Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Battle...

"Every man at some point in his life is going to lose a battle. He is going to fight and he is going to lose. But what makes him a man is at the midst of that battle he does not lose himself. This game is not over, this battle is not over."
- Eric Taylor, Friday Night Lights


I feel like I could almost just leave the post at that. I mean, what can you say after Coach Taylor? But I'm gonna try.

I often lose battles. It might not seem like it, but I do. I don't tend to lose battles with others. No, the ones I lose are the battles with myself. I know the that I should stop arguing, that my point doesn't have to be proved. I know that I should let this person think what they want, because does it really matter what they said over two months ago? Does it? It doesn't, but since I'm not accustomed to losing to others, I keep badgering my point until I've been declared the winner. And as I step up to claim my prize, their resignation and defeat, I lose. 

I lose because I've been called to be humble. To help those who can't help themselves. I've been called to lay myself, my cross, my desires, aside, and to take up His cross. I've been called to love. To show Christ's Attitude, Reflecting it Everywhere. 

It's a battle, and while I constantly seem to lose it, this battle isn't over. I'm the one who decides when it is. Will I continue to lose? Undoubtedly. But I will never lose the entire battle if I continue to struggle, to fight, to realize that I'm losing. It's when I'm resigned to my loss, when I lose myself, when I no longer realize what I am called to do, that the battle is over.






Thanks for reading guys! Hope you had a wonderful Christmas, and an extremely successful and happy New Year! 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Imperfection or Deception

It's the line between realness and "goodness" that seems to trip Christians up. We're often told that we are supposed to be this picture of Christ, perfect, without spot or blemish. I mean, the definition of Christian I was taught was "Christ Like." I was taught to C.A.R.E. = Christ's Attitude Reflected Everywhere. And while these are wonderful principles that I COMPLETELY AGREE WITH, I think they tend to trip us up.


It is wonderful to strive to be better, to follow God's commandments to the "T". But it is also impossible.


Now, I know that that might be the opposite of what you've been taught, but it's true. 


There is no way that we can fulfill all of the commands demanded in a blood covenant with God Himself. 


Now, before you go off shouting about how could God demand so much of us if we couldn't fulfill it, wait. 


He knows that we can't do it. He doesn't expect that of us.








I know. It sounds crazy, but it's true.




Do you remember the part in the Bible where Abram goes out, meet's with God, and comes back as Abraham? Even if you do, you should go back and reread it. A lot more happened than a symbolic name change, though that's what we tend to focus on.


You see, when you look closer at it, God entered into a blood covenant with Abram. Those things can only be gotten out of by death. Which is pretty intimidating if you're Abram, and your partner in this is God. I mean, God isn't going to screw up, at least not first, and Abram really doesn't have anything of value to bring to this union.


But the most amazing thing happens, and because we don't still practice blood covenants, when we read it, we tend to think Abram is having a drug fueled dream that somehow got passed into the scripture. I mean, that's what I would think if I saw a "smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces." That's not something normal. But if you look into it, that's the part of the covenant where the two parties tell God that if they don't hold up their part of the bargain, He can tear them apart like the animals that they just sacrificed. 


Now, if you remember, this covenant was between God and Abram. Abram was knocked out when this happens, so the only person who was vowing this, was God. And He did so willingly. He entered into a covenant, that said that everything He had would be Abram's, took all responsibility and possible punishment on Himself, and did all of this knowing that Abram had nothing to give in return. He then went on to put part of His name into Abram's making him Abraham, which if you ever have the chance to research the meaning of Hebrew letters and all that, WILL BLOW YOUR MIND.


And I know that I've heard this story told multiple times, since I was a little girl. I was raised in a church where the Word was taught. We didn't tie up many of the messages in religious mumbo jumbo, but still, with all that, the part I have always remembered from that story is that God promised Abram some kids. Which is pretty cool, depending on who you ask, but I've missed the whole point. God loves us. A lot.

He wants the best for us. He wants us to choose right. He wants us to choose life and blessing, because He knows that it will help us avoid the death and cursing. But more important than all of that, He wants us.

He wants us even in our imperfection.

Instead of the teaching that we should be ashamed of our sin, that we need to hide it and run from God till we're "fixed," we should have been taught to run to Him, holding out our sin, our brokenness, our failures, and ask Him to help. To heal. To fix, repair, and in general, make it better. We need to stop pretending that we have things under control, that we're these "perfect Christians." This deception, in the end, fools no one, and ends up hurting us and others in the end.

This is why He entered into covenant with Abram. This is why He sent His Son, the Ultimate Blood Covenant. Not to condemn, but to give us Life, and Life more abundantly.

And please don't be confused. This is not a reason to sin. This is a way to finally stop.







Thank you all for reading! You can listen to the sermon I got inspired from here. It would be the one by Terrance Reeves Chong on 12/11/11 called Covenant of Healing. It's free, and it's super good. Have a wonderful, happy, fun filled and Merry Christmas! Love you all!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Submission

If you know me even the slightest bit, you'll have noticed my self confidence. At least that's my guess. I don't really have many opportunities to see myself through others eyes, so I gotta just go on what I've heard and what I hope I portray.

I never was the girl who did things looking for a guys approval. I always thought, and still do, that they should try and earn mine first. I was not the girl who stopped bringing artichokes to school for lunch because I got made fun of. I was the girl who brought extra to share with anyone who made fun of it and dared them to try some.

I was not raised on the "speak when spoken to" philosophy, though I imagine, at times, my parents wished they had. I got in a heated debate with an elderly gentleman in my dad's barbershop chorus at the ripe old age of three. I remember exactly none of it, but have been told on more than one occasion that no one could hold their own with him, and I did for at least a half hour. I was raised to voice my opinion, to stand strong, to back up my reasonings.

My parents own their own business, and they knew the downfalls of having "yes people" around them. We all know those people. They're the ones who get where they get by sucking up, and not on talent. They will never reach true heights in their organizations, because the only contribution they bring is the stroking of their superior's ego. So I was brought up to be the opposite, almost to a fault. In student council, with nearly every plan that was brought up, I could find a flaw, and usually within minutes. I was consistently told to stop being a "Negative Nelly," to be a team player, to support and not tear down. I never really understood these accusations of me being "negative," because I simply saw it as being helpful. You can't do repairs, fix things, or make things better if you don't know what's wrong in the first place. But its generally not something most people value or enjoy, and it's what I blame my failed run for President on.

I've found that most people find debating and disagreement to be a negative thing, while I find it fun and entertaining. It's my favorite brain activity. I often have ended disagreements feeling recharged, and was only recently told by my mother, that to most they are draining.

Now, I tell you all this, not to sing my praises (because, believe me, this is not a easy or fun road to go down all the time), but to set the stage for what is one of the most trying circumstances of my life: The blind submission chapter of my life.

Now, like I said, I was raised to question. I was taught that you should ask things like why and how. And I fully agree with how I was raised. Self confidence, or lack there of, is one of the worst things that can happen to any person. I would say most "bad things" can be traced back to it. However, this questioning attitude often hinders us greatly in the submission part of our lives.

Now, I would like to say right away that I think blind submission is one of the worst things you can ever do. That's part of how girls end up staying with dead beat guys, bad people get put in power, and a myriad of other things that should never happen, happen because no one has a back bone and won't stand up for what is right and good. Also, I would like to say that true submission does not really happen when you agree with what is going on. It would be super easy for me to "submit" to the call to travel the world. I want to do that. It was not easy for me to submit to the call to go to NHCC. It was, in fact, the #1 on my list of things I would never do. (By the way, don't make one of those lists. I've done just about everything on mine. And I loved every single one.)

