Thursday, October 8, 2009

The 11th Thing I Love.

#11 - Macs.

That's right. I'm no longer impartial. I'm not Switzerland, and I have an opinion on this issue that I am ready to voice. I have switched from the sidelines into the battle, and I'm jumping in on the Mac side. I was getting peripheral fire anyway, so I thought I might as well at least start defending myself. What did me in? Well, first of all, using one! I used PCs my whole life, then a job bought me a MacBook and I used it for a year. When it came time to buy my own computer, Mac was the only idea in my head. I didn't really consider a PC. But I still didn't think I was in the fight. It was when my computer crashed and people started taking shots at me instead of expressing sympathy at my lost data that I realized I needed to formulate my opinion and be ready to stand on it, because I was considered a part of the battle whether I wanted to be or not. That is when I became a Mac person. (Oh... And when they gave me a free iPod touch. That really helped their cause, too.)

But hasn't your hard drive crashed twice in two months, you ask? Why yes, yes it has. Well, 1.5 times actually. And if I can go through all this hassle and still love my computer at the end of the day (and the company that sold it to me), I think that's true love. Don't you wish you were in love with your computer? You do? I have a simple solution for you, my friend. Buy a Mac. Even if you don't like who it is on the inside, you've got to admit... it's a hottie! :-)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Insights from Pinocchio.

I watched Pinocchio with a three year old tonight, and I had a profound revelation. (Only me, right? ha ha) It was at the part where Pinocchio and his father are trying to escape from the whale. Pretty scary stuff when you're three. She came and jumped into my lap, saying, "It's scary! It's scary! I'm done with this movie." I leaned down and said in my most reassuring tone, "Hey, don't worry. It's going to be okay." She looked up into my eyes, fear evident in her sweet face, and said, "But how do you know?" The answer that came out of my mouth stunned me. "Because I know the end of the story. I know it seems scary right now, and in a minute, it's going to seem very sad. But I promise, it's all going to be okay."

As the words passed from me to her, I knew that they were truly passing from God to me. So many times in our lives, everything at hand says this is scary. All we can see is the terror of this moment, and we can become consumed by fear as we face insurmountable "whales" in our own lives. Sometimes we even want to just turn this movie off and be done. But God knows the end of the story! And he has promised that it's all going to be okay. (See Romans 8:28 if you don't believe me.)

Pinocchio and his father escape the whale, but Pinocchio drowns. His father kneels at the end of the bed, crying, believing that nothing will bring back his precious son. This is the worst thing that could have happened. But then... his son is restored! And better than that, he has been transformed from a simple wooden puppet into "real boy." God can answer our prayers in ways that are so much better than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20). It may not be the answer we hoped for, but in the hands of God, redemption, restoration, and true healing are possible. So please, my friend, don't get lost in the fear or sadness of the moment. (And don't let me get lost in it either!) For something so much better is coming. There is hope. God will prevail, and he has a plan for you. He can restore your heart and bring healing to your story. Just trust him. After all, he knows the end of the story. :-)

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson.

I sat stunned yesterday as I read my friend DJ's Facebook status saying that the King of Pop had died. It was the kind of event that made me want to call the people I love and make sure they knew. I watched hours of coverage on television and kept refreshing Facebook and Twitter to see if I'd missed any information. I'm not really sure why. Don't get me wrong. The man was a musical genius and a revolutionary icon of pop culture. I loved his music as much as the next person who wasn't alive (or at least wasn't musically cognizant) for most of his best stuff.

Maybe I was stunned because Michael Jackson is a universally shared experience. Maybe I was sobered because his death came so unexpectedly (anyone else thinking of the preacher in Pollyanna right now?). Maybe my emotions were linked to the fact that the first song I ever slow danced to was "You are Not Alone," or because I danced it with a guy I never saw again.

But I think I was mostly sad because this man was miserable. He seemed so torn, so confused. Many people posted comments online that I considered to be rude and inappropriate. Just because people do horribly sinful things does not mean that they don't deserve love, respect, and forgiveness. If anyone needed peace, it was this man. You could see it in his face. He longed for peace of mind, relief from pain. I wish I could have told him that true peace really was available. I hope and pray that he found it in the moments before he passed.

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." ~ Philippians 4:6-8

Is anyone out there? I pray that you find peace tonight.

A friend posted this comment on another site, and I wanted to include this dialogue, just in case anyone else misunderstood my point of view on this...

"Did you not have an problem with the kids? I remember doing my freshman research paper on the issue."

You mean did I not have a problem with what he did to the kids? Of course! I think it was horrendous, and it is a truly disturbed person that will hurt a child. But even truly disturbed people are still people, and everyone needs forgiveness, love, and a certain degree of respect, no matter what they have done. God's love covers a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). So I guess my point was that no matter how much wrong he did (or how much genius he left on the worlds of music and dance), he was a miserable man and I hope he found forgiveness and peace in the end, even though there is no evidence to that effect. I hope that explains my position a little better. Anyone that knows me hopefully knows that I believe in the rights of the weak and vulnerable more passionately than almost anything else.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The 12th Thing I Love.

