem too... I don't know... too ridiculous. I didn't get to know professors well or ask them for help because I didn't want to seem to needy. I was afraid that if I opened myself up to people they would see how crazy my mind works sometimes, how obsessive I can be, how sometimes I just need to ramble the same thing over and over to people. I was afraid that if I opened up so people could see how my mind worked they would misunderstand my musings as complaining (which happens a lot actually). Some people don't realize that I have a big personality and when it comes out, it seems to be too much for some people.

But somewhere along the line, I just got tired of not being myself. The truth is that I am a messy and complicated person. I am obsessive and passionate. I am determined and searching. I have my flaws, definitely, but I should be ok with who I am. I will always be growing and changing, but I should not have to apologize for where and who I am at this moment in life. Not everyone has to love my personality, but I should at least give them the opportunity to get to know the real me.

And even as I type this, I think of my word of the year: HONOR.

I am God's creature. Just like I cannot believe the lie that I am not enough, I can't believe the lie that I am too much. I am made in His image and He knew me before I was born. He knows me; the messy, complicated, overwhelmed, slightly obsessive, perfectionist that I am. He knows me; the passionate, loving, continually searching and growing me. I do Him absolutely no honor when I hide who I am and who He fashioned me to be. I do Him no honor when I hide the person He is molding me into.

Maybe in 5 years, I won't be as obsessive or ridiculous, but maybe I will be.

And I am ok with that. Because while I might be just a little too much for the world, I am not too much for my God.
Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Photo: Trees

7“At least there is hope for a tree:
If it is cut down, it will sprout again,
and its new shoots will not fail.
8Its roots may grow old in the ground
and its stump die in the soil,
9yet at the scent of water it will bud
and put forth shoots like a plant.
-- Job 14:7-9

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Photo: Mountains

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, "Your God reigns!"
--Isaiah 52:7

Thursday, February 14, 2013

How Should Protestants Respond to the Pope’s Abdication

On February 11, Pope Benedict announced that he was stepping down from his position due to illness and age. This was a huge moment in the history of the Roman Catholic Church because Popes usually remain in leadership until they die. But Pope Benedict prayerfully chose to step aside so that a new leader might be chosen to lead the millions and millions of Catholics worldwide.

As a former Catholic, I was considering how to process this news. I was a senior in high school when this pope was chosen and, at the time, was rather negative about it. Now that I identify as a Protestant, it would be quite easy for me to say that this event doesn’t affect me or that it doesn’t matter. In fact, since the announcement, I have heard many comments and read many articles that don’t seem to really care. Many rail against what they consider to be Pope Benedict’s failures as a leader. They vent their anger against Catholics because of our differences in doctrine. Some are just blatantly hateful.

After reading facebook status after status in which people referred to the Pope as no one special, a little god, or as the Antichrist, I was left deeply saddened. While certainly there is a gap between Roman Catholicism and Protestants, I consider them to be part of the body of Christ. The many Protestant denominations differ on many key doctrinal issues. Some of them, in fact, have a hierarchal structure not unlike that of the Roman Catholic Church. Why is it appropriate to address our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in such a way? I firmly believe that we should care about anything, good or bad, that is concerning the body worldwide.

So here is how I think Protestants should respond to the Pope’s Abdication. Spoiler: It mostly involves prayer.

