Friday, May 21, 2010

Thoughts on God's Goodness

The other day I was part of a chain message. One friend was sharing exciting news and began "God is SOOOOOOO GOOD". Someone else replied, congratulating them on their news and said, "Yes, our God is good". Deep sorrow immediately overtook me when I read those words. It's in no way a judgment against these friends. Instead it was a recognition of my personal tendency to say these words lightly.

How often I have I used those words flippantly? "...So this great thing happened and, oh yeah, God is so good!". Even the times I meant it, did I truly believe it no matter the cost? We are quick to praise God's goodness when things work out as we wanted. In some ways it's a Christian catch-phrase that's just tacked onto the end of a conversation. Sort of a clincher to the conversation. Give a slight pause to add an air of reflection .... and then launch right into the next topic for discussion.

Flannery O'Connor (American author who died at the age of 39 from lupus) wrote, "The truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it." Am I just as willing to praise God's goodness in hard situations? After all, "the truth does not change according to our ability to stomach it".

My current situation in life does not allow me to freely use the words "God is so good." The truth has not change despite my "ability to stomach it". Yet using these words flippantly is not an option. Therefore I grit my teeth in determination and declare that despite how I feel or how it "seems to be" that my God is good.

He is good whether or not I receive a miraculous healing.

He is good whether or not I make it into a top grad school.

He is good whether or not I spend the rest of my life in poverty or in surplus.

He is good whether or not I receive the blessing of a husband and children.

He is good whether or not I live the rest of my life with incurable diseases.

The fact is, despite my ability to "stomach it" at any point in my life, God is still good.




"When it's dark and it's cold and I can't feel my soul, You are so good,
When the world has gone gray and the rain's here to stay, You are still good"

Friday, May 14, 2010

On The Eve of Your Graduation from High School

To my beautiful, brilliant and darling baby sister.

Here we are! You just about to begin your first undergraduate year and I, my last. I am so proud of your life thus far. We both wished that this year would be spent together at college, but since things worked out differently, I decided to share with you my "wisdom" from three years of personal experience and three years of observing the lives of other undergraduates. May it be a blessing.

YOU sweet sister are a blessing. I'm so glad that God gave me a little sister (even through it's true that I didn't like you at first). I am so thrilled that I get to be friends with you for life!

(Many thanks to Marlena for the idea of turning this into a blog post!)




à Jealously guard how you spend your time to avoid wasting time and burnout, yet allow your schedule to be under God’s control. Your time can be sucked away by being wasted (facebook, etc) or even by “good” things (ministry opportunities). Make time for the Lord, for sincere reading of Scripture, for listening to God, for homework, for ministry, for friends, for fun. Balance these and evaluate if you are making good use of your time. Don’t always measure your use of time by productivity. Stopping a homework assignment to listen a distraught friend may indeed be the best use of your time at that moment.

à Become best friends with the library and the librarians. Doing homework in the library will keep you from getting distracted. Plus, the library is kind of esoteric. It’s nice to be “in”

à Find a mentor (older woman on campus/at church) and meet with her regularly (if you can’t find someone right away, ask around for suggestions). Be honest with them and have them hold you accountable

à Spend a little bit looking for a church and then just pick one! No church is going to be perfect, so stop looking for it. Once you pick a church commit to staying there during your time at school and GET INVOLVED! They can become your second family. Get involved with music and with the children

à Find families who you can be involved with. One of the greatest things I’ve been able to do is babysit for some young couples for free. It has been a huge blessing to them and it’s also good for singles to be involved with families. It broadens your perspective on life. As singles, we need to be investing in (and supporting) the marriages around us.

à When you meet someone who seems like they really know Jesus, ask if you can meet them for coffee and hear their testimony

à Choose thankfulness for the food (especially since you’ll be on a special meal plan due to allergies). It might not always be your favorite, but it is a gift from God and someone spent time making it for you.

à Don’t date for at least a year. Become friends (good friends) with guys, but keep it at that.

à Be careful that you don’t encourage girls who have crushes. Think of Song of Solomon where Shulammith (the bride) says to the girls around her “Do not stir up or awaken love until it so pleases”. Encourage the girls around you to make good choices and have level heads. Listen to them, but don’t encourage obsessing over guys.

à Get to know your professors. Go up and introduce yourself on the first day of class. Stay in contact with them. If they are super cool (i.e. super wise), ask if you can meet them for coffee or a meal.

à Avoid girl drama. Nip it in the bud if it starts among your friends. Don’t put up with catty actions and certainly don’t start them yourself. It DOES get hard to live with girls constantly, but that’s not an excuse for sin.

à Spend time alone and outside. Grab a blanket and your Bible and spend an hour in a field (if there are fields around you…obviously I’m from a rural campus!!)

à Get to know your RA and RD. Stop by and talk to them. Write them encouraging notes, etc.

à Be careful what movies and TV shows you are watching. Evaluate everything based on Scripture and remember that wasting time is a sin as well.

à Make time for a Sabbath each week. Set aside time alone with just you and God. Ignore your phone, homework, friends, etc. Begin this practice early on.

à Be kind to everyone and try and get to know a lot of people, BUT realize that you don’t need to be open and honest with everyone. Choose your closest friends wisely.

à Realize that you are going to make mistakes. It’s just part of life.

à Don’t shy away from classes because you know that they are hard. Hard is good. You learn a lot more. With your bible classes especially, take the hard professors

à Spend time with people who think differently than you do (theologically, philosophically, etc). Spend time listening to their arguments. Your views on things are going to expand and broaden at college – that’s good! It is a mark of maturity to be able to have an educated, calm discussion with people who think differently than you. Evaluate EVERYTHING (even your presuppositions) to see how the measure up against the ultimate yardstick (the Bible).