#12 - Kids.

I love children. I keep expecting myself to get to a point where they drain me or where I'm ready to give them back to their parents. But it has yet to come! I'm currently trying to make a career out of babysitting and nannying so that I can go to school this fall.

For those who may not know, I very recently lost my job at the missions organization where I've been working for the past year. They needed someone full time, and because of my decision to go to graduate school, I wasn't able to continue on more than a part time basis. So as I've been trying to figure out what I'm going to do, I have been trying to fill up all my time with hanging out with kids. Not just because I need the money (oh, how I need the money!). But when I'm caring for children, I feel connected to the world in such a unique way. I love seeing little snippets of their personalities and imagining the way that God will shape and form them into people that love him and serve him their whole lives. I love the innocence and excitement that governs all their decisions, and I love to watch revelations wash over their little faces. I love the way they do not hesitate to turn to others when something goes wrong in their lives, unabashedly asking for love and comfort and receiving it wholeheartedly. I love holding the tiny ones, rocking them, watching them fall asleep or laughing when they fight the inevitable yawns and heavy-lidded sighs.

I'm fully aware that mommies don't get to just hang out with their kids all day. There are chores to be done and so many stresses. That's why I love babysitting. I get to simply enjoy these beautiful hearts, putting my own stresses and worries aside, spoiling them with love and attention. I told my sister that I can't believe that I get to hang out with children, rock babies, and get loved on all day, while without fail picking up some new insight into how we as children relate to our Father.

So if you've ever let me watch your children, I'd just like to say thank you for the many blessings they have heaped upon my heart. And if you ever need someone to watch your children, I'd love to!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The 13th Thing I Love.

#13 - Learning.

Ah, this one encompasses so much! I love learning new things, whether that involves becoming acquainted with a new culture, listening to a new style of music, going back to school (I may regret saying that later this fall! ha ha), participating in a new activity, listening to a person's story (see #14), reading a book (see #16), or sitting at the feet of someone much smarter than me and absorbing every grain of substance that I can. Most importantly though, I love when God allows me to go through trials and tough situations so that I can learn more about who he is and who he wants me to be. It's a bold statement, I know. I cringe a little as I write it, knowing some of the tough things I've experienced and things that have yet to come if I truly seek growth and refinement. But in the most difficult of circumstances, God has always (Thank you God for such grace!!!) allowed me the insight to know that good will come from them, and that I will be a stronger person for having been through them. "...we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us." Romans 5:3-5

So what's my most recent lesson? It's been a two part lesson in prayer and the sovereignty of God (with topical emphasis on hope thrown in to mix things up). It's funny how inextricably these concepts have been linked for me these past few months. In learning the value of prayer, God has allowed me to see how in control he really is. Therefore, talking to him (or begging him at times) is really the only way to hope for change! And what about getting our hopes up? Is that a good thing or a bad thing? The only answer I've come to so far is this... Hope is always a good thing when we're putting our hope in the only One who does not disappoint us.

These are things that I will never learn fully, but I pray I will never stop learning them. God, let me always be willing to learn, and please, never stop teaching me.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The 14th Thing I Love.

#14 - A Great Story.

Whether hungrily devouring it in the pages of a memoir, listening to NPR, or sitting across from a friend (or stranger) with a cup of coffee, I cannot get enough of people's stories. I love the way that God works tiny, intricate details together into the greater picture of our lives, and of humanity. I love the seemingly insignificant decisions that in actuality lead a person down an entirely new path in life (well, when it's a good new direction at least). I'm usually sad when a book is over, because I know that the story doesn't end there. I want to continue to walk with the people through the rest of the story. I love journaling so that I don't miss these sorts of things in my own life. It's incredible to look back and see things that I'd forgotten, prayers that God has answered, decisions that fleshed out in a totally different way than I could ever have expected.
Isaiah 26:3 has been stuck in my head the last month or two. It says, "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." It's incredible to look back at horrendous situations in our lives and see how God worked it all out for his glory (Romans 8:28). It gives us hope in the new situations we encounter. The more we can look back and make sense of the stories of our lives (and the stories of the people we encounter), the easier it is to see that he truly is in control. It becomes easier to have faith in the tough times, and to find peace in the midst of trials, because we know that he is working. It might not ever make complete sense, but we trust in him, knowing that he will see us through.
Don't believe me? Read Daniel (or many other stories in the Bible... or the whole Bible itself for that matter) and look for illustrations of God's sovereignty. Incredible.

Friday, March 6, 2009

The 15th Thing I Love.

#15 - Sales (and coupons).

