Monday, February 27, 2006
I don't know what it is about us, maybe just me, that has a hard time getting over the production aspect of prayer and getting to the relational. I know I wrote on here before about how I've been learning that we are relational people, made in the image of a Trinitarian God. So, why do we pray as though our God only half hears and what comes back from our petitions is merely the product of an exchange. Eww. It sounds so.... human.
But, we can't have it both ways. We can't insist that our God is big, mighty, and TRUTH, but also confine our prayers and expectations to an exchange. Because God doesn't need anything we have. Only by his mercy are we even allowed into the scheme at all. I should by bursting with the knowledge that I can have this relationship. I should be dancing like David that I can play a part. But, I still choose to pray dutifully, without much expectation. Wait, let me re-phrase that, I still choose to pray (sometimes) out of duty.
I'm getting used to this honest exposure, but it's not making it any easier.
Anyway, I'm about to go to our house bible study. We are using the Beth Moore study called Believing God. If you ever need a good, southern kick in the pants about your faith - a talk that'll fire you up and get you running from your spiritual couch - Beth Moore uses Scripture to show that belief, true belief, in God is not past or future. She uses the words present-active-participle. Which is something like believing in the continually acting always going, building, and learning sense. It's so HUGE - this belief. That kind of makes sense, beings that our God is HUGE and, although our belief can never match his HUGENESS, believing is an on-going action.
Well, I've got to get going.
yep..the manager's name was beef. i thought that was pretty cool. afterwards we tore down and the lead singer from mae was just chilling outside as we loaded up the trailer. bands are nice. it was a good show, too. the baldy on the keyboards was going crazy, really getting into the music, which made my being directly in front of the speakers by the stage more than bearable.
oh-smile-it was a good night. not to mention i got to hang out with some friends before - nicole, meghan, and danielle. and i got to meet some new friends too- nicole's sister, christina (i know- how random), and her friends from cornerstone are the bomb.
i auditioned for a part in their remake of Mean Girls and I totally made it. i'm the girl that yells in the bathroom. anyway - friends make me happy.
here are a couple pictures from the night
actually, i was talking to my good friend pat on friday and it sounded like maybe possibly he might drive up to the concert on saturday. later i found out it was a no-go, but that turned out to be awesome, because will, dusty, and casey ended up surprising him at 430 in the a.m.
i love surprises. even when they are for other people. i talked to pat and he said they had a ball of a time saturday and that made me happy too. i am pretty bloomin' thankful for those boys back home!
in other news: last night nicole and i almost got hit by a train.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
yesterday was amazing.
i turned in an article on the justice league here at Hope for Print Media II. I love writing things that I believe in... and I had my Engaging Christianity and Psychology class, which is 1 1/2 hours of mind stretching, faith questioning, and God glorifying goodness. I love it. it makes me think there is hope yet to build bridges on every level of human intellect to the waiting world...
anyway... and then i picked up my check made a deposit. this may sound trivial, but not for me!:) I count the days and plan my groceries, budget, and social life around every other friday.
then i got to try a new recipe with my friend nicole. we baked brownies with these interesting ingredients:
2 tablespoons flour
10 oz. nonsweetened chocolate
3 sticks butter
3 cups sugar
i think that's it. yep it was an experience, but they turned out well.
we took them to an event last night that literally made us weep.
i can't describe it - not the kind of cry you get when you put in a romantic comedy, nor the kind that comes up when you say goodbye to a loved one, nor really the kind you get when you "just need a good cry" to mull over some personal things. No - this weep was a deep, heavy repentant weep for the things the lady was saying and for the church.
I don't know how much I can say in cyberspace (even though no one reads this:), because of her protection, but I sat there for 2 1/2 hours and felt ashamed. This woman is from a different background and she became a Christian. But she told stories about how the church didn't know what to do with her. So many times she was a soul needing comforting, encouragement, and actual rescue from a life-threatening situation and the church didn't know what to do with her.
i don't know how i could explain in a way that would make others understand, but it did change me. it was beautiful.
after that, my friend nicole and i sighed. we are so blessed.
we went back to our house transitioned into a night of what not to wear and smoothies with mangos. i like mangos. a lot.
today is going to be great, too. after work i'll have some wondefully relaxing time, hopefully talk to my family - who i have sadly neglected as a result of my cell phone breaking - and then i get to unload the band.
not just any band - MAE. that's right i'm unloading the band and i have a t-shirt that says staff. their concert is tonight and i am STOKED. i dreamed last night that my friends pat, dusty, and casey surprised me and were coming to the concert. except it was weird because i was actually the director at a camp and we were at my grandpas old house in iowa. yeah that part didn't make sense, but the part about them coming up here i wanted desparately to be true.
friends are so special. maybe the most special thing.