While in Mexico, I was in a situation where blind submission was the only option. I had an 11 o'clock curfew, the first one I had ever had in my life. I was told I could no longer spend time alone with these 3 guys, who at the time were the only ones who spoke english and I could relate too. I was told that I couldn't let people know that I used certain feminine products. I was told that I had to be at every single church activity that happened. I was told that I should spend any and all free time I had, with the people who I didn't necessarily get along with, or speak their language, and get to know them better. I was told many, many things, and I wasn't exactly ever asked my opinion, thoughts, or disagreements.

As you may imagine, I was not exactly a fan of this.

This was contrary to nearly everything I had been brought up to be. I was told that I should be proud of who I was, that uniqueness should be celebrated, that my voice should be heard and I should announce my opinions loudly. I had never really done anything that would bring distrust on me, nor been told that I should behave in a manner contrary to how I would normally act. (I'd like to interject here that I am in no way trying to say that I was, am or ever will be perfect. But as far as going through a rebellious phase, it pretty much was a day at school where I wore a polo with cap sleeves and pants that weren't a 100% cotton. And that was about it. ( Side note, my school has gotten rid of that crazy rule now. And I had agreed to it, so I was the one at fault.))

I wanted oh so desperately to fight against this, but I didn't know how. It wasn't like I could just be like "I'm done," and fly back to Minnesota. And just flat out disobeying was never something I could pull off. Some of the rules I knew were there for good reasons, but I just didn't believe that those reasons applied to me. And so I was stuck in a brand new situation where I had no option that I was comfortable with, other than to hold my tongue and submit.

It is difficult, and in some cases, even dangerous, to submit to things you don't agree with, but I would not trade that experience for anything. And I'm not saying like the people and the food outweighed the having to submit hardship. I'm saying that I learned so much from having to say no to myself. Like learning that I do not have to get the last word in, or always be right, or that I don't need credit for every good thing I do. That it's a good thing to let others shine and to take a step back sometimes. That sometimes traditions are traditions are traditions, and my disagreement doesn't matter and really isn't important. I learned that there are things worth fighting for, and I learned how to find out what those are. I learned self control. I learned patience. I learned humility. I learned true trust.

I want you all to know that I hold absolutely no hard feelings towards the people that put me in this situation. If anything, I am thankful for them. For forcing me into that situation. For making me uncomfortable with where I was, so that I had nowhere to go but up, to grow. I know that during this period, I probably wasn't my most pleasant and compliant self, and yet they stuck with me and are now some of my favorite people on the planet. I know that had it not been for them, I would, well, I certainly wouldn't be admitting to people my many, many failings. And for that, I thank them.

The experience of submitting was one of the most painful I have ever gone through. It is not one you should go into while you are weak. It is, however, one, that when approached correctly, can refine you like a fire. And if you're ever in that place, I encourage you to just let go, and let God.












Thank you all for reading. I would again like to stress that questions are a very good thing, and if you have people in your life who are telling you otherwise, you should probably take a closer look at that relationship. Without questions, we don't learn. However, there is much to be learned when we are in uncomfortable situations, so learn to embrace. And as always, please comment away with any agreements, disagreements, similar situations, or random thoughts that come to you, either here, in an email, or on Twitter! I love you all, and I've missed you so much!

Monday, December 12, 2011

What's in a Name?

"I am so thankful for that drug lord." These words I never thought I would ever say, and yet this is a direct quote from me. When I was living in Mexico, there was a drug turf war going on in our city. Two rival gangs came in and were fighting, and the process, there were kidnappings and killings that took place. I'm not saying this to put anyone in fear about going to Mexico or anywhere, because if you are called to go, there is no safer place, because you're in God's hands, which is actually safer than being in your own hands in suburbia. This was an annoyance. We were hindered and held back. Our guards were up, we were cautious and careful, which is what you should do, but at the same time, I wanted to be able to go out past 9pm. Anyway, a major drug lord in Baja California wrote in our newspaper telling the dealers in our area to knock it off, that they don't do this to their own people, that they could fight amongst themselves all they wanted, but to leave the civilians out of it. The dealers responded, in the paper (only in Mexico) that this wasn't them, it was others doing it and blaming in on them. A few weeks later, the authorities found a house filled with the local drug dealers, dead, stabbed through the chest with a note, from the drug lord in Baja California, reiterating his letter from before, that they don't harm their own people. Needless to say, things calmed down, and I was able to stay out way past 9 pm, all the way to 11 pm.

"I am so thankful for those druggie Bears fans!" I was traveling from Mexico to Minnesota, flying from Mexico to Chicago, and then taking a bus to Minneapolis. After my flight got in at 8 pm, the weather was declared to awful for the buses to continue, so I had a whole night, in Chicago, alone with my suitcase and ballet flats. After they kicked me out of Union Station because I apparently looked homeless, I wandered the city, in the middle of a blizzard, to a 24 hour dinner. After fending off several "gentlemen," I encountered two guys who were enjoying the city, and wanted to hear all about what I was doing in Mexico. They couldn't believe it, and it was a very interesting ministry opportunity. When it got late enough that I had to make my way back to the bus, they walked with me, bought me some food and drinks for my trip, and a Bears Santa hat to keep me warm. They also paid for a taxi to make sure we got to the bus on time. All of this happened at a time where I didn't have enough money to pay for a hotel for the night, let alone a taxi. Did i mention that this whole time they were stoned out of their mind and lit up in front of me? No? Well, they did.

These are stories that shock and surprise people in the religious community. Being thankful for drug lords and druggies is not something Christians and missionaries are known for.

Often times we write off people because of their name. Their title. Their position. We hear "drugs," and we immediately go to, "Dear Lord, show them the error of their ways!" Now, I'm not disagreeing with that, because drugs aren't legal, nor are they helpful or uplifting in anyway. But I do think that we often limit God by limiting who we will accept help from. We expect to be blessed by Christians, or the nice looking elderly couple. We don't tend to think that God will move in those "undesirables," and in doing so, we limit who God can use to minister to us.

We remember the negative names, like drug lord, but we forget the other names that person has. Child of God is one of them. Loved and called are others. My name literally means God's victorious chosen person. I love it. And as awesome as my name is, so are theirs. They still have callings and giftings on their life that are God given, whether they are walking in them or not.

I am not saying open your lives and hearts to those walking these paths of danger. I am saying, don't shut someone out, turn your nose up at them, walk away, burn all bridges with a person in these life styles, because you never know who God will use to bless you, and in turn, who you can bless.







Thank you all for reading! It means a lot to me! And follow me on le Twit, where I fill you in on all my outrageousness that happens throughout the day!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Music(als) Make the World Go Round

For those of you who don't know me, let me first say, "HEY!" with lots of awkward waving, because that's how I roll. Now that that's over with, I guess you should know that I LOVE LOVE LOVE musicals. I was raised on them. I can honestly say that for the longest time, I wasn't actually aware that it was a specific genre, because every single movie I watched had songs in them. Singing in the Rain, My Fair Lady, Meet Me in St. Louis, White Christmas, Guys and Dolls, a Muppet's Christmas, all the classic Disney movies. As I grew, I was introduced to more, like Newsies and Fame, and with each new musical, my love grew and grew.

