8.12.2010

Blog, BLOG, Who has time to blog?!

...When you're getting married in (drumroll, please) 60 days?!

Okay, well I guess I do! I haven't had any (okay, many) of the bridezilla-break-downs you hear about. More than anything, I thank God for that. He has blessed us up one side and down the other over the past few months. For example, my ring was exactly what I always dreamed of and purchased from a sweet Christian lady for 1/5th of the price it would have been in the jewelry store. Then, there's the actual place we're having the wedding: He led us to a Christian family with the most beautiful wedding venue--an old barn in the country, and, again, exactly what I wanted--who told us they wanted us to use it for FREE. They also let Tom hold a summer camp for his youth kids there a few weeks ago--a double blessing! Then, there are the vendors who have discounted their services--some up to $700. It's really been amazing to watch Him work.

When I think back over these things and how he has shown Himself faithful throughout my life, leading and guiding every step of the way, it seems nothing short of foolish to ever doubt that He will take care of me. Still, I have found that to be my number one struggle over the last months. With all of the fiancial duties that come your way when you're starting a household, it's so easy to fret. But, just because it's easy doesn't make it right. (In fact, that's often a good sign, it's not right.)

My mom and I discussed something along these lines last night that made me wonder, "How literal am I willing to take the Bible?"

Matt 6:24-34, says, "No man can serve two masters: ... Ye cannot serve God and [your self]. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on... For after all these things do the Gentiles seek... your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

What? So I'm not supposed to worry about my future, my savings account, my retirement portfolio? It's as easy as that, huh, God?! Boy, I have been making it so much more difficult! Of course, it's easy to say, "Okay, God, I trust you!" when there's still enough money in the bank account. But on the day when there is only pennies...well, I hope I'll remember this...

And, the Mark 12 widow woman who gave her last penny.

8.04.2010

"Prayers, please!" Love, God.

When was the last time you read the Old Testament? Not just skimmed over it and appreciated it from a historical perspective, but really sunk your teeth in or dug in your heels and sought revelation? I had always thought the OT was a dry chronology of ancient people, only vaguely applicable to my life. How wrong I have been. Over the last few weeks, I have blown away by the rich life lessons I've found in the OT.

One particular story that has had my attention for awhile involves Elijah. We all know the story of how Elijah built the altar in the contest with the prophets of Baal; he called down fire from God, which consumed the sacrifice. If you will read on to the next few verses, there's an equally amazing story that follows. It concerns the ending of a drought that had plagued the land for three-and-a-half years as a result of Elijah's dealings with King Ahab. (I'll probably talk about the ending of the drought in my next post, but for now, my focus is on how it started.)

Can you imagine you, yourself, praying to God and expecting to change the course of nature? (I will actually be doing this up until my wedding day - No rain, Lord, please!) That is exactly what Elijah did. In response to King Ahab's hardness of heart, he prayed that drought/famine would overtake the land.

For 3.5 years, not a drop fell.

Okay, so let's be real. All of these sorts of "miraculous" stories in the Bible seem super amazing and we marvel at them. We think, "That was them. They had some special gifting. Things don't work like that now." But, should these stories really be so surprising to us? After reading James 5:17, I think not.

Here's what it says: "Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years."

WOW. Right? I have had that scripture in the back of my mind for about 18 months now, and it is finally starting to sink in. Elijah didn't have some special line to God. Of course, he was a prophet, but like James said, "He was a man just like us." In the next sentence, James explains how Elijah got such amazing results: "He prayed earnestly..." It doesn't say he had such powerful results because "He was a prophet" or because God pointed his divine scepter at him and granted him special power or because it was the year 214. It was simply because, “He prayed earnestly.”

Some days I breathe only a few sentences to God before closing my eyes to sleep. How tragic.

How much power could we see in our daily lives, how much could we accomplish in the Kingdom of God and the lives of others, if only we would follow in the footsteps of Elijah and earnestly pray? I want to find out.

Oh, how I want to be a woman of earnest prayers. God help me.

8.02.2010

JOY

There is no doubt that trusting blindly isn't a wise or desirable trait. But I have realized that my hestitancy to trust stemmed from one thing: self-love. I was more worried about the potentially negative impact that giving my trust would have on me rather than the negative impact that withholding the trust was already having on someone else.

