Archive | August, 2008

How am I spending my time?

26 Aug

This question has been nagging at me for the past few weeks as I started to build a bio for my profile on The Nest. (See the unfinished product here). I can’t for the life of me find a legitimate, God-honoring reason to continue spending time creating this thing. It has taken hours–first I have to take the pictures, then I upload them, then I create the pages, insert the pictures, type in the captions. But I walk away from it all feeling like I just wasted hours of my life with nothing to show for it but a shrine to my life–and an enabler to my pride. I just know that when I get to heaven, there will be a record of all the hours I wasted on earth–and even though I won’t be remorseful there (because there is no sadness in heaven!) I want to put an end to the wasted time while I can.

I also find that I spend all of my time outside of work doing things for myself. I live in my own little world. I hate that!! I am praying for God to open the door to volunteer opportunities near my house so I can do something for other people rather than live in my own little bubble.

When I stumbled across a website today that asked this very same question and listed some analysis questions, I realized that I need to do a self-evaluation. These are the questions:

  • Where are you spending your time?
  • What would you really like to be doing?
  • Where would you really like to live?
  • How is your relationship with your loved ones?
  • Do you have time to help others in your town?
  • Do you have a hobby, a passion?
  • Do you spend time on your hobby or passion?
  • Do you focus on your health, your weight, your appearance?
  • I have also been going through this period of wondering what my life purpose is. I initially thought that it meant I should get a new job (though I haven’t even been at my current job for a year yet and it is seemingly the perfect job for me). But now I see that what I really need is an attitude/perspective adjustment. The Lord revealed to me last night that I was trying to live according to my own standards–my attitude was “I don’t want to go to a job every day that I’m not crazy about. I just don’t want to live that way.” Well, a crucial part of being a Christian is not living the way I want to live, but living the way God wants me to live.

    This verse has been convicting:

    Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

    I will post more on this topic when I have time to digest my answers to the questions above.

    My thoughts on lowering the drinking age

    25 Aug

    I don’t think that lowering the drinking age should be completely out of the question. Sure, people are quoting statistics like “Safety advocates say the legal drinking age of 21 saves about 900 lives every year.” I do think that those stats should be taken seriously and they should inform our opinions. But I feel like any conservative evangelical that reads a headline like “Proposal to lower the drinking age” would just balk at the very notion. “Oh no, we cannot do such a thing as that!”

    Why not? Does the Bible say “Thou shalt not drink wine until thou reachest the rightful age of 21 years.” I’ve never read that in the Bible. And one person who commented on an article about this in USA Today said that 18-year-olds can do everything else recognized as an adults’ right: join the Army, vote, buy cigarettes and porn, get married, drive a car, get a bank account, a job, etc. They can even buy a house (though their lack of credit and money probably prevents many from doing so).

    So why can’t they drink?

    I can see one argument–that alcohol is a dangerous thing and is abused by thousands of college students across the country. According to conservative theory, making drinking at that age would just encourage more college students to do so.

    Well, let me just debunk that theory, as a recent college grad who definitely did her fair share of underage drinking. I wanted to drink before I was 21 so I found a way. It’s that simple. It’s not hard to get alcohol when you’re underage. Plenty of friends are either older or they have a fake ID. As an underage drinker, you quickly learn about the liquor stores that don’t check IDs closely–or at all. You learn about the places that get busted a ton by the cops and you stay away from them. You know which bars you can sneak into. You know who will buy you booze. This is College Living 101 for many students.

    One argument used by the college presidents supporting this Amethyst Initiative is that lowering the drinking age would bring what is now a behind-closed-doors, secretive activity out into the public. Students who tailgate at their houses would be able to drink at the game. Instead of downing all 12 of their beers in the 2 hours before the game, they could down them over a period of 5-6 hours.

    I totally agree with this argument. If students could drink at restaurants and bars and games, they wouldn’t have to booze it up in large amounts to be drunk before entering a public place. They could drink at a slower pace. And let me tell you, when you’re drinking quickly to get drunk and taking shots, sometimes you don’t feel the alcohol kick in until your 7th or 8th shot–at which point, you’re a goner. The chance to drinking slower and at various public places would help the binge drinking, IMO.