In high school, I was a text book drama geek, if geek means super awesome. (It does.) I was in every play I could be, every musical we did, every acting class I could squeeze into my schedule. I went back after graduation and helped direct some of the productions. Scene pictures are littered with props I've taken from my home. I look fondly back on those days. I gained friends and confidence, had an outlet for my general wackiness, and have so many ridiculous and amazing memories from those days.

You might be wondering why I'm going on about musicals, and yes, it is partially because I wanted to share some photos with you all, and because the amazing Miss Bethany suggested it, but also, there is just something magical about musicals. Not just the fact that everyone can dance and sing perfectly, but the almost blind faith at least one of the characters has that everything will turn out alright.


 Against all reason, Sergeant Sarah Brown trusts Sky Masterson; Belle, the Beast and the talking household furnishings; Cinderella, her fairy Godmother. And while at some point in the movie, they get slightly burned, in the end they are always proven right. Sky does come through, the Beast is really a Prince, and Cinderella gets to quit cleaning floors and be the princess she always wanted to be. You always know that good will conquer all (with the exception of Doctor Horrible's Sing-A-Long-Blog. Though... Well, just watch and you'll understand.) 


You see, we need to have that same knowing that good will conquer all, the guy will get the girl, the poor person will find a way to make everything ok, about God. We need to have the kind of faith where we don't even question what the outcome is. Faith isn't something that should be shifted and altered depending on what we're going through. It is something that should be fact, solid. When we get devastating news, when the worst has already happened, we are to remain strong in our faith. We aren't to waiver, even though our prayer wasn't answered, because we know, just like we do with musicals, that God has a plan. His hand is working. He takes our ashes, garbage, failings, hurt, pain, and turns them into something beautiful. We just have to get to the end.










Thanks for reading! I'm preaching to myself, most of the time here, so you know! Anyway, you can and should follow me on le Twitter. I'm occasionally funny there!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Christmas Mission

So, to get into the Christmas spirit, since setting up the tree and hanging snow flakes from the ceiling wasn't doing it for me this year, I decided to take part in More Love Letter's project of 12 Days of Love Letter Writing. It's an incredible project, where people all around can write letters of love and encouragement to those who are having a hard time this year. Those writing the letters don't know the people they're encouraging, they are just doing so to be a blessing. So you know, it's not too late for you to join either!

Anyway, this got me thinking. You know, there is one thing that Minnesota is known for, besides snow, lakes, our Oh's, the Mall of America, me, and that would be the "Minnesota Nice." We are legitimately really genuinely nice to strangers here. It's not the kind where we're nice to their face while we give them directions, but the moment they leave, we start laughing about how we really don't have a clue where they wanted to go. I've witnessed strangers drive families home when their cars have stalled, borrow them their phones, shovel them out, and a myriad of other things. I myself, have had my car break down on the side of the road, and can't begin to tell you how many people pulled over to ask if I needed anything. Now, I don't know for a fact this doesn't happen everywhere, but I can say I've never heard of Any Other State Nice.

And while we are very considerate to strangers in Minnesota (for the most part. Obviously you can't go everywhere and expect to be welcomed. In some areas you can expect to be shot (Ok, maybe not shot, but you will get threatening glances.).) I can say for a fact that, at times, it's much easier to be nice to complete strangers than it is to the people we really care about.

Holidays are a time where we are not only around our families, we nearly have them shoved down our throats! And while we love them dearly (I hope!) they know better than anyone how to get under our skin. And if we are being honest, we know the best ways to retaliate. And by they, I mean my family, and by we, I mean me. I think its because we know they love us no matter what, and we're told to that the one place we can always be open and honest is home. But we, and again, I mean me, abuse that right.

I guess all I'm doing is reminding myself to make the conscious effort to be kind and considerate to my family. That beyond the ease of a friendly "Merry Christmas!" to the strangers I meet this month, I need to bring that same spirit of kindness, consideration, and patience to my family as well, not only this month, but always.

Not gonna lie, I'm asking a lot of myself here! Hahahahaha, just kidding, They are easy to love ALWAYS!


Hahahahaha

Oh lordy




Thanks for reading, guys! It means a lot! And I'd totally appreciate some accountability on this Christmas Mission! Feel free to check up on me through Le Twitter! Also, consider taking part in More Love Letters' Mission! It's a really amazing thing to do!

Monday, December 5, 2011

No Other Name Be Lifted High

You know, there are several things that annoy me. I can't stand people who do things they don't even like just to be cool, techno music, vegan dishes, and the list goes on and on. But there is one thing that I can say without a doubt that actually drives me crazy. Not in a "Oh, that annoys me so much!" but in a "this situation makes me turn into a legitimately crazy person." And that would be when people begin talking about missions trips who have never been on one.

You see, those of you who haven't gone on a trip, you tend to think you get them. You think that they're a "nice thing" to do, very sweet. At best, they want to go on one to have a similar story and experience, and at worst, they think that we're some super human or some self indulgent person who went to make ourselves look good. Sure, often times these people are really genuine, but until they've actually been, they just don't get it.

 I will talk to anyone about missions if they're wanting to go, or are asking what God did. But most of the time, those aren't the questions I get. They wonder how things are with the communication. They wonder how the food was. They think its amazing the kids come up and want to know the missionaries. They wonder about the funding. They find some way to question everything that happens, acting as if the people of Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe were from a different planet, not simply a different country. They seem to forget that they're still people, no matter where or what they call home. All they seem to see is the natural.

I realize that this is very critical, and I've actually had several of these conversations with people considering going on a trip, that I have enjoyed. The reason these questions drive me to the place of insanity is because they put the focus on me, the very last place it should ever be.

I am by no means remarkable. I'm not trying to be humble, its just the plain truth. I have no useful talents, no gifts for languages. Spanish was a struggle for me to pickup, and I lived in Mexico for a year. I didn't know or have a clue what I was doing. My time in Mexico over the last seven years almost entirely consisted of me making goofy faces, doing laundry, making up karate moves with the little boys, and driving like a crazy (By the way, I totally fit in on Mexican roads. Oh yeah!). Nothing I did was remarkable. Looking at it in the natural, I pretty much have wasted loads of time and money, because none of that would make a real difference. But when you're relying entirely on God, trusting in Him, He takes our small, insignificant works, and turn them into something life changing, for them and for me.

So maybe that's why questions like, "Why were the kids so open to you?" drive me to a place of insanity. It's nearly impossible to explain that making faces can lead to life long friendships, emotional healings, and renewed faith. It's hard to explain in words or pictures how God works. And when people point to me as having anything to do with it, they trivialize what actually took place. Miracles took place. God took laundry, and transformed it into something life changing. All I did was go.










Thank you for reading. I know this one may have seemed harsh, but it's something I feel strongly about. Missions are a very important thing, and if you haven't gone on one, I strongly suggest you do (I'd even answer any questions you have about them!). If you don't feel the urge to go, I implore you to support missions. In financial struggles, their support is usually the first to go, and they really are the ones who need it the most. And if that's not an option, keep them in your prayers. Most of all, keep them in your prayers.

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Haven't a Clue

You all are quite intimidating. I started this blog with the idea that I would write about some of my travels, which I've done very little of, and it's become some sort of journal for me. Which, if you've ever had the fantastic experience of reading my journals from 5th grade, you would know that this is hilarious. (For those of you who haven't, here's a clue. They weren't any good. Even my mom mocks them. Often.) I try to write about what I'm going through, explain the crazy that happens in my head, and just in general, be me.

