Monday, June 29, 2009

["For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

This is a verse that I have a really hard time believing. Today as I walked down the camp driveway something hit me. No matter what I believe about God, it doesn't make his promises any less true. His heart for me doesn't change when I struggle to believe his word. He is waiting for me to get it, for it to click, for me to suddenly realize that he is not only good, but so is his word.]

"Study sheds light on risk-taking teens"

I read an article in the newspaper today that was about a new study on teens. It says "a sizable number of teens make take chances because they feel hopeless and figure that not much is at stake." The doctors running the study were surprised, but I'm not. Children are told that this life is all that there is, that it doesn't matter what they do with their bodies, and that they have no value because they were not made in the image of God, they simply descend from the species that survived and beat out the others. Why should we expect them to have hope? What are they supposed to hope in, or for? The article didn't answer that. They did say that pediatricians could try to figure out which kids were most fatalistic and try to help prevent risky behaviors.

Here's what I say, though I am not a doctor. Tell kids that they are valuable. Every moment, every day, through your words and your actions. Tell them that their lives are worth living. Give them something to live for, something to hope in. Treat kids as though they can succeed and will. Unless you believe that all people are image bearers of God and therefore are innately precious, this is hard to do. Unless you believe that Jesus Christ shed his blood because of our worth to his heart, it will be hard to do. It's hard to love people well even when you do believe this.

That is all I have to say to the N&O, I suppose.

On a different note, here is my favorite classified from today's paper:

currently listening to: Black Tables, Other Lives

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"Perhaps, after all, romance did not come into one's life with pomp and blare, like a gay knight riding down; perhaps it crept to one's side like an old friend through quiet ways; perhaps it revealed itself in seeming prose until some sudden shaft of illumination flung athwart its pages betrayed the rhythm and music; unfolded naturally out of a beautiful friendship, as a golden-hearted rose slipping from its green sheath." - 446, Anne of Avonlea

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sharpening pencils as unto the Lord

I was sharpening a million pencils at camp last night so the kids could do their lessons. And I began to think about "Colossians 3:23 Whatever your work is, do it gladly. Do it as you would do it unto the Lord and not for people." It made me laugh a little, but I think that that is exactly what it's talking about. No mater what you're doing, even if it's seemingly small, brainless,and meaningless, do it like you would do it for Jesus. Make sure those pencils are not just having lead, but having sharp lead.

Here's something I've been puzzling over:

James 1:27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

I get the first part. It's the second part that I keep wondering about: to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

I want to know what that really means. For hundreds of years Christians have taken this to various extremes. I don't think it means that we are to cloister ourselves. In John 17 Jesus prays to the Father, not that we would be taken out of the world, but that we would be protected from evil. That's also the passage where the whole idea of "in the world, but not of it" comes from. So maybe to keep oneself unspotted goes along with Romans 12:21 "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

I remember reading in My Utmost for His Highest something that pertains. Chambers' says, "A certain type of innocence is culpable. Innocence is the characteristic of a child, but innocence in a man or woman is culpable and wrong. It means that their own whiteness is so guarded that they are unfit for life. Men and women must be pure and virtuous, and virtue is always the outcome of conflict."

We are not to be innocent and locked away. We are to chose to be unspotted. Note that the text says "keep oneself". This is active. Something that we are always doing. We have no right to be innocent. We face struggles. We see that life is hard and evil surrounds us. We remain pure because the blood of the Lamb covers us.

[Every now and then, I like to do word studies in my Bible. I think I will pursue this idea of purity. I want to know more. I think that in a way, purity is different than we think of it. I want to know how God thinks about it. Stay tuned]

currently listening to: Broken Social Scene, Stars and Sons

Monday, June 22, 2009

Letting things go

It's hard to live with hands open. Believing that nothing is yours to keep. It's our nature to hang on to whatever we think we can claim. Relationships, opportunities.

I've let two things that were fairly important to me go this weekend, knowing that they were not right, trusting that God has something better for me.

Isaiah 26:3-4

You will keep in perfect peace
him whose mind is steadfast,
because he trusts in you.

Trust in the LORD forever,
for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.

The Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal. Amen. I will hope in that.

Currently listening to: Pathetique Sonata, Op 13 C minor, first movement

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What if Everyone Mattered?

Today at church the sermon series was started called "What if everyone mattered?" Before the sermon began, they showed a video. It asked questions like, what if the homeless mattered? What if teen mothers mattered? What if the addicts and criminals mattered? What if sick mattered? What if the unborn mattered?

I loved this. I love that I am being reminded of the lessons I learned in Greensboro. Lessons that all are of value because all people are made in the image of God.

Jason, the middle school/high school pastor talked about that story in Luke 17 where Jesus heals the 10 lepers. He talked about how when Jesus saw those men he saw "image bearers." He talked about how when God made Adam and Eve, he breathed life into them. How precious people are to God! We are loved, and cherished by our heavenly Father!