    But I am not advocating binge drinking!! I am not even advocating underage drinking. My stance on this topic is very similar to my stance on abortion. Let me explain: while I don’t think that abortions are morally right and I don’t think that women should get them, I would not say that I am pro-life in a political sense. I don’t vote for pro-life politicians just because they’re pro-life. If I like another politican (who just happens to be pro-choice) better as a whole, I’ll vote for him or her.

    The reason? When abortion was illegal, it didn’t go away. Instead, it went underground. Women had unsafe abortions in dirty conditions by untrained “doctors.” Many of the women suffered complications from the abortions; many actually died. I am convinced that this is what would happen if we tried to outlaw abortion through legislation today–women would still find a way to abort. They would just have to turn to the underground abortionists in dangerous conditions.

    Changing our country’s perception on abortion comes through educating people about the fetus and stages of pregnancy. It comes from persuading them to choose adoption instead of abortion, if they really don’t want to raise their child. It comes from talking to pregnant, unwed mothers about the consequences of their choices and about the little life that is growing inside of them. It’s come through education, NOT through legislation.

    And so my view on the drinking age is: why not lower it? Any underage student who really wants to drink is going to do it, regardless of whether they’re legal or not. They’re just confined to some dingy, damp college house basement with beer kegs and plastic cups instead of a nice, clean restaurant with martinis and glasses.

    And let’s think about this: any student who is moral and straight-laced enough to say “I am not yet 21, so I am going to wait to drink”–what are the chances that that same student is going to binge drink when they do become of age? Wouldn’t their morality be a little inconsistent if they did? The students who are binge drinking are rebels–they don’t care what the legal drinking age is. They’ll do it in whatever way they can.

    My main point: lowering the drinking age to 18 wouldn’t cause a drunken epidemic amoung college-age students–at least not one any bigger than the one already occurring.

    My crafty weekend

    24 Aug

    I was actually productive this weekend–and I enjoyed it!!

    I had a stomach ache all day Friday but after enduring a whole day of work and then taking a nap on the couch, I decided to do something (despite my stomach still hurting a little). I was crafty! It reminded me of high school when I did stuff like this all the time.

    Instead of try to explain with words, I will use pictures.

    DIY Project #1

    DIY Project #1

    This picture frame had a very country bumpkin look before (forgot to take before pictures). It was just plain cedar-colored wood. To spice it up, I painted it gold.

    DIY Project #2

    DIY Project #2

    DIY Project #2

    DIY Project #2

    DIY Project #2

    DIY Project #2DIY Project #2

    I printed 4 wedding pictures in sepia tone. The frames and ribbon are from Hobby Lobby. I stapled the ribbon to the back of the frames and tied the bows. And then I hung them all by myself!

    DIY Project #3

    DIY Project #3

    This had a picture collage from college in it before but it didn’t make our office! Now it does. 🙂
    Although, I will say that I am going WAY overboard on the wedding pictures–and with pictures of Travis and me in general. There are hardly any pictures of anyone else in our house!!
    Well, now that I’m done patting myself on the back for being crafty, I’m off to prepare dinner for Travis and some friends–I’m making lasagna for the first time. It’s in the oven as I type. Cross your fingers and hope it turns out ok! Or else we’re ordering pizza!

    Dustin’ off my running shoes

    19 Aug

    Ever since we went on vacation in early-to-mid July, I haven’t been exercising much. As in only 3 times in the past month. It’s crazy how time flies! I kept telling myself “Tomorrow I’ll start again.” “Next week I’ll start again.” Then all of a sudden, it was a month later and I have nothing to show for it.

    But I’m okay with that. We’ve been really busy with work, moving, unpacking, decorating, watching the Olympics (they only come around every 4 years you know!). But lucky for me, when I get busy, I don’t eat as much. Eating is more of an inconvenience–I am really hungry so I have to eat but I’d really rather just get down everything I have to do. That’s my personality–I hate stopping in the middle of things. Even if it’s a task I loathe and it’s mind-numbing, I will sit there patiently, meting out my time minute by minute, until it’s done. When it comes to food and exercise, though, it means that I don’t gain weight even if I stop exercising (but ONLY if I’m really busy! Other times, it doesn’t work like that.)

