Saturday, December 24, 2011

rambles of carols, candles, and his smell.

Oh goodness, so much to say tonight! First off, MERRY CHRISTMAS! I hope you're all enjoying time with family and soaking in the knowledge that God loves us so much.
Next on my mental checklist: Christmas carols. has anyone else ever noticed how whack they are?! think about it: "Silent night" I mean geez, the first TWO WORDS of that are incorrect, as I see it. A BABY WAS BORN! Ain't no way that manger scene was quiet, or calm. Then there's "O Come All Ye Faithful"... honestly, this is one of my favorites to sing, it just has such a great melodic line. but the lyrics hit me tonight: "O come, all Ye faithful, joyful, and triumphant." That's great and wonderful and all, and I know everyone else is probably faithful, joyful, and triumphant at Christmastime, but I'm not. I always find it to be the time I'm most slack in my spiritual discipline and that I struggle the most with daily devotionals, as well as doubts/flaws of faith. I guess some of this (especially the doubt) stems from how at Christmastime I'm brazenly reminded of how life is meant to be shared and how I'm alone. I mean, I have family and they are wonderful, but I'm convinced I'm not that only girl that longs to be kissed under the mistletoe or have a flour fight while baking Christmas cookies... all that romance-ey chick-flick stuff. So anyway, that makes me much less than joyful and triumphant, as one could guess. In the case that only the faithful, joyful, and triumphant are allowed to adore Him, I'm in big trouble. Which is why I am throwing the idea out there that maybe possibly some of our Christmas Carols are downright incorrect. Maybe we should just rejoice in the Gospel at Christmastime instead of those overplayed Christmas carols.
Next let me start with a brief story from my evening. Tonight was our "Carols by Candlelight" service at church, and it was really fun. I love music, and Christmas, and candles; therefore, I loved it. So after the service, I see one of my best friends, and run over to hug her... and her brother is there. And I have this history with him, you see.
I was so in-like with him for a really long part of middle school/high school (over 3 years), and somewhere in the midst of my liking him and praying my heart out for him in his "rebel" phases, I began to love him. And when I liked him, I assumed that love I found was to be romantic and whatnot; I thought I was IN love with him. I dunno, I've never been in love before, so maybe I was. But the truth is that now, I realize he's the first guy outside of my family that I've learned to love.
So tonight when he hugged me, things stirred up inside. I realized that I really do LOVE him, but not the romantic kind, the unconditional kind. As far as I know, he has no clue that I "loved" him for so long, so he doesn't know that the simple fact that he hugged me- a real hug, the kind that conveys gratitude and friendship- and it made me smell like him, brought back lots of memories and made me realize how much has changed.
Back in 11th grade, it would've been the highlight of my day, week,...maybe even month. But today, it just cemented the fact that I am changed and that loving him doesn't mean I want to marry him, it means I want to see him succeed and fall in love and have a wonderful little family that doesn't include me. I just wanted to hold him in that hug and tell him how proud I am of the man he's become. I wanted to sit him down and pour my heart out to him and hear his heart. I suppose that just means I've moved on with life and learned how to love without being "in-love" and how to have mature friendships that can be clear of awkward relationship stuff. And I really like that.
But it also re-awakened that want of a relationship again. I never had a relationship with him, but I had a relationship after him and it was a good one. It made me grow and change and be challenged... and along with that came the warmth of being cherished and wanted and thought of as beautiful. And not that I'm not growing and changing and being challenged now...
Agh, I don't know what I'm saying. I just want a relationship, or at least the possibility of one (which is nonexistent now). Tonight when Brandon hugged me and I continued to smell like him for two or three more hours was nice, not because I liked smelling like HIM but because I liked having that lingering reminder that a guy cared about me.
As I look at that, it makes me wonder if these hopes and cares are reasonable, and proper. Am I wanting this as me, the fleshly me, or as me, the human me?
Basically, I'm overanalyzing (as per usual me). and I must stop.


Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

anger & grace

let me be straight-up with you: I haven't read my Bible in a good week. and I know this means I probably shouldn't be blogging but should instead be reading. however, I feel like I need to confess something else. I've been really angry lately. I know this is probably because 1) I don't have the Word constantly flowing into my mind & heart. 2) I'm therefore living more by my flesh than His Spirit. I know this is no way to live and I should stop, read, journal, & get right.
but honestly? I feel like at this point, that's just one more thing on my checklist. it wouldn't be out of obedience and worship to Him. and I would rather be cold for God today than pretending to be hot.
so anyway, because of this lack of Him in my life, I've gotten angry at my family. a lot.
it's made me realize just how precious God's grace is. apart from Him, I have no way to be anger-less. and living angry is horrid. but because of Him, I can live free from anger (and shame, and guilt, and hurt, and jealousy, and envy, and all that). I can live consumed by His love, peace, mercy, & grace. wow.
He is jealous for that; for me. He's jealous for all my attention and affection. He wants my life, every piece and particle of it, even the ones that don't belong to me anymore. He wants my emotions, my thoughts, my dreams, my wishes, and my hopes to center on Him.
His love for me is great and unimaginable and mind-boggling.
My faithfulness to Him is lacking, sometimes nonexistent, and most often simply lack-luster.
HE IS JEALOUS FOR ME.
LOVES LIKE A HURRICANE, I AM A TREE BENDING BENEATH THE WEIGHT OF HIS WIND & MERCY.

stop and let that sink in.
and thank Him for his unending love, mercy, and grace. without it we'd all be eaten alive by anger at some point. or at least I know I would.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

so long, farewell, auf Wiedersehn, adieu.

inhale, exhale, repeat.
I'm home. after a long, exhausting, thrilling, and constantly changing semester... I've survived. I've conquered and now sit in my room with halfway-unpacked bags cluttered around me. I'm glad to be here, but it's bitter-sweet, because I had to leave MC, and will leave home in just 29 days.
DAYS! it's getting so close.
but back to leaving MC. it was really hard. I cried... a lot. most of the crying occurred yesterday, but of course there were tears today to.
I'm not even entirely sure what was going on, but I totally broke down on Ellie last night. We'd had a good evening of fun & laughter with Olivia, Kayla, & Sarah, then we decided it'd be a good idea to watch the season finale of FRIENDS before we went to bed... which turned into starting at the beginning of the last disc, which is like 6-8 episodes. (the bad ideas started here). we watched a couple episodes, then stopped in the middle of one to talk and laugh about something, and somehow ended up crying over me leaving & it being our last night together, so we pull up PhotoBooth to make a video (bad idea number 2). We do, and can't make a decent video for all the crying that's going on. so we opt to go back through all of El's videos of us from the past year and a half. from the very beginning, as in the day after move in when we made a "this is a tour of our room" video. and from there it just got funnier and more memorable and tear-evoking (hence it's bad idea #3). we watched videos and looked through old pictures for about 30 minutes, until the computer died and we got back in our separate beds to talk (the fourth bad idea). so we talked about our favorite memories and laughed (I mean GUFFAWED) over some silly moments, and cried about not getting to have any in the spring. I know this sounds stupid, but when you live with someone for almost two years, your hearts begin to be knit together because you share a lot of waking moments together. and it's wonderful, because Ellie is one of my very best friends and has her own particular place in my heart full of warm fuzzy silly things. but it's terrible when you have to be parted, because you start thinking about it all, and how much you'll miss out on, and start worrying "WHAT IF..." ...she finds a better roommate... something happens to me in London... something happens to her while I'm in London... I have a really terrible roommate experience in London... and on and on we go.
so we ended up cuddled in the same bed crying for the better part of the night, until we decided it was time to put our big girl panties on and stop crying and actually get some sleep in our separate beds, which we did. but I still ended up crying myself to sleep, which hasn't happened in a very long time.
then of course today I had to say bye to everyone else, which made me tear up but I never outright cried, which was good, cause I mean I looked rough enough without tears making me all red & puffy. I cried in the practice room, and prayed, and worshipped for one last time. I'm going to miss Aven 306. A LOT. and I'm going to miss my fantastic roomie, and my KT sisters. those 3 most of all.
God, I know this London thing will be a great experience, but right now these goodbyes are tearing me apart. I know it's only for a season but it feels like it will be so long and so much will change while I'm gone. what if I'm not even close to these people when I come back? God, 'whatever You're doing inside of me, it feels like chaos but somehow there's peace. It's hard to surrender to what I can't see, but I'm giving in to something heavenly... it feels like chaos, but I believe You're up to something bigger than me, so I'm giving in to something heavenly.' I trust You. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

the real me, wedding vows, and other long, drawn-out things occupying my mind

there is so much whirling through my head right now, there is no telling what direction this blog will go. ready? set? go.
1- there is this song that randomly popped into my head tonight, The Real Me by Natalie Grant. She wrote it when she was overcoming bulimia. Honestly, I've never dealt with a straight-up eating disorder (by the grace of God!) but the whole self-confidence thing is a consistent issue, as well as body image. and can I just say that Natalie Grant's lyrics hit me where it hurts so good? Ya know what I mean? It's like finally stretching that muscle back out that's been cramping all day. It hurts but you know it's making it better. Yeah, that. Let me share, please...