It's funny, because at times I feel more myself here than I do anywhere else. It's not that I'm not social, because I am, and its not that I'm not myself everywhere, it's more that I'm not this open with everyone. Which is ridiculous, I know, since I'm putting this online and literally everyone can see it. But I think its got something to do with all of you being faceless numbers that makes this so much easier. And while its wonderful that I have all of you to listen to my ramblings, I need more.

I need to be inspired. I need to be directed. I need to be held accountable and called out when I'm not holding myself to the standards I and God have placed on my life. And I, and you as well, can't get all of that from the faceless masses.

We need real people in our lives. We need to have relationships that go beyond 140 characters, no matter how much we can get to know a person on Twitter (Follow me!). We need to reach out to those that are actually around us. Social media is wonderful. It's a great way to meet new people, stay connected with friends, promote blogs you like, hint hint, but it's just a tool.


We need to connect. I wrote in a different post that "we aren’t meant to be soulless, emotionless, disconnected beings. We’re meant to connect! We’re meant to share our stories and thoughts with people." Because when we stop doing that, when we shut people out, we become far too self reliant. We're stuck with our own ideas, our own thoughts, and we begin to loose imagination, inspiration. We become the self absorbed folks who actually think we know what's best. 


We have to have others in our life for God to reach us. To stretch us and grow us. To keep us from growing stale. To keep us from being fake. 


I say all of that to say this: I don't know what I'm doing here. I'm never going to write something for you all just to write something. I'm going to write things because they're things I'm dealing with, things I'm learning, things others have pointed out to me and made me think. But I'm not going to write to please or impress you. That will ultimately fail, just like my 5th Grade journals. And no one wants to read those.








Thank you all for reading. It really does mean the world to me. If you have things that you're dealing with, something that's been revealed to you, or whatever, let me know! Like I said, I haven't a clue what I'm doing, so any inspiration is welcome! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I've got to tell you this upfront, I pretty much want to plagiarize this entire post. I don't think I can explain this concept better than Mark Steele did in his book flashBANG. I love books, and being a life long Christian who attended a private Christian school means I've read my fair share of Christian books, and this one is one of my favorites. I laugh every single time I read it, and more importantly, I learn something new every time. I mean, the book's secondary title is "How I Got Over Myself." It's like it was handwritten just for me! So, as soon as you can, I highly suggest going and picking up a copy for yourself. You won't regret it. But wait till you've finished reading me first! (See? I still have so far to go!)


The thing that always grabs me by the face and slaps me is his chapter called "The Effect of Cages", or "Hamster, Thou Art Loosed!" It is as wonderfully epic as the title would suggest, and flips so much of what we've been taught forever on its head. So answer me this, what's your first thought when you picture cages?


I picture this fantastic antique green cage we kept my bird Heathcliff in growing up. It's tiny. I couldn't imagine living in one. Some picture Christianity, what with all the rules and regulations in the Bible. I think that's probably why the Grace message is becoming so popular today. We want to stop being associated with the old man with a long beard sitting on a cloud, waiting to strike us with a lightning bolt the moment we mess up, and start being associate with the God who is the very definition of true, pure love.  So we're told from the youngest age to "Reach for the Stars!" "The Sky's the Limit" and "Get Out of Your Cage!" We're raised to believe that we, especially Americans, can and should have absolute freedom to go about and do whatever we feel like doing. We've gotten Women's Liberation, the Civil Rights Movement, and the Sexual Revolution to clear the path for us to do whatever the Bleepedy Bleep we want. And in someways, that's wonderful!


It is about time that people are seen as equals. ALL PEOPLE. It's a good thing that sex is no longer this taboo subject that can't be talked about. I know that's hard for some of you to hear, but God obviously created it for a reason, and apparently He made it pretty fun. Unless He's a cruel God, which I don't believe, He thinks it's a good thing too. 


But the problem is, we're us. We screw EVERYTHING UP! We take these freedoms, and we stretch, bend, and break them to include freedoms that God never meant us to have. Not because He didn't think we couldn't handle them, that we would have our eyes opened to how "awesome" the World is away from Him, but because outside of the freedoms He's given us, there are consequences.  Did you know that SCIENCE is now saying that couples who live together before they're married or at least engaged are much more likely to get divorced? SCIENCE. We've been told forever that the reason God doesn't want us to "get our freak on," is because He's some odd control freak, and that living with a person is one of the best ways to know if you're compatible. Well, you've now been Scienced. (Any HIMYM fans?) Turns out, the Big Man had a reason for the whole wait till you're married thing. 


So what are we to do? Stay in our little Christian Bubble, safe and shiny? Nope. Not only is that impractical, it's selfish. We need to, to paraphrase Mr. Steele here, "live in both worlds. Spread our wings in one, while finding our source in the other. After all is said and done, we must return to our coverless cage, because even though our "free reign" is limited there, it's our home." 


You see, it's in embracing our cage, or parameters, that we find true freedom. "Following Jesus is irony. Always has been. Be last to be first. Give to receive. Be weak to be strong. Get in your cage to get out of it. Get under His freedom to get over yourself." We have to swallow our pride, and just simply get over ourselves. Take the freedom, that sweet, priceless freedom, and take it with us wherever we go.  Because that is where true freedom lies.


P.S. Just an added bit of goodness: "If you feel enslaved by Christianity, you are still trying to attain goodness instead of living in freedom by a radical, supernatural grace." A timely tweet from another Lauren.



I sincerely do want to thank all of you for reading and sharing my ramblings. This month alone I've gotten more 1,200 views, which is crazy, because this is me, and my total views are only slightly double that! So thank you, thank you, thank you!!! And for real, go and get Mark's book. He's much funnier and articulate than I am.

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Somewhere in the Murky Middle...

Some of you may not understand ditches like us Minnesotans. I have a feeling the people of the South do not have an intimate knowledge of their local ditches like we do. It's not that we're horrible drivers, though you might think so during the first snow. I like to think that all the cars that fall in are from recent migrants, who just don't get ditches and driving in snow like we do. We can handle the craziest weather. I remember for one New Year's Eve, heading about an hour north in a blizzard that literally had the snow up to my bumper in some spots. It was easy, because I know my way in the midst of snow. I know how to take a wild tailspin my car has started, and to turn it into an awesome turn that gives me the false idea that I can be a stunt car driver. We know tricks to get our cars out of ditches, the best ways to avoid them, and so on. The number one way to stay out of a ditch? Stay in the middle of your lane. You're welcome.

We have our fair share of ditches in life as Christians. I think the majority of the fighting that takes place among us comes from them. We end up using them as bunkers to protect us, instead of trying to get out of them. We set up shop, start nesting, and claim to be in the middle of the road, but in reality, we've become almost a quicksand, sucking others in. 

And so we hear sermon after sermon, lecture after lecture, read blog after blog, begging, pleading with us to leave our trenches, to come to the middle of the road. But it's difficult to remain in the perfect middle on issues, and often we simply run. We leave our ditches, the arguments, and we trade them in for pleasantness and appeasement. It's deceptively calm, easing us into a passive state. Instead of picking a side on an issue, we just avoid them altogether. Some claim that this is tolerance, that it's loving your neighbor as yourself. That we're supposed to turn the other cheek. I call bull.


Christianity is not a passive religion.

Jesus stirred up mobs. People hated Him. Did you forget? He didn't mince words, dance around sticky situations, try to appease. He went about what He was called to do. He did so in Love, but He still did it. We need to take lessons!