    So I started exercising again this week. Yesterday morning, I got up and did one of my new workout videos–called Super Slimdown with Ellen Barrett. It’s a combination of yoga and pilates. It was a fun workout and boy did my arms feel it today!

    Tonight, Trav and I are going to go on a run. The first run I’ve done in weeks. I have no idea how it’ll go but here’s hoping.

    Ever since I completed that half marathon back in May, I’ve been kind of here and there on my exercise routine. I tried to balance it out but it wasn’t exact. So now I have developed a routine. Mon, Wed, Fri, I’m going to do yoga/pilates. Tues, Thurs, Sat (so I can do longer runs on the weekend), I’m going to run. Sat I’m going to do full body weight lifting as well. And Sunday will be my glorious day off (so I can take my 2-hour Sunday afternoon nap without feeling the slightest bit guilty!!)

    Now comes the hardest part: sticking with it. 🙂

    Life according to Woody Allen…

    16 Aug

    I just read this article about Woody Allen in the latest Newsweek. My heart breaks for him! A director who has had an amazing career but he says that he still makes movies “not because he has any grand statement to offer, but simply to take his mind off the existential horror of being alive.”

    “I can’t really come up with a good argument to choose life over death. Except that I’m too scared,” Allen says.

    Later on in the article, Woody Allen is quoted as saying, “Your perception of time changes as you get older, because you see how brief everything is. You see how meaningless…I don’t want to depress you, but it’s a meaningless little flicker…You have a meal, or you listen to a piece of music, and it’s a pleasurable thing. But it doesn’t accrue to anything.”

    As I read that article, I was reminded of something I wrote in high school. For several years before I became a Christian, I really struggled with the meaning and purpose of life. If I had not become a Christian after my sophomore year of college, I have no doubt that I would resonated with Woody Allen’s sentiments very much.

    This is what I wrote in my diary when I was a junior in high school: “There are no other words that I can think of to describe life other than futile and worthless. Really, when you think about it, what the hell are all of us doing here? We go through school, which everyone despises but supposedly it’s ‘beneficial.’ We get a career, which most people hate and they end up wasting their lives on things that don’t really matter. So what the hell are we doing? Sure there are some good times, fond memories. But they all end. Everything good or worth anything ends at one point. Nothing can be relied upon. You may think that you have your life figured out and everything may be peachy keen for a while. But just wait and see–life will throw you a curveball, guaranteed. There is absolutely no doubt that your life will truly suck. And not just once. Repeatedly, over and over. You know why? Because life’s a bitch and then you die.”

    By the end of my senior year of high school, this is what I thought: “I know that I have felt–and still remotely feel–that the good things in life seem to be constantly squashed by the shit. But I have also realized that while some good things are temporary, so are the bad things. Nothing in life is ever definite, without the possibility of it being changed.”

    Which is all fine and good that I held that quasi-belief then but it still didn’t answer my question: What the hell are we all doing here? I still didn’t have a purpose to my life, no meaning. Until I became a Christian, my life was all about pleasure and rebellion. I smoked pot, got wasted, and slept around because it was wild and free. There were no rules.

    But my sophomore year of college, I started rethinking my take on life. I wasn’t happy. I was miserable. My life consisted of surviving each week to get to the weekend and then being so hammered and stoned all weekend that I didn’t remember half of it anyway. I thought to myself, “Is this ALL there is to life? This is IT?” I think Woody Allen started in that place–but he’s questioned it for so long with no answers that he has resigned himself to “This IS all there is and life is SHIT. I would kill myself but I don’t have the guts.” That is truly tragic. And I am sure that he is not alone in his feelings. I think it is common for atheists to feel that way (but most likely not that intense).

    Without Christ, life is meaningless. Because only the Creator of the world can tell us what it all means, the reason why we’re all here. That was what drew me to Jesus in the first place–He was something to live for. I finally had something to live for, something to build my life around. I finally had a purpose. Reason #456,278 why I am so glad and thankful that God called me to be His.

    My little bro’s wedding

    15 Aug

    He did it–he finally got married. And to his high school sweetheart no less. He was the one I always told “You’re never going to get married!” because he was glued to his computer chair in front of his computer screen every waking moment during high school that he wasn’t actually at school. But somehow Meg saw through that pathetic exterior to the kind-hearted, intelligent, witty guy my little brother really is. (And he’s gotten a lot cooler over the past 4 years as well–college did wonders for him).

