Sunday, November 15, 2009


There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain, 

a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace. 

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
Not only is the season literally changing, but I am feeling a change in the season of my life. It's not altogether a pleasant feeling at the moment, either. When seasons change, I tend to look eagerly at the next season, but part of me always is a little sad that the one season is over. For example, when summer turns into fall: I get excited when I start to see the leaves change, when college football starts, and when the hot summer air turns slightly cooler. I realize, though, that fall means busyness of school, fewer hours of sunlight, and colder weather on the horizon. There are positives and negatives to every season. And the seasons must change in order to experience those joys. I need to bear with the negatives if I want to revel in the positives.

And so it is with season changes in my life. Right now I'm feeling some of the negatives internally. I don't know exactly why I'm noticing this change right now, when it's been gradually happening for the past 2 years probably...but I do notice it. There's a point in your life when childhood friends lose touch, when high school friends grow apart, and when college friends cease to be a part of your daily life. It's as if two people, friends, who at one point in both of their lives fit together like puzzle pieces, perfectly matched for such a time. Life moves on, though, and people change or move or start other relationships and those puzzle pieces change slightly with time. Before you know it, they just don't fit anymore, or there's no room to stay attached. Each time I realize another person with whom I had one of those friendships has become a mismatched puzzle piece in my life, I get a little sad.

...a friend that I grew up with, the first guy I kissed, my college roommate, my best friends from middle school, my first friend in college, "my sophomore", even some of my Life Group girls from college...all these people were very important pieces of my life at one point, and are now gone/gradually's time for seasons to change, I suppose. I know there are other people in my life that are more of a fit right now, but part of me will still miss those friendships lost over time and distance.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On Humility and Admitting You are not Self-Sufficient

Last week I accepted an offer that my mom and step-dad offered: give me a loan to pay off my credit cards so that I don't have to continue paying the ridiculous interest rates charged by the credit card companies. Some background: Ever since I've had a credit card, I paid it off in full every month. Every month, that is, until I moved to Virginia. The moving costs were significant, I didn't get paid right away when I started working, and the money in my bank account was used for security deposits, etc.  So anyway, I established some credit card debt buying groceries, some basic furniture and classroom supplies. I've slowly been chipping away at that debt, paying as much as I had left at the end of each just wasn't going down very much, though. My parents were generous and willing to give me money to pay it off in full and allow me to pay them back at a much lower interest rate.

My first thought when they offered this deal was, "That's not fair for them *at all*. It's my fault I have this debt, I just need to keep working to pay it off..." and several other thoughts along the same line. Then, when I started to think about actually taking the money, I thought about what percent interest they should charge me, and how much I should pay them each month in order to pay it off as quickly as possible. Basically, I continued to try to "figure out" and plan my way through every little detail.

Something that I've realized through this ordeal and decision to accept help from my parents, is that I have some pride issues in the area of independence and self-sufficiency. I don't think it's abnormal, to want to be independent from your parents when you're in your mid-20s, and to feel like you can support yourself and figure things out. I do think it's a problem, though, when the reasons I was considering not accepting this offer were because of my desire to not be dependent on my parents.

As a Christian, I'm not expected to be self-sufficient. The core of my belief system is that I *cannot* do anything in my own effort. It is only because God first loved me and sent Christ to die, paving the way for me to have a relationship with him. Why is it, then, that my first instinct with my finances is to think "I have to figure this out myself! I don't need anyone's help!" Arg. I'm learning to rely on people for the right takes humility.

Saturday, October 31, 2009


I really want to get better and more consistent about updating this blog. I feel like if I'm more regular about posting, I might have people that actually read it and comment and I love that!

I had an idea for a blog entry last night or this morning, but sure enough, I sit down at my computer and it's gone... Oh, well.

Until again, friends.

(for those of you reading on Facebook, this is originially from *smile*)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Gospel for Geeks

So, this morning while I was cleaning my apartment, I decided to listen to some podcasts that I have been saving up on my computer/iPod for such a time as this. I didn't know that it had been quite so long since I listened to them but this morning I heard a sermon from Riverview on 8/27/07. Wow...over 2 years ago.

Anyway, Noel was starting a series on "The Gospel According to..." and the first week was about John Calvin and Hudson Taylor. The message was good, but something especially stuck out to me that I wanted to write down in a place where I could find it again by doing a google search (as opposed to writing it in a journal and then wanting to go back and find it, needing to look through 3-4 journals before I find the right one...)

The topic was about our earthly bodies being tents, and in heaven we'll get bodies that are houses. Tents are leaky and fall apart all the time: temporary. Houses, though, are more permanent and sturdy.
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. (2 Corinthians 5:1)

Then, Noel goes off on a tangent..."You know, no one ever contextualizes the Gospel for geeks...."
Our bodies right now are like beta release software. The bugs and kinks haven't been worked out yet. So God released the beta software in the Garden of Eden. Then sin (a virus) was introduced. Now there are all these software upgrades and patches that need to be installed every so often. When we get to heaven, we'll get the final release software with no need for further upgrades or installs.
That made me laugh and smile. It's an interesting analogy.