I do realize that I started this out saying we need to get out of our ditches, but I may have forgotten to mention that there are many things we can learn from them. Each ditch was made because there was something to be learned there. And that's equally true of the ditch on the other side. The ditch that says that since God is Love, we have no need to fear or care about what we do because He will forgive us anyway, and the ditch that says God is a fearsome God, sitting on a cloud, waiting to strike us down with a lightning bolt, well, they are both partially wrong, and right! We have a God who Loves us, who will forgive us, but that doesn't give us a license to sin. He's a jealous God, who wants us to choose the best. He is mighty, worth of all Praise, Glory and Honor, not someone to be messed with. 
 
I guess what I'm trying to say is that we need to stop avoiding the ditches, and start learning from them! To appreciate the good points that can be found on both sides. And most importantly, take them back to the Bible and see how they stack up against what's written there. Because we won't get anywhere, holed up in our ditches, or off the road entirely. We've got to find the good, solid middle, and go!




Thank you all for reading! Seriously, it's overwhelming to me that you all take the time to read my ramblings. I want to give a shout-out to all of you who found me from my guest post over at Cory Copeland's blog! I'd love to get to know all of you, so comment away, send me an email, or follow me on Twitter!


Friday, November 25, 2011

What?!

So, this is craziness. I'm guest posting today! So, head on over to MadtoLove.com, and check it out!

Hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving, and survive Black Friday!

           Lauren Jean

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

No Te Quiero Perder

I remember this night so well, which is funny, since there was really nothing remarkable about it. It was one of my last nights in Mexico, and so two of my friends and I went out. We got bubble tea and talked and laughed, then went to Sam's Club for some food and more laughter, then for tamales, and then just bopping around downtown. We laughed and talked, about nothing and everything. I'd been gone for about a year, but it still felt like old times. When they pulled up to my house to drop me off, none of us wanted the night to end. So we sat in the car, and they got me to memorize a song in Spanish. The song is ridiculously over the top, hilariously so, gushing from this man desperate to win back an ex. He goes on and on about all the things he'd be willing to loose, but not this woman. Her presence is essential to his being, and so on.

My friends and I belted this till we were hoarse, and then sang it once more. For the remaining days I had there, whenever we saw each other, we would burst into the chorus and then laugh at the stares we got. To this day, whenever I think of them, or they of me, we pop over to their Facebook and drop a "No Te Quiero PERDER!" or for those of you who don't speak the Spanish, "I don't want to lose you!" And while for the 3 of us it's a silly statement that brings back fond memories, in actuality, it's a pretty powerful statement.

Who can you not stand to lose in your life? Yes, I realize that the Christian answer is Jesus, but really think about it for a moment. Who are the people that, if they left your life, you would notice their absence? Miss their presence? Mourn the loss of their friendship?

I know for myself that several of the people who fall into this category for me, well, let's just say that I haven't been making it clear that they are those people for me. It's all to easy to spend time alone and make excuses for why we haven't connected, or to place the blame on them. But that's not fair to them. I'm as much responsible for connecting with them and letting them know that they're valuable to me as they are. You get out of things what you put in them, and all that. So, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, let's take a closer look at the people in our lives, and let them know how much we really care for them. 'Tis the Season, after all.



Thanks for reading! You guys definitely fall into my "Things I'm Thankful For" Category! Have a wondermus Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

And I'm Thankful...

With Thanksgiving coming up soon, and my busy week, I'm going to keep this post short and sweet. Basically, I'm just gonna give you a quick run down of things I'm thankful for, because there are so many.

1. God's Favor.
   It never ceases to amaze me when God moves things on my behalf. And the best thing is, it's not because I'm oh so awesome, but because He is!

2. Friends
    I love that I have been blessed with friends that have my back and can laugh with me, no matter how long we've been apart. I've also been incredibly blessed to meet several new friends, who have spoken into my life in more ways than I can count.

3. Family
    My sister is coming to visit from California for Thanksgiving! I just saw her last month when I went out to visit her, but I miss my baby sis! She is one of my favorite people, with her hilarious stories, sweet nature, and obnoxious sibling ways. (By the way, this does mean I probably won't be posting much next week. Gotta soak her up while I can!)

4. God's Protection
    This last month has been quite the test for my friends, family, and myself. But no matter how hard things have gotten, God proved Himself time and time again. He truly never fails.

5. Baby Showers!
    Several of my friends are having babies, and it gives me an excellent excuse to bust out my knitting needles and get a cracking. I've already made 2 blankets, a pair of booties, and a pacifier attachment thing. I love it.

6. My Job
    I have a wonderful job, that while at times boring, it pays me well, has normal hours, and I don't continually want to strangle coworkers or customers. That's a miracle.

7. You!
    Like I say every time, thank you for reading! I know your time is valuable, so I don't take it lightly that you waste some of it on my writing! My ego is growing bigger every day, thanks to you guys! I kid, I kid. Kinda.


So, once again, thank you for reading! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!


Love you,
    Lauren Jean

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Always Feel Like Somebody's Watching Me...

There is one thing I have always been proud to say about myself, and that's that I don't care what people think about me. If I feel like singing/dancing in my car, eating a gigantic steak, or making a fool of myself, I'm going to do it. I choose my music, clothing, movies, books, or whatever, based on what I like, and not on what's popular. I've never had much time for other peoples opinions on me. I know what I like and who I am, and I'm not going to alter it because someone thinks I'm odd. I AM odd, crazy, different, unusual, and unique. And I love that about myself.

However...

I am aware that people are watching me. Young, old, male, female, Christians, and the World are all watching me. I don't blame them. I mean, I am pretty fascinating, for a 23 year old who knits, and just planned a craft night for this weekend. And because of this, I have to be cautious and aware of what I say and do.

I do realize that those are two rather contradictory paragraphs. So let me clean this up.

We need to make sure that the person we are, and the person we show to others, are in fact, the same person.

This goes beyond "being yourself." This is making sure that you are proud of the person you are, regardless of others opinions, but at the same time, are proud and ok with people seeing you do it, because people are watching you, whether you knit or not.

I know that those seem like two things that go hand in hand, but so often we can decide that our actions are fine, as long as they're something we really want to do, that it's "part of who we are." LIES!!!  They maybe something "lawful," but at the same time, our actions can lead others to fall, doubt, or just cause general discord. And while their actions are on them, they can also point towards us as the one who pointed them off the path.

Now, I am all about Grace and Mercy. They are the most valuable thing we have as Christians, in my opinion. They are not an excuse to lead others wrong though. If you read Matthew 18:6, you'll see that Jesus feels pretty strongly on the subject. I mean, He literally tells people to jump into the ocean with a rock around their neck rather than cause someone else to stumble. That's a pretty strong message, at least in my book.

Now, before you tell me that no one is watching you, so you're in the clear, just stop. You may be the most boring, hideous person alive, and I will still bet that there is SOMEONE watching you. It could be the your local barista, the bank teller, your coworker, your friend's little sibling. You have no idea who it could be. I didn't. I started volunteering at my church's high school program, with kids who I used to babysit, and I am constantly amazed at the kids that come up to me and tell me they remember me from when I was a cheerleader, or when I did the school plays. I had no idea who these kids were, let alone that they were alive when I could do the splits. I've been shocked at the kids who have told me they did something because they saw me do it, or heard me talk about it. I mean, are they nuts? They're making choices because of me? The me I was in 9th grade?! That's INSANE! But it happens all the time, and not just to me! People constantly are making decisions because of other people they see. Myself included.