Foolish heart looks like we're here again
Same old game of plastic smile
Don't let anybody in
Hiding my heartache, will this glass house break
How much will they take before I'm empty
Do I let it show, does anybody know?
[Chorus:]
But you see the real me
Hiding in my skin, broken from within
Unveil me completely
I'm loosening my grasp
There's no need to mask my frailty
Cause you see the real me

Painted on, life is behind a mask
Self-inflicted circus clown
I'm tired of the song and dance
Living a charade, always on parade
What a mess I've made of my existence
But you love me even now
And still I see somehow
(Chorus)
Wonderful, beautiful is what you see
When you look at me
You're turning the tattered fabric of my life into
A perfect tapestry
I just wanna be me
(Chorus)
just whoa. do you see it, too? He sees wonder and beauty when He looks at us. He sees His masterpiece that is made exactly how he wanted it- flaws and all. Perfect, under the blood of the Lamb. And he takes the ripped up pieces of us that we leave behind, and when we finally come to the breaking point and turn back to Him and beg for redemption, He brings out this glorious quilt he's been making. Isn't is always the old, worn ones that are the warmest and most comfortable anyway? Beauty from ashes. Strength from pain. A quilt from worn-out scraps. How fantastic an image! 
2- wedding vows. for some reason there have been a lot of proposals and engagements and weddings and wedding photos lately. so on my nightly walk over to Aven to practice/study, I was pondering these things, and the difference in men & women, and the spaghetti/waffle brain thing (women are spaghetti- all attached and all over the place, men are waffles- all segmented and some are just empty). And for some reason I started thinking about wedding vows, specifically the part about "having and holding" from your traditional vows. "To have and to hold, to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health, till death do us part" And I dunno, maybe it's just my weird, convoluted way of thinking, but I realized that maybe that half of each of these is for each spouse. To have- for the women (what girl doesn't want to just HAVE someone who is there for her and loves her as-is?) To hold- for the men (Since they tend to be more physically driven than women... or whatever). To love- men ("Husbands, love your wives...") to cherish- women (cherish= care for someone lovingly... your typical 50's housewife kinda deal). In sickness- men (I know everyone wants to be taken care of when sick, but with girls, it's a MUST. guys, DO THIS.) and in health- women (... it's like the wife takes pride in her husband's strength, health, and ability to keep a job & provide for his family). Forever.
ok, I hope that makes sense because I will now stop expounding and stovallogizing.
3- finals. are. killing. me. I am being swallowed whole by this music major lifestyle. and while I love it, I'm not willing to give my whole self to it/ sell my soul. so in this respect, I am SO looking forward to the London semester... it's greatly needed. in my head now: ars nova. ars cantus mensurabilis. prolation- imperfect/perfect. Boethius. aulos. cantus. canticle. Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Santus, Agnus Dei. trope. Winchester Troper. Squarcialupi Codex. Landini. Hildegard of Bingen (1094 C.E.), Ordo Virtutum. musica enchiriadis. and more (thanks for letting me get that out, I felt like my head was literally about to explode). 
4- also: MENC Christmas party. ambassadors Christmas party. all this stupid commercialized, marketed Christmas stuff. Jesus is all that matters, y'all. for real. 
5- I'm not alone in that girlish wish of a relationship->marriage->family->babies, right? because right now, I just want to know God has that in my future. which, honestly, that wish changes from day to day/hour to hour. sometimes I just want to live a life of celibacy as an Italian version of Mother Theresa (India is too dirty for me to handle...). basically, I just want to know WHAT God has in my future. which reminds me:
EXPERIENCING GOD. READ IT. I am now, and it's completely revolutionizing my thought process and relationship with God. and as it SO well-addressed this topic the other night...
"'What is God's will for my life?' is not the best question to ask. I think the right question is simply, 'What is God's will?' Once I know God's will, then I can adjust my life to Him and His purposes. In other words, what is it that God is purposing where I am? Once I know what God is doing, then I know what I need to do. The focus needs to be on God and His purposes, NOT MY LIFE! ...The Plan He has for your life is based on what He is doing in His world. He has a great purpose in mind for all humankind throughout all time. His desire is for you to become involved in what He is doing. Finding out what He is doing helps you know what He wants you to do through you." (emphasis mine)
and on that humbling and thought-and-prayer-provoking note, I will bid thee adieu. 
sleep well, sweet readers. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

sisterhood

what is sisterhood, really? it's gotta be more than dances and eating and movie nights and Bible studies. though those are all great. when sisterhood equals those things alone, it feels empty. though I will admit that most of these shortcomings in sisterhood lately are simply my own fault and spring from my lack of involvement. but it still feels like less than it should be.
it feels like there are so few who I am able to be genuine with. and I absolutely ABHOR being anything but genuine, seriously.
I feel like music is taking over my life and demanding more of myself than I am willing to give. and in the process, it has withdrawn me from my sisters. I'm not sure if I'm going to fight this or succumb to it; after all, it is my future. But should future plans ever mess with those your heart is tied in knots to?

Saturday, November 12, 2011

::vent::

for some odd reason, I've been really lonely lately. I feel like there are only 2 or 3 of my close friends that are still "BEST" friends. You know? Cause when you really get down to it, there is such a difference in close friends and best friends. I consider my best friends to be the ones I can be completely genuine and honest with, that I don't have to hide my emotions or hurts and we can openly talk about problems in the friendship. and last year, I had a lot of best friends. This year, people keep leaving me out of plans and "forgetting" to invite me to things, and not being straight-up with me (which leads to me hearing about the truth from someone else). honestly, that hurts. a lot. I know I'm not perfect, far from it, but I always try to make sure everyone is included, unless they simply CAN'T be, or unless one-on-one is needed. Even then, I try to plan something to do with the person who wants to be included and isn't, that way they don't feel as hurt over it. and it seems like no one really cares that I do that. they just don't want to be around me anymore. I know I'm busy and I have a weird schedule, but that doesn't mean I don't want to even be invited to these things. I would like to know people care about me and like being around me, even if they already know my answer is "I have a music thing" or "I have to work". There are three people that have purposed to maintain a good relationship. A few who still randomly hang out with me. A few new friends that I am growing to know better, thankfully. And, sadly, a lot who, it feels like, have just dumped me. They say "I miss you, when can we hang out?" But it's just shallow and nothing ever comes out of it. and I hate that. If you don't want to be with me, don't pretend you do. 
I think this is hardest for me because I am a people-person. I love being in big groups and having lots of plans and going and doing. All through life, even up till last year, I've had at least 6 people at a time that I considered my best friends. Sure, things happened, and the closeness of those relationships changed. But I still had someone there. Now I still have three... but one is committed to her boyfriend, one lives several hours from school and has been going home a lot, and one is really busy herself and our schedules are basically opposite. agh. life is stupid.
ok, I have to stop. goodnight.