Our bodies are temporary and flawed. But Christ, through his perfect sacrifice "has made perfect those who are being made holy" (Hebrews 10:14). There you have it. Any time I get frustrated with my body/appearance, I can just look forward to the final release software...*smile*

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Well, last week's menu didn't work out as well as I had planned...

Sunday I ended up eating out because some friends invited me over to the ranch.
Monday I did make dinner, what I had originally planned for Sunday. More potatoes than I could eat in a year...the downside of being single with no roommates...
Tuesday I ate out...orchestra rehearsal
Wednesday...don't remember Wednesday...I feel like I might have eaten out or skipped dinner entirely...really busy evening
Thursday dinner with Lacey's family
Friday breakfast and lunch out (traveling), fancy dinner at Chicago(ish) hotel (but I didn't pay *smile*)
Saturday lunch out with the "gang" in Chicago(ish), fancy dinner at Chicago(ish) hotel (again, I didn't pay *smile*)

This week will maybe be better?

That's all.

P.S. I started reading "Passion and Purity" by Elisabeth Elliot....good stuff. She has a way of writing that is authentic to what she was going through, including journal tidbits and scriptures that encouraged her and held her fast during times when she struggled with lonliness or singleness in general, especially when she and Jim Elliot loved each other but needed to be apart.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

A Steward of my Singleness

I've been meaning to blog about what I've been learning in regards to relationships. More specifically, dating relationships. Don't get excited, I'm not in one *smile*, but I've been doing a lot of thinking, praying, reading and studying about dating relationships and, in turn, marriage.  There are many thoughts that I have about this topic, but they are all jumbled up in my head and I'm not an expert by any means (my last relationship was over 4 years ago...). I just have some thoughts.

I'm not going to write them down here just yet. What I am going to do, though, is write about how I can be using this time of singleness that I have right now to prepare myself for the future. Not that I'm wasting away this time waiting until I "arrive" at married/family life, but things that I can do now that will help my future life whether or not I end up married.

1. Finances:
  • I need to start a budget and stick to it. I've piddled around with budgeting tools, but I haven't found something that I have sat down and taken the time to plan out everything and make a smart budget to go from. 
  • I need start being more disciplined with keeping my checkbook up to date. With debit card transactions, it's easy to forget to write something down and then only notice when the bank statement is ready. It's a discipline that I need to start making a priority
2. Meals:
  • One huge priority for me is learning how to plan a menu and stick to it. Do the grocery shopping on the weekend so I have everything I need for the week, and then make the meals! It works even better if I can do some of the prep work the night before so that when I come home at night I just need to stick it in the oven or pan.
  • Eating out less. This could go under the budget item, too...I just feel like it's such a waste of money!
3. Maintaining a household:
  • Set a schedule for cleaning, whether it's one day per week that is devoted to cleaning the apt. from top to bottom or smaller chores each day of the week. There needs to be a schedule, and it needs to be a discipline. I have seen how I can become lazy about it and not dust for weeks at a time...if I can't do it in a small apartment, what happens when I have a house? Or 2 kids running around?
There are plenty more things I could add to this list, I'm sure. These are the ones I'm actually working on right now. These are the ones I want people to keep me accountable for. This is where I'd like to see growth. There are other, internal things I'm working on along these lines, too...maybe those will be in another post.

For those who are interested, here's my (proposed) menu for the week: (not good on the eating out category...still working on that one *smile*)
Saturday - Baked chicken, spaghetti squash, salad
Sunday - pork chops, Romano Potatoes, salad
Monday - chicken & broccoli ring, salad
Tuesday - probably fast food or leftovers, orchestra rehearsal 7 - 9:30
Wednesday -  pizza, salad
Thursday - dinner with Lacey's parents or out on my Richmond overnight
Friday - will be in Chicago eating a fancy dinner at the Westin Hotel for my Dad's Inauguration (Illinois Optometric Association)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Crazy Love

So...I'm "reading" (read: listening to) Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I started it this summer while I was determined to go running at the park every so often. The goal was to go more than every so often, but the goal and actuality didn't match up. Anyway, I've been "reading" it, and I have taken to repeating a certain section. I loved it so much that I spent time this week listening to a few seconds, pausing to write it down, then listening to more, writing it down, and repeating that process for about 5-7 minutes of content. I'm not going to repeat it *all* here, because I want you all to read the book (or at least listen to it). I will, however, share some really good nuggets of what I've been listening to, and my thoughts on how I am processing it in my own life.

Here we go...

