Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2011 kicked off with what seemed to appear as landmines everywhere my family turned. These past five months have been nothing short of exhausting, in both good ways and bad. I could rattle off the long list of events in order to show my life as a dizzying array of chaos strung together haphazardly. But I'm scared to do so, for that will only make me dread the next seven months.

Rather than looking back and wincing at the painful process of arriving at May 17th, I'd prefer to acknowledge the ways God has slowly, but surely, led me on the path through those seemingly horrible landmines in order to prevent me from wandering off a cliff.

I've been at home through student teaching, leaving all peers on campus leading normal, senior-in-college lives. But teaching was truly magnificent. God put me at home, and I have no doubt that is where He wanted me to be. I have watched God work miracles in my heart as He provided every companion and confidant along the way.

Yes, this year has been difficult, but as I look at the ways God has forced growth upon me, I must remember that He has led me to where I so needed to be. Rich Mullins, in one of my favorites, sings "Let mercy lead; let love be the strength in your legs, and in every footprint that you leave, there will be a drop of grace." This philosophy has become the driving force of the way I live and work.

Through my teaching, I have witnessed the depravity of mankind in my little microcosm of learning. Trying to teach my students in the midst of their jibing remarks and scathing judgements of one another, I have come to realize my role at their teacher. Never before has Matthew 5:16 rung so true to me: "Let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." My life is a constant witness to my kids, and I have never desired a more upright spirit than when I teach. Showing my girls what a true Woman of God looks and acts like is just as much part of my job as teaching my kids gerunds from participles.

These thoughts are far from finished...teaching preoccupied the majority of my time in the past four months, which was good, because most of the world seemed to be crumbling everywhere else. But I've learned not to hope for "normalcy," because more often than not, in a broken world, things never work out how we picture it. These past five months have taught me not to hope for anything in this life, for "my life if hid with Christ on high." Any blessings God pours out on my life add to the abundant life I did nothing to earn, but that God in His goodness grants to those He loves. Each landmine was, more or less, offering me the choice to glorify God for his steadfast love in the midst of an ever changing world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Year Long Gift Giving.

It's commonly accepted in my family that I'm the Christmas-monger and present-hoarder. This usually results in jokes and banter and most recently a shirt proclaiming "tis the season... to give me presents!" I take these all in stride, because I know it's in good fun, and I'll be long dead before those jokes let up. I just try to roll with the punches on this one.

I do freely admit that gifts and gift-giving is my love language. I won't try to justify why it means so much when someone gives me something; it just does. But as I pulled on my new Christmas shirt, thinking about how I would never actually wear it outside the house (where people wouldn't know to laugh), I started to wonder how God would use something that appears as pure selfishness to further His kingdom. These thoughts birthed this post.

I haven't talked through this blog much about my desire to start a homeless ministry, but I truly believe that my love language matches perfectly with the passion God has given me to minister to the homeless. Everything that I do through this ministry will be an offering of my time, services and material goods to meet the needs of those who lack the means to provide for themselves. Essentially, my ministry is like giving gifts, material, tangible gifts. Books, hot coffee, a blanket... all these things are meaningful and essential to what I hope to offer the homeless. And because I can't get enough of showing love through giving, I am more than happy to give God's love as the ultimate offering of compassion and care.

While I may get pestered about my love of giving and receiving, I can't actually complain, for it is God who allows me so much joy through expressing love that way. Also, I don't think in a ministry for the homeless a lack of joy towards giving is ever a bad thing.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"How firm a foundation..."

Throughout the Old and New Testament, Christians are told to "stand firm." Whether we are withstanding attacks from the Enemy or remaining strong within the bonds of Christian unity and love, we are constantly reminded that "standing firm" is something we're supposed to be good at.

I've never wondered how I'm supposed to stand firm; the power and strength to do so never crossed my mind. I've just always recognized the blessing of God battling Satan for me (while I'm attempting to stand firm). I always acknowledge the true blessing this is to the weak and weary saints. While reading Isaiah this morning, I finally discovered where and how we're to do all this standing.

