Monday, January 26, 2015

If I were a Star

I felt the tears I cried dry like sugar on a child's cheek. I cried because of a love story. Strange of me to turn to cliche chick flicks. Entirely, preposterously out of character for me.

The story was simple. Two people, slowly fell in love, only to realize their lives would be cut tragically, unfairly short. Like all people, they both had a dream. The boy's dream was to be remembered for his heroism; to be written about, and talked about, remembered. Her's was to be remembered too, but by just one person. Both realized as death was tightening its noose around their necks, that neither dream would be fulfilled. They realized that there aren't lucky stars, and that life is unfair.

And while lucky stars are non-existent, there are stars we can look upon, and their twinkling lights remind us of the Great Being that created them.

If I were a star, I might wonder what my purpose was. After all, no one sees me during the day, and most wouldn't see me at night, because the beings are consumed by the business of the world; by it's empty appeal. But if beings were to step out, and look up; as a star, I would look into their wondering faces, and proclaim my creator's goodness. My purpose, though brief, would imprint itself upon the tender souls of the beings. I would glory in who I was as a star, because my glory would be pointing others to His glory.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

5 Ways to Instantly 'Friend' an Introvert

Everyone knows the introvert type. Or can at least identify them eventually by not ever being able to figure them out.
 I thought I'd help clear some confusion and give the world a glimpse of the introvert's mysterious mind. So here are 5 ways to get on our good side.

1. Don't constantly ask small talk questions....especially about the weather. 
Introverts aren't shy, nor are they terribly outgoing. We talk if spoken to, but will not immediately jump into conversation. We love awesome questions, just for pete's sake go a bit deeper than "weather is crazy right?" Ask us the few necessary questions, then either keep talking to keep us from having to, or walk away. Or, if you want to instantly win a spot on our friend to consider list, ask what books we've been reading. You literally will not get us to shut up about books. Sorry in advance.

2. Don't expect us to be at every party...and don't give us grief about not showing up
Introverts prefer one or two social events a week. Anymore, we aren't worth showing up to. Trust me. I mean introverts are hard enough to deal with, add grumpy over-socialized introvert; and you get dead people.

Kidding! I mean sort of. No, promise.

Our rhythm is too off if we over exert ourselves. We are not often sporadic.  Because we are task oriented, we plan activities out, sometimes by the month. Yes we are weirdies, you aren't saying anything new.

3. Don't mistake our silence for pride or ignorance
Introverts love talking details. We want to know the inner workings of things. Faces, people, tones, thoughts, motives. So we listen, and think. And then talk when there is no fear of messing up our thoughts verbally.

4. Don't chase after us if we disappear or walk away at a social event.
Really, just don't. It's our moment to breathe and recharge. And if we're sitting at a table alone, chances are, we like it that way. It's our recharge moment. And who can really talk with their mouth full anyway?

5. Don't talk over us...or try to fill in our words. 
Introverts prefer to really think about things, even play out a conversation in their minds before responding. And when we don't respond immediately or if it's awkwardly, it means we were rushed in our thoughts and it came out wrong. When we seem shy or lacking confidence in a situation, we are considering the subject, and arranging the proper words. If interrupted, we feel like the other person disregards our opinions, or that we aren't intellectually adequate to keep up with conversation.

Oh BTW...when we use the word nothing...we mean the dictionary form of nothing. Better to just walk away. Or it looks like this:

Person: "What's wrong with you? You look upset or something."
Me: "Nothing".
Person: "I think a lot is wrong judging by your look."
Me: (voice growing soft) "Nothing is wrong with me." (Pay close attention to voice levels. Your life could depend on it.)
Person: "Something major is wrong. Come on, you can tell me."
Me: (Yelling)..."Nothing is wrong! This is the face that says leave me alone because I'm in my own planet where I solve problems of the universe that all other beings are ignoring!"
Sorry folks...just how we feel. :)

And let's debunk two myths...

Myth #1 Introverts can never have fun.  
There are two sides to an introvert. (No we are not schizophrenic! OK,well maybe a teeny bit.) One side is the formal, task oriented person who chooses large chunks of time to work on projects. When these projects are interrupted, the introvert becomes grumpy and disagreeable and does not like changing plans.
Your flashlight needs batteries to run right? Well, introverts need power for their batteries! Only our power is gained in solitude. No it's not as if we don't like people. But after a big social event (especially several days in a row) we recharge with alone time.

Myth #2: Introverts are too serious and somewhat negative.
Well somebody has to solve the world's problems! And it's obviously not you partying extroverts! (Did you see what I did there? It's called sarcasm.)

