Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Lovely Living Room

I suppose this is where we spend most of our time.

I like that when I walked into the apartment for the first time, all that was on the walls was that giant, brightly colored piece of fabric. It made me laugh that for such minimalists, my roomies chose this very bold focal item. But I like it!

I like that our DVD player doesn't have a remote. I've been watching the first season of Boy Meets World (ahaha! Wonderful.) I just have to be really determined 'cause if I'm on episode 13 or something, I've got to let it play from the beginning on mute while I do something else. I'm not being sarcastic; I kinda like it!

I like that our desks all fit in this large space. And I really, really like the twinkle bulb lights draped on the back wall.

Simple as that.

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Home with a Table

As I said in the last post, I'm in a new apartment! So...time for another series! Over the next few days or so, I'll showcase a room from the new place, and maybe a roommate or two as well.

I recently created a new resume and, in it, described myself as a "homemaker". No, don't worry, I did not list homemaking under professional work experience but I did slip it into the personal statement section. You may be thinking, "really?" A homemaker? Doesn't that mean "mom"? Not necessarily! I've been realizing more and more how much I love hobbies that have to do with homemaking: baking, crafting, cooking, interior design, hostessing... AND making any living situation I happen upon into a home is a passion of mine. In fact, last year as an RA, the theme verse for our floor was John 14:23.

'Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love [her], and we will come to her and make our HOME with her."'

Ultimately, we want to journey with the Lord as he sanctifies us into better homes for himself. Practically, we wanted our dorm floor to feel like home; a place where girls could take their shoes off and feel comfortable in their own skin. I'm not saying Brittany (my rockin' floor partner diva) and I achieved this perfectly as RAs, but our hearts truly were in it as we prepared our floor for the girls.

SO to have an apartment where I can take my shoes off and feel comfortable in my own skin is like a dream come true. I know that may sound a little dramatic, but this really is something I've dreamed of since I was little: the day when I would have my own kitchen for cooking and my own potted plants for tending...

Today, I'll show you the dining area.

A place for friends to dine together. Didn't eat at the table tonight, but I did have my first dinner gathering last week and let me tell you: frozen vegetables never tasted so good...'cause I bought them and made them (and no, that's not all we ate). Don't get me wrong. It certainly wasn't the first complete meal I've ever prepared, but it was the first meal I've prepared in my own home.

I love that it's temporary. I love that my roommates are such beautiful servants and sisters in Christ. I love that they WELCOMED ME IN mid year.

This shall be home. Live on, soul's motto, live on!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hmms and hMMMs

(Note the differing inflections in the title)

I just played a session of "spit out the number 2" with Levi. Maybe you had to be there? No, actually it's quite simple. He would "feed" me the number 2 from his foam numbers puzzle and I would shoot it out of my mouth, at him, sending him into a chorus of giggles. Over and over and over! And then we played yoga mat burritos. I DO NOT want to say goodbye to my dear nephew... but the truth is: they're moving in just a month. A month!

And, read on. This has been on my mind:
On Sunday, we heard a sermon on Isaiah 49. Get THIS. Israel has been on quite a journey and God is in the middle of telling them how extra set apart they are. He reminds them of how he gives times of favor (v. 8), gives them guidance out of discipline (in contrast with how a normal prisoner just gets dumped on the street-v. 9), and speaks a beautiful prophecy about his ability to move his own mountains for THEIR sake (v. 10).

The response to all this information is, fittingly, a sort of worship service. People are singing, exulting, breaking forth, the works (v. 13). And then (this is the "get THIS" verse)

Zion interrupts.

"But Zion said, 'The Lord has forsaken me; my Lord has forgotten me.'" (v. 14).

Woah, woah, woah... we don't speak to God that way. That was my first reaction. But read on, feeble and impulsive Christine. God has ALLOWED the interruption, the doubt, and sadness in the midst of joy. Even more, he changes his tone in the following verses, coming down to Israel's level, whispering comfort to them. He asks the crying nation, "Hey, can a nursing mother forget the child at her chest? The right answer is no, but even so some of them will... but I will never forget you!" (v. 15, paraphrase).

"Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me." (v. 16)

I'm sorry to not use very many of my own words here, but what's in THE Word is just so much more powerful. As it should be. If you didn't already know, Israel (this is at least what I strongly believe) is a grand representation of all humanity. We go through these really sad and joyful ups and downs of obedience and disobedience, just as Israel has. So... us? Me? The Lord has engraved ME on the palms of his hands; my walls are continually before undone walls, because no, they're not up yet. I'm a building in process, but God is looking at my walls as if I'm already up. Already sanctified, already "done", already standing before him in beauty.

[By the way, I didn't necessarily come up with all these ideas. I was just paying attention at church; a feat.]

How many times have I "interrupted" the worship service? Most of the time, I feel incredibly guilty for doubting and bringing a desperately bad mood to a joyful worship service. But this passage from Isaiah shows me there's grace in that interruption.

So may this serve as an update from that very honest post a couple weeks ago. I'm learning spiritual stuff daily, feeling really relieved at what I learned from Isaiah 49 this Sunday, being an artist and finding confidence in that, getting ready to say goodbye to my brother's family, and I moved into an apartment! More on that next time.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Solitude

Today I explored new things...I went off on my own, I gave thanks for youth and independence, I people watched. Today I:

(and hey, I happen to think this is a beautiful self-portrait.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I Digress into Something Joyful

Friends, I send my thanks to those of you who have been praying for me, sending encouraging words my way, and empathizing with my current state. Since being home from Kansas City, God has shown his graciousness in numerous ways. No doubt, I'll be writing a more thoughtful update in the days to come. For today, however, I'm feeling a bit more light-hearted.

