Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Making History, Ha!

Yesterday it was 114 degrees... yup. I feel that when the temperature is that extreme, I get really consumed with it, and not necessarily in a bad way. I found myself checking the thermometer constantly to see how hot the earth could get without actually blowing up. I told a friend at the end of the day, "I don't believe in global warming, but if somebody did, they should have done a big ole' campaign here today!"

The weather reminds me of a recent trip to the dessert with my friend, Nany. We had a fun photo shoot (complete with blinding lighting techniques, as you can see in my strained smile) out in the hot, hot hills of Nevada.

I wish I could draw some amazing analogy from the hot weather to where I am in life, but that's just not what I'm capable of this morning. I will leave you with this, though: since yesterday was a record high for our area, I didn't bother me so much that we were crazy uncomfortable whenever we stepped foot outside, 'cause we were making history! Could I start viewing personal struggles that way? What do you think?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

To: Fall, From: Me

Dear Fall,

Thank you for promptly arriving yesterday night at 11:09pm. Thank you that even though you really don't show up until late December around here, it was a very cool and comfortable 67 degrees yesterday (of course it's actually God to which I attribute these pleasantries...you're simply my friend). I decorated you (decorated for you? hmm...) yesterday and gleaned an incredible amount of joy from pulling out the old wooden pumpkins, dried corn cobs, cornucopias, leaves... And then that happily familiar scent of a pumpkin candle burning in the kitchen was fabulous!

Thank you for inspiring a comforting shepherd's pie for our fall initiation dinner last night.

You just rock. See you again in December!

Cordially and Autumnly,


Saturday, September 18, 2010

To be "All Better"...

This weekend, I'm on a retreat with my major. Hanging out with a bunch of people who are also passionate about reaching the unreached people groups of the world with the name of Jesus is usually inspiring and energizing. However, feeling under the weather prevents my energy level from reaching its potential. All morning, I had visions of escaping the retreat (Ha! "Retreat from retreat...")to study at a warm, quiet coffee shop. "Just getting there" was my mantra for the first few hours of today.

When I got to said coffee shop where I now sit, I didn't feel quite so satisfied. It's cold outside (oh, how LOVELY!... If only I'd been better dressed for the weather), my book is hard to absorb, and the noises of the street are invading my "happy place" thought goals. It was not until after I realized that I've spent over $8 on a CERTAIN coffee shop today that I realized I had come to depend on my idea of escape. Even in the past hour, the Lord has impressed upon my heart that I will only feel "all better" and completely liberated from my antsy-ness when I'm walking in and depending upon his plan. Thank you, oh righteous and jealous God for telling me this.

Thanks for bearing with my confession.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Why I Write

When I care to make an impact with my writing, I often write in lists. Perhaps this is because essays are more time consuming to generate. But perhaps its because I prefer to write the “fun stuff” as a portrayal of my thought processes. And my thoughts definitely take on more of a list-programming than paragraph format.

So why do I write? Here are my top ___:

1.I write with the hope of glorifying God. I delight in the written word, but more specifically, I love writing the written word. Getting the nonsense that makes up my thoughts wrangled into something concrete is so satisfying. I like to make God happy and he delights when I’m delighting. This goes for you too! Isn’t that great?
2.I write to take myself more seriously…and as I write this sentence, Lady Gaga comes on. I need to take a break and party…
3.Ok, Coldplay is better for this kind of stuff. I write to encourage others.
4.I write to make a convicting impact.
5.I write because of the sweet release.
6.I blog specifically for getting my words out there… clicking publish and knowing that my thoughts, my opinions, and bits of my personality are on the web for anyone to see is so thrilling to me. On the flip side, limiting myself to certain words and pieces of information BECAUSE everyone can see what’s up is a fun challenge for me.
7.I write to widen my vocabulary. True confession: when I started my blog last December, I made myself replace at least one word per post with a synonym. I used my Thesaurus a lot and learned plenty of new words!

I guess it was my top seven.

Friday, September 10, 2010

This Christian's Call to Prayer

Yesterday was the last day of Ramadan, and let me tell you: praying for Muslims to know Jesus during this time was such a ride! The Lord continually assured me of his presence and work when I prayed and the benefits I received in my Christian walk from following a Muslim's daily schedule of prayer were surprising! There is certainly something to be learned from religions which emphasize ritual and regulation. I feel that Christians in today's society lack spiritual discipline, myself included.

It is imperative to remember that God has perfect unity in his characteristics (Wayne Grudem, "Systematic Theology")... he is completely loving while at the same time completely holy, wrathful, jealous, and kind. He does not "turn one nozzle off in order to turn another on", as my Theology professor pointed out yesterday. What a bad habit we (I!) often fall into of paying attention to the gentle characteristics of God while pushing his powerful ones under the rug. He is the Father who loves us more than we could ever comprehend, but also the Father we do not cross. Talk about the fear of the Lord!