I came to this conclusion after hearing an old song that I hadn't heard since I was a child. The chorus says, "Jesus, then Others, than You, what a wonderful way to spell JOY." What simple but powerful words to live by. There are more in Philippians 2:4: "Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." When we are willing to lay down our own interests for the sake of others, we are learning to imitate Christ. And, only in that place, will we find contentment.


Others, Lord, yes others
Let this my motto be;
Help me to live for others,
That I might live like Thee.
- Charlies D. Meigs

7.30.2010

To Trust or Not to Trust?

I'm in desperate need of some catharsis. I thought that a jar of Nutella might be the answer this afternoon, but after one too many spoon fulls I felt worse, not better.

The question plaguing my mind is trust. When should it be given and when should it be witheld?

Is it something that you give only if it is first proven that the other is deserving of your trust? Or, do you hand it out blindly and hope for the best? Or, something in the middle maybe? Is it an issue of practicality, spirituality, both?

All I can come up with so far is that God freely gave His Son. In His infinite Knowledge He knew that some would accept His gift, He knew others would reject it. Yet, He gave freely to all. Isn't this the deepest form of trust? On the other hand, trust seems to imply a lack of knowing, and since God is all-knowing, maybe trust isn't the right word. Still, even if he doesn't trust us, He has entrusted us with many things.

Christianity 101 is based on the truth that God wants to form a loving relationship with us. And, in order to accept that love, we have to trust Him and have faith in a Creator that we have not seen. So, how does this parallel with our earthly relationships?

To get a little philosophical here, it reminds me vaguely of Plato's theory of Forms. The principles that God portrays in the God-Man relationship are the one's that we should try to immitate in our earthly relationships. Obviously, we will do so in an imperfect way.

So, how does trust play into this? There are so many verses in the Bible on how we are called to "love" others, but what about trust them? Must the two always go hand in hand? My brain is in spaghetti over this. Part of me wants to trust implicity. The other part of me thinks that's just not practical.

7.29.2010

Audience of One

My last post was one days shy of six months ago. I will bypass all of the life-changes that have occurred in the past months, partly because there's just too many to share (for example, I'm getting MARRIED in 74 days), but mostly because I am not narcisstic enough to think folks are still checking in to see if I'm around.

I have finally faced a fact. I am not now, nor ever will I be, the journaling type. It's just not in my blood. (Ironic considering I majored in "journal"ism.) I have always wanted to be the individual who passes on to Glory and leaves dozens of dusty, leather-bound journals behind. Maybe there's some comfort in knowing your words will live beyond your breaths. Over the years, I have had bouts of success--three days here, five days there--but inevitably my hand fails to keep up with my thoughts, and I decide the process is more laborious than enjoyable.

That is, in fact, what brought an end to my blogging career some months ago. In the beginning, I used my blog as a platform to entertain. There was a constant pressure to put out new information that would keep 'em coming back. I wasn't really sure why I wanted them to keep coming back. It's just what I was told was supposed to happen. Finally, it became more work than fun, so I scaled back.

Then, when I experienced a major life transition--moving to the inner-city--I shared some experiences and spiritual thoughts but soon lost my interest in blogging altogether. The tangible things in my life demanded my attention to such a degree that the intangibles of the Internet had little appeal.

I can't say that has changed. However, after receiving a few emails over the past months from folks who have read through my experiences and been encouraged or felt like my words were an answer to prayer, I have come to realize that there may be something worthwhile in this blogging thing, afterall.

So, from now on, I will be using this page much like a journal, but with an exponentially higher WPM rate and a (regrettable) inability to collect dust. The thoughts will be personal and true, without any attempt to entertain or inform "my readers." I'll be writing for myself and, of course, my ever-present audience of One. If someone stumbles upon me, along the way, wonderful. If not, at least my words will live somewhere beyond my breaths...even if they're not leather-bound.

1.30.2010

Stayin' alive, stayin' alive...

The Bee Gees said it best.

I'm just letting everyone know I'm still alive and well in Atlanta. There have been good days and rough days since I updated last, but all in all, I'm super blessed and have no legitimate reason in the world not to be happy.

"My kids" are still great... and, in fact, was offered one of my very own this morning while hanging out in the projects. I took one of the moms to the grocery store, and on the way, she said I had helped her so much so she wanted to help me. Her offer? I could have her kid. She thought he would help with my taxes. I'm still not clear whether she was wanting to actually give me her child or just give me his SSN. But, either way, it was one of the more unusual offers I've ever received.

Such is life in the ghetto.

More updates soon.