1.     We should be informed. Saying things like “Catholics consider the pope a lil’ god” are simply incorrect. You can disagree with Catholic doctrine but be informed about it. Don’t say things that aren’t true because you just come off as ignorant and hateful. Study Church History, learn why the Pope has the position he does, learn how a new Pope is chosen. Just learn about what a momentous occasion it is for our Catholic brothers and sisters to have a new Pope chosen.
2.     We should pray for the Roman Catholic Church. In 2009, there were over a billion Catholics worldwide. This is a big event that could possibly threaten to split or otherwise injure the Church. We don’t need anymore fractures in the body, so we should drop to our knees and intercede for Catholics that their Church would be able to overcome any difficulties it might face.
3.     We should pray for the Conclave. As RCC leaders come from around the world in a few short weeks, we must pray for their wisdom and discernment in choosing the man that will lead their Church.
4.     We should pray for the new Pope. Whether or not you agree with the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, as a leader, Pope Benedict was placed in leadership by God (Romans 13:1). The new Pope will likewise be placed by God and will need our prayers. The issues in the RCC are not small ones; in fact some, of the same issues are faced by Protestant Churches. Leading billions of Catholics is no small task. As fellow believers, we should pray for this man’s wisdom, discernment, strength, and endurance as he steps into a rather difficult situation. The new Pope is also a person. He is a person with feelings, opinions, history, interests, and weaknesses. Let us not forget that there is a difference between the office and the man. You can disagree with the office and care for the man. As believers, we should care for all and recognize that each person deserves our respect. The Pope should be special to us because he is special to God. 
5.     We should prayer for God’s correction in all our lives: God is huge and we try to understand Him the best we can, but I can’t even fathom the millions of ways we go wrong each day in how we see Him. Protestants, Catholics, Eastern Orthodox… we all fail to see things clearly at different points and we need God’s continuous correction in our lives. Let us pray that the new Pope would follow God’s voice and bring correction to any areas that need it. Might he call on Protestants to correct things we have done wrong. And might we be open to hearing it.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
-- 1 Timothy 2:1-3

Embracing Tradition: Lent

image from here

I grew up Catholic so giving up things for Lent has been practically ingrained in my DNA. For many years after I came to really know the Lord and call myself a Christian again, I resisted the Lenten rituals as too formulaic and archaic. As the years have gone by, however, I have come to crave some of the more formal and traditional expressions of my faith. Often in our desire to be sola scriptura Protestants have overlooked so many of the beautiful and historical aspects of Christianity. One of the ways that some (though obviously not all) have pulled away from the dreaded T word, that is tradition, is by disregarding the liturgical calendar. This in itself is neither, as its core, good or bad as such things are, I believe, not fundamental to our faith.

Yet, I have increasingly found that I really enjoy embracing some of the things from my Catholic roots. Last year was the first year is many that I chose to abstain from something during Lent. I chose to give up something that was near and dear to me... Diet Pepsi. While that might seems silly, it was difficult for me and it brought my attention to the areas of my life where I had not allowed the Holy Spirit to really shine His light on. Yet, as soon as Lent was over, I was back to drinking Diet Pepsi.

I am continuing on my quest to weed out things that are not of Him this year. About 2 weeks ago, I gave up soda. It hasn't been perfect and I had two slips, but I am not wasting money on soda nor am I obsessed with always having it. I have healthier and crave less sugar. Along with mostly cutting out facebook and getting rid of Twitter, I have seen drastic improvements in the clarity of my mind and my focus on more important things.

In many ways, I have been living out Lent for much of 2013. Yet, knowing that I am joining with millions of other believers around the world in giving up something that we like to do, eat, or drink and focusing more on God gives me a sense of connectedness that I very much cherish. More than ever, it is important for me to spend this Lenten season in solemn contemplation and focus on God. Thus, I have going big! Other than this blog, I will visit no other blogs of any kind. Facebook and Pinterest will be gone! Basically, I am limiting my computer to school only things.

 I want to spend more time with less stuff crammed in my mind. I expect to hear the voice of the Lord in some big ways and welcome His correction in my life. It is possible that these changes might be permanent (or I will learn how to control myself), but I am focusing just on this season and what God might have me to do. I am looking forward with sharing my Lenten Reflections each Thursday during Lent!
Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Photo: Flowers

28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
--Matthew 6:28-34

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"I Wanna Go Back to College": Reflections on Growing Up

This weekend, I am “baby-sitting” a 14 year old friend of the family. Basically, it involves making sure he eats dinner and taking him to the movies. Last night, he and a friend wanted to go see Avenue Q, the School Edition because some of their friends were in it. Now, I had a lot of homework to do but figured it would be nice to have a little bit of the break. Near the end of the show, some of the characters were reflecting on the harsh realities of everyday life. They started singing a song about how nice college was and it made me laugh because it was so true! 