Now, I again want to say that I am not at all saying that you need to care about peoples opinions of you. Nope. When you know you're doing what God has called you to do, or its something that may just toss you into the "geek" category, toss their opinions right out the window. BUT, when you're going about your life, you need to be aware of how your actions can influence others. Be the you that you would want a group of young kids to want to be like. Be the you that your grandma would be proud of. Be the you that the World will say, "Yeah, They're a Christian, but they're cool! They're someone I want to be like. They have something about them that I want." Because that's what we're called to do here, right?




Thanks for reading! I really do not get why you pick my blog to spend your valuable time reading, but I want you to know that I truly appreciate it. Thank you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

In Whose Authority?

A while ago, I walked into a store, through the side entrance, grabbed a set of keys, and turned to walk out. An employee who had previously been on the phone, turned around, and let out a very shocked, "You can't be back here! What are you doing?!"

Now, most people would probably have a mild panic attack, being confronted like that. Not me. I just simply turned, and said, "Oh, it's ok! I'm Guy's daughter." I had no reason to be nervous, because I, as the owner's daughter, had my father's authority to be there.

I have never once been worried about walking in to the store, and asking for a boom truck, or calling in to have someone come and pick me up because my car stopped working. I could pretty much do anything I wanted to with the store, because I have the authority to do so (I don't, because I'm not a rotten human being. But I could). And quite similarly, I have the same authority in Christ, and so do you.

The same power that lives in Christ lives in us. It says in Ephesians 1, that we have the same authority that raised Christ from the grave, the power that Christ now uses at the right hand of the Father.  In Colossians, it makes a fairly convincing case that when God looks at us, He no longer sees us, but He literally sees Jesus. When God sees us, He sees us as having hung on the cross. We have the power to move mountains, to kill trees, cure leprosy, have peace in uncertainty, because we have the authority of Christ. We can go BOLDLY before the throne of Grace and Mercy, and come away with what we need! DO YOU GET IT?!?!!! WE HOUSE THE SAME POWER THAT WAS IN CHRIST! The power that created our world? In us. Why do you think pastors are constantly telling us the importance of our words? Because they are POWERFUL!

So why are Christians walking around, timid, heads hung in despair and defeat? I think its because we don't get it. We know ourselves and how messed up we are, and the very idea of us being that powerful is laughable. I mean, really. The idea that anytime I make my pathetic attempts at fixing, improving, or helping something, would in anyway be effective is in fact, hilarious! But then I remember that it's no longer my pathetic attempts, but it is the same power that raised Christ from the grave that is coursing through my veins, and my faith rises, and I can begin to see the darkness tremble.

You know, we've heard it many times that as Christians, we would do greater works than Jesus did while on earth, but I don't think many of us have actually taken it to heart. We think that power is reserved for the preachers, the pastors, the missionaries, the prophets, the evangelists. The "Holy People." Do you know who Jesus had as His disciples? They were not an impressive bunch. One of them was stealing from Him, planning His murder, another chopping peoples ears off, someone else turning away the annoying kids, and STILL He used them! I don't think God is looking for the most impressive people. He's looking for the most willing people. The reason that miracles are happening for the people they are happening for is because they realize its NOT them. It's HIM. And they've realized that they can walk in HIS authority.

God's authority, the one that resides in us, is so much more than we know or can imagine. It's more than miracles taking place in Africa. It's more than healing. It can be for protection, favor, guidance, wisdom, knowledge, talents, providence, and I'm sure many other things that I have yet to understand. And healings? Our authority is for more than just colds in the States. And its not only for the pastors. It's for you, and me. It's for the 14 year old who had never prayed for anyone before, but just believes. It's for the 80 year old who knows the Bible backwards and forwards. It's for the new believers. And most importantly, it's for the World. To set us apart from them, and draw them to us. They are supposed to notice a difference in us, and this is it. Not our self righteousness, the lists of things we do different than they, but our confidence in Him, and the Authority we have through Him.

Let's take that Authority to heart! I want to be known as the woman who houses the power of God inside of her. That the people of the World come and ask me why things go my way, even when everything looked like it was against me, and I would be able to say, "That's Jesus, my God, who is great and mighty. He's the one who should be praised."




Thank you all for reading and sharing! It means so much to me. Thank you. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Fear or Faith

Sometimes in life, you may, no, scratch that, you will come across difficult situations. It's just a fact of life. Unless you live in a box. But then you wouldn't be reading this, so you don't get that excuse. From the youngest age, on up till we visit the grave, we will be faced with hard things. People will annoy us, attack us, accuse us, offend us, and you have to choose how to deal with it.

Now, I know there are many different ways to deal with these things, but I think many of them boil down to choosing fear or choosing faith.

Fear can be people's initial responses all to often. From the youngest age, we are taught to fear strangers, stoves, streets. We have it instilled in us that there are bad things that are going TO KILL US!!!! And while that's true, can I just say, "So?"

Ok, so maybe not everyone has such a flippant attitude towards death as I. Ok, I mean, yes, there are things that will kill us, and that would be awful to die before our calling is accomplished, but does that mean we should change our life and live afraid of every possible thing that might injure us? That would be ridiculous. And while we may not do it with things like paper, things we eat, not exercising, and I'm sure many others, we live our lives in fear in so many areas instead of in faith.

I am not talking about being stupid. Don't jump out of an airplane without a parachute. If I'm being honest, I won't be jumping out of a plane voluntarily with a parachute anytime soon. That terrifies me. I like to think of it as a healthy fear though. (I may need to reread this afterwards and take some pointers from myself.) But I am talking about living the life you were called to.

There are always going to be things to be afraid of. Some of them may even be legitimate things. But fear does one thing. It holds us back. It is a tool that the devil uses to keep us down and out, with nothing but a horrid idea. There's a reason we're told to guard our mind, to cast out things that are contrary to what Christ has spoken into our life. Because we were not meant to live in fear.

We were  meant to see the obstacles, the dangers, take notice of them, and then TAKE CHARGE! We are supposed to be a people of action! We are supposed to be on the offensive, fighting the good fight of FAITH. We have a Lord who has our back. He equips us to do the things we are called to do. He  trust us to do these amazing things He has called us to do. Can we not trust Him to know what He's doing?

Often times I see this lack of faith when it comes to missions. Whether it comes to getting money for the trip, being able to speak the language, cultural barriers, being able to effectively minister, or the dangers that maybe present there. People use these as reasons to say that they weren't actually called. That makes me really mad. Did you think that the devil put the idea in your head so he could lure you to Mexico/Africa/Indonesia to kill you? Really? Because I'm fairly certain that if you give the devil that much power in your life, he could get it done wherever you're at right now.

Now when you get attacked, whether it's spiritually, physically, or however, there are those two responses. To hid, never do what you did before that brought this attack on, or my personal favorite, suit up. Take lessons in combat training. Go and get your conceal and carry. Prepare your spit wads. Because this is war. And we aren't in it for prisoners. We're out for blood. (To clarify, I do mean the devil's. Do not go out for blood when the boy next to you in kindergarten eats your swirl metallic crayons. You will get a Stop Sign and be held back from recess.) Let's not back down from our callings. Let's grab faith, our Bibles, the teachings of the Lord and His promises, and go head first into the fight!




Thanks for reading and sharing this! It shocks me all the time. And if you want to read my attempts at being funny, follow me on Twitter! @laurenjeanstm Thanks, and Love!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Choosing Joy

So, I feel like I should apologize for my last post. I completely agree with it, but after the weekend I just had, it seems I didn't explain that choosing Joy isn't any easy choice.

