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!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Benefits of Working With the Guys...

As some of you know, I have a new job at a party rental company. I love it, well, at least 90% of the time. And one of the reasons I love it is because of all the unexpected wisdom/insight I have the good fortune of overhearing from my male co-workers. So I thought I'd share what I've gleaned so far. Enjoy.

#1: "You can't fix stupid." It may not be nice, but it is honest. There is only so much you can do to help those who just don't get it. So, better to do your best to help, and then just accept the fact that some may never get that Red Carpet is Red, or that an 8 foot table is 8 feet long. It helps me to just shake my head, smile, and think, "Aw, so dumb."

#2: "If you aren't willing to do any of the things involved in being in a relationship, then why are you wanting to be in one with me?" This gem was overheard from a coworker arguing with "some needy chic." And its so true! So often I see people out there who are desperate to be in a relationship, to know that someone cares for them, that they will jump into any relationship to get it, even though they are in no way ready for a relationship. If you cannot be there to comfort, support, uplift, correct, and care for that person, but are only in it for yourself? Well, you need to grow up and realize you aren't in middle school anymore.

#3: "Wow, she was definitely trying to hide some funk!" Ladies, the fellows notice when we bath in perfume, instead of just bathe. If you must skip the shower, (which I will admit to do far to often) do not take a swim in your perfume to mask it. Also, carefully select it. You can go to counters and ask for samples. Try them out, and see which ones you get compliments on. Just because the perfume smells good doesn't mean it will smell good on you. If no one says anything about it, toss it. "Anything less than the best is a felony" in this case.

#4: "You mean the rich, wanna be stripper?" Yep, that was a real comment made about one of our customers, made by one of the men I work with. Ladies, when you wear clothes that were designed for elementary students, completely disguise yourself with pounds makeup and wigs, and talk in a "dumb girl" voice? You are putting forth the image of a stripper. And that's what people will see you as. And from the conversations I'm hearing right now, you will not like their opinion of you. Yes, I know that they should treat you like a lady, regardless of how you dress, and in my coworkers defense, they did, but in their mind you are not a lady, you are a stripper.

#5 "You will never love something so completely as you will your own child." Sometimes I like to think I already understand this, because that's how I feel about my kids in Mexico. It kills me to leave them. I would do anything to keep them all safe. It physically pains me when I know that they're in danger. But everyone with biological children seems to believe that its different when its your own, so I guess I'll find out if that ever happens. But the wisdom is this: Our generation is not for sure going to be full of dead beat parents. There are several people out there who, while a child wasn't their plan, love that kid more than anything. And I think that's wonderful and worth celebrating.

Now, I need to say something. I love my co-workers. They are wonderful. They can be some of the sweetest, most genuine, caring people I have ever met. They are funny, helpful, hard working, interesting guys. They are some of my favorite examples of random chivalry. I would trust some of them more than I would some of my "saved" friends. No, they do not always do the right thing, and I haven't a clue if any of them have met the Lord, but I love them either way and feel so blessed to work with them. Maybe sharing some of their private thoughts and conversations isn't the best way to show that, but pretty sure none of them know I blog, so I think I'm safe!

Thank you for reading! I cannot even begin to explain how shocked I am that you do. So thank you!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Preacher, the Prophet...

The other day I had my music on shuffle, and on came this song I had never heard before. And so I did what I always do with songs that I enjoy, put it on repeat and played it till I knew the song backwards and forwards, and then played it some more. It really is a good thing that I wasn't alive during the hayday of records, because all of mine would have been worn, scratched, and every other bad thing that can happen from over-playing them.

Back to my point. There's a line in this song that just strikes a cord with me. "The Preacher, the Prophet, I've never known, but the Jesus of Prostitutes is chasing my soul."

Now let that sink in.

Which Jesus was it that made you turn around? I doubt it was the Prophet. Being told all that you're capable of can be terrifying. The Preacher may get a tad intimidating without a foundation. But the Jesus who hung out with the prostitutes and tax collectors, who called the fishermen who fought, who plays with the small children? I'm guessing He had the most impact. If you haven't met Him yet, you seriously should. He's one cool guy.

Now you may have read that, and are now thinking I'm deep in blasphemy territory. Take a deep breath and continue reading. There is a place for The Prophet, the Teacher, the Preacher, the One who Over Threw the Temple. All of them are essential, vital parts for our walk with the Lord. However, when interacting with the World, Jesus wasn't all of those people. He was the Jesus of Prostitutes. He spent time with them, defended them, told them they were worth more. My guess is that if Jesus had approached the "woman of the city," in Luke 7 as He had approached the religious money changers of the Temple in Matthew 21, she may not have been so moved to change her ways. He threw over the tables of those that were self proclaimed "righteous" and called them out. But with her? He compared her to the "righteous," and she came out on top. He forgave her sins. He told her that her faith had saved her, to have peace.

