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Friday, January 31, 2014

the beauty of reality.

Today I will put on cover up because my face is currently littered with blemishes. Thousands of girls will take pictures of themselves and edit them until all flaws are virtually invisible. Instagram filters will romanticize their surroundings. The finished product will express a confident woman with incredible skin, a bright smile, and great hair who does amazing activities in her spare time. Beneath the facade is a little girl who is trying to be seen and heard and loved. Men will take pictures in the mirror, flaunting whatever muscle they possess, hoping to be noticed and respected.  In one hand-held device we have the ability to glorify and flaunt a life that we don't live. This kind of power is scary. We can easily live two lives. One is relatable, the other intimidating. One offers hope, the other encourages envy. One has the ability to be bold and confident, while the other is a means of gathering courage and confidence from the affirmation and appreciation of other people. 
The point is, we desire perfection. We seek after it like gold. At times we can avoid vulnerability by showing only the best version of ourselves, while the messiness of day-to-day living remains hidden.
I don't own a smart phone, and this is not because I'm cool and too hipster for trendy gadgets like iPhones. It's because I don't believe I'm strong enough. I fear my tendency to seek acceptance from the wrong places. 
Striving for perfection is my attempt to be good enough---an attempt to be self-sufficient. 
Imperfection necessitates God's intervention. As Christians, we should be the most vulnerable of all people. 
 If Jesus is so dear to our hearts, then what gave Him that place of importance? Yes, it's the very word we hate--imperfection. 

There's no hope for a hurting world in fake lives. So let's be real, Christians. Let's stop hiding behind perfect pictures. Let's not hide our blemishes, hurts, scars, and our struggles, for those drew us to Truth--the very pains that led us to the cross where Jesus gave us His perfection in exchange for our belief and surrender. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

song of my thoughts

this pretty much sums up how I'm feeling about God and someone else in my life right now:

...kind of dramatic I know. I don't feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest like the illustration above^^ Just to clarify.

striving to rest



A repetitive theme in my life is the inability to rest. My mind is running on high alert. I'm trying to slow down. The moment I sit still, I think of a million productive activities I could be doing. It is truly exhausting. I don't think it's normal for rest to require discipline and work. Learning to lean on Jesus, and desperately searching for a way to accept His grace. I want so badly to feel like I've earned it, but the reality is that I cannot earn His favor. I simply must accept and rest in the mystery of His delight in me as His daughter. This I'm finding to be very difficult.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

another day

"His mercies are new every morning." He is as faithful as the dawn. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

hello?

Air force or civilian life?
Stay where I am or move colleges?
Nursing or law enforcement?
I have so many questions and so few answers.
I often wish that God would thunder down a loud, unmistakably clear answer. In that case, no matter how ridiculous it sounds, I know I would do whatever He asked. As it is, it would seem that He remains silent--I know He cares less about what I do and where I go than He does about the posture of my heart, but I would really love some specific direction right about now.
Do you ever wish God worked like an ATM?
Do you ever treat Him like one?

...I do sometimes. 
Unfortunately and thankfully, He doesn't work the way I sometimes beg Him to. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

fate

So there I stood, in the sandwich line, contemplating white or wheat when a voice spoke up from behind me:
"Is this the only place to eat around here?"
I turned to find a  tall man with a military haircut and a very confused look on his face.
I smiled.
He smiled back.
"I just arrived here. This is my first semester at school."
Next thing I knew, we were seated outside, eating our sandwiches together, and I was telling him everything freshmen know about my University...which, as it turns out, isn't much.
"...so are you religious?"
My head snapped up from my almost-empty bag of chips.
"um...I wouldn't call myself religious. I'm more...spiritual."
"but you're a Christian?"
"Yes."
The conversation progressed and I began sharing what I know about my faith. He would ask questions and relate painful stories about combat in the war, and I would answer and listen carefully to the hurting man's past.
Two questions he asked stuck out in my mind:

1. What about the people stranded on an island who've never heard about Jesus? Do they just go to hell? What's the deal with hell anyway?

This, I thought, was a God-thing, because I've struggled with this question more than any other in my walk with Jesus. I told Brent what I had come to conclude without being entirely sure about my answer.
"I think that God can reveal himself through His Creation (Romans 1). I know that God is loving and He desires that all come to know Him. I think that there are people who believe that Jesus is the Son of God that we haven't discovered. That said, ultimately, because we aren't perfect, we're separated from the perfect God. We deserve hell, because we constantly reject God in favor of our own desires. He would have to deny His own perfection to accept us in that state. Therefore, in His great love for every single human life, he sent his only Son to die...and anyone (really anyone) can choose to let Jesus' record of perfect cover their record of imperfection and every sin they will ever commit. It's a story of mercy and grace, not a story of condemnation; all they have to do is believe and take the first step toward following Jesus. To answer his question, I had to answer yes, those people go to hell if they do not choose Jesus. I don't understand it, but I've experienced God's goodness and I know that He is good and He is just. It isn't just that any of us should receive eternal life in paradise. It isn't just that I should have the option. Hell is just."
Brent was a little disconcerted with my answer, and so was I, but I felt a strange sense of confidence that what I said was truth.

2. Isn't Christianity narrow-minded and arrogant? How can you say all those other religions are wrong?

I surprised myself with this answer...it literally came from nowhere.

"It's an awfully small god who's willing to share glory with all the other gods that are out there. I want to worship a God so big, powerful, and worthy that He's unwilling to share that glory with any other. People say Christianity is a narrow mindset, but I think they're being narrow-minded when they claim that one way to heaven couldn't possibly exist."

Every answer was the result of a lot of wrestling with God and seasons of doubting His goodness. Many tears contributed to those conclusions. It was so fun to discuss religion with someone who was open. I have no idea where Brent is right now, but I'm thankful to have met him.

By the way, I chose wheat.

Monday, January 13, 2014

happiness and daisies

My birthday was about a week ago. It was incredibly anti-climatic. Nineteen just isn't a very exciting age. I still can't have a beer with friends (legally) and I can't own a gun. So what can I do? Well, I've been thinking about it, and there are a few things that are great about being nineteen...
1. I get to walk with Jesus one more year
2. I have another year to meet new faces
3. It's 365 days of trying new coffee flavors
4. Another season of new life experiences (hopefully caving and a visit to Ireland)
5. I get to enjoy snow, watch spring arise and the leaves change
6. It's one more year of friendship with some very dear people
7. Lastly, on my birthday I always receive daisies--and very few things in this world make me happier.

Friday, January 10, 2014

hmm

I'm often caught between relationships and adventure. I want to experience life. I want to sky dive, backpack through South America and Europe. I want to climb an impossibly high mountain. I want to take a road trip across the United States. I want to get paid to take pictures, write stories, and travel. I want to study abroad.

...and then I think about it. I think about the relationships I'd sacrifice. I think about the people I'd miss. I think about the value in hard work and learning to be content.
At times maybe I really do believe the grass is always greener on the other side...I should work on that.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

back

I had my first day of Spring semester classes today, and so naturally I had to resume my blogging to delay doing anything productive. There in-lies my thought. Is it really counterproductive?

I sat in World History today and was fascinated by my Professor who claimed that we had all forgotten how to think...specifically Americans. Interestingly enough, I had heard that thought only days before at a conference.

I believe that, living in an instantaneous society, we've forgotten how to rest and how to learn. I'm reminded that true learning has much more to do with resting, reading books, and thinking than a grade point average.
I want to become intellectual. I want to care less about grades and more about learning.