So my thoughts are a combination of debrief from Ramadan and lessons from my Theology class. It's been handy to have both situations going on simultaneously these past few weeks. Because as I think of who my God is... who he REALLY is, I want Muslims to know him. The Lord is certainly softening my heart for the Muslim world and I believe his furthered revelation of himself to me is completely part of this process.

Thanks to those of you who were able to join me in prayer! Our God is victorious!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Family: A Few Profiles of Appreciation

I come from a joyful, productive, and affectionate family. Each family member is uniquely interesting and valuable to our family dynamic. When I was younger, my Gramma and Granpa lived with us in the guest house out back. Soon after they died, both my sister and brother met their future spouses. With two new in-laws in 2006, our family was back to a grand total of seven! I believe it was part of our immediate family’s journey toward healing. The Lord was great to us with this sweet gift... not a gift of replacement, but one of extra love all the same.

My dad, John, is wise and practical. He feels at ease and in high spirits while out in nature. One of his distinctive strengths is appreciating quiet moments. Daddy is a great gardener and a life-long birder. I am so grateful for the work he does and I think he’s blessed my generation in more ways that he realizes just by being hospitable to friends throughout my growing up years.

My mom, Margaret, is pretty and lives a servant’s life. I like it when she makes herself laugh. She is a gracious hostess, a fun mom, and an incredible teacher. Her love for the disabled is contagious and God has definitely used that love to encourage the kingdom. Mom is particularly good at treating each of her kids equally and I so appreciate her daily, understanding hugs.

My older sister Laura and I like to call each other sissy. Laura is a faithful wife, a compassionate Christian, and a gifted empathizer. Whenever something really bad happens to me, she is usually the first person I call, mostly because she’s so good a responding to hard things. She has a great way of helping people, including me, cope with stress and handle their “moment” of life. My sissy is great at having fun too. This is an understatement, but I am so grateful she appreciates and values me for who I am.

I’ve known my brother-in-law, Oliver, since I was twelve and am blessed to have a close relationship with him. He is a tender-hearted care taker. Family is extremely important to him, which was an eye-opening blessing when he married into ours. Oliver is quite personal and good at listening to others. I’m so grateful Laura and Oliver’s home is a safe haven for me.

My older brother, Aaron, is a godly man. He really loves Jesus and desires to serve Him with his life. The way he fathers his baby boy is loyal, sweet, and fun. Aaron loves his wife in an incredible way and offers me sound advice. It has been positively interesting getting to know each other again in this new phase of life.

When I first met Alisa, my sister-in-law, my word for her was “fun”. She quite seriously embodied it when I was a young junior higher. Alisa is still very fun, but I’ve been able to understand even more aspects of her character as I’ve continued living life with her. Alisa is a tender mom and values hospitality and stewardship. She is skilled at managing time and loves her family so well.

Levi, my sweet nephew is a bubbly guy. I can not wait to see how his personality develops and I (even more!) can’t wait to hear the funny things he’s bound to say. The other day, I sat him on the ground, got down on my tummy, and we just smiled at each other… for a good minute or two. This simple moment filled me with so much joy.

Lord, thank you for my family...for allowing me to grow up around people who love you.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

My Kind God

School has begun! And it's going to be one heck of a marathon-like semester. Since I'm living at home, I've squeezed all my time on campus into just a few days per week. This makes for easier gas bills, but also very long days.

Yesterday evening, sitting in Philosophy (my fifth class of the day), I didn't know if I could do it! Philosophy is naturally a difficult subject for me... I'm not one who cares to debate the simpler, tedious arguments in life like, "what is reality? Am I actually existing?". Ha, some scholars would like to kill me for calling those questions simple! But with all that said, I was less than eager about these long days that end with a rigorous challenge.

I really contemplated dropping the class. No! I MUST graduate on time, which means sticking to a high-unit per semester ratio.

Amidst this mental battle, the Lord reminded me of his kindness. Feeling the financial burden of book-buying, our professor offered to loan out a very expensive book to people in financially hard places. "Hey, that's me!", I thought. There ain't nothing like saving $100. On my way back from the blessed occurrence of being gifted this book for the semester, I happened upon an art show at the gallery on campus. That could only mean one thing: free food. Being naturally starved after my long, ill-prepared-for day, I feasted my eyes (and my mouth) upon the yummies before me. To be fair, the art was also refreshing and beautiful. While eating, I called my best friend back, for we are in an endless game of phone tag. And what an encouraging conversation we had. At that point, I was feeling more confident in my ability to do this semester with the help of my kind God.

Oh, so kind.