"Lukewarm living while simultaneously claiming Christ's name is utterly disgusting to God. And when we are honest, we have to admit that it isn't fulfilling or joyful to use, either. But the solution isn't to try harder, fail and then make bigger promises only to fail again. It does no good to muster up more love for God, to will yourself to love him more. When loving him becomes obligation, one of the many things we have to do, we end up focusing even more on ourselves. No wonder so few people want to hear from us about what we ourselves feel is a boring, guilt ridden chore."

It is so easy to get sucked into guilt trips that we set for ourselves. We have lofty goals for ourselves and are quick to forget that we are sinners. When you have been a Christian for a long time, or even a short time, it's easy to "go through the motions" and put on a happy face. It is easy to live at surface level with people and never get past the facade, fooling even yourself into believing that you have it all together. What tends to happen, though, is that the mask wears thin in front of some people, or it cracks when we really look in the mirror of our lives. We mess up, and then are shocked to believe that it happened! If I truly knew that I am a sinner, the true state of my heart and root of my selfishness, I would not be shocked when it manifests itself in my actions or thoughts. I would know that it was my nature, and fight the good fight against it, praising God for his glorious grace that knows all of that junk and loves me still. When we make a list of things to do, people to pray for, bible studies to do, it can easily become a chore, setting our hearts up for failure and disappointment. The cool thing, though, is that God isn't disappointed when we fail. To be disappointed, you need to have high expectations. He doesn't have high expectations for humans. He knows we will fall. That's why Jesus came. (This not to say we should continue sinning with reckless abandonment...Romans 7-8, Galatians 5)

"Prayers for more love result in love, which naturally causes us to pray more, which results in more love. Imagine going for a run while eating a box of Twinkies. Besides being self-defeating and side-ache inducing, it would also be near impossible. You'd have to stop running in order to eat the Twinkies. In the same way, you have to stop loving and pursuing Christ in order to sin. When you are pursuing love, running toward Christ, you do not have the opportunity to wonder 'Am I doing this right?' or 'Did I serve enough this week?' When you are running toward Christ you are freed up to serve, love and give thanks without guilt, worry or fear. As long as you are running, you are safe. But running is exhausting. If, that is, we are running from sin or guilt or out of fear, or if we haven't run in awhile. However, if we train ourselves to run toward our refuge, toward love, we are free, just as we are called to be. As we begin to focus more on Christ, loving him and others becomes natural. As long as we are pursuing him, we're satisfied in him. It's when we stop actively loving him that we find ourselves restless and gravitating toward other means of fulfillment."

It was very ironic (is that the right word? Did I at least use it better than Alanis did?) to be listening to this for the first time while running, something that I don't do often. He's right. Running is exhausting when you haven't done it in awhile. So is initiating relationships, praying, reading the Bible. When you're out of practice at a musical instrument or sport, it takes time to build up your strength and endurance. The author is saying that love is the same way. If we are out of practice loving God and loving others, we will need time to develop those habits and endurance again. We will need strength that is not our own in order to truly love those people in our life that rub us the wrong way, or that need so much from us when we feel we have nothing else to give. I know when I'm driving somewhere far away, recently those trips have been back home to visit family, going *to* the place is always more bearable and feels faster than coming *home.* The distance is the same, the amount of hours in the car is the same. The difference, though, is the expectancy and excitement of going somewhere, looking forward to spending time with people that I love and miss. Coming home from those times, I'm driving away from a place that I love, going to another place I love, but the place I'm going is normal. It's not nearly as exciting as seeing people that I haven't seen in months. Does that make sense? I'm not feeling very concise/clear.

So...I copied more than I planned...oops. I think this post is long enough.

General idea: Run towards Jesus. He loves you and along the way you will be able to love others and do the things that he wants you to do. If you switch the order, you'll end up feeling guilty and frustrated with yourself.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Community Goals

Something I was reminded of yesterday at LaFa was the purpose of community in our lives. I want to get this out this morning before it's gone...bear with me.

So many times, I have tried to live life as a list of things not to do, or even as a list of things to do (often in replacement of the things I'm not supposed to do). I've always been a "good kid". That's not what this life is about, though. That's not what a relationship with God looks like. The Bible talks about how the life we have due to our relationship with God through Jesus will be so attractive and so different that people will know something is different about us. They will ask why we do the things we do, why we love our enemies, and how it is possible for us to live with such faith and confidence. Not saying that I already do those things, or that those three statements are the definition of what it means to follow Jesus.

I was just reading in Acts this morning, in response to several people sharing from the book last night at LaFa. I came across the passage that I love, that talks about community, about the first church. They weren't called a church, though, they were called believers, apostles, "The Way."

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hears, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
Acts 2:42-47

Breaking of bread is mentioned several times in that short passage. There is something about eating together that tears down barriers and brings people closer. A goal that I have for the community that I am in and the community that is created when people come together under a common purpose, is to devote ourselves to the word, to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. I think last night was a good example of that, and I just pray that it continues!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

...nuggets of wisdom from this weekend...