Thursday, February 23, 2006
yeah, so I'm trying to get out of this deep groove where all i write about sounds silly and abstract, like i'm trying to philosophize. which is actually ironic, becuase there are only two, possibly three people that I know of that even know this blog exists... so my supposed soap box stands in front of a pretty slim crowd. yet, that little big guy inside me wants to write it as though the hordes of people are going to flock to my thick words and heavy reflections.
oh the woes of my brokenness.
the other day i read a phrase describing humans as 'broken image bearers.' i thought to myself, 'now that sounds just pretty accurate of our condition.
i feel broken today. i just had a conversation with a friend about our community of friends. i was so torn - i'm still feeling it in my chest. i know, more than anything, that i contribute to our perpetual state of shallow.
ukk. i don't like to talk about it because it makes me feel exposed. anyway, this conversation brought to the surface some hard, hard things. (isn't it ironic that generally people are surface and shallow and when we finally reach down and get something of substance to pull up to our level of surfaceness it is worth talking about - it's unusual... is there anyone that lives down there in the depths where the real thinking happens all the time? i imagine they would be pretty drained with all the issues people attach to sinkers, destined for the ocean floor.)
it is most constructive in this case to talk about my own failures - not because i want the attention (although I wouldn't put it past me), but because of the whole remove the log out of your own eye before you examine the speck in your neighbors.
so - awhile back a friend confronted me about how my actions, words, little pieces of my lifestyle were hurtful to her. She sincerely felt judged, manipulated, and treated poorly. This conversation of course took hours because we are women, but nonetheless that was what was communicated. wow. i didn't know what to say. ordinarily, and actually my mind automatically started doing this, i would bring up the defenses. i've gotten pretty good at framing myself as the victim, innocent, even in how I communicate my weaknesses.
i've always been able to say, 'well, my struggles are on the inside.' i think that frustrated my friends in high school, because they would say - WHERE DO YOU STRUGGLE? what sin is in your life that you battle? when i would say 'inside' it sounded like i dealt with less sin or something. that i had conquered the tangible sin and was just dealing with the not-so-horrible "inside" sin.
oh could we ever have been more wrong. this friend that was gracious enough to humiliate me made me realize that those 'inside' things i had been praying about, thinking about, even expressing in manipulated phrases - those things like pride, judgement, THAT SIN HURTS PEOPLE. it hurt my friend.
i just sat there completely shocked. no one in my life had ever done that to me before. i realized that i hadn't let them. the minute i was in a conversation about sin and struggles i would manipulate it to show my struggles, but not be vulnerable enough to show that i needed to change. ouch. i can't tell you how deep that pierced my soul.
God had softened my heart for that specific time so that I could just sit there and know that i deserved the humiliation, but my friend and God offered forgiveness. Praise the Lord. Yes, Praise the Lord.
anyway, so how this relates to my sighs now. .. my brokenness doesn't take away God's imprint - his handiwork in His creation. He takes great delight when His children really reflect him. I hurt for myself and for others that have a hard time reconciling the brokenness with the image bearing.
there's so much more - but praise God. praise God for mercy. that is beautiful.
Saturday, February 18, 2006
we are all crowded around some stellar artichoke dip...
It's nice to look at pictures of summer and fall because right now we're in a snow storm. my relationship with winter is special. on one side, i remember getting up extra early to do chores when i lived on a farm in iowa... i think of them fondly now, but back then i was bitter - cold and otherwise:)
but now, especially in holland, i can look and appreciate the big, fluffy flakes. sometimes it feels/looks like sprinkling cotton candy from the sky. i do enjoy that. .. and sometimes I even like walking through it. but today, for some reason i'm just cold.
it's that kind of day that you wish you were still in high school because class would be canceled and (where I lived) you wouldn't be able to get out. SO... bring on the hot chocolate, good books, movies, and lounging. ...
maybe that's why today is less exciting - it's saturday, i'm working, i have homework for classes that won't be canceled on monday, and i am tromping around in the snow... but that doesn't make it any less beautiful... i think we might try to go sledding later... always a good choice of winter activity!:)
See, growing up valentines day was a big deal. Sure, i brought home the bounty from my elementary, heart-shaped envelope with candy and innocent love messages. That was special, but not as much as our family's valentine's day dinner. It was always beautiful and perfect. the candles, pink and red decorations, the hand-made cards with poems waiting on each place setting, the pink tapioca and heart shaped cakes with sweethearts decorating the top....i hope you have a picture in your mind of this wonderful occasion..