    As I stood up with the wedding party during the ceremony and watched Chris smile at Meg, full of love and excitement, I couldn’t help but think back to my oldest brother’s wedding 2 years ago. Back then, I knew that I wanted to marry Travis but we weren’t even engaged and I don’t think I quite understood the beauty and complexity of the pledge they were making to each other in that moment. I was moved far more during Chris and Meg’s wedding, not because they had a better officiant, music, or readings–Jeremy and Jen had a very lovely wedding as well (and I ALMOST cried at their wedding but I held it off!)–but because my understanding is greater. I have an inside appreciation and respect for the marriage commitment and lifelong intimacy–and I’ve only been married for a little over a year! I can’t imagine what it must be like for those married 25, 35, even 50 years (like my aunt and uncle will celebrate this fall).

    I also prayed for Chris and Meg as I stood there. Marriage is a blessing but it’s also a challenge. And I really believe that the only way any of us don’t get divorced–or even seriously think about it–is by the grace of God. We don’t have love naturally as humans. Rather, we are naturally selfish, petty, and angry. And marriage has this uncanny ability to bring out the natural side of someone–just ask my husband. I will be honest that there were times during our first year when I wanted to give up–not in the “I want a divorce” sense but in the “This is too hard” sense. But time and time again–and don’t ask me how–God renewed me through the reminder of my marriage vow, that this was for life and that included the really hard times. Praise be to the Lord that He got us through those times and if you read this post, you know that I am out of the weird funk I was in and am loving and appreciating my husband more than ever before.

    I pray the same for Chris and Meg. I pray that their marriage is centered upon and rooted in Christ–because human love isn’t enough to hold together over the years. The divorce rate in the U.S.–even among proclaimed evangelicals–will prove that. They need to run to God for satisfaction first and then they will be able to be content with each other. Because if you depend on that person for satisfaction, you are going to be let down again…and again…and again. They weren’t designed or meant to have that kind of responsibility. Jesus was and is meant to.

    And I pray that they have a long life of love and intimacy together. I can see them being the old couple that still kisses and hugs and acts all lovey-dovey after they’ve been together 55 years. But I’m wise enough to not be presumptuous. Such a thing is a gift from God. All married couples need prayer. The biblical marriage dynamic of leadership and submission is so distorted and unnatural (I speak from personal experience) that God needs to be present and working in marriages for it to glorify Him and to accurately represent Christ and His love for the church.

    Marriage really is a wonderful thing–so here’s to you Chris and Meg. May God bless your marriage. Enjoy your life together and don’t take it for granted.

    Chris and Meg at their wedding

    Chris and Meg at their wedding

    Travis and me

    Travis and me

    The other bridesmaids--Meg's 3 sisters and her friend from middle school

    The other bridesmaids

    Grace for pregnant teens

    13 Aug

    While staying on the up and up regarding youth culture for my job, I have noticed that about 85% of articles lately are about teen pregnancy–many specifically about Jamie Lynn Spears. Christians are arguing that the media and movie stars are making teen pregnancy look cool and glamorous. Statistics like those from Gloucester High (where 17 girls got pregnant last year instead of the normal 3-4) make the rates of teen pregnancy alarming–making some feel like our country is going to hell in a handbasket.

    But I just read this blog post called “Redemptive Grace” written by Walt Mueller with the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding (CPYU). He has such a wonderful Christ-like attitude to not condemn those girls who get pregnant as a teen but to speak truth to them in a loving, understanding way. When I think about my own mistakes (which are innumerable!) before and after becoming a Christian, I see that there is nothing that makes me any better than Jamie Lynn. I lost my virginity at the age of 17, when I was a junior in high school. I slept with 7 different guys before my junior year of college. It’s hard to admit that and even as I type, it seems worlds away. But I have Christ to thank for redeeming me from the world and its lies about true satisfaction. And I know that all of my sins, as hideous and big as they are, are all washed clean by Christ’s blood. If I didn’t believe that, I wouldn’t admit to them.