We desperately need the Prophet to enlighten us, the Teacher to teach, the Preacher to preach. We need the Over Thrower to call us out. But we have to have the Jesus of Prostitutes to bring us to that place, to sit with us and hold our hand through our correction, to keep us at peace, making sure the whole time that we know we are saved and loved. And so I have a simple question to ask you.

Which Jesus are you portraying to the World?

Thank you so much for reading. It means more than I can express. 

P.S. The song is "Hawthorne" by Mat Kearney.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Lessons Learned from Trips 1 and 2

I'm always so amazed by the people I meet on here, and the lives being lead all around us. If we take our eyes of our off of ourselves, for just a moment, what will we see that could change our lives forever? 

I'm one of those people who has been fortunate enough to travel to several parts of the world. I've been in some of the poorest villages, and been in some of the most extravagant buildings. And you know what is the most easily identifiable change that has taken place with in me? You're really never gonna guess, so...

My standard for bathrooms. 

Yep. I'm gonna go there. 

Now, I've never been the most prissiest of girls, growing up camping and all that, but I am from America, the land of large pipes and an infinite supply of running water. I never had a clue that water was a precious resource. I'm from Minnesota, where I see at least 5 bodies of water in the 3 blocks I take to get to work. In my book, water is everywhere, and never something you run out of.  Bathrooms, at the worst were a smelly outhouse, usually built with a nice lookout at a lake. And then I went to Peru.

We were floating on the Amazon, so you would assume that water wouldn't really be an issue. Not the case. In the 15 days we were there, I took a total of 3 showers, none of them long enough to do damage, and all completely pointless after about 5 minutes in the humid temps. Water was a vital necessity, that we were told in no uncertain terms, in Spanish and English, that we were to guard and watch over.  And I began to learn that others do not have some of the things I put little to absolutely no thought into. I was appreciative, grateful, and sad for them to not be able to go swimming without thinking about piranhas. 

And then we spent the night in the village. It was wonderful! The people were so lovely, and kind, slightly freaked out because my skin was like a reflective surface in comparison to their lovely sunkissed tones, but oh so happy! Really, one of the things I remember most about the trip was how unbelievably happy they were. The only entertainment they had was soccer and chopping trees with machetes, and they were some of the happiest people I had ever seen! And then the inevitable happened, and I had to visit the facilities. 

One of the villagers pointed me down a path, and through several hand gestures, I figured out that the bathrooms were down it. I walked, and walked, passed some huts, walked some more, and reached where our boat was. So, I turned around and walked back. On my walk back, I realized that those odd looking huts, on stilts, with the board going up to the top of it? That I would have to crawl up, in my skirt, was probably the bathroom. Awesome. Not gonna go into much detail, but there was no form of a seat, or place to hold on, nor a light to see what might be, which was probably a good thing. I finished up, changed into my night clothes, and vowed never to complain again. 

My 14 year old self was shocked that 1, there were people in the world who lived without so many things that I didn't even consider. Not consider as a luxury, I just didn't even consider them,  and 2, that they did so, happier than nearly everyone I had ever met, who possessed so much more than they did on a material level. But of course, I returned to the States, and my memories were pushed aside, because I hadn't yet come to realize the full extent of what that meant.

So, I went to Mexico. Another trip, same lesson. Again, water was a precious resource, but even more so when you're in the mountainous desert, in a country where the 1st warning you hear is to not drink the water, followed by a 2nd warning to not get your head chopped off.  Where we happened to go to, the water and the bathroom went hand in hand. Yellow, let it mellow; brown, flush it down, but never the paper, because the pipes are about the size of a half dollar. Showers were 3 minutes max, and we often ran out of water, leaving several in stinky situations. Water was not only something that we guarded and cherished, it was something that was limited. It could be stolen from others. The luxury of a bathroom with a seat and paper for free, well, was hard to find. I cannot tell you how many times I've paid to use my own paper and pop a squat.  But you know what that did for me? It reminded me of the lesson I had started to learn long before, but had thrown aside as soon as I was comfortable again. 