Lately I have been thinking about how it will be 4 years in May since I graduated college. I will have been out of college as long as I was in it. That's totally crazy to me. For the first year after I graduated, my friends and I talked all the time about college, but as we have grown older we have learned to appreciate where are now while continuing to appreciate the great times we had then. 

The last 4 years have been crazy. I graduated college, my Dad moved to Arizona, my parents announced they were divorcing, I spent a year on staff with Chi Alpha with one dollar to my name, I moved across the country, started graduate school, almost quit graduate school, nursed my Dad through Cancer recovery, worked a full time corporate job and as a part time Michaels employee. I fell in love with Greek and lived through a couple Phoenix summers. My sister had a baby, moved back to Wisconsin and got married. Now she is pregnant with her second. My other sister moved to Washington.  I became a TA and a pioneer in school. I learned how to put coolant in my car. I flew across the country visiting friends. I made new friends and grew apart from others. 

Most importantly, I grew to love the Lord will all my heart and in new ways that I never thought possible. 

So no, as much as I miss being 21 and a little more carefree, I do not wish I was back in college. As much pain as the last 4 years have brought, they have also brought profound joy and growth. I think I have previously mentioned that my word of the year is HONOR. And I think I honor God most strongly when I don't pine for past seasons, but use what those past seasons have taught me to walk fully in obedience to what He has for me in this season. 

It is actually amusing to see the things that haven't changed in terms of what is keeping me from God. In my goal to be more intentional this year, I have been evaluating and cutting and having huge realizations. This one about college is just one of so many things I am learning from. I look forward to sharing more of what the Lord is showing me in the future. 

Pray for us, for we are sure that we have a clear conscience, desiring to act honorably in all things.
--Hebrews 13:11
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Photo: Fruit of the Spirit

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. 25Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. 26Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.
--Galations 5: 22-26

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Importance of Theology

image from here

On my former blog, I wrote a somewhat rambling post about what Theology means to me and how I think it gets a bad rap. You can read it here!

I love Academia and I love Theology. I am passionate about helping people see that Theology doesn't distract from a relationship with God; when done right, it enhances it. Theology isn't all about dogmatics and obscure discussions. To be fair, it can be like that. But it doesn't have to be. It can be enlightening and eye opening-- revealing the intricacies of the atonement and God's salvation plan. It can deepen our understanding of God's character. It can cause you to fall even more in love with the Creator.

So I am thrilled to be getting back into my Theology sequence; digging into those issues that seems boring to some, but are utterly fascinating to me. On the first day of class, in a discussion about the importance of study, doctrine, and theology, this quote stood out to me:

Christian doctrine teaches us how to cope with various real-life crises. Doctrine, far from being a matter of abstract theory, is actually the stuff of real life. Real life is located in the way of Jesus Christ, and the purpose of doctrine is to lead us precisely in this way. Whether we would like to admit that our views about God, ourselves, and this world are essentially theological, they are. Whether we want to admit that our views about God, ourselves, and this world affects everything we do, they do.

Another quote found on a friend's facebook:

“You get people who say they’re not theological. ‘Oh I’m just not theological.’ Well here’s the problem with that - if you’re opening your mouth and you’re talking about God, you’re being theological. The problem is, if it’s not rooted in biblical, historical orthodoxy, you’re probably being a heretic. So you can’t use the line ‘I’m not theological.’ You are being theological; it’s just really bad.” 
- Matt Chandler

Theology is important. Deal with it.
Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Grafted In

image courtesy of my friend Brie
Queen Creek Olive Oil Mill Queen Creek, AZ
January 2013
My dear friend Brie visited in January and, along with some others, we toured the Queen Creek Olive Oil Mill. We learned a ton about Olive Trees and were struck by their significance and durability in times of adversity. She snapped this picture on her phone, turning to me and said, "look, we are grafted it." I loved it!

I love how much Creation (general revelation) is a reflection and extension of Scripture (special revelation) and vice versa. 