Introverts have a deep care for problems and have a strong desire to correct those problems. Because we like to spend a lot of time thinking, we think about how to make things better. So that is why we come across as pessimistic. It's really just talking out loud through a problem, and needing someone to bounce back a few encouraging words like "Yeah that would be good. Oh I agree! I see it too."

In the end, we love you people, we need awesome partying extroverts in our lives. We need you to drag us out of our reclusive nest of books, opinions, blogging, and tiresome controversies every once in a while.  We need your fun and lightheartedness. Cause you're awesome!

Monday, June 23, 2014

How Does God Use Our Trials For Good?

God teaches in mysterious ways. I see this every day in my journey of being a Christian. In the moments where dreams come crashing down, or a loved one is lost, or life is just  topsy-turvy, we all stand back and ask "why?" It's such a difficult lesson to interpret.

Not two days before the tragic day a tornado hit and devastated our home, I was walking in the field. Barefoot. Sun was slowly tucking itself in for the day. I went and sat under my favorite maple that had branches reaching for the ground. I said a prayer, thanking God for the little patch of heaven he had placed me in, for my family, and for life's simple goodness.

But isn't it ironic, that in the moment you are most peaceful and content with life, it seems God puts you to the flames again. I've come to see it as admitting we've grown stronger through his grace, we've proved we can withstand the next purging fire.
"So that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ." 1 Peter 1:7
I've learned one thing: This painful refinement will never stop. Our initial reaction is "why does God give his servants trials? Haven't they proven their faith and determination?"

Yes, they have. Which is why the trials still come. To make us stronger. To make us tougher.  The world doesn't see this. They ask "why would a loving God persecute his people?"

It is because I am loved that I am willing to walk through these trials. Because when all else fails, I will have One left who has unconditional love for me and who will uphold me.  My own Creator and Father. And though he allows us to endure things we don't understand, it is done out of a heart of love. More love than our feeble thoughts of 'true love' can comprehend.

Because I'm here to say, God uses the strangest circumstances to bless us, to prosper our future.

Before the tornado, my father worked non-stop, sometimes multiple jobs to work on paying off a mountain of debt as well as buy groceries and pay bills. We had two house payments a month (rent and mortgage), and no house or property to call ours. Mom and dad had dreams to build.  Plus our first home, a mobile home, was costing more to keep fixed up for renters than the payments made on it.

After the tornado, we are now debt free, own our beautiful dream home that sits on five acres all ours, on the same land we've called home for years. My dad works one, steady job without having to rush to deliver pizza or pull a crazy third shift. And better yet, the mobile home was blown away and is now, of course, paid for.

We couldn't see the bigger picture three years ago. But Christianity is about faith, not sight. We don't need proof of God's faithfulness.

Because God upholds his promises. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

When Are You Ready For Life?

He came into my life when I wasn't looking for him. And now he holds my hand while he shares his dreams. And this is the part where you may expect me to go into a gushy monologue but for everyone's sake, I won't.

My admiration for this man grew so much when I saw his calm defiance against false wisdom around him. He is not easily swayed, and scripture is his first and last dictator.

Something else that astounded me about Kyle is that he has such an amazing grasp of priorities--quite different from the average 20-year-old, and wisdom beyond his age.

His biggest reservation was that I wouldn't be willing to enter a relationship with his long road of med-school ahead. And it's sad that he had to fear that. As Christians, I wonder if we have a skewed and un-biblical mentality about adulthood, careers, successful beginnings, and relationships.

The wisdom of the age would tell us to wait until he's done with college. Wait until you're both "ready." Really, what does ready mean? Ready to face trials? Ready as in financially secure? Ready to finish living for ourselves? It's an interesting word, but it denies the sovereignty of God, and our need for utter dependence on Him. If the time comes to enter into marriage, we may not be ready by the world's terms, but we will be willing to figure it out together.

What's more, we are never quite "ready" for marriage, and the becoming and growing and learning is a thing to be done together. Adam wasn't "ready" for life. He needed help. His wife completed him and together they were able to tackle the hard things.

Kyle is prepared for life ahead, but he isn't ready. He has plans and dreams, but falls back to these words that first stirred my heart..."It's really whatever God has for me."

Guys you don't have to be ready. If you feel you are, undo it, because you're missing something. You don't have to have a fortune in your savings account. You don't have to have a dream home. A willing heart that leans on God's plan is really all you need.