Friday, November 04, 2011

volleyball, hobos, extraordinary love.

it started with a volleyball tournament. weird, I know. English vs. History departments face each other off each year in an intense volleyball game/cookout apparently, and I missed it last year and decided to drop by with Sarah this time around. I met some awesome people that would probably be considered "unpopular", maybe even "outcasts" at one point in time. but it was funny, because that didn't even hit me until after I'd been sitting there for a few minutes getting to know them. then, as I was talking to an old friend and a new friend, someone passed by and was glancing at us, and I became acutely aware of the people I was with. we were having intellectual conversation and making witty comebacks (better than "your mom", believe it or not) and occasionally there was a sci-fi reference thrown in the mix (EXTERMINATE!) . in any high school or middle school across the country, we'd be considered the weird kids. some of us were emo, some just smart, some abnormally bitter about something or another which caused them to have this wonderful victim mindset that made them try to hate everyone. geez, even in college we're the weird kids. as much as I love MC, I must admit there are definitely cliques and social circles that are cool and social circles that aren't. and I was sitting in the midst of the "aren't", "not", and "don't" crowd and loving every minute of it. I mean, I know I'm a weird kid and I'm ok with it. but because I'm not ridiculously genius-like & my parents are wonderful and still together, I am somehow more socially acceptable than these. how terrible. I feel like one day we'll all realize the single greatest travesty of the human race was that we wouldn't let ourselves love. but really, think about it. 
I recently posted as my facebook status, "I love how different people are, and hate how no one takes the time to notice, and those that do, want to pretend they don't and make fun of or ostracize those whose differences are so vast they make the rest of us feel inadequate". 
isn't that true? don't we become so entranced with ourselves that we forget to see others and learn to love them? don't we get embarrassed in those few moments of enlightenment we DO have about our differences from others? so much so that we like to pretend we didn't just see how bad our hair looked in that mirror. and instead we pick on the outfit the girl beside us is wearing. I know my train of thoughts is jumbled and slightly nonsensical but get with me here: we are different. we are selfish so we often don't see it. then we see it. pretend we didn't. make fun of others instead. thus, cliques. and lack of love. and presence of bigotry. and on and on. 
another thing that triggers this crazy thought process is something that happened as I sat in the Taco Bell parking lot listening to Sidewalk Prophets while eating my pizza from the Caf. the song "You Can Have Me" comes through the automate shuffle on my iPod. honestly, I'd never really LISTENED to it before, I just like the chorus and it was only 69 cents on itunes once... so anyway, it opens as a hobo enters my line of vision and walks in front of my car about 20 feet away. he's loaded down with a backpack and what looks like anything and everything he salvaged from whatever his former life looked like and other tidbits he'd gathered along the way. now, hobos fascinate me, so I was just kind of staring. then I start actually hearing the song: "If I saw you on the street and you said 'Come and follow me,' but I had to give up everything I once held dear and all of my dreams, would I love you enough to let go? Or would my love run dry? When did love become unmoving? When did love become unconsuming? Forgetting what the world has told me, Father of Love, you can have me. YOU CAN HAVE ME." that was enough. 
What if that hobo had been Christ, or an angel? Not to say that I believe Christ is incarnate again and walking the earth. but I believe angels are among us in the flesh. and I believe that He truly meant "Whatsoever you do for the least of these, my brethren, you do unto me." my heart was so pulled to hop out of my car and take the guy my pizza or buy him dinner or at least hand him the blanket in my back seat. yet I knew it could be dangerous, and that my fear of WHAT IF was going to keep me from doing anything. At that moment I had to repent. I knew the good thing that I should've done and I didn't do it, and as it was occurring I knew I wouldn't get the guts up to do it. I broke my own heart at that moment. I see myself as one who loves deeply and loves many. I especially love being friends with "the weird kids" because their story is always so vastly different from mine and so inspiring. and yet I didn't have enough love in my heart to propel me to buy this poor man (who had nothing but literally whatever was on his back) some supper. And I am a very loving person. I know the world is FULL of many more who are so lacking in the love department. How truly heart-wrenching. 
We are full of ourselves and too busy for others.
I now know how Paul felt when he said "The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life."
Does this make any sense at all, reader? Please get it. Please let God convict you as He has me. please let Him pour out on you abundantly, as He has me. Let Him love you most, though you may feel like the worst of sinners. Let His love move you to extraordinary measures. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

waiting

I just want to be in love.
This feeling hits me occasionally and usually makes me depressed (because of the fact that I don't have a 'significant other' and am nowhere near having one). But tonight, for some reason, it just leaves me happy. Hopeful. Optimistic to a fault. I think part of the reason is because today, God had the victory. My day was his, completely. And it changed it, from the past weeks that I've been living for myself for the majority of the days. I've been happier.
Anyway, I was on Pinterest wasting time (story of my life), and stumbled across all these fantastically lovely pictures of couples in love. holding hands. kissing. being coy. all that wonderful stuff that couples do. and I just want a man in my life. I mean, I'm on this "guy fast" so obviously I can't have one now. but I feel so ready. not that I want to rush God's timing... I will wait. I just want it now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

omniscience!

what a fantastic word. when you get all literal and take it back to its Latin, you're looking at two parts: "omni" which means 'all', and "science" which means 'to know'. to know all. quite literally. 
and how cool is it that our God is omniscient? he knows all. He knows what is racing through your mind and pounding in your heart and burned into your memory. He knows what happened on December 13, 1675 (random date, no importance). He knows what will happen on February 25, 2401. He knows the number of hairs on your head, the last time you cried, your deepest fear, your favorite memory, and your decision you most regret making. 
Basically, he knows what His plans for our individual lives and for the world in general are. and not only does he know them, he is calm. At least, he always has been in the past, so I'm assuming he's sticking to his usual nature. Isaiah 6 says it this way: "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple." I'm not really sure who King Uzziah was, but I'm pretty sure he was important and his death was not celebrated. My bible commentary says, "Uzziah has been a good king, now he is dead. It is the belief of many that he was the last great long of the southern kingdom of Judah and that after his death the glory of the Lord was no longer to be seen." TRANSLATION: Isaiah sees that since Uzziah has died, the nation of Israel is lost. There will be famine, depression, and lack of prosperity, most likely. If I were Isaiah, I'd be in a tizzy. I'd be freaking out and crying and trying not to drive myself insane (no, really). But Isaiah goes to the temple. He goes to meet with God. 
And when he gets there and gets on his face before God, he sees God. ok, um first off, let's just stop there. he sees God! maybe not literally but still. even to "see" God, figuratively, is a big deal. it's a life-changing moment; you cannot come close to God without being changed. and you must be close to Him to see Him, no? I just love that it takes Isaiah hitting rock bottom to see God... it reminds me that this awesome prophet was a human, just like me, and sometimes took God for granted and didn't remember that He is all-powerful until bad things happened and he was at his wit's end...
and when he sees God, I find it interesting that Isaiah notes that he's seated. not standing up, gripping the edges of his throne in confusion over how this could have happened. he's not surprised or taken aback in the least, he knew it was coming (omniscience!). and he's just seated, ready to speak to Isaiah. 
and there, seated and unworried, God looks out from his throne where he sits, high and exalted. doesn't this just drive home the point of His omniscience? HE IS GOD AND WE ARE NOT. That's why He's on the throne, not Uzziah or Isaiah. God is the one who is really in charge of it all, though sometimes we lose sight of that and only see the people that we think are at the top, here on earth. He knows all, He knows what he is doing, and He is in control of it all, ruling calmly from His throne. {which doesn't mean He is distant... if you are a born-again Child of His, His throne is also in your heart.}
And later, when the Lord is looking for someone to go talk to His people, he simply asks: "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" No yelling, no running around begging someone to go. He just asks. He doesn't even stand up and cup his hands around his mouth and take a deep breath before venturing to ask the question. He just speaks. 