à Look for the people around campus who don’t get notice (custodians, grounds crew, etc) and thank them for doing their job well. Show them that they are appreciated.

à Enjoy these years! They go by so quickly.

à When you get stressed and life feel completely overwhelming, take a break to clean your room from top to bottom, wash your sheets and wash your bath towels. Trust me. It helps!

And finally, DON'T FORGET TO CALL YOUR SISTER WITH UPDATES!!! ;)



Sunday, May 9, 2010

The Bread of Life



Baking bread alongside The Bread







Empty. Expectant. Waiting to be filled.


"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believe in Me has everlasting life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will lie forever; and the bread that I shall ive is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world."












chronic control freak chooses daily surrender

It's true.

I'm a control freak.

I like things orderly, neat and predicable.

As of late my life has been anything but predicable. The past two "breaks" are perfect examples. Christmas break was spent almost entirely at the neurologist's office. The large majority of my time was either spent on the couch or at Dr. Lee's. It was a long, long break. The semester that followed seemed just as long at times. When this semester finally ended I was headed home for three weeks of respite and recovery before heading back to school for a summer job. I was going to enjoy time with my family, work some on my summer classes and, oh yeah, check in with my neurologist, rheumatologist and general practitioner. The freakish side of me that likes everything to be perfectly scheduled was very happy with this perfectly planned break.

Life isn't perfect.

Things don't go as planned.

Hadn't I learned this yet?

The neurologist is worried. Things aren't right. He's reordering all my tests from Christmas. Suddenly my three weeks of rest turn into three weeks of tests and appointments. In addition to the neurology exams we're adding in appointments with a chiropractor and a massage therapist, and of course, visits to my other doctors.

(Side note: can I just say that I have a really awesome medical staff?? My doctors and nurses are fantastic and I appreciate them all so much.)

I surrendered my life to Jesus and gave Him control when I became a Christian. But it's really a daily choice. Daily saying that He has control over my heath, my schedule, my plans, my family, my grades, my tongue, my entertainment choices and everything else.

I was reminded tonight of something I journaled about a month ago. I wrote, "I am attempting to embrace my struggle thus hoping to give dignity to my humanity. I recognize with each undesired, uncontrollable spasm and quiver of my body that I am not in control. That life is not about me. I am helpless to control my flesh just as I am helpless to control my world. As I lie awake at night, restless, weary, exhausted I am reminded that my sustainment comes from YHWH. When deep aches and sharp pains buffet my frame, I recall Your suffering in my place. Sweet Jesus, I choose surrender."

Truth be told, I hate surrendering. I desperately want to control every aspect of life within my grasp. But I am learning. I am learning slowly. I am learning because I am being forced to learn. It's been good. Mostly. ; )




On another note, along with practicing surrender I am practicing gratitude. Here are some of my recent "everyday epiphanies":

Gratitude Journal Entries 146 - 154

146. late night talks including giggles and tears
147. coming home to be embraced by people who love me
148. handwritten letters
149. an old book as familiar and endearing as a treasured friend
150. seeing people bond over favorite books
151. raindrops pounding on the roof
152. singing along to the music
153. cool air moving in from a thunderstorm
154. seeing the sun prevail through the storm

Monday, May 3, 2010

Why I'm Getting Rid of Facebook Again

Yesterday, after over a month of being "facebook-less", I reactivated my account. Originally I deactivated it because it was annoying me and proving a big time waster and, while there were a few times where I missed it, I largely enjoyed the freedom of not having an account. But the semester ended and thus my close friends are scattered around the country and the world. I decided to reactivate my account last night to stay in touch with them.

Already, I am seriously considering deactivating my account again. Here are some things I am noticing about my life when I am "facebook-less".

Without Facebook:

1) I am more intentional - I cannot simply stay updated on people's lives by stalking their walls. I have seek out to contact them by writing a note and calling them. When I know that someone is having a bad day, it's because I took the time to talk to them, not because their status update popped up in my news feed.

2) I am more grateful - Seeing relationship statuses change, seeing hundreds of albums of engagement pictures, wedding pictures and "baby bump" pictures can lead to some pretty serious discontentment pretty quickly. At the same time, seeing people post pictures of great vacations, cute apartments, new cars and more makes that 10th commandment all the easier to break. I've been practicing gratitude lately and not having facebook has helped a lot!

3) I simplify my life - I'm not trying to keep up with 563 peoples lives!! I tried parring down a bit. My list of "Friends" went down to about 120. But still... since when is the definition of a "Friend" someone who requested and was accepted? Isn't this simply cheapening true friendship? Facebook = overstimulation for me. There's too much going on in one little space. Plus, It's one less thing to check (i.e. phone, e-mail, blog, mailbox, etc).

4) I waste less time - I know it's silly, but I'm really terrible about doing things in moderation. I am an all or nothing kind of girl. So I'm perfectly content and truly happy to be without Facebook. But if I have it, I'm going to be thinking about all the time.


This may not be the most inspiring post. This is certainly not a well-written post. But perhaps it will at least provide insight to anyone who wonders why I suddenly fell off the face of the [facebook] world.

If you want to contact me, send a handwritten letter (you'll have my heart forever with that one!), leave a comment here, call or e-mail because I think I'm going to retreat back into the silence and simplicity of a life without facebook.... The world is quieter there....
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