No, its not the lesson that things are what make you happy. I'm fairly certain that we've been told that lesson forever.  No, the lesson is to take our eyes off of ourselves, to observe the world around us, AND LEARN FROM IT! There are so many amazing people out there, going through much tougher situations than you. And I say that not to belittle what you're going through, but to encourage you! Learn from them! Gain perspective, acceptance, thankfulness. Lets stop focusing on the little things in our life, that to us might not be good enough, but to someone else is the biggest blessing in their life. The person who is dealing with losing a loved one can remind you to cherish the time we have with our loved ones, no matter how annoying they might be. The person recovering from an ended relationship might just be a lamp post to us, showing us the pitfalls to avoid, and the things to revere. The person behind the counter can teach us patience, compassion, humility, but only if you take the time to turn your eyes off of yourself for a moment, stop telling me that the bathroom at Caribou is disgusting, and I should go and clean it. Because really? If its not a hole in the ground without paper, you have no place to be complaining. Just saying. 

Seriously guys, thank you for reading! I am shocked that you guys continue to come back! Especially Italy, Mongolia, and Russia! I have no idea how you found me, but I would love to hear from you, and learn what is going on in your lives. That goes for all of you! Much love!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

To Forgive is Devine...

"Forgiveness, is more than saying sorry." 
Ten cool points if you know what that and the title are from.

Forgiveness is something I am working on. And its hard. And even harder for me to admit. I like to think of myself as having it mostly together for the most part. Which isn't really true or helpful to anyone. True, I have my grasp on some things, but on the issues I struggle with? I struggle big time. And Forgiving Others = The Head Honcho.

First things first, let me lay out my pathetic excuses for my lack of forgiveness, so that we can the proceed to ignore them and get at the heart of the manner.

  1.  It takes a whole lot to get me legitimately angry

       Most things I let just slide, because its not worth it to stress over the little things. You never know what someone else is dealing with that day, or what has gone on in their life. And, we have it way easier than they do. We can get away. They can never be rid of themselves. That's true punishment there. And so, I often believe that if you can make me legitimately angry, you've done something that is worthy of judgement. (So not true, by the way.)

    2.   What they did is completely unacceptable, or I did absolutely nothing to deserve it.
      The first one, well, yes, sometimes people do things that are completely unacceptable. There are some fairly standard ones, like abuse, but I find that my list tends to be a tad excessive. Probably the #1 stupid thing I get legitimately angry over, that I know is completely unacceptable, is when people do stupid things when they know better and then they freak out over the consequences. Which is ironic, since that's pretty much exactly what I'm doing with this anger.

     Second part of that, the I did absolutely nothing to deserve it part? I can think that for as long as I want, and it might be true, but it generally doesn't matter, because they usually aren't doing it to me because of something I've done. It's usually because of the things they've been through. Does that excuse their actions? No, but again, it does explain it.

Ok, lets be done with the excuses. We all have them, and they don't help us, the people who hurt us, or the people around us. They simply put off the dealing with of the real issue, forgiveness.

It's a really difficult thing for people to wrap their mind around. We're told as young children to do things, because it's the fair or right thing to do. We've had drilled into us the absolute importance of remembering from the time we learned our ABC's. But then we're told that when others don't play by the rules, we're supposed to let it slide, despite the unfairness of it all, and forgive and forget. It's just not natural! 

Maybe that's why God changed our nature. 
Maybe that's why the Bible says we are dead to Sin, but alive in Christ. 

We're supposed to throw off the old "self," and take up Him and His nature. And He has got a handle on forgiveness. He's so into forgiveness, He's given Himself the most selective sort of amnesia ever. He forgotten every single sin we've committed. He says they're as far away from His mind as the East is from the West. No wonder we confess that we have the mind of Christ! He's so into forgiveness that He forgave us before we asked; before He met us; before we had done anything, good or bad, He chose to forgive us. And then He chose to blindly trust us.

Forgiveness is at its simplest, a choice. We've got to choose to put aside our hurt, and forgive them. And that doesn't mean that we have to have amnesia, though it might help. It means we have to stop holding it over their heads. We need to stop expecting them to do more of the same, and start expecting and believing the best of them. 

Side note. If you are the person who is in constant need of forgiveness, you do need to make some changes. We, the grudge holders, don't want you to say you're sorry. We're sick of it, and don't believe you. We want you to BE sorry. The word itself holds no meaning, without any action, the same as the word forgiven holds no meaning without action, as well.

There is so much more to this topic, and I am not about to pretend that I have a grasp on more of it than I just shared with you. I am constantly amazed by God's forgiveness to me, and constantly reminded of how much more I need to work on working in His forgiveness. Thank you for following me in this journey.

Thank you for reading and following me in this journey. It means so much. Seriously.