I want to blog more regularly, because then maybe people would read and comment on my posts more. And I love that! I want to write not for me, but about what God is doing, in hopes that it will encourage or challenge others. I mean, some of this is for me to process what's going on and put my thoughts into words, but I also want to encourage anyone that reads it.

Enough rambling about my goals for this blog. On to the topic at hand. This weekend I went to the lake with some friends. AMAZING. Six of us shared a house for a 1 1/2 days, and we spent most of Saturday on a boat in the middle of a lake, either pulling wakeboarders, speeding around, or swimming. It was fun. It was also a great time of community with people that I am just starting to get to know. I loved that, too.

Anyway, Saturday morning we all woke up at different times, but as people woke up, some of us were sitting on the patio and we started talking about a lot of different things. I was trying to read through Ephesians and get back into my study of that book, but obviously God didn't want me there, because I kept getting distracted by the conversation and we somehow got on the topic of Solomon and then to Ecclesiastes. I haven't read through Ecclesiastes in a while, so I started flipping through, reminding myself of the content/context.

A couple of nuggets that really stuck out during the conversation (first, personal. second, as a group):

Do not pay attention to every word people say, or you may hear your servant cursing you - for you know in your heart that many times you yourself have cursed others.
Ecclesiastes 7:21-22

So many times in my classroom I am almost paranoid making sure that I know what the students are talking about when I'm not looking. I don't know why I feel like I have to know everything that's in their conversation, or why I think that it's often about me, but something in me wants to know what they are saying all the time. I am learning to let go, and learning that it doesn't matter, and that I don't need and really shouldn't expect to know everything they talk about. They're teenagers. They're going to talk about their teachers. They're also going to talk about a lot of other things that I don't want to hear. Ha.

Do not be overrighteous, neither be overwise - why destroy yourself? do not be over wicked and do not be a fool - why die before your time? It is good to grasp the one and not let go of the other. The man who fears God will avoid all extremes.
Ecclesiastes 7:16-18

Something that Noel at Riverview talks about a lot is living "razor's edge" Christianity. There is a fine line sometimes from being on the side of either extreme. I have lived at the extremes sometimes, but the goal is balance and discernment. Good stuff.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Favorite Song

I can't believe that it took me so long to listen to "Remedy" by David Crowder Band...I mean, the album has been out for a year! I'm looking forward to "Church Music" that comes out on Sept. 22, but thanks to Tricia, my roommate for a week, I listened to the full "Remedy" album finally! And I bought it on iTunes today because I can't get one of the sounds out of my head. I love it!

Before I post the lyrics and why I love them so much, I want to say how much of a blessing it was to have a roommate for a week! I got to see Luke & Shel, I had someone to come home to and help make decisions about what to eat and what to do. I had company sitting at a coffee shop getting some work done. Granted, I did forget to keep up with some things (like finance stuff, groceries and dishes), but the joy of having a dear friend at home that I could come home and chat with about anything more than made up for it! So, if you're reading this, Tricia: you're great!

Now for the lyrics *smile*!

Surely We Can Change by DC*B

And the problem is this/ we were bought with a kiss/ but the cheek still turned/ Even when it wasn't hit
And I don't know/What to do with a love like that/ And I don't know/ How do be a love like that
When all the love in the world/ is right here among us/ and hatred too/ And so we must choose/ what our hands will do

Where there is pain/ let there be grace
Where there is suffering/ bring serenity
For those afraid/ help them be brave
Where there is misery/ bring expectancy
And surely we can change/ surely we can change

And the problem it seems/ is with you and with me
Not the love who came/ to repair everything

Where there is pain/ let us bring grace
Where there is suffering/ bring serenity
For those afraid/ let us be brave
Where there is misery/ let us bring them relief
And surely we can change/ surely we can change
Oh surely we can change/ Something

Oh, the world's about to change
The whole world's about to change

I want to love people the way this song talks about...loving with action. It's a beautiful all should listen to it!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Driving in the Dark

Last Monday night I went to a gathering of people talking about the future of LaFa, the 20-somethings ministry that I have been involved with for the past 6 months or so. We first met at someone's barn, then we traveled to another person's house in Stuarts Draft (a town I'm not very familiar with...smaller than Staunton, a lot of farmland). We drank coffee, talked, prayed, drank more coffee and talked some more and before we all knew it, it was 11:30pm. I, for one, had to work the next morning, so I realized I needed to go home.

Because we met somewhere else and then drove to the house, I didn't quite know what the best way was to get to the highway. I didn't have my GPS with me, so lucky for me someone offered to let me follow him, because he was headed to the highway, too.

If you know me well, you are probably aware that I don't like driving at night. I'd much rather do my long trips during daylight hours. It's not that I can't drive at night, it's just that I don't feel as though I see as well, especially with the constant changes between headlights blaring in your eyes and then full darkness ahead. As we were driving, I was able to keep a good distance behind the car I was following, and we were on our merry way.