so this year, i wanted to replicate this for my house, because we've kind of become a family of sorts and we don't often give quality time to reflecting on how blessed we are... hence the pot roast. i wanted something different, something more homelike. and when i left my house after christmas, my mom send a beef roast from the locker. (there's something about good, Iowa, locker meat that just beats all that pre-packaged plastic from the grocery store... something that says - i'm homegrown and quality)
i started planning everything in my head and sent letters out to all their parents to get them to help... i won't get into the details, but my point is this: how do women do it? i put in the roast yesterday at 8:30, adding vegetables and spices throughout the day. i started decorating and setting up at 4:30 and after dinner was over at 8:30 I was completely wiped. To top it off, I was so nervous about the dinner that i spaced off during a current events quiz in my comm. class.
the thing about a surpise is that people don't know what to expect, so they expect something. it could be totally different than what the surprise will actually deliver. i was nervous they would be disappointed.
everything was perfect, though. from the stories we told to the table settings, to the food, to the gifts, to sitting on the ground around the coffeetables because it was the only thing long enough to seat all of us.
it was another amazing reminder of how we are blessed and loved and put in community for a reason.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
that's the title of a song by derek webb. interesting take on who we are in Christ and what that means. sure, people talk about being the bride. but, i admit i've never thought of my sin and idolatry the way derek webb puts it. here's a bit of the song:
cause i am a whore i do confess/ But I put you on just like a wedding dress/ And I run down the aisle, I run down the aisle/ I'm a prodigal with no way home/ but I put you on just like a ring of gold/ And I run down the aisle...With one hand in a pot of gold/ And with the other in your side/ Cause I am so easily satisfied/ By the call of lovers so less wild/ That I would take a little cash/ Over your very flesh and blood...Because money cannot buy/ A husband's jealous eye/ When you have knowingly deceived his wife
wow. i know - where before have you heard the word whore used in a "christian" song? that's another topic, I suppose. It's interesting - this analogy - because it makes me think of the children of Israel in the Old Testament. They were warned. The warnings might as well have been written in the sky in Deuteronomy. Yet, they put on the wedding dress as they entered the promised land. They breathed in overwhelming blessings, but soon forgot. God specifically said DO NOT FORGET THE LORD (Deuteronomy 4:23, 4:31, 6:12).
Oh, but they did. They prostituted themselves for so much less than what God offered and Jesus was to pay (he did not forget us --Isaiah 49:15-17).
I would be foolish to not say that this is my story as well. I see the blessings and embrace the promises God speaks in His word. Yet, I run down the aisle with one hand in that pot of gold and the other in his side.
the disconnect does more than cause confusion - there is truly a battle. yet - as i write this it seems ironic that such a weighty matter can be 'food for thought,' discussed over coffee or the dinner table. an intellectual morsel reflected upon and then cast aside when something shinier or sweeter comes along.
ick. this has got to be main dish material.
Saturday, February 11, 2006
hmmm. so I just got back from a conference with the above title. i guess in my mind missions was synonymous with things like justice and "development." If that were only true! I found out so much about how many Christians have forced their minds into compartmentalizing these things - like a nice organization system. They can open some drawers and close others. Then step away and look at how neat and packaged everything is.
In no way am I saying that all Christians are like this. .. But I guess it goes back to something I learned at a Student Council conference in HS - We have been so easily conditioned.
We truly have. We are conditioned to feel passion and pity for those less fortunate, but only enough to think about them sometimes and contribute monthly, maybe yearly gift towards some NGO or FBO working on those types of things.
Even being interested in missions - a desire so vague - can be a crutch with expectations of exemption from dealing with these issues, because, if I'm for real, then i'll be "out in the field" someday. and isn't that giving enough?
wow. that is self-centered and true. and so far from what our Lord and Savior teaches!
In the past, I've heard arguments against serving social needs, because the danger is that spiritual needs will be neglected. One of the organizations represented at this conference offered a 25/28 vision. Matthew 25 talks about caring for those who are sick, without food, without clothes. This is where Jesus is and where we are called to serve. Matthew 28 talks about how we are to go out into all the world and preach the gospel.
Both mandates. Both important. They go hand in hand. The horrible thing is that when the church is not fulfilling the former part of this mandate, not only does it reflect bad on the body, but it leaves people all over the world feeling empty - no matter which side (giving or receiving) they would be on.
You see, lately I've also been learning about how we are made. We are made relational. At our very core, or spirits are relational because we are made in the Trinitarian image of God. God's design for our service includes sacrificing parts of ourselves for other people (as He has shown us in the ultimate sacrifice). We are blessed when we are obedient to both commands to bring relief through social justice and the Word in evangelism.
I could go on about how these things are inseparable. We were not created to fold away the social needs of God's children and shut them in a drawer while we neatly unfold our evangelism.
I picture a beautiful mess of humility being the art of service. God's design cannot possilby make perfect sense, but His mandates sure give us guidance.
I'm pretty sure no one even knows this address yet, but I am content to just diary my thoughts. These things have been a long time coming.