How sad it is when we begin to think that we are the only ones! We look down at the poor or the sick or the criminals. We forget that they too are just as beloved are, just as sought by the Father as we are.

Greg, my pastor in Greensboro, talks about how we are to be like medics. How when everyone else is running away in the thick of a battle, fending for their lives, we are to be rushing into the fray, because we have the power to heal. We have life and we are rushing to extend it to others. He talks about how C.S. Lewis says we are just a beggar showing another beggar where to find bread. Greg says we are to be mobile gardens, moving into a desert where there is no life.

Jason said today that we should be relentlessly pursuing people with the love of Christ.

Oh Father, I pray that I will see people through your eyes and remember that they are your creation. Help me to love like you do. Not just easy people, or beautiful people, or people like me. Help me to deeply love everyone that I come into contact. Break my heart with the things that break yours.

currently listening to: The Fray, Heartless. It's About Time, Barcelona.

PS. I now dislike the way my blog is formatted, but I lack the skills to fix it. A little help?

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How to find a husband...or not.

Perhaps you too have been sucked into the show known as The Bachelorette. I knew that watching was as emotionally unhealthy as any other chickflick, but I have now decided that it is possibly the worst way to find a husband, ever. I think that I will not fill my head and heart with so much crap anymore. Sorry Bachelorette, I hope you pick the right one, but I think you're going about it in the wrong way.

Reason number 1:
Forming emotional attachments to many men simultaneously DOES NOT help you to select one man to be your husband.

Reason number 2:
Being physically intimate with many men simultaneously DOES NOT help you to select one man to be your husband.

Reason number 3:
Beginning with a large pool of men and narrowing it down over time does not help build trust with one man. In the end, I think that the guy selected won't be able to help but wonder how things would be if the bachelorette had chosen someone else. He also knows what she did with him before they are married and has a pretty good idea what she did with everyone else. And she might also wonder if she'd chosen someone else, what it would be like. To narrow it down to two guys and to have to pick doesn't inspire confidence in a relationship.

Reason number 4:
All those men are falling in love with one girl, and they surely realize that they will most likely have their hearts broken. And as she lets more and more men go that she's grown attached to, her heart will break, even though she's hypothetically getting closer and closer to the man that is her "soul mate". Is our goal in entering marriage to be as broken as possible?

Reason number 5:
There's no such thing as a soul mate. There is such a thing as commitment and hard work. Just because the bachelorette chooses one man because they are most "souly" compatible, doesn't mean that she couldn't have made a marriage work with any of those other guys with a little elbow grease and date nights.

Currently listening to: Prisoner, Jeffree Star (It's kind of a creepy song, I admit...)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It is a cool evening and it is quiet. Except for the crickets, I would think I was the only person left in the whole wide world. But this is nice. Too often I am distracted by so much. I've said this before, but I am often struck by how, over and over in His word, God tells us to be still. This is something that my spirit rebels against. Sometimes I'm too afraid to be alone. My mind wanders and tells me that if I am all alone, I will get hurt and no one will know. Sometimes I'm afraid of what God will tell me. Right now, I think I know what I want. It is very frustrating to know what I want because that doesn't necessarily mean that I will get it. In Psalm 37 it tells us that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us the desires of our heart. BUT it also says to commit to God. I don't think that we truly know what it means to delight ourselves in God. God knows what's best for us. He wants more than good for us. He wants best. But do I want my best or His best? Does this make sense. I feel as though I've jumped all over the place.

(This is possibly the most annoying keyboard I have ever used.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

A Tale of Two Summers

I am wondering if I am really able to hear God. Last summer I was certain that God wanted me to go to Kenya. I applied and at the last minute had to withdraw my application. This summer I thought I'd finally be able to move in Glenwood but I needed to move back to Wake Forest. Once someone said to me, "maybe God just wants to see if you're willing." I feel like that would make God more capricious than I believe him to be. Why would God be constantly holding something in front of me, only to take it away at the last minute. Why would God lead me somewhere to actually take me somewhere else? It scares me I guess, to think that I could feel like God was taking me somewhere and I could be completely wrong.

Oh, I want to follow Jesus.

currently listening to: Aaradhna (Christian Indian music, not the pop singer of the same name...)
currently reading: The Wreckers, and in my Bible I'm reading James.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

"you feel safer to cling to a sorry past than to trust in a new future. So you fill your hands with clammy coins which you don't want to surrender... How do I open my closed hands? Don't be afraid of Him who wants to enter the space where you live, or to let him see what you are clinging to so anxiously. Don't be afraid to show the clammy coin which will buy so little anyway." - Henri Nouwen.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

won tons and a sixteenth birthday

currently reading: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

Friday, June 12, 2009

I have now has two job interviews and I must say that I am a little depressed. It just seems like I go to these interviews only to hear that there is a hiring freeze and even if they wanted to hire me, they couldn't. And who knows if they want to hire me or not. Sometimes I feel so utterly inexperienced and can't imagine that anyone would want to give me a chance. I know that if someone would just give me the chance to teach, I would work really hard and do well. But then a small part of me wonders: "What if you don't do well. What if someone takes a chance on you and then you do terribly?" It's just really discouraging to keep applying and keep going to job interviews feeling that from the very beginning it doesn't matter. Of course that's a terrible attitude, and can only settle on me after my interview.