17If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, 18do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. 19You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 20Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. 21For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
-- Romans 11:17-21

I am also announcing a new weekly segment. Every Tuesday I will showcase a snapshot of creation and a related Scripture. I haven't decided what it will be called yet, but I hope something clever will occur to me.  
Saturday, January 26, 2013

Deleting Facebook Off My Phone and Other Thoughts on Eternal Significance

image from here

In determining that I wanted my Word of the Year to be Honor, I have been reflecting on the ways that I have not been honoring the Lord. One of the clearest ways that I have not been honoring Him is through how I spend my time. TV, Internet, my phone…. So many things have been clouding up my life; separating me from Him and from the community that I have been increasingly desperate for.

Last week I deleted the Facebook and Twitters Apps off my phone. I was tired of mindlessly checking my phone, by being consumed by it. Now, of course, I can still access facebook on my phone but when I have to take the time to type it into the browser, I am able to stop myself from wasting time. I have yet to check facebook on my phone and suddenly I have all this time! Between this detaching of social media and a severe reduction in TV time combined with a totally purge of my stuff, I have found that I am calmer and more focused. I am more attuned to the variety of ways that God is working in my life. I have more time to actually have conversations with friends.

I am walking with intentionality. As such, I am increasingly aware of my eternal significance.

I have written a lot lately about my reflections on how I occasionally feel about my walk with the Lord and the struggles I have with it. In so many ways, my walk with the Lord and my role in the kingdom have been obscured by unnecessary things of this world.

And I am sick of it. I am sick of not having a closer relationship with the Lord. I am sick on not feeling absolute honor at God’s plan for my life. I am sick of not walking in obedience. I am sick of not being aware of my eternal significance.

So I deleted Facebook off my phone. I might even delete it all together. Pinterest might have to go too; it is too easy to start comparing my house and my crafts and all these things I need to do and make. I need to be practical about season of life and what I am capable of doing. Without guilt, but with joy and thankfulness.

Aware of the eternal significance of my life. Desiring to Honor Him in everything I do.  

Friday, January 11, 2013

Expectations and Promises

image from here

I slept through the New Year because I was sick with the worse cold I have ever had. I actually never get colds so this was a new one for me. And it really was the worst timing ever as I was struggling to get papers graded and papers written. I had this expectation for what my break from school was going to be like. And it really hasn’t been any of that. It hasn’t been bad, but just different. And I don’t to different too well.

Particularly, I had an idea what the New Year was going to be like. I planned to spend the night before doing a little cleaning and organizing, contemplating this past year and evaluating some things. I wanted to pray and seek after the Lord for His guidance in the New Year. I expected to be able to sit down and plan out things like I always do. Yet, as the case often is, life happens. Expectations weren’t met. I was sick and slept the whole day. I felt unorganized and unprepared. I felt like I wasn’t ready for a new year, a new semester. It was all coming too fast and my life was too much of a mess.

But then I reflected (I do a lot of reflecting if you can’t tell) on how much my expectations pale in comparison to God’s promises. Scripture is full of promises for me. That He has plans to help me, that He knows me intimately, and that He has prepared good works for me to do. He will be my rest and He will supply my needs. He has given me hope and blessed me with mercy. Then there have been personal promises spoken directly to my heart. They are just amazing and wonderful and I chose to believe them, even when I don’t see how it could possibly work. Because lots of times, I have expectations because I am trying to do things on my own and control things. I want things to be a particular way because that is comfortable to me. I want my life to go the way I planned. Some times those expectations aren’t met and I need to continuously surrender that to God. Once again, I need to realize that it isn’t about me, it is about Him.

Ultimately, when I focus more on Him, I will cling more to His promises and less on my faulty expectations. And His promises are always better. They just are.

And you know what? Once I let go of the anxiety of not having my New Year’s planning session, I got a chance to do it after all. And I was able to approach it with more wisdom and discernment in evaluating what the Lord has me to do in 2013.

He just blows me away sometimes. Or really, all the time.