At one point, I thought I knew where we were, and I thought I knew where we were going. I was surprised, then, when we turned onto a small (and very dark) windy country road instead of sticking to the "main drag". It was on this small and windy road that I realized something. Once-in-awhile, the car ahead of me would be around a bend or over a hill, and I wouldn't be able to see it. In those moments, even though I knew that the car was still ahead of me, I felt my heartbeat quicken and my thoughts go to, "What if he turns and I don't see him, I don't think I can get home from here..." Then I would see him again and everything would be fine.

The thing that I realized is that I'm like this a lot with my relationship with God. I'll be walking along, doing the things that I know are good and meaningful in my life. Then I'll start to recognize the path that I'm on, the experiences I'm having, the feelings I have, and I'll think that I know where I'm headed. Then, because God knows better than I what is best, he'll throw me a curve ball and take me down a dark and windy road with nothing but his light in front of me. I can't necessarily see my surroundings, I don't know when the road is going to turn, sometimes I can't even see the light in front of me and I have to just keep going, trusting that it will be there on the other side of the hill. When I am in times like this I feel the same way as when I was driving down the road late at night, "Is this really the right place? How will I get where I need to go if we go this way?" My heart quickens and my mind thinks about all the ways that I might have to figure out where I am, in case I somehow followed the wrong path or missed a turn (opportunity).

The cure for that feeling, I think, is quiet dependence: something I'm not very practiced at. I know God is at work in my life, and I know he is working all things together for the good of those who love him. I trust him to lead me where I need to go. I just don't know where that might be, nor do I know any sort of time frames for anything. It's okay, I tell myself, I don't need to have all the answers right now. Just keep following that light.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


This weekend was a productive one. I made a list and actually accomplished a lot of it! If I knew how to do the strike-through text feature in Blogger, I would totally put my whole list on here for you all to see what I finished. For now I'll just say that I cleaned my apt. from top to bottom (aside from vacuuming the upstairs, everything else is finished...including scrubbing the floors!), planned a menu of food to eat for the week, went grocery shopping, ran some errands, played a game of kickball with my church, and finished my laundry.

Things that weren't finished...
go for a run
repot spider plant
deliver tricycle
Algebra 2
Submit AP Calc syllabus
call Jason
Blog re: relationships (at least I'm blogging about something)
oil change

It's 10:30 and I need to work tomorrow...I'm going to bed and hopefully more of this stuff will get done by the end of the week.

Things that I did this weekend that weren't even on my list. *smile*
Long chat with Carolyn
break my garbage disposal (*sad*)
find and take pictures of 28/38 letters for use in my classroom

Friday, August 7, 2009

Morning thoughts

In the interest in resurrecting this blog, I'm going to try to be more regular in posting. Looks like I made it once/week so far..haha. We'll see if I can keep this up when the school year starts (work days start on Monday for me!).

Couple things...

I've been reading through the gospels as a sort of survey...reading them fairly quickly getting main themes and seeing how they relate to one another and being reminded of the main teachings of Jesus. All he did was teach. I noticed something this morning while I was reading in Mark.

On Wednesday night, at my kickball game, I was talking to another one of the teachers from VSDB that has two children (2 yrs and <1yr). She was talking about how, since we start work on Monday, she has been preparing her 2-yr-old by telling him, "On Monday, Mommy is going to work. You're going to go play with __________(insert name of babysitter, grandparent, aunt, uncle or whomever is taking the caregiving role while the mom is at work)". The child promptly responded again and again with "No mommy, no work. Mommy stay." She continued to prepare him by telling him everyday, maybe several times each day, I'm not sure.

The connection I made this morning was in regards to Jesus telling his disciples that he was going to be crucified and three days later he would rise from the dead. The first time it is mentioned in Mark, is chapter 8 verses 31-38. Jesus taught them that he was going to suffer many things, be rejected by elders and other leaders, and that he would be killed, three days later to rise again. After he said this, Peter took him aside and, like the 2-yr-old said, "No, Jesus, don't die. Stay here with us." Jesus' response was to rebuke Peter, because Peter couldn't see God's plan through his emotion.

Jesus predicts his death again in Mark 10:32-34. This time he tells them, "We are going to Jerusalem. I will be betrayed to the chief priests and teachers of the law. They will put me to death. They will mock me, spit on me, flog me and kill me. Three days later I will rise." (my paraphrase). This time the disciples' reactions are not mentioned, but I can imagine that they all sat around (or stood around) listening to this thinking, again, "NO! Don't leave us!" But Jesus had to leave them in order to make a way for them and all of us to access God. He had to die, because of all of the sin in my life that keeps me from being in a relationship with God. He had to die and rise from the dead to conquer that sin and death once for all.

That's my new perspective for the day. Stay tuned to read about my new perspectives on dating and relationships...something I've been thinking/reading a lot about recently...

Friday, July 31, 2009

Relationship with our Father...two ways to miss out

In the past few weeks, at church and LaFa I've run into a similar message. I thought that it would be a good time to resurrect this blog by writing out my thoughts and new insights about the familiar passage. To any/all who actually will read this, happy reading!