It's quite easy to sit here and write that "the Joy of the Lord is our Strength." It's not easy to really and truly believe that. At times, it is the most difficult thing to do. But that's when we need to remember that it is a choice.

Emotions are not something we should allow to rule us, no matter what we've been told. Like thoughts, we can choose the ones we dwell on and let in. With some, it's easy. With others, it just isn't. I wish I could give you guys a step by step guide, that by completing A, B, and C, you too can rule your emotions. It doesn't work like that, though.

All I do know, is that you have to make a choice. You have to consciously and continuously choose to walk in Joy. Choose to cast out vain imaginations. Choose to believe that we serve a good God who has the best plans and hopes for us. But it doesn't stop there.

The one thing I can almost guarantee that will happen when you choose Joy? You are going to be tested. This is not a reason to back off from the Joy, which is your Strength! This is a call to arms. Whenever we receive a victory in our walk with Christ, that is the moment we must keep our guard up even more. Many battles have been lost after great victories, because defenses have been let down.

DO NOT LOOSE HEART! Do you know why Joy is our Strength? Because our Joy comes from a knowledge that we've won! We find strength because we've already done this. This battle has been fought and won, and because of that, we know we can win it again.

In the midst of your discouragement, remember the Cross, and what was finished there. When you've done all to stand, STAND! The only way the devil wins, is if we quit fighting. One of my pastors recently said to someone discouraged by all going on around her, that it wasn't up to her to withstand the devil. The devil had to withstand HER. And that, he can only do, if we let him. So let's not.





Thank you so much for reading. It means so much to me. Really. And please know that I am talking to myself just as much, or possibly more than I am to you. I struggle, and do not, by any stretch of the imagination, have all the answers. If you have a point to make that I did not, or disagree with something, please leave a comment! We are here to help each other grow! 

Friday, November 4, 2011

Jesus, Others, and You! What a Wonderful Way to Spell Joy!

If you've been keeping up to date with my posts, you know that I am not always as happy and aware of my awesomeness as I should be. And you know what I've learned? You gotta keep your head up.


I know that sounds oversimplified, and maybe it is, but can your say that it won't help? When Paul talked to the Hebrews about the loss they had experienced, you know what he remarked on? They JOYFULLY accepted it. Now, my guess is they weren't actually thrilled to have their "goods plundered," but they made a choice to accept it and see the good in that situation. 


Now some of you might be yelling a tad, saying "There is no good in this situation! Nothing positive can happen. You don't know what happened to me, what I'm going through, what that person did, what the devil is doing..." 


Shut up. 
I grew up in the Church. I've said those same things. And the thing is, that yes, you might be going through something, but who isn't?! So, yes, Shut up.



Now, not to pull out THE MOST OBVIOUS EXAMPLE EVER, but let's look at Jesus, cause He's super cool


1. Lazarus
Jesus' friend DIES, and what does He do? He doesn't stress. He takes His time, going about the things that need to be done. Why? Because He knows that something AWESOME, and also, COMPLETELY NECESSARY is going to come out of this situation. He takes a funeral, and turns it into the best Halloween Party ever. Most life like Ghost/Zombie/Mummy around. But not only does that happen, but He also manages to piss off the Chief Priests and Pharisees, because they see that He is working in miracles, which cause them to call for...


2. A Jesus Man Hunt.
Yep, Jesus took a crappy situation, made the most out of it, and there are now people PLOTTING HIS DEATH. It's almost a little like Final Destination, but not really. At this point, yeah, things aren't looking so good. No matter what He does, people seem to hate Him. (Take note of that. People hated JESUS. Not everyone is going to like you, and that is ok. If everyone did like you, that would be an issue, because you are obviously not the same person to everyone you meet. Be who you are meant to be.)


3. Crucification
We all know what happened. He rose again! Yay. I mean, it is honestly AMAZING, but I think sometimes we kind of minimize what He went through to get to that point. Commentators say He didn't even look human after the beatings He took, BEFORE He hung on the cross. Then He had to hang on a cross, be mocked and humiliated. And after all that, He went to hell, fought, took the keys of Death, Hell, and the Grave, and then He rose again. I got tired just typing it. I know this is painfully obvious, but I would not have made it. Especially if I had the Authority to call down a swarm of angels to take me away. No way. You know what I think made it bearable for Him? Besides the whole, "He's the Son of God"? He understood that the JOY of the Lord is our STRENGTH. 


I really believe that Jesus, during all of it, was focusing on the Joy that would come in the morning. I think, that maybe like I do, Jesus focused on the good to distract Him from the horrific. (That good, by the way, is you and me. We are His Joy. Crazy, huh?)


Sometimes, it is really really hard to do. It can be difficult to say, "You know what? I'm glad I was the one in the car accident! If it hadn't of been me, who knows what would have happened? Maybe the other person wouldn't have been wearing a seat belt, and this could have been a much more tragic accident." Or to be thankful that you're the one who is sick. Or to thank God and rejoice in whatever tragedy had occurred. 


Now, I do not pretend to know the obstacles you are up against. I, myself, have had a fairly easy life. But I've seen God do amazing things in the midst of tragedies. Sometimes the amazing thing is that it did happen to a Christian and not an unbeliever. Shocking, I know, but we are not meant for cushy lives. And you know why that's ok? Because we have the Joy of the Lord, which is our Strength, and they do not. So, at the very least, be grateful that this happened to you, someone with the resources to deal with it, instead of the unbeliever who doesn't! 


So, yes, let's continue to ask for prayer in our times of trouble, but let's not loose Faith that He has a plan, that there is something wonderful going to come out of this, and at the very least, be JOYFUL that the devil sees us as enough of a threat to come and try and mess with us! 






Thank you guys so much for reading and passing these along! I am seriously overwhelmed that you guys want to read my ramblings. And if you could see my 5th grade journals, you would understand why. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Frustrations of a Non Denominational...

I recently met a new friend, and it was wonderful. We got along right away, and I wish I had had more time to spend with her! She is a somewhat recent relocated Northerner, now in the Bible Belt. And one of the things we touched on during our short time together, was how frustrating it is to be "Non Denominational."

She said that when people started asking her what she believed/what religion she was, and she answered with, "Oh, I'm non denom," some of the people just could not accept that as an answer. They wanted something concrete. She's a Baptist, Episcopalian, Pentecostal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, anything they could easily define and analyze.

I've had similar experiences. Whenever anyone finds out you're a Christian, they almost immediately ask, "Which kind?" And I have always hated that question. For one, I do not have an easy answer.

I could easily go off about how I don't have a religion, I have a relationship, and start spewing Christianese at them. Or I could simply tell them my churches name, and let them draw their own conclusions based off of news reports that don't really represent the church I grew up in at all. I could try to explain to them that I believe what the Bible says, that Jesus came down to save us, not only when we die, but also in our life here on earth. That He is part of my everything, not just my Sundays. I could explain that I believe in the prosperity message, not the one that gets bashed by everyone, but the message that says God wants us to be whole, spirit, soul, and body, and that the financial aspect is the smallest part of it, and looks different for everyone. That I believe in God's healing power, in His Grace and Love. I could tell them the actual miracles that I have seen and witnessed with my own eyes, and told them how my life was never the same. But usually they're just looking for the short answer, and so I tell them I'm non denominational, and they roll their eyes and move on to something else.