You see, this evening I cracked into my 5th grade diary. I literally had to break the lock... did I throw away the key all those years ago? I guess so. I felt blessed to read something I had written when there was still so much I didn't know... and I'm sure I'll feel that way my whole life looking back on any sort of my own writing that I happen upon. The Lord reminded me of his constant pleasure toward my efforts and his magnificent plan that has been at work since before I was born. Here's a little excerpt from my diary that will hopefully make you giggle:

"Dear Diary, I haven't written to you sience 1'st grade. Well I'm in 5'th grade now. God is pulling me closser to him. I must have prayed a million times today asking him to help me to open you. Tomorrow Brittany is going to church. She is a christian...
Today I'm planning on reading and doing science homework. I'll try to write tomorrow!
-Christine #7
P.S.-God answered my prarys!"

Gotta love that spelling! I'm just sitting in all that tonight and loving the look-back. And in honor of "the old days", here's a fun picture of my brother, sister, and me. Hey, we all inherited sensitive-to-sunlight blue eyes! (I'm the little one)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

A New Year's... Rrrramble

Friends! I'm sorry that I've been gone for so long. I went on an unintentional internet fast this week because I've been in Kansas City, MO at the International House of Prayer. No internet access, plus what would have been an effortful time in getting internet access made for an easy decision to "just say no" to the cyber world for a while. I certainly missed visiting Facebook, reading emails, catching up on blogs I follow, and of course, blogging. It has helped me realize, however, that I want Jesus to be my primary source of entertainment (because he is ultimately my ONLY source of joy!).

So the week after Christmas was the Onething Conference at iHOP, KC. I was excited to go to this yearly conference for the first time and experience some spiritual refreshment, diversity, and challenge. I definitely received diversity and challenge, but not so much refreshment as of yet. The trip started off a little roughly with me being reminded of some past anxieties and fears over the charismatic movement in Christian America. The very next day, I was hit with food poisoning and terribly ill for 24 hours. Jamie was a sweet friend and sat with me through every groan and grumble of pain; I was so grateful to be staying in a home rather than a hotel! Though the Lord did not make me sick, I do believe he works all things for good and brought about blessing through my only attending a total of half the conference sessions. I wish so badly I could say I enjoyed the teaching offered this past week, but I simply did not.

You see, I've been struggling with Calvinism and Arminianism. Oh boy, I never ever ever wanted to bring those two horrid words here to myHandH but I must if I am to share with you how I really am. For those of you who are not familiar with the Calvinism vs. Arminianism debate, it is a common conversation among scholarly Christians (though certainly not limited to the "intellectuals") about weather God intended humans to have free will in choosing him or if he predestined them to heaven or hell since the beginning of time. For all of my mature Christian walk, I have felt content to ride in the middle of the road. I am certain that God is sovereign and knows the beginning from the end, but I also believe he created man with the ability to choose all sorts of things, including salvation.

My University is very Calvinist. iHOP is very Arminianist. (I feel like I have two souls!)

I am still a bit too overwhelmed to best-articulate where I am emotionally. But as you can see, I'm facing very distinct (both very good and loving) teaching in my life and SO seeking after truth with my heart and mind, but finding the tension between these teachings too...tense. If nothing else, this week in Missouri was a great opportunity for testing things against the Word. I'm learning more and more to love the Word of God. Hey, nothing bad can come from that! Allow me to share a journal entry with you from my time to better explain just how I was feeling (and in contrast with my normal writing, the ellipses here mean I'm sparing you some massive details and ramblings):

December 31, 2010
"Lord, I seriously want to hash out the details of what's inside me, of why this is so hard, of why I'm feeling entirely frustrated. I still trust you...I really kind of feel like I was robbed of those last few "extra" days of Christmas. I missed time with the family, I probably would not have gotten sick, and (though this goes against good critical thinking) I would have been ignorant of all the weighty spiritual matters brought up here if I had not come...God, I'm realizing intensity just scares me. The intense rigidity of Calvinism that says, "It must be all about dying of yourself, that Jesus may be glorified!" And the intense language of iHOP: "His heart is ravished and lovesick for you, his bride!" I believe option A, I'd just like everyone to lover their voices a bit. And I want to believe option B, but it doesn't sit right with me because it's so me-specific. Why does intensity scare and irritate me so? Anxiety, panic, invoking the past, lack of peace, not the voice I'm familiar with... but Lord, I know there's a place for intensity. Hello! I believe what Revelation says...
I'm simply wrecked! I don't feel like I can go any lower into confusion. I just do not understand how I can follow you in a way I believe is godly and right and how it can look so different from this. I wanna get it right!
...Enough ranting, enough! There's truth that I'm ignoring and I think there's an on-my-knees moment that's been in the works...
It's the "cultures of Christianity" that are driving me nuts because I can't belong to all of them. Hey, maybe that's the answer: I can't belong to all of them. Am I clinging to truth? Am I loving and reading the Word? Am I praying and being attentive to the Spirit? Am I being obedient and following your calling on my life? These are the important questions...Thank you! Thank you so much. I am willing to be surprised by you still and I'm going to trust that those questions are guidelines from you. Help me to take this journey you're guiding me through as a step of faith. I can do all things through you who strengthens me!
In your holy name, Amen."

So something I did not realize while I was in Missouri was that the Lord would continue to work when I got home! He's revealing more of my fickle spirit to me, my tendency to quickly reject and then go back to look at what I just denied, the discomfort I feel when I don't know all the answers and am not in control. Beyond these factors though, I know God loves me dearly and has led me to this crazy place for a reason; a good reason.

I'll try to keep everyone posted...but like I said, I'm fickle. And I may very well have moved on in a week with a simple statement like, "I don't want to waste my time here, I know what I need to know, and God is in control of the rest"... but then again, I doubt it. There's lots to learn!