The passage that we talked about comes from Luke 15, the parable Jesus told about the "prodigal" or sometimes translated "lost" son. It came up in church one morning and at LaFa last week we listened to a recording of Walter Jacobsen from his "Transition" series connected to the same passage. Without reprinting the whole passage (which you can find here), here's the basic synopsis:

A man has 2 sons. The younger one (probably in his teens/twenties) approaches him one day and asks for his inheritance. The father gives it to him. Then the younger son goes to a far away place and lives wildly, spending his money freely and doing whatever he wants. A famine hits the land where he's living and suddenly he has nothing and no way to even get food. He ends up working for a pig farmer, and was so hungry that the pigs' slop looked appetizing. The son decided that he would go back to his father and beg to be hired on as a servant.

On his way home, while he was still far away, his father saw him and ran out to meet him. The son had prepared a speech "I've sinned again heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son." The father simply said to his servants, "Get the robe and ring, get him some sandals, kill the fattened calf, we're going to celebrate that my son is home!"

The older brother, who had been home the whole time with his father, heard about the party that was going on for his brother and became upset. He didn't want to join the party so his father came out to try and convince him. The son complained to his father, saying "I've been working for you all these years, I've always been here, and you've never let me even kill one of the goats to party with my friends. Now my brother comes home after spending his entire inheritance on whatever he felt like, and you throw him the biggest party ever!" The father replied, "You are always with me and everything that I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad because your brother was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."
(My paraphrase of Luke 15:11-32)

Something that came up in the discussion at LaFa that I never really gave much thought to was the relationship that each son had with the father at the beginning of the story. The younger son basically treated his father as though he was already dead. (Can you imagine going up to your dad and saying, "I want my inheritance in cash so I can leave town"?!?). He left town, severing the relationship even further. The older son, though, didn't have the greatest relationship with his father, either, I'm assuming. Based on his reaction to his father's actions when his brother returned, the brother seemed to have some issues with his father, too. Basically, he seemed to be working for his dad out of an obligation, not out of love.

Let's look at the younger son for a minute. He leaves, lives on his own for awhile just fine, then famine hits. He suddenly has no food to eat, nothing. He realizes then that he can't make it on his own. He needs his father, even if he could just be a hired hand on his father's property, at least he would have food to eat! He decides to go back, he will pay back his father if his father will accept him.

How often I approach God with the attitude that the younger son had. I behave as though I need to repay God for the sin in my life. I repent and ask for forgiveness, but then I still feel the need to "do" all this other stuff in order to be acceptable in His eyes. The truth, though, is seen in how this father responds to his son's return.

The son comes back. He probably received a lot of dirty looks as he walked back to his dad's property. He probably was filthy, clothed in rags, and the object of much shame. Before he gets home, though, his dad runs out to greet him. Back in that time, men wore long robes and sandals and in order to run, the robes needed to be lifted up off the ground to prevent tripping. Didn't happen often. Running was considered to be shameful. Walter Jacobsen said something along the lines of, "The father ran, showing that he didn't want his son to be hurting for one minute longer than it took him to come back. By running to meet his son, the father brought more shame on himself than the son had." In effect, the father ran, causing everyone's eyes to look at him instead of his son.

The shame and guilt that I feel has already been taken on by Jesus. Through him I am acceptable. The father didn't respond or react to his son's speech...he just started giving orders to his servants to prepare a party. The father is *thrilled* that the son is back.

Okay, now back to the older son. He's ticked that his dad is throwing a party for his delinquent brother. The father's statement that "All I have is yours" is true. He divided his assets, giving half to the younger brother and keeping the rest, in effect, the older brother's inheritance. The brother missed the blessing of it all and the time spent with his father because he was working hard, trying to earn his father's favor, trying to do everything he could just so his father might let him throw a party for all his friends.

The older brother was living in the role of the "good" son. He missed the point. Much like I often do the "right" things because I know they are the right things, or minister because I know I should be ministering or whatever, following those rules in such a legalistic way causes you to get burnt out and miss out on the point of the story and the reason Jesus came.

The younger son needed to fall flat on his face before he realized that he needed his father. Even then, he thought that he wasn't worthy of being called "son," so he wanted to work as a servant. The father accepted him, though, as though he always knew he would come back. He never said anything about repayment or "I told you so" or anything.

Did the father love one of his sons more than the other? No. Did he love his sons less at the beginning of the story than at the end? No. The father's love never changed. The most painful time for the dad was probably when his youngest son asked him for the inheritance and then left. The father knew that he needed to let him go in order to ever have a relationship with him in the future.

God doesn't want our obedience for obedience sake. He wants a relationship with us, where we come to him out of our love for him not out of obligation. What would my life look like if I read my Bible with the enthusiasm that I read the Harry Potter books? What would it look like if I talked to God (in prayer), spilling my guts, laughing and crying like I would with one of my best girls?