I love that God is calm, cool, & collected. He is omniscient! I keep telling myself again. He knows what he is doing. That's why HE is God, and I am not... and saying that always reminds me of a little song I learned here at MC, back when I was 9 and before I knew my life would begin here. it proclaims: For YOU are God, and I am not, so give me understanding to know Your will and seek Your way. For You (point at yourself) are God- NO YOU'RE NOT!  YOU (point to Heaven) are God. For You (point to neighbor) are God- NO YOU'RE NOT! YOU (point to Heaven) are God. 
I claim these biblical truths over my life right now, God. I know that You know all and I am not God, and I am so grateful for that. But some of these sudden changes in circumstances are scary. Help me to trust you, that you've known what you are gonna do since the beginning of time. Because I know you have. Teach me to be calm and rest in the peace of Your will. As You Wish.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

the spirit of prostitution (a caramel-macchiato-induced-self-realization)

you learn something new every day. apparently, you can have a spirit of prostitution. who knew? I always thought of a prostitute as a woman who sold herself to men, physically. well God has some pretty HUGE things to say about spiritual prostitution in Hosea. if you've never read Redeeming Love (which is based on the book of the bible, Hosea), the storyline is this: man of God is seeking God's heart to find woman to marry. God says "Look, a prostitute. your future wife." (not kidding) and Hosea ACTUALLY MARRIES HER. She leaves, comes back, leaves, comes back... many times. Until finally between Hosea's unconditional love for her and Christ's pursuing her, she goes back to her husband for good. Originally Hosea was written as a metaphor for how Israel would desert God over and over again and then expect to be back in good graces with Him while His wrath was burning against His people whose hearts were so far from Him. Yet every time, God's unconditional love won over and He forgave and redeemed His people again.
are you seeing the connection here, friend? I do believe God wrote the story of my life in like 12 B.C. I claim that I am after His heart. I claim that He is my First Love. I claim that He's my number one.
YET.
I search for love from others before love from Him. I seek the admiration and applause of my peers before seeking His affection. I value the respect and reputation I have with others higher than personal righteous living through a holy God. 
how wrong is that?
Day by day, I have been selling myself to this world. Little by little, in small enough increments and innocent enough pursuits to keep the red flags from going off in my heart. But something clicked today. I've been slowly working through Hosea for the past two weeks, and realizing how far I've been from My Love. But tonight, I got it.
"Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD until he comes and showers righteousness on you. But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors." (Hos. 10:12-13)
I almost skipped right over it, but something with the word "deception" caught me, and reminded me of Jeremiah 17:9 (at least I think that's the reference...)- The heart is deceitful above all else, and desperately wicked; who can know it?
and BAM, there it was, like a sack 'o bricks hitting the floor. We all plant wickedness, evil, and deception. I may not be an axe murderer or sex trafficker but every day that I choose to set anything or anyone above God, I am planting seeds of wickedness in my heart. I am deceiving myself when I say that this one crush on a guy isn't going to effect my relationship with God- when in reality it takes over my thoughts and slowly tugs me away from His heart. and that's not how it's supposed to be AT ALL.  I am planting evil when I let pride control my thoughts, actions, and words. When I think of myself as better than others. When I decide that fear will conquer my dreams for Christ, before even trying. When I let convenience dictate how radical I will be for Christ today. 
Geez, I'm convicting myself now. Do you get my point, friend? I try to exclude myself from this passage in Hosea and try to pretend that I'm not a prostitute to this world in my spirit, but I am. and I KEEP GOING BACK FOR MORE. I depend on my own strength to power me through the day and take care of my future hopes and plans. Yet that will only lead me to destruction, how well I know it; and still, I seek to control myself and not yield to my Creator. 
It is time to seek the Lord until He comes,
not until I get tired of waiting on Him, or until I find other entertainment. until He comes. until He redeems me. until He buys me back out of prostitution to this world and calls me His Own again. (I'm in no way inferring that I've lost my salvation... if you're confused, please comment).  Hosea 2 talks about God restoring Israel: "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor (Trouble) a door of hope, There she will sing as in the days of her youth..." (2:14-15) and what a beautiful picture that is. and, HALLELUJAH, Christ is going to do that for me. He'll come and lay me to waste so I can be restored and redeemed and made whole again. So I can sing again. So I can find hope again. "Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds (Job 5:17-18)... Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, HE WILL APPEAR; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." (6:1&3) 
And finally, after all this has passed, I will be His again. He says: "I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord." (2:19-20)
Is there any more beautiful way to say it? After I have wandered and sold myself to those who should never have owned me, and now have been redeemed- I am bought back! I am His and He is mine, we are betrothed in righteousness, justice, love, compassion, and faithfulness. The perfect relationship. The perfect love story. The perfect God.


"There's no such thing as perfect people, there's no such thing as a perfect life. So come as you are, broken and scarred; lift up your hearts, and be amazed, be changed by a perfect God."

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

conviction, minute-by-minute

pride. 
the funny thing about it is that it can consume your life with you barely even realizing it. like it has mine for who knows how long. I mean, I realized that I had moments of pride. but, sadly, not until this week did I realize just how much I was living in pridefulness. Sunday at college sunday school, we talked about different types of pride and how they affect your life, and how to overcome various types of pride. at first I was sure that none of these would apply to me. but the first kind, self-protective pride, hit me where it hurts. it equals not being vulnerable to others, extremely defensive and easily offended, scared to let others in, can't let yourself be seen as imperfect. (GUILTY, on all counts.) then there's unapproachable pride, which cannot be corrected, reproved, or even confronted, and doesn't like constructive criticism (again, guilty). The kind of pride that I realized I've been wallowing in is know-it-all pride: boasting of talents and gifts, doesn't trust others to get the job done correctly, always has the answers, always one-upping, deceived into thinking no one can teach them. (uh, OUCH.) there's also self-exlating pride... feels the need to be center of attention, loves others' attention & pouting when not receiving it, and constantly bragging about achievements. (you'd think the conviction would stop there, but there's more.)  the last type we talked about was un-submissive pride, which won't submit to authority, hates being told what to do, and refuses to respect authority that God has instituted. 


each various type of pride I heard described seemed to define my life lately, and described the things that have been most irking me with my friends. C.S. Lewis put it SO well: "It was through Pride that the devil became the devil: Pride leads to every other vice: it is the complete anti-God state of mind.
Does this seem to you exaggerated? If so, think it over. I pointed out a moment ago that the more pride one had, the more one disliked pride in others. In fact, if you want to find out how proud you are the easiest way is to ask yourself, 'How much do I dislike it when other people snub me, or refuse to take any notice of me, or shove their oar in, or patronise me, or show off?' The point is that each person's pride is in competition with every one else's pride. It is because I wanted to be the big noise at the party that I am so annoyed at someone else being the big noise. Two of a trade never agree. Now what you want to get clear is that Pride is essentially competitive - is competitive by its very nature - while the other vices are competitive only, so to speak, by accident. Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man. We say that people are proud of being rich, or clever, or good-looking, but they are not. They are proud of being richer, or cleverer, or better-looking than others. If everyone else became equally rich, or clever, or good-looking there would be nothing to be proud about. It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition has gone, pride has gone. That is why I say that Pride is essentially competitive in a way the other vices are not."

how true it is that the more abundant pride is in my life, the more I notice it and am bothered by it in others' lives. 
obviously, God humbled me a lot Sunday, and continues to. I've become so acutely aware of how proud I am lately. which is good, I guess, and means God is changing me. but I don't like my faults being so visible and flagrant. (agh, more pride right there. will it ever end?)
there is only one way to overcome pride, I learned. and that is MEEKNESS. asking God to give me a teachable spirit and that I may learn to ask advice of others and not think of myself as higher, better, smarter, prettier, more musical, or more spiritual, than they. seeing how far I have to go before I overcome my pride leaves a rather dismal outcome, but the exciting thing is: God used a talking donkey, a murderer, a prostitute, a baby, and a fisherman to carry out His Will before. He uses people no matter their place in life or willingness level or "righteousness level". How much then can he use me although I am stubborn, proud, and doubting? Hallelujah. He is so good.
The best thing is that I cannot humble myself and rid myself of pride (wouldn't that just breed more pride, anyway?) Only God can rid me of it. All *I* can do is yield my life to His molding hand and allow him to clean me of pride and humble me. 
God, I know I'm inviting who-knows-what-kind of problems and trials by saying what I'm about to say, but: HUMBLE ME. I want to be molded and changed. I want you to free me from this pride and arrogance that is so prevalent in my life. I yield my heart to you: change me and help me to sow meekness and humility in my life. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

streaking mascara means a molded heart.