I love sales. Not the occupation. Not that at all. Rather, the process of finding something at a great price. I am the princess of coupons (the queen, if you're wondering, is Lindsay McKaig). I orchestrate trips so that I'll be completely out of gas when I'm closest to the cheapest gas station. I sign up for mailing lists and sort through hundreds of spam messages so that I get the coupons and sale notices. Once it starts getting close to August, I basically refuse to go anywhere that I can't use a school coupon (that's when they expire, if you're wondering).

I don't think I've ever paid more than $20 for an article of clothing (except bridesmaid dresses, which are unfortunately not negotiable), including shoes and my high school prom dress. It was $20 and I wore it four times. I would typically rather go hungry than spend money on food. I can be easily pressured into something if you convince me that it's a good deal. I don't have a pantry, and the inability to stock up on food items when they're at their lowest cost physically pains me sometimes. I use gift cards and store credit cards to get "points" that may or may not save me money. I carry around a wallet full of frequent shoppers cards and coffee punch cards, and I get giddy when I get to redeem one of them (which is not very often, due to the fact that I usually go without in order not to spend money).

So, if anyone ever knows of good deals, coupons, or sales, pass them along! I get excited just knowing about them, even if I don't have the money to shop. :-)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The 16th Thing I Love.

#16 - Books.

I LOVE reading, and I LOVE books. You might not know, but those are not in fact the same thing. People who love to read might love reading anything - magazines, captions, street signs, who knows. But then there are people who love books. I am one of those people. I love their smell, their feel, their sound. Yes, their sound. When you open a new book and the pages come apart for the first time, there is a sound. I judge books by their covers (sorry), and I get practically giddy when I have time to wander aimlessly around a book store (comfortable shoes and clothes you can sit on the floor in are a must for this to be a truly worthwhile experience).

I love books so much that my sister has forbidden me from buying more until I have the room (and the money) for additional book shelves. I own dozens of books that I haven't read and I've read dozens of books that I don't own. My favorite kind of book is probably a memoir. I love reading true stories of people's lives and cultures. I love learning from the way they deal with and analyze their experiences and emotions. I feel connected to the people I read about (whether real people or just really well written fiction).

Some of my favorites, you ask? I'll give you a couple from each section. Yes, my bookshelves have categorized sections. Go ahead and make fun.

Memoirs/Biographies - The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, Wild Swans by Jung Chang, Long Walk to Freedom by Nelson Mandela, When Invisible Children Sing by Huang Tang, Mother Teresa by Kathryn Spink, Night by Elie Wiesel, Under the Overpass by Mike Yankoski

Christian Living - The Chase by Jerry Bridges, Boundaries by Cloud & Townsend, Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot, The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning, Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller, The Wounded Spirit by Frank Peretti, Let the Nations Be Glad by John Piper, God's Big Picture by Vaughn Roberts, The Externally Focused Church by Russaw & Swanson, No Future without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu, The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey

Fiction - Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, The Harry Potter Series by J.K. Rowling, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

I have other favorites listed under "favorite books" on my Facebook profile, as well as a list of what I'm currently reading, just in case you are interested.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The 17th Thing I Love.

#17 - Snow!!!

Oh my goodness, I LOVE snow. There is such magical excitement in the air when it snows. It's like being a small child on Christmas morning all over again. I look up in the air and just feel pure joy and magic as the flakes fall on my face, clothes, and hair. And if we're lucky enough to get any accumulation whatsoever, it is impossible not to be struck by the way snow changes things.

I never cease to be amazed at the profundity of Christ's illustration that he will make our sins as white as snow. Everything is beautiful when it snows - even things that have no beauty by themselves. When snow falls, the ugly structure it falls upon is still there. It still exists. It is still ugly. But under a blanket of pure, white, perfect snow, it is made beautiful. It has no inherent beauty in itself, but because the snow covers it, it becomes beautiful.

Today I am thankful for not only the snow falling outside, but the snow of Christ's blood that makes us beautiful in him. Snow changes things. Christ's love changes things. I hope you experience that life changing love in a new, deeper way today.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Just for fun...

This might drive you crazy, or you might love it. But someone gave it to me and it drove me crazy, so I thought I'd pass along the fun! :-)

Find 15 books of the Bible in the paragraph below. Don't let punctuation or word separation distract you. Good luck!

I once made a remark about the hidden books of the Bible. It was a lulu - kept people looking so hard for facts. To others it was a revelation. Some were in a jam, especially since the names of the books were not capitalized. But the truth finally struck home to numbers of our readers. To others it was a real job. We want it to be a most fascinating few moments for you. Yes, there will be some really easy ones to spot. Others may require judges to help them. I will quickly admit it usually takes a minister to find one of them, and there will be lamentations when it is found. A little lady says she brews a cup of tea so she can concentrate better. See how well you can compete. Relax now, there really are fifteen names of books of the Bible in this paragraph.

Let me know when you get stuck and need a hint! :-)