Monday, May 11, 2009


I'm not very good at blogging...

Feeling pretty emotional today. Had a meeting with a pastor from my church about new membership stuff and I couldn't help myself from feeling inadequate. I know that alone I am, but I also know that in Christ I am not. So why the nagging feeling that I'm not good enough at anything?

I first believed in Christ as a personal savior when I was 16. I knew of him before that and I knew the basic idea of redemption, but I didn't understand it on a personal level. In college, I started following Christ. Looking toward the Bible and seeking God in decision making, trying to live a life of gratitude and service to him. God really moved in my life during college. He taught me many things about myself and others, and I saw him at work in my life and in the lives of the people around me. I fear I have become stagnant in the past year and a half, immune to what God is doing around me and hardened to watching him work in the lives of others.

The pastor asked me today if I had ever been water baptized. I was, as a baby, but not since I became a Christian. Part of me has always wanted my parents to be there for it, or for them to understand why I am doing it. I don't think that they would, nor do I think they could be there. It's not practical now that I live halfway across the country.

My heart is just sad today. And I don't really know why. Maybe it's because I am realizing just how little faith I have, and maybe part of it is because I don't really know how to change. I guess I'll be praying for some wisdom and guidance, and for the forgiveness of my unbelief.

God is who he says he is
God can do what he says he can do
I am who God says I am
I can do all things through Christ
what was the last one?
-beth moore "believing God" (ironically that series was what led me to start this blog...)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Photo Mosaic

1. Jessica(s), 2. "steak and potatoes", 3. green ON green, 4. coffee & the city, 5. the amazing scenery of Prince William Sound, Alaska., 6. Fall Apart, 7. Ode to Ordinary Friends: my books, 8. Healing broken relationships, 9. table for two

a. Type your answer to each of the questions below into Flickr Search (
b. Using only the first page, pick an image.
c. Copy and paste each of the URLs for the images into fd’s Mosaic Maker (
d. Save the image and post it on a note!

The Questions:
1. What is your first name?
2. What is your favorite food?
3. What is your favorite color?
4. Favorite drink?
5. Dream vacation?
6. Favorite Hobby?
7. What you want to be/do when you grow up?
8. What do you love most in life?
9. One word to describe you?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Snow Days"

Today should have been a snow day. All of the schools in our area were closed. It was icy and freezing rain mixed with snow all day, so I don't blame them. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, but explaining. My school didn't have a snow day. This makes sense because most of the students are already at school (It's a residential school...they arrive Sunday night and leave Friday afternoon), so there need to be people there to supervise them. Also, if your full class is there, you might as well teach them something! I guess I never really thoughts "snow days" would be like this, though.

Last year, I worked at MSD for a semester and we had our fair share of "snow days". It still meant that I need to be at school, but because I worked in the elementary, most, if not all, of my students were day students (that rode a bus to and from school everyday). So on "snow days" when the surrounding districts were closed, we technically shouldn't have had any students, but were still required to be there. This was GREAT for me, because I could catch up on planning/grading/MSU work. We ended up having 1 or 2 students each snow day, but often there were a total of 8 for the whole elementary (K-5), so we combined them and rotated who would supervise. Still awesome, lots of planning time.

Today wasn't like that. All of my students that were there yesterday, showed up today. Normal teaching and learning happened. Just another day.

Oh, and my mailbox is frozen shut. :-(

Sunday, January 25, 2009

25 things...

Rules: Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

1. I hate making decisions, especially big ones.
2. I rarely become stressed out, but when I do, I almost become paralyzed by the weight of everything that needs to be done.
3. I am a sucker for sappy movies and lyrics.
4. Most of my friends in high school were guys.
5. Most of my friends in college were girls.
6. I watch entirely too much TV.
7. Money stresses me out (see #2)
8. I wish I had a personal finance class in high school. Now I'm teaching one.
9. I wish that I prayed more than I do.
10. I don't really know what it's like to "date"
11. I talk to myself all the time.
12. When I'm driving in the car, I like to try to sign along with the songs that are on the radio in a way that is conceptually accurate (and no, that's not supposed to say "sing")
13. I'm really excited for some of my friends to come visit this summer.
14. I really feel connected to people when I get to spend some one-on-one time with them.
15. Half of my belongings are still in Illinois, and I keep thinking of things that are sitting in my parents' garage that I wish were here.
16. The city of Chicago is one of my favorite places in the world.
17. One of my favorite songs right now is called, "Boys with Girlfriends" by Meiko. It's funny.
18. I have my old license plate nailed to the wall above my bed.
19. I got a "You Might Be a Redneck If..." page-a-day calendar for Christmas this year from one of my best friends. (I guess he thinks I moved to the backwoods or something...)
20. I want to be a better teacher than I am.
21. I would love to take a ballroom dance class, or a swing class (just need to find the right partner!)
22. I wake up 1 1/2 hours before I need to leave my house because I like to take my time and read while I eat breakfast in the morning before school.
23. I eat entirely too much fast food.
24. I want to be more organized at school and at home.
25. I always wear a ring on my right hand ring finger that says "Trust in the Lord with all your hear and lean not on your own understanding" in Hebrew (but I can't actually read Hebrew to make sure). I lost my Celtic knot ring that I used to wear on my left hand middle finger. :-(