oh, life. it is blowing me away. the first round of tests was this week, so I have been immersed in the books for the past four days. I still have two tests and an essay due tomorrow, so right now I'm procrastinating even more. but you know how sometimes your brain is just too full of information to add more? and you feel like it will literally explode or forget everything if you add one more thing to it? yeah, I passed that point three days ago.
and now I find myself exhausted. not just mentally, but emotionally.
here's to those days you just get tired of being around people. here's to the times you decide that marriage is a hopeless fantasy and start writing your vows of solitude. here's to the times you look in the mirror and see zits and weight that needs to be lost. here's to the friends that keep pushing you to stop giving yourself a pity party and instead believe in a faithful God. here's to our faithful God who keeps all his promises, even after our death. here's to living life believing that there is more to my life than me.
I find myself in this moment, right now, wanting to sit here in my dorm room, alone on a friday night, and eat a huge bowl of ice cream and bemoan my bad complexion and lack of physical attractiveness and just be depressed. I can feel my heart being tugged another direction, though. I feel Him calling me to living life beyond myself; spending time investing in others, spending time investing in Him, giving my energy to be poured out as a fragrant offering to Him. He begs me to hear me sing back to him a song he sang over me tonight... "Faithful God! Every promise kept, Every need you've met. Faithful God! And all I am, and all I'll ever be is all because You love faithfully. Faithful God!"

'I am restless, I am restless, till I rest in You, till I rest in You oh God.'
Thank you, God. thank you for breaking me of myself and molding me. "Still my heart, hold me close, and let me hear a still small voice. Let it grow, let it rise, into a song, into a cry!" Let me rest in you and your strong embrace of love, grace, and peace. Hold me.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

occupation

this word just hit me. literally, JUST. as in, within the past 30 seconds. so get ready, I think I feel a God-thing coming on.
I was sitting here in my bed, thinking about how I SHOULD be going to sleep, because tomorrow I'm getting up early for church. thinking about boys. thinking about school. thinking about God. I've got a lot going on in my head, the question is, though: What occupies my thoughts? Not what do I think about (although that is an important question to keep yourself accountable), but what occupies my thoughts.
Friends, do you know what it means to occupy? It means you live there. to reside there, take up space there, be situated there. What lives in, takes up space in, and is situated in my mind?
What a scary question.
I would love to be able to honestly say that God occupies my thoughts. But when I'm being genuine with myself I realize this: There is a huge difference in frequent visit and occupancy. I go to my friends' dorm rooms all the time. I visit a lot, and know where everything belongs, and sometimes even sleep there. But I don't live there. It isn't my home, it's just a temporary place to hang out.
So what is my mind, for who? And by that I mean, is my mind a home for Christ? or is it a home for remembering that cute guy and holding a grudge against my friend who hurt me? Is my mind a home for the worries over grades and hopes of marriage, or is it a home for the Bridegroom himself?
SO convicting.
When I'm real with myself I realize that the things that occupy my mind are the worries, the hopes, and the hurts. not the One.
that tears me apart. The Savior of the Universe is daily seeking me out and wooing me, yearning for intimacy with me, and yet I refuse to let Him occupy my thoughts. I am so selfish.
one song that has burned in my heart all summer is by one of my favorite worship bands, CommonGroundBand. no one has ever heard of them (makes me feel so hipster) but they're amazing. The song, Make Me, talks about God transforming our hearts and turning us back to Himself. The chorus that continues to echo in my head each day says this: "Make me to know I love you. Make me to know I need you. Make me to dream of only You, only You, only You."
first off, it just hits me right in the heart and expresses exactly what I've been feeling. secondly, I don't think it's a coincidence that I consider myself an always-dreamer, and it repeats THREE TIMES {the number of perfection}, "make me to dream of only YOU."
I've been singing this to God, begging Him. Although for some reason I feel like it's wrong to beg God. But I'm on my face right now before Him... begging Him to occupy my thoughts. I don't want to spend my life with a bunch of trash in my head. I don't want to live consumed in worries and faded dreams. I want to live life more abundantly than I could ever dream of. And the only person that could ever fulfill that desire is Jesus Christ. Wanna know something even better? Not only CAN He fulfill that desire, He PROMISES to fulfill that desire. "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, but I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." (John 10:10) And may I say, what an epic promise that is.
Hallelujah.

Friday, September 02, 2011

I miss my family. Which is partially natural. and partially weird to me.
it's not that I don't love my family or have close relationships with them- I adore my siblings and parents and wouldn't trade them or my experiences with them for anything. it's just that since I've been in college for a year now, I miss them less. I get tired of them more when I'm home. I suppose it's just a making-the-most-of-my-independence thing. but since this weekend is Labor Day weekend, almost everyone has gone home. including my sister. so not only am I virtually alone on campus since very few of my friends are here, but my whole family is at home having a good time without me.
I know that next semester I won't be able to see them at all for four months, with the exception of skype (I'm studying abroad in Europe for a semester), so I feel like I should get used to seeing them less. but then I also feel like I should try to see them as much as I can while I can. ya know? anyway. the whole day today I've been mopey and wishing I could go home, but I have commitments at school this weekend I have to stay here for.
I just want to be with them. To drink coffee and play Clue and watch movies and play with my nephew and talk about life.
and I'm sad that I can't be.
the end.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

milk to meat.

So lately, I've been reading Hebrews. and man! There is so much big stuff here that I have missed in the past. not too long ago, God blew my mind with the concept of Atonement and His Mercy Seat (I really don't have time to go into detail about that now, though, so if you wanna know, Read Heb. 2, especially v. 14-18. look up atonement in a bible dictionary. and mercy seat. it'll exhaust you.) so anyway, last night I was reading and came across chapter 5, verses 12-14. listen to this.
"For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."
the crazy thing about Hebrews is that it pretty much speaks for itself. there is little metaphorical action going on, no hidden messages. it's just right there for you. like in this passage. 
and geez, Paul, way to convict me.
you should be teaching people by now, he says, but instead what are you doing? you're still being spoon-fed this basic faith. you're still on processed food, not good, solid, substantial meals. that means you're not familiar with living out your faith and striving for godliness each day. good food is for the people who've spent time and energy training themselves in godliness, and training themselves to tell good apart from evil.
and for some reason this impacts me even more because of my recent soft-foods-only-diet because my wisdom teeth surgery left me sore and now, a week and a half later, it's STILL hard to chew anything harder than fresh bread or a soft cookie. it's weird, because even after day one I was tired of eating yogurt, pudding, and mashed potatoes. and here I am, still eating them (though I feel like I probably could get away with harder foods, it hurts to eat them). 
yet isn't that how I am spiritually? being spoon-fed Christianity by going to church regularly and attending a Christian university is all too easy. I should be out there, helping others lay the basis of the faith and striving for godliness, but I am still staying on the safe side. I'm avoiding things that make me feel awkward, uncomfortable, and inadequate, instead of embracing them and how they sharpen my faith. I avoid them because they hurt. I find it easier to settle for the sermons and chapel discourses. I find it easier to get my daily Word from some song on the Christian radio station.
and while those things ARE good, I find myself quickly replacing the Best thing (God's Word and my daily quiet time) with good things (volunteering at service organizations, listening to Christian music, and reading devotionals). I've stopped training myself in godliness. I've gotten 'out of shape' spiritually and I need to get back.
last week at church, Brother David was talking about getting healthy- both physically and spiritually. he mentioned briefly how we are far too easily satisfied with eating spiritual 'junk food'. while I don't consider myself on to feed on spiritual junk food much, I all too often eat the processed stuff. I trick myself into thinking it's still good for me- it's DERIVED from the Bible! that makes it healthy. well, friends, there are plenty of foods out there that are DERIVED from healthy fruits, vegetables, and proteins, but does that make them healthy? Not in the least. Sadly, we Americans often feast on the spiritual Mac-n-Cheese and Burgers and Fries, while we are being offered Steak & Steamed Veggies and satisfying, stick-to-your-stomach Oatmeal. 
my question is simply this, friends: what are you feeding your soul?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Lord is my light and my salvation, of whom shall I be afraid?