So then I sleep it off because all I can do it wait.

[I know that God has plans for me.]

I went back into the blogging vaults and found where I'd written about a conflict that I had with one of my students:

"This afternoon when fifth period rolled around I was standing in the front of the classroom, waiting for the kids to come in, when Ch came in, throwing his arms around me in a huge, enveloping hug, saying, "I'm sorry Ms. Jackson." I had no idea what to do because we're not really supposed to have a great deal of contact with the kids, so I just threw my hands up in the air and said, "I'm sorry too, Ch. Let's have a better day." It really was funny. And oddly moving. When I told Mr. Willoughby, he asked if Ch was appropriate when he hugged me, and I assured him Ch was. Then he said, "You know. That's a really big step for Ch. To apologize." And I knew that it was. For a kid to come in, especially a mouthy kid, to come in and sincerely apologize, unexpectedly and unwarrantedly, was so surprising and encouraging."

I just teared up. I hope sincerely that I am given the chance to teach again.

Thursday, June 11, 2009


I have been living in the most dreadfully unproductive state ever. There are so many things I'd like to do and I cannot seem to get moving.

I've decided that when you have a job or school, you have a limited time to get things done so you do, but because now I have practically nothing to do, I feel no pressure to do anything.

Yesterday Megan and I went to the beach and swam and laid on the beach, with the sunshine and wind and it was beautiful. I would be so happy to do that every day, but I have things I need to do. Somehow, I need to change things. I feel very undisciplined.

currently listening to: Yellowcard
currently reading: The Chocolate War. This was my "boy book" that I selected from the library. I don't like it. I don't understand why I should want to read such tragedy. But somehow I need to find some books that high school boys will want to read that I can recommend...

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Sometimes I have to pull over in the car because poetry pops into my head...

"A Competition of Luminous Spheres"

The moon, a jar to catch
the fireflies
who drift past my neighbor's
field, slowly reveals its

currently listening to : Missy Higgins, The Wrong Girl

Friday, June 5, 2009

The practice of proper praise?

God, I know that I don't praise you enough. Sometimes I don't know how and it's more easy to ask for things from you...Now I feel like I have a lot on my brain and it seems as through I want to rush through praising you so we can get to me. Will I ever have a proper understanding of who you are? And of what little importance I am in the scheme of things? It's hard to balance knowing that I am of ultimate value to you but really I am very small too. Both are equally true, I think...

PS. Can we believe it's June? I need to water my plants. [two unrelated things, fyi.]

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Follow up: A Grief Observed, part two.

I responded to CS Lewis in my last post, saying that it's easy to forget that God is good because life often tells us otherwise. I have now finished the book and I have another quote which I would like to put here because I think it's pertinent to what I wrote about last time.

But suppose that what you are up against is a surgeon whose intentions are wholly good. The kinder and more conscientious he is, the more inexorably he will go on cutting. If he yielded to your entreaties, if he stopped before the operation was complete, all the pain up to that point would be useless...The tortures occur. If they are un-necessary, then there is no God, or a bad one. If there is a good God then these tortures are necessary. - Lewis

Oh, and one more, which may or may not be related, just depending upon how your brain works...

Can a mortal ask questions that God find unanswerable? Quite easily, I should think. All non-sense questions are unanswerable. - Lewis

That one made me laugh. Okay, enough for now.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Not that I am (I think) in much danger of ceasing to believe in God. The real danger is in coming to believe such dreadful things about him. The conclusion I dread is not 'So there's no God after all,' but 'So this is what God's really like. Deceive yourself no longer.' - C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

I began reading A Grief Observed yesterday in my receptionist downtime and I found it to be quite conversational and accurate. C.S. Lewis usually causes me to think a great deal, so of course, this book is no different. I began to think about how we form our picture of God. We have so many things that are fighting to tell us what we should believe about God. The other day, I believe I was listening to a sermon and the pastor pointed out that our earthly fathers shouldn't tell us what God is like but God should tell us what our Father should be like. As true as this may be, we all have lenses through which we view God. Lewis' had just lost his wife when he wrote A Grief Observed and he was afraid that he would come to view God as vindictive or uncaring or not trustworthy. Sometimes that is so easy because we lack the full picture. We can only see a little tiny part of our lives, which is even tinier when we think of the whole scope of the world in all of time. I think that no matter what we have to choose to believe that no matter what, God is good and trustworthy and that he loves us more than we can dream. It's a battle because sometimes God does take what we love most and we can only hang on by a seemingly small belief that God knows what he's doing. I don't really have a resolution to these thoughts of mine, so I will end simply by telling you that I want chocolate ice cream and I am sleepy.