There you go! That was harder than I thought it would be, but made for a good break from my planning work. Toodles. :-)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


First, another quote that fits my mood from Monday:

"Savior, He can move the mountains. My God is mighty to save, mighty to save.
Forever, Author of salvation. He rose and conquered the grave.
Jesus conquered the grave."
Mighty to Save

For what is impossible with man is possible with God.
-Luke 18:27

On a completely different note, I went to a 20-somethings church gathering last night called La-fa (La familia, for those who are interested...took some research). It's a group of people getting together to build relationships, learn and grow together. They alternate between having large group meetings with praise music and a "message", and small group meetings at peoples' homes. Last night was a large group meeting.

The topic was "community." Actually, the first thing that the leader mentioned was "Facebook is not real community."

Let me tell you, I love talking about and learning about community. I think this stems from an experience of real community that I had a couple summers ago. Twelve people from different backgrounds, experiences, and personalities got together and lived in the same house for 2 weeks while serving in ministry together (not to mention the week before we moved in...spending 18 hours on a plane and a week in a foreign country with people you just met...that'll bring you close and teach you a lot about each other and yourself...).

It was refreshing to talk about community last night, and to see the desire that people have to create communities where they are. I hope that I can get to know these people that I met a little better. Since I left college, I haven't had the same sort of experiences feeling deeply connected with a group of people and knowing that I could be blatantly honest with them and they would love me anyway. I know those types of relationships can be scary and take time, but I think they are crucial for growth and also for me to keep myself in check!

Long story short: I had a good time, I was reminded of some dear friends and our time together, and I look forward to going back and seeing where it goes.

I am way too wordy...I need to learn some lessons from this guy: 22 Words

Monday, January 5, 2009

some scriptures suitable for my mood...

No One is Righteous
9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better[b]? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10As it is written:
"There is no one righteous, not even one;
11there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one."[c]
13"Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit."[d]
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."[e]
14"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."[f]
15"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16ruin and misery mark their ways,
17and the way of peace they do not know."[g]
18"There is no fear of God before their eyes."[h]
(romans 3: 9-17)

"...death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.

15But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! 16Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification."

(romans 5:14-16)

O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me.

2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.

3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.

4 Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O LORD.

5 You hem me in—behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.

6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.

7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, [a] you are there.

9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,

10 even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"

12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

17 How precious to [b] me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!

18 Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.

19 If only you would slay the wicked, O God!
Away from me, you bloodthirsty men!

20 They speak of you with evil intent;
your adversaries misuse your name.

21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O LORD,
and abhor those who rise up against you?

22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
I count them my enemies.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.

(Psalm 139)

35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."[l] 37No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[m] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
(romans 8:35-39)

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Happy New Year!

At the start of a new year I always like to look back at my journals from the past year and see how far I've come, where God has taken me, and what I have learned. The problem with this year is that I can't find my journal from the first part of the year! I have one more place I can look, and I will...I'll keep you posted. Here are some highlights from the year:

January: Started my Deaf Ed student teaching...2nd grade at Michigan School for the Deaf...LOVED IT.

February (i think...): Settled on a church in Swartz Creek and finally felt "at home" at church.

March: Continued student teaching, taking more responsibility in the classroom. Finished the rainforest unit with my students.

April: Finished my internship year and left MSU!

May: substitute taught and applied for jobs all over the midwest/east coast. Christian had a rough patch after his feeding tube surgery.

June: Interviewed and accepted a job at VSDB. Stood up in a wedding for two dear friends in Baltimore. Visited my friends on the east coast and visited the school. Moved back to my parents' house for the summer.

July: hosted two wedding showers for my sister and a bachelorette party. Attended another bridal shower for a dear friend from home.

August: Moved to Staunton, VA. Started my first real teaching job. Found an apartment.

September: Stood up in a wedding of two dear friends from home (in Illinois...on the day Hurricane Ike blew through the midwest). Stood up in my sister's wedding (in Indianapolis). Joined the Stonewall Brigade Band. :-)

October: Went flying in a small plane around the Shenandoah Valley. Hiked one of the tallest mountains in Virginia.

November: Drove back to Illinois for Thanksgiving to see my family and friends in Illinois.

December: Flew home for Christmas vacation to spend time with family and friends in Illinois.

2008 was busy and eventful. I'm excited to see what 2009 will bring. Resolutions might come to me in the next week or so. If they do, I'll post them (it makes them more real if other people know about them). Happy new year!