yesterday was one of the craziest days of my life. I woke up at 5:30 because I was getting my wisdom teeth removed, as was my sister. we left the house in time to get to the oral surgeon's by 6:30, our scheduled appointment time. of course it was still locked up because we were the first appointment of the day. finally, the receptionist came along and opened and we sat in the waiting room a few minutes before they called me back. I was scared to DEATH! Not only did I have zero medical history before this, but I'd also never had an IV or anesthesia. I sit in the chair, and they start trying to find a vein for my IV, and couldn't find one in my right arm (making me even more nervous). finally, they got it in my left arm, and right about the time the doctor said "You're gonna start feeling a little more relaxed..." I was out. Before I knew it, they were waking me up and moving me to a small recovery room, where my dad met me. We sat in there while my sister woke up (I got done a few minutes before her)... as she woke up she got nauseated and began throwing up every 10 minutes or so. For those of you that know, throwing up is like my number one fear/most hated thing to do in the entire world. worse than spiders or heights or even needles. so naturally that made me very uneasy, but we eventually made it home without vomit all over the car (haha?) and sat on couches and conked out. The day was going really well between around 10 and 2- Lauren had recovered from her nausea, and I was sleeping off and on with no apparent effects from any medication. Then about 2:15 I woke up and went to the bathroom... as I was washing my hands, I started feeling light-headed and realized I needed to make it back to the living room so I could sit down before I passed out. on the short walk from my bathroom back to the living room, my vision started getting dark around the edges. I remember knocking over a cup of juice that was beside the couch I'd been sitting on, then saying "Sorry, I think I knocked that cup over" to my dad. Then apparently I passed out- which is really weird for me. I've only passed out once before, and it was right after I witnessed a fellow gymnast suffer a compound break to her right arm. Anyway, I awoke later (Dad said it was about 40 seconds that I was out) to Dad patting my cheek and calling my name, and asking if I could hear him. I faintly heard him talking to a paramedic on the phone and giving them our address... the next 5 minutes is pretty blurry, but just after dad called the ambulance, our oral surgeon's receptionist called to see how my sister and I were doing. The ambulance arrived shortly after, and I started crying. "I   don't wanna go to the hospital!" I insister to my sister and dad. They calmed me down enough so I could talk to the paramedics when they came in. Dad told them what had happened, part of which I hadn't heard, involving the part where I turned ghostly pale and my eyes rolled back in my head and my whole body became limp. When he finally woke me up, my heart was pounding and I started sweating profusely, and he says my face turned really red, probably because all my systems were coming "back online" and trying to wake me from unconsciousness. Anyway, the paramedics asked all these questions about my surgery, and the anesthesia, and my medical history, and the medicines I'd been taking, then took my blood pressure, and it was super-low- 96/60 I think. my pulse was a little low, and blood-sugar was normal, but they recommended that I go to the hospital to make sure there wasn't more wrong than just a low blood pressure. They said I was stable enough that I could ride with dad if I wanted to, instead of taking the ambulance, but he was scared that I would faint again and recommended that I take the ambulance. In the midst of being scared of riding in an ambulance, with some strange paramedic guy, and no family members, I was a little bit excited, secretly. I'd always wanted to see what it would be like to ride in an ambulance, without really NEEDING one, and this was probably the best situation for me to do so. lol.
Anyway, the ambulance ride was pretty cool, given the situation. they even buckled me into the stretcher and hooked me up to an oxygen machine, and put these sticky things on my forearms and calves to keep track of my vitals, and checked my blood pressure every 5 minutes. the paramedic that rode in the back with me was extremely nice, and we talked about my degree and classes and books, and how long he'd been an EMT and I asked him if he knew a man that used to be an EMT whose kids I babysat the past two summers. Then I rode in the dinosaur wheelchair to triage (RAWR!), and back to little room #5 of the ER, where I remained for about four hours. they checked my blood pressure more, and asked lots of questions, and forced Gatorade down me (which I later threw up), and got a urine sample... all to conclude that I was severely dehydrated. I felt a little stupid having to go through all that, only to find out that it was dehydration and not some intense medicinal allergy or something, but my parents both pointed out that they were glad it was JUST dehydration, and that we knew for sure what the problem was and how to rectify that.
After they dismissed me, the day got boring again. more movies that I slept through. more juice and gatorade. more pudding and ice cream.
I guess the point of this whole story was that I didn't freak out that much. Except for my initial reaction to having to go to the hospital and ride in an ambulance, I was calm. God kept bringing scriptures to mind, such as one of my favorites to remind myself of when I'm scared: "The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" (Psalm 27:1). and He sang over me. it was weird, not an audible singing, but a song in my spirit; again, a favorite song when I'm afraid, which is Zephaniah 3:17 set to music by Glory Revealed: "The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet You with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing, He will rejoice over you with His song!"
Thank you, God, for singing over me and keeping my spirit at peace in the midst of the craziness. Please continue healing me- "I believe You're my healer! I believe You are all I need, You're more than enough for me."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

wait, My daughter.

having my quiet time tonight... currently working on Ruth. 
Reading this beautiful love story, watching it unfold. and right as it's about to get to the good part, Naomi tells her daughter-in-law to wait. She replied, "Wait, my daughter, until you learn how the matter turns out, for the man will not rest but will settle the matter today." (Ruth 3:18) {whoa, total God-thing that 318 is kinda my number}
But isn't that odd? They're trying to find out if Boaz, their kinsman-redeemer (basically a relative who would financially support widows), is going to take them in and care for them. I don't know about you, but when it comes down to my well-being, I don't like waiting to find out urgent matters like this.
but wait, my daughter, she says.
and God speaks into my heart, as I'm trying to discern his plan for my week, my semester, my year, my life... "wait, My daughter." his timing is perfect. his plan is perfect. 
confusing? yes. troubling? yes. puzzling? yes. nonsensical? yes.
but perfect. always and forever.

I'll fight for those who hate me.

so, tonight I went to see X-Men: First Class. If you've seen any of the X-Men movies, you know it's about mutants who basically have superpowers, and these two teams of mutants, basically the good and the bad, led by Charles Xavier and Magneto, respectively. "First Class" is about the beginnings of the X-Men teams, for the most part. and at one point there's this bad guy, Sebastian Shaw, who's trying to convince a team of young "good" mutants to join him in creating the third World War, so he can destroy all the non-mutated humans that think all mutants are evil. and he says this line that just caught me... and for a couple minutes I was so focused on this line and all its analogies, I couldn't even understand what was going on in the movie.
are you ready for this?
he says, "When mankind discovers who we are, what we can do, each of us will face a choice. Be enslaved or rise up to rule. Choose freely, but know that if you are not with us, then by definition, you are against us. So, you can stay and fight for the people who hate and fear you. Or you can join me, and live like kings and queens."
WHAM! SMACK! Right in the face.
Do you get it?
Satan's lie is almost exactly that, so often. 
As Children of the King, the Light of the world, we are different from the Lost. We have the power of Christ in us and we can do so much more than we or anyone else realize. Satan loves to make us think that when we die to ourselves and are crucified with Christ, we become enslaved to his rules and regulations. While God does call out His Children to be different (consecrates us), He also knows we are human and He "will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" when we come humbly to him confessing our sins and repenting. Somehow, though, we are often tricked into believing that this faith in Christ requires living a boring, legalistic life (which is so far from the truth). Satan likes to tell us we can either "be enslaved [by faith in Christ] or rise up to rule [with him in darkness]". Which sometimes sounds good... especially when it comes to "You can fight for people who hate you, or you can come on my side and live the good life". 
But think about it, friends. Christ already warned us that the world would hate us! "If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you." (John 15:18-19, ESV) And again in 1 John 3:13-14, "Do not be surprised, brothers, that the world hates you. We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death." Collectively, we get this sum: Christ has consecrated us to Himself, and therefore as Christians we are not of the world, and this difference makes them hate us. They see our love for God and others (though we fail often) and realize that it is no ordinary love, and they hate the fact that they live in death while we live in love. 
So the question is, do we fight for the salvation and protection of this world that indeed DOES hate us and fear us? Or do we "live like kings and queens" with the ruler of darkness, who secretly doesn't have much to offer but wasted dreams, bitterness, guilt, and death?
I suppose when you put it in terms like this, the choice is easy. Fight for the underdog, the lost who don't always know they need rescuing. But what if you put it into reality? Let's say there's this girl you work with that you really don't like. She's a little bit of a potty-mouth, sometimes snooty, probably gossips about you, and pretends to be nice to your face. Maybe she needs a couple extra bucks to buy lunch, or a ride home after work. Isn't it easier to say "Ah, I forgot to bring cash with me today! Sorry!" or "Man, my backseat is full of junk, I really don't have room for anyone to ride with me"? That spares you the awkwardness (and even anger) of being nice to someone you can't stand. Satan may convince you that it'd put you in a bad mood for the day if you had to go those 10 minutes out of your way to take her home. And you were gonna use those five bucks to buy that CD that's discounted on iTunes this week! It would actually be better for both of you for you not to help her, he may say. 
Well I say BALONEY. 
Maybe this doesn't ring true with you, feel free to comment thoughts and even Scriptures. My thoughts are Satan is the Great Deceiver, and he wants to steal your joy, kill your faith, and destroy your life (John 10:10). and he may use something very much like "So, you can stay and fight for the people who hate and fear you. Or you can join me, and live like kings and queens." to hold you down.
Be on the lookout, friends. "Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world." (1 Peter 5:8-9 ESV)