The second reason I hate that question, is the fact that even the World sees us as divided. We're supposed to be the Church! Not the fighting families! Are we all going to agree on everything? Good Lord, no! Where would be the fun in that?!  We need each other and our disagreements to grow and stretch us. I know for a fact that there are many things that I do not have down, that another part of the body is excelling at. And I have knowledge of things that will help them! God's revealed parts of Himself to all of us, given us gifts, talents, and callings that only we can walk in, and if we are constantly putting each other down, we're going to miss out on those blessings.

Now, I am not saying that not all doctrine is important. You cannot convince me that healing is not for today, that speaking in tongues was for Acts alone, that we serve a God who is not filled with Mercy, Grace, and Love for us. You just can't. But does that mean that if we disagree, I have the right to put down your church and your faith? NO! While your church may not have the same beliefs as I do, that doesn't mean that your church doesn't have a place in the body of Christ, and that it cannot minister to others, and myself. And I have no idea what my bashing of that church could do to deter someone else from the Message God has for them.

No, this constant bickering back and forth must stop. God called us a BODY for a reason. We need to be united, to support and uplift one another. Because you know when I hear Baptist, Episcopalian, Pentecostal, Methodist, Presbyterian, Anglican, and all the other ones there are, I don't hear my enemies. I hear the names of my brothers and sisters. And if I'm being a 100% honest, I do not really see what we're all fighting about. Because when I read the Wiki's on you guys, I find myself saying, "Hey, I believe that! I believe that too! Hmm, I've never thought of it that way. Now that I might disagree with, but does it really matter if when God created the earth, it was actually 7 days or the 1000 years to a day? Either way it happened. OH, I believe that too!"

So, can you guys join up with me? Can we support one another in the areas that God has called each of us too, despite our differences? Because I have a feeling we'll get so much more accomplished than we could even begin to imagine.

Thanks for reading you guys! I'm in awe every time I see someone read. Thank you.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Bubble Bursting Time

I recently went on a road trip. I had a blast, and got to hang out with so many interesting and wonderful people. I heard their stories, told them some of mine. And a lot of this took place in bars.


Now, I don't drink. I have never had the desire, and the four times I've had a taste, three of which were accidentals at other churches communions, I did not enjoy it one bit. However, and this may ruffle a few feathers; I do not actually have a problem with drinking. I don't think its the best for you, but there are plenty of things that I do that are not the best for me, so I really shouldn't be judging. I do take issue with getting drunk, but that's a different story, and not at all my point.


My point is this, I went there. I didn't sit on my high horse and wait for them to fix their lives and "come up to my level." (I'm rolling my eyes so much at even the idea of that.) But I think as the Church, we often do just that. We hide in our bubble, demanding the "heathens," or the not living "righteously" Christians, to step up before we will reach out to them and welcome them into our churches. But that's like asking a sick person to get well before they are allowed to see the doctor. But that is what we so often do.


We say its because we are "in this world, but not of it," that we have a higher calling. Excuses! We're made uncomfortable. We don't know how to deal with the person and not the "sin." It's not in our nature. Our nature is to focus on the dirt. WE LOVE DIRT. Don't lie. You love hearing the dirty secrets. I know this, because my more popular posts are the ones where I divulge some secret like, I wrote a letter trying to convince someone to kill themselves. We love dirt, and we love to use it against others. And we Christians seem to be settled in this place where we avoid dirt as much as possible, until we come in contact with it, and then we use it as a weapon to hurt everyone around us, even though we are covered in our own dirt as well.


A twitter friend wrote this piece, and I love that he points out that sex was not discussed. I went to a private school, and I remember a girl not knowing anything about sex, her senior year. I had a much different upbringing than those two. I had the good fortune of being raised by baby Christians, who either didn't know enough to realize that this was a taboo subject, or had seen enough while in the world to know that those that are sheltered often go of the deep end once finally let out of their bubble. And that later part is so true! 


We have 1 of 3 choices for dealing with our bubble.


1: We can remain in it, forever. 
Up on our high horse, demanding the sick to take care of themselves. That, however, will keep us stagnate, and them forever on the outside. There's a reason Mark 16:15 says to, "Go into all the world and share the Good News with EVERYONE!"


2: We can let the World burst our bubble.
But that is letting them have control. That will be as if we are living in the World, AND are of it! There is a reason that our parents are cautious and want us to be kept in our bubble, safe and sound, as long as possible. 


3: We can burst our own bubble.
We can take control, and have the best of both worlds. We can be Christians who are "safe and sound," but can still go out into the World, and be lights. We can take the glamour out of sin by exposing it, talking about it, and at the same time, we can expose the "world" to true Christianity, not the version they see in the news, on tv, or the movies.


Is it awkward going to the bars and not drinking? At first. You get asked a lot why you're not drinking. You can say that its because you're the sober cab. Or you can explain. You'll be surprised by what that can mean to the people you go out with. I've yet to go to a bar, and have someone not tell me what it meant to them. 


Disclaimer: If you struggle with drinking, don't go to bars. If you struggle with drugs, don't hangout with druggies. If you struggle with sex, don't put yourself in tricky situations. If you struggle with gossip, stay away from gossips. Don't use this as your excuse to sin. 


I guess this just all comes back to the two Great Commandments. We're called to love others, no matter what. Jesus says the whole law hangs on love. Do you not think that He might care more about us reaching out to others, than if they're drinking? He was after all, the Jesus of Prostitutes.


Thanks for reading! I know this one was long, rambling, and didn't cover all parts of the subject, but I've missed writing! So thanks for sticking through. It means a lot. Also, I am getting so advanced! Did you see the links? Sorry, I'm just so excited!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Heart Break

You know those days? The ones where everything just seems to hit you at once? Where you can't seem to help but see the playlist or slideshow of all the things you've done wrong, aren't going how you planned, or are just filled with the most pathetic feelings of why would I dream of or reach for that? That's my day today. And I don't really have any answers as to why.

I'm not a sad or disappointed person. I can usually see the bright side of any situation. Not in a "I'm always cheery and have never had a dark thought ever!" kind of way. Most people think I'm rather dark and twisty, what with my black and white approach to most things in life, my sarcastic, and if I do say so myself, hilarious comebacks, or maybe its just the fact that I'm a girl whose a realist and not a romantic. And all of that maybe true, but I would consider myself to be an optimist, in general. But just not today.

And I don't really know how to deal with it. I imagine this is what it feels like to have your heart break. I've heard it talked about, but I've never really understood. No, this isn't about a guy. This is about that moment when everything around you seems to be telling you you're a fool. You'll never be good enough, smart enough, attractive enough, fast enough. You will never be enough. All those things that you've dreamed of, wanted, yearned for, prayed about, planned for, well, you don't deserve them. You won't get them. It's never going to happen. You will remain where you are. Stagnate. Dying.

I know the cliché answers that this is just the devil attacking and that he's just trying to hold me back from the amazing thing that God has in store for me, to keep pressing on! I know them. I've said them! But for whatever reason, today it's just not sinking in.

My instincts say to listen to the voice. To board up my heart. That with two nails and a board, I can almost staple my heart back together, and then continue to hide it from the world. That that way, I'll be safe. That way, I won't get hurt.

But my training tells me otherwise. My training tells me to bare all. To lay it at my Fathers feet, broken, sad and pathetic and ask Him to make it something beautiful. Something that will be enough. More than enough. Something that will take me where I'm meant to be. Far beyond where my thoughts, dreams and desires imagined I could go. And in that, I take hope.



Thanks for reading! It means so much to me. Honestly, you have no idea. Also, sorry for not posting lately! I've been on the road! But I promise more posts soon!