With Kyle, I am willing to walk into anything. I used to think about my "someday" relationship with the mentality "can he fill all my needs?" But that is not how Scripture defines the duty of a relationship. I am to give my all, I am to be "looking to the needs of others."

Am I expecting whatever road lies ahead to be free of trials? No. Are we promised ease and dreams fulfilled just because we're Christians? Absolutely not. One of the most important callings in this life is to sacrifice ourselves to one another daily. That is the bedrock of a lasting relationship.  And it's a calling I'm willing to accept with God's grace.

Related articles:
I wasn't Ready for Marriage
I wish There Was another word besides 'Courtship' 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

The Friend I Want To Be

Have you ever walked away after meeting a person for the first time and think "That was one of the most inspirational, joyful people I've met." You walk away refreshed, relaxed, and spiritually renewed. They made you feel good about yourself. To borrow Dr. Seuss's words, you became youer than you.

I have met amazing people like this. And am even blessed to call a few friends. And these humans of walking grace inspire me to try more, do more, and be more. I think the root of this astounding friendship, is selflessness refined.
"If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" Ecclesiastes 4:9
I want to be the friend who knows what to do when I'm needed
I want to be the friend who is able to get past my worries to heal another's
I want to be the friend who asks endless questions that make the other feel special
I want to be the friend who gives unconditional love without asking for any in return
I want to be the friend who does crazy things with the friend with crazy ideas
I want to be the friend that says what is needed, but covers wounds with reassurance
I want to be the friend that doesn't care about putting my needs out there, who is content to simply just be
I want to be the friend that draws all strength, and gives all grace from my Creator
I want to be the friend who can fall into mutual weirdness with another
I want to be the friend who can see the rawness of a soul, and treasure that soul even more.

I want to be the friend who reflects the ultimate love my neighbor, love without end.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

"My Grace is Sufficient"

We are such feeble creatures. Yet we try to boast in our own strength, presuming it can carry us the farthest. But sometimes it takes being broken to be made mightier.

My name means strong, and I once thought that meaning empowered me to pull myself up by the boot straps no matter what happened. Only in the worst moments when I see my strength has failed, do I realize my best is worthless.

And just as I crack under the weight of my imperfections, I hear His voice. "Child, what makes you think your strength alone is good enough?"

It is confusing when Jesus says in Matthew 5:48 "Be perfect, for I am perfect." If you read Matthew 5, Jesus had just recited the beatitudes, admonishing the Jews to abide by his Father's law, and what that fulfillment of the law was. Jesus knew we can't be perfect. So why did he say we should?
"But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corinthians 12:9
This amazes me. God is glorified through our weakness! Glorified when we strive for righteousness, fall, and struggle to get back up, yet only while looking to God for strength. 

 The hard part is the attitude we keep in the midst of it. Do we give up and fall into the arms of grace? Or do we try to press on in our own strength?

His grace is all we need. And I've learned, sometimes painfully, that God is always trying to show us we can draw strength from Him. He needs us to realize, his grace is all we need to press on. He gives grace to the humble. Those who are willing to admit they are nothing without Him.

 Grace is His gift to us, and the only thing that will make us perfect, eternally.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When Knowledge Puffs Up

"Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited." Romans 12:16

Everyone values knowledge. And the more we get, the better we feel about ourselves, or feel we are better equipped to share Christ, or give eloquent oratory on our doctrinal points etc. So it feels pretty good to put down a thick book on a hotly debated theological topic. And of course we want to do something with all that info. 
"Biblical knowledge and accurate theology are valuable traits. Right thinking leads to right living, just as stinking thinking leads to stinking living. But as valuable as biblical knowledge is, I think it should come with a warning label. The fact is, the more we know, the more we're tempted to look down on people who don't know what we know." ~Accidental Pharisees~Larry Osborne
As we live the Christian life, we are always in search of "what is it God wants me to do?" But we often pass over one of the most vital and repeated commands of God's: "Love your neighbor", "love with abandon","if you do everything except love, you are nothing."  So while we pursue sound doctrine, we must do so with love, seeking peace where it is possible, remembering that when in doubt, love trumps.
"Let's be honest. Most of the biblical and doctrinal points that we love to argue about (and take such pride in knowing) are not matters of salvation. They may be important, but they are not essential. They're not damnable heresies....when we use the Bible as a prop, every issue and doctrinal disagreement becomes a flash point, an opportunity to show off our superior knowledge and understanding, a way to set us apart. We forget that pride and a lack of love nullifies our knowledge, even if it's a full and complete understanding of all the mysteries in the Bible." ~Accidental Pharisees ~Larry Osborne