Friday, August 12, 2011

decisions, decisions... are stinky.

whoever it was that initially decided grown-ups have to make tough decisions deserves to die a slow and painful death. I mean, I guess it's just kind of understood that once you're an "adult" and out on your own, you just... well, have to. But still... I think it's stupid. especially on days like today when I'm really indecisive and scared and would prefer to be a baby about it and make my mother do the hard thing for me.
I wonder if Jesus ever hated making decisions. I wonder if he ever found himself dreading the next day because he knew what was coming and didn't want to go through with it. I mean, he was human... so surely he had some of that, right?
Agh. I don't know.
Anyway. I guess the main point of all this is simply that growing up is tough. I'm not so sure I enjoy being responsible to send payments on time and decide even simple plans like how I'm going to schedule moving back into the dorm. Actually, scratch that.
I mostly hate it.
It's confusing and stressful and just plain ol' hard. But then that's what makes us better, sharpens us, blah blah blah. (I'm sounding awfully cynical tonight...) Right now I'm tired of being made better, of being molded and changed and sharpened. I would really rather be left alone and not have to make these big-kid decisions, quite frankly.
God, help me to have a better attitude about the way you're changing me. I know it's good and I know it's your will, but I just really don't like it right now. I don't like feeling so distant and cut off from everything. I don't like being alone in tough decisions, and I don't like feeling so void of optimism. Change my mind. Own me.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

warning: this blog contains raw honesty.
1- you know that grabby, tight feeling you get in the pit of your stomach? like in the chick flick when they finally kiss? or when some guy does something really sweet and you just really want him to like you? yes... my stomach has been containing a lot of that lately. which is really weird, mostly because A) I haven't been watching a lot of chick flicks and B) I don't even like anyone legitimately.... well, let me rephrase that. I don't REALLY like anyone. eh, that's not much better. it's hard to word, but the root of it is I'm just ready to have a boyfriend again (which probably means I'm really NOT ready for it, since I'm so sure of myself). I just want to like someone and be liked and for the world to be rosy and romantic.
BUT... tonight in choir practice we were singing this song, Sold Out. the bridge says, "My heart is fixed, my mind's made up. No room, no vacancies, I'm all filled up. His Spirit lives in me and that's the reason I'm sold out." and as I sang, and worshipped Him for fixing and filling my heart, I realized... my heart *IS* full. there is no more room for affection of anyone else, other than Christ. and I love it that way, I don't want to change it.
2- so basically it comes to this: I don't know what I want. the number one secret of the females of the human race. I never know what I want! I guess that makes it that much better that God gives me the desires of my heart... He gives me desires FOR my heart, then fulfills them. how awesome is that?
I know my writing is ramble-some tonight... but it seems I'm falling back in love with my First Love. how wonderful that is.
"and like a child, I will dance in Your presence! O, let the joy of Heaven pour down on me. I still remember the first day I met You, and I don't even wanna lose that fire, my First Love!"
"It's more like falling in love than something to believe in. More like losing my heart than giving my allegiance. Caught up, called out, come take a look at me now. It's like I'm falling in love."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

the coming undone.

I just wanna yell at You, God.
While I know it's wrong,
My heart's song has slowly faded,
Leaving me here, confused, jaded.


What happened to me?
Did the music leave my soul
Or is it still there,
Trying to make me whole?


I can't hear Your song.
Did You stop it?
I can't hear anything.
Yet I need it, I need to sing
To find You again, King.
Sing me back to You.


I still and search and wait...
On nothing? At this rate,
I'll sit here forever.
JUST SPEAK, LORD.
SING OVER ME.
When I can't tell if You're there,
I forget how to breathe.


How dare I doubt,
How dare I raise my voice?
How dare I demand a response?


Yet doesn't He see me here, stuck?
Out of luck.
Can't He hear my heart screeching,
Or is He simply teaching?


Lessons in silence-
I hate them the most.
They make me lose myself,
My sanity, they leave me unable to cope,
I stop and abandon all hope.


But I don't want to go
Back there again.
Doesn't He know that?
Can't He see what a mess I am
And that there's no use
Salvaging this rubbish?


I need Him.
I need His music.
I need to know He's actually there,
He actually cares.
I need to know if He thinks I'm worth saving.
Or am I simply draining?


Hi, nice to meet you,
I'm lost, confused, hopeless.
Nice to see you, 
They call me passionless.
Good to see you today, while I'm down at rock bottom.
Hope you have a nice day,
While I drown, lungs full of air.


Please forgive me for making up all these excuses.
Please remind me just why I'm still trying.


SATAN, STOP IT.
GOD COME! GOD COME!
WHERE ARE YOU?!
RESCUE.
HOSANNA: SAVE NOW!


I feel this battle over my
Heart, mind, & soul.
I know you're here,
Fighting for me.


I just need You.
I need Your song.
Sing it in my heart,
Remind me of Your tune,
And we can harmonize
Your beautiful melody.
Just give me time to open my eyes.


{written 5.4.2011}

Sunday, July 17, 2011

and the ultimate goal is...

I love how God works. he works in weird, mysterious, and unimaginable ways. which he's been doing a lot of in my life lately. can I just take you back a couple days and tell you what an awesome thing He did?
so I'm in adult choir at church, and we had practice wednesday night. my two good friends that joined choir with me were both out of town, so I'm in practice alone. not fully alone of course, cause there's a whole choir, but with no friends. A couple of the songs I struggled hearing my part and was too shy to ask to hear it again, because all the songs we're doing are ones that people who've been in adult choir all ready know, so it's like beating a dead horse for them.
anyway, I'm feeling less and less secure in my sight-singing, and found myself just getting really depressed. after all, I'm a quarter of the way done with my Music Ed. major, and I can't even hear the stinking second soprano part! (not to mention the fact that I don't even know if I should be singing first or second soprano or alto, or what.) and I was just so wrapped up in thinking, "If I'm sitting here in a choir and I can't hear my part with the piano playing under me, how on earth am I going to be a good music TEACHER?! I can't do this!" It continued to grow in depressing-ness, to the point that I eventually stopped singing and was just mouthing the words. I fought back the tears that tried to well up in my eyes. It was a horrible feeling, a terrible thought, and a worse moment. Then we finally finished that song and in my head all I could think was "I just can't do it. I can't be a music teacher. I'm not good enough." 
then, our director looked right at me and smile slyly. 
she held up a 2x2 slip of white paper.
"I don't know who this is for, or why it's here, but I just found this paper in my book. God put this in here for me to share with someone tonight: 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
there was more she said, and I wasn't the only one she looked at, but it sure felt like the whole room was staring me down. 
She moved on to other songs, and I tried not to cry my way through them, but it ended up I did.
God completely broke me, and it was all I could do to stay in the room and not run to my car and bawl my eyes out. 
He put that in there for me.
I'd never had complete confirmation of my chosen major until that point, and it was settled. God has some reason for me to be a music teacher, and I can do it. Though I doubt myself, I cannot doubt His power working in me. "With His power working in us, we are able to do immeasurably more than anything we could ever hope or imagine," is the Becca version of Ephesians 3:20-21. and how true that is. 
God, forgive me when I doubt your power. Forgive me for being so self-focused and self-pitying. I don't want to doubt your ultimate plan for my life, please help me to learn to trust you with everything in every circumstance. Develop me. Mold me. Sharpen me. Just use me, please. Use me.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