"Unless your faith is firm, I [God] cannot make you stand firm." -Isaiah 7:9b. What a realization this is! My faith is to be the foundation for withstanding Satan's attacks, my foundation for love and the unity of believers, but best of all, God is allowing and making me stand firm. The faith required of us is enough to simultaneously soften our hearts and strengthen our stance.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Interesting Thought...

While last summer I took New Testament Literature online through Bryan, I hardly read all that I should have and passed with flying colors. This summer I'm working as a receptionist for a moving company; in my spare time I take out my Bible and read (who is seriously going to tell you to NOT read your Bible when you live and work in the South?). God has blessed me in a way I would've never imagined; while I was blessed with a job to work with fun, enjoyable people in a relaxed atmosphere, He has also provided large amounts of time for me to sit and rest in His Word. I've probably read more of the New Testament in the month I've been at work that I have on my own time in a while.

Also, whenever I go to the gym (which is basically everyday), I am always reminded to use the time on the treadmill to be praying. Everything else just quiets down; it's just the air I'm breathing and my prayers to God. I count myself honored to have God provide these times for me to use to draw closer to Him.

God is growing and teaching me what it really means to use the time He gives us wisely. More than ever this summer, I am really starting to see how He orchestrates the way we live in order to give us the choice to draw near to Him in love and faithfulness or to toss aside those opportunities He gives.

Just pray that I'll wisely use time for my thesis, too!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Better Explanation...

So I have given weak and pitiful reasoning for my general disdain for contemporary Christian music (ccm). Here's my attempt:

Much of the time, I feel like an emotion-based approach to worship is adopted for CCM; I would much rather sings psalms or songs of scripture (for example, Jon Foreman's "House of God, Forever" or "Instead of a Show") because there is nothing to compare with using Scripture to worship God. As John Rippon's 1787 hymn says:

"How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled?"

I don't want my passions to be the seat from which my worship rises, for the heart is full of deceit. Also, I desire the music I listen to provoke in me a conviction to live a more godly, holy life. If I am not praising God in my worship, I want the song I hear to be encouraging and challenging me to live a life that praises Him. I don't want some stupid, flighty song about how good I feel when I worship God.

Lastly, I'd just really like for it to be good music. I know there are plenty of exceptions to a lot of these things, but mostly (along with the majority of my generation) I desire honesty, truth, and sincerity that goes beyond upbeat tempos and cheery lyrics. I do believe that is why much of my generation longs for the depth and beauty of hymns rather than the emotional experience we often find in CCM today.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Death in His Grave" by John Mark McMillan

"Though the Earth Cried out for blood
Satisfied her hunger was
Her billows calmed on raging seas
for the souls on men she craved

Sun and moon from balcony
Turned their head in disbelief
Their precious Love would taste the sting
disfigured and disdained

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke with keys
Of Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

So three days in darkness slept
The Morning Sun of righteousness
But rose to shame the throes of death
And over turn his rule

Now daughters and the sons of men
Would pay not their dues again
The debt of blood they owed was rent
When the day rolled a new

On Friday a thief
On Sunday a King
Laid down in grief
But awoke holding keys
To Hell on that day
The first born of the slain
The Man Jesus Christ
Laid death in his grave

He has cheated
Hell and seated
Us above the fall
In desperate places
He paid our wages
One time once and for all"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Musing on death

What they can see
in my final moments:
Strangers, doctors, friends, family
turned away
for a brief moment
to steal a glance at a screen.
The once-steady beeping
gradually slows and wears out.
They believe this screen
will show them what their
minds yearn to believe:
That my heart still beats with
the rhythm of life.

What they cannot see
in my final moments:
I behold
what my eyes longed
to confirm
my heart knew all along.
My heart no longer beat
for the life this world
could offer me.
My heart beats to the eternal
song of heaven --
A song my heart
continues to sing.