the burning basement

So I'm reading this book, Chasing Elephants: Wrestling with the Gray Areas of Life. It's talking about freedom in Christ and how being made free leads us to be responsible to minister to others and implore their reconciliation with God. It uses the analogy of having plans with a friend to hang out... You drive up to their house to pick them up and see thick black smoke billowing out of the basement. Do you drive past and say, "Oh well, I guess I'll have to find someone else to hang out with, that guy is toast."? Never. You stop your car, run in, and try to rescue them from certain death! It's the same way with sharing the urgency of reconciliation with Christ. "The house is on fire, and people all around us are doomed to eternity separated from God if we don't warn them to reconcile with him while they still can," the book states. I can't help but think of a few specific friends of mine that I know haven't experienced Christ's true salvation. They can talk about Jesus all day, pray for things with a little humor to make light of the situation, and maybe even tell you a few bible stories. But when it comes down to it, they are spending an eternity separated from Christ. I can't help but imagine them sitting in the burning building catching up on Facebook, and when Christ comes in to their rescue, they sit there telling him how cool it is that he would try to help them, and how he must be really brave, and so on... All the while they come closer to the deathly flames. Am I going to sit by and let them slowly burn, or am I going to implore them to be made right with God? It's a convicting thought, not one that I necessarily like to be met with. Nonetheless, it's reality. One that I am going to let change me. 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

picky, picky, picky

Am I too picky? I know it's good to be picky in some areas, like who your close friends are, what kind of things you let influence you, etc. and it's good to be picky in who you date, too... right? Because I'm wondering if I'm TOO picky. I've been told (and now believe) that dating just to date is kinda stupid... I mean, I understand casual dating. But being in a serious relationship just to have a boyfriend/girlfriend is completely ridiculous. Anyway, because I feel that way I've only had one boyfriend, been careful to guard my heart and purity, etc. And as the time marches on that I live my life single, seeking God and learning of Him, I wonder what the point is in having wishes and hopes of what my future boyfriend/husband will be like. I wonder why I have a list that etches out what kind of man I want to spend forever with. is my list too precise, too long? I've been careful not to give God a "these four pages describe what my husband will be" list. It's a simple, one-page list... more of a prayer than a list. and honestly, it's just core values that I find necessary in any individual that will be a close friend of mine. yet somehow, it seems like I rely on that list to mark guys off. you know, "possibilities". "He can kinda be a pervert sometimes, I could never date him,"
...and as I type this, I realize what my problem is. It revolves around me. Very rarely do I ask, "God, is he the type of person I should date?" So often I rely on my own intuition and beliefs to handle that answer. 
God, create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and help me to live in a way that shares that joy with everyone I can. I want to focus more on taking up your yoke and learning of you, than I do on what my future may hold. I want to seek your will for my life in every area at every moment. Speak to me. Help me hear.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I am not supposed to be here.

honestly, I'm not sure if I can endure another month and a half here. here, physically... here, emotionally... and of course here, spiritually. what is up with my life? this is the weirdest feeling.
for the first time EVER, in my eighteen plus years of life, I'm uncomfortable in my hometown. home is great, don't get me wrong. I love being home, as in being with my family. but even my room is different and weird. and I hate it. I hate feeling like a visitor in my own home, in the town I've grown up in for the past 12 years. I hate feeling like my closest friends here don't even know me as well as my "good" friends at school. sadly, aside from my family, there is one relationship that hasn't changed for the worse... and I kinda feel like God let it remain because he knew I'd need my best friend this summer. 
everywhere I go, whether it's walmart, or my job, or (sadly) my home church, I can't shake that feeling that I'm out of place. and as bad of a feeling as that is, I don't want to change it. I don't want to sink back into the small-expectations-lifestyle I got so good at maintaining while I lived here. but I just don't want to be here. I'm ready to go back to MC today. Not a joke, I would stay up all night packing my stuff and be ready to move in if the dorms were opening this weekend. 
I keep talking about this with my parents, because it's such an odd, new thing for me. apparently it's normal, when you go off to college, to detach from your life before... but it seems like I'm the only one of my peers that has. then again, I'm the only one that went out of state. 
.....my eyes are hot with tears and I find it hard to breathe. I don't want to count how many times in the past week I've cried over how much I miss MC. I hate summer. I hate being away from everyone, from my "home away from home" and from the church that now feels so much more like home. I just want to go back. I don't understand the purpose of this awkward, uncomfortable, weirdly un-stressfull and uneventful summer. 
I don't understand my life, period, right now. I don't see, hear, or feel God moving. I feel lost and somehow complacent. I feel like I'm in that stage of the nightmare where I can hear what's going on around me and realize that all this is just a dream, but can't wake myself up.
wake me up, God.
I'm lost without you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

blank.

last night I experienced the worst feeling ever. 
ok, probably not REALLY the worst feeling ever. but it was pretty horrible. 
see, this whole weekend was consumed with my cousin's wedding and the details of getting everyone there, carting my mee-maw around, and taking care of my cousin's (not the one getting married) kiddos while their parents were busy. so it was probably the weirdest wedding ever to me. plus, that side of the family is just off-kelter. they all practically hate each other and pretend everything is ok all the time when it isn't (praise the Lord my mom turned out differently). plus, there was a lot of alcohol floating around at the reception, which equals more uncomfortability (and a headache from the stench). so if you combine all that awkwardness with my general disliking of weddings, you end up with Becca in a bad mood. 
so there was that, then I got home and relaxed with the family, watched movies and such, which made things better. but having missed out on my home church service because we were traveling back home, my day was just OFF. I finally just went to bed... and of course it WOULD be that one night where you just can't get to sleep. so, like any logical college student, I opted to stay up and watch a movie on netflix. I picked an old-ish Natalie Portman movie called "Anywhere but Here"- and I do NOT recommend it. It was just the weirdest movie, and this poor girl was dragged all over the country by her capricious, love-seeking mother, who was a TERRIBLE mother. not only did her mom continually mistreat her, but she also had no friends in her new home (after her mom moved them across the country), her best friend died, and her mom spent money she didn't have time after time. it just irritated me, and made me angry, and made me want to cry. 
so on top of all my negative feelings toward the wedding weekend, I watched a terrible movie that put me in a nasty mood. and to top it off, I hadn't read my bible in about three days because of all the wedding.
I'm not sure why all of this matters. in fact, it really doesn't. I suppose it's mostly just that this terrible feeling is still lingering. and I don't like it, and I'm unsure of how to rid myself of it. 
well, actually, I'm sure of how to rid myself of it: spend time really alone with God. but you know that guilt you feel when you haven't had a quiet time in a few days, and for some reason you hesitate to set that time aside once again? maybe no one else does that, maybe it's a Becca-ism. but I have that feeling and I've realized that I've tried everything to rid myself of the feeling: reading, watching movies, hot tea, chocolate, America's Next Top Model marathon. it does nothing, and I know exactly why and I know exactly how to change that. but for some reason I can't muster up the courage to actually crawl back.


God, give me courage to come back to you. I know I haven't really gone that far... but I also know that walking away from you doesn't happen suddenly, it happens inches at a time, and I don't want to walk away from you. 


find me here, and speak to me.
 I want to feel you, I need to hear you. 
You are the light that's leading me to the place where I find peace again. 
You are the strength that keeps me walking, 
You are the hope that keeps me trusting. 
You are the light to my soul. 
You are my purpose, you're everything...
And how can I stand here with you and not be moved by you? 
Would you tell me how could it be any better than this?... 
Cause You're all I want. You're all I need. 
You're everything, everything

welcome to midnight.

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