    These teens don’t need someone wagging their finger in their faces and condemning them as failures. They need someone who will tell them the gospel and reassure them that in Christ, there is grace and forgiveness. So they messed up; all is not lost. Jesus came to “make all things new” and to redeem sinners, even those of us who have made seemingly unforgiveable mistakes.

    There was a time when I didn’t understand why God had let me go through all of the struggles and sins I did before coming to know Him. If I was predestined before the foundation of the world to be His (according to Ephesians 1), why wouldn’t He call me when I was a child, like other people I knew? But I now believe that God has His purposes. There is some reason for those trials, even if it is not evident to me right now–or ever on this earth.

    I think about the students that come to our conferences and my heart breaks for the girls who I know are struggling with the very things being condemned in the media. No, those things should not be acceptable, but those girls need to know that they are dearly, intimately loved by their Heavenly Father–after all, isn’t that what all sexually active teenage girls are after anyway–love?

    Let us reach out to these hurting teens–those who have become pregnant as well as those who haven’t–and be the hands and feet of Jesus to them. Grace is free. Jesus says “Come as you are.”

    It breaks my heart…

    11 Aug

    …when I read about other religions and how they are so misled. I read this blog post (shout out to Dare 2 Share!) after my co-worker emailed it to me and I am just so sad that people believe those things! Not just because I believe that Jesus is the Only Way to heaven but also because other religions like this seem so difficult to follow! There are so many rules and conditions. It is a religion of despair and failure. Contrast that with grace. Grace is an amazing thing. Why would you want to work your way to heaven when you don’t have to? Why try to be perfect when you never will be? Christ has accomplished everything necessary for us to go to heaven–why try to be good enough through our own pathetic efforts?

    It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit (that is in us as a result of Christ’s death on the cross) that we can grow in Christ-likeness. In our natural state, we don’t desire God. We were God’s enemies, even while Christ died for us. But Christ did die for us and has ushered from the domain of darkness into the kingdom of light. We are now God’s sons and daughters and Jesus’ friends. Praise be to the Lord Jesus Christ for accomplishing for sinnners what they could not do for themselves!

    An eventful weekend

    4 Aug

    My weekend started earlier than I had planned it would. Around 9 AM on Friday, I started having chest pains, so much so that it became hard to breathe. Every time I inhaled, the pain worsen and it was impossible for me to take a deep breath. But I was in a meeting taking notes. At first, I thought it would pass. I had experienced a tight chest before but it went away after about 15 minutes. But this lasted–through our entire one hour meeting. By the time the meeting was over, I knew this was a special case and felt I needed some medical attention–not just because I thought it might be serious but because I wanted someone who could alleviate the pain I was in.

    So I told my boss Carol Ann that I needed to go to the ER because I was having trouble breathing. She offered to take me and long story short, that’s what ended up happening. I called Travis on the way there and he said that he would leave work right away to come meet me (and he literally dropped everything on the spot–that sweetie). When we got to the ER (which seemed to take forever), Carol Ann told an EMT standing by that I was experiencing chest pain and having a hard time breathing so they made sure that my oxygen level was good (still 100%) and put me to the top of the list. About 5 minutes later, I was called back into triage.

    I could bore you with the details but I won’t. Let’s just say they asked me a lot of questions, many of them 4-5 different times, gave me an IV, did an EKG, drew blood for lab tests, x-rayed my chest, gave me some nasty chalky stuff to numb my throat and stomach, the whole shebang. All of the tests (thank the Lord) came back negative. Turns out I’m actually pretty healthy. They even asked me if I was an athlete because my heart rate was so low (abnormally low–in the 40s–but then it stabilized around 64 or so).

    But turns out that I have acid reflux. Some people get it because they’re overweight. Some people get it because. (I can’t help but wonder if all those nights of binge drinking in college has anything to do with this…that was before I was a Christian though! Don’t be getting the wrong idea about me!) Anyway, the doctor told me about the esophagus and the muscle between the ribcage and lungs can get inflamed by the acid. Then those muscles that normally help you breathe feel like sandpaper rubbing together. Beautiful picture huh?

    Anyway, I got released with a prescription of Prilosec. I took a nap after getting home and then got up and painted our house (I’m a diehard, what can I say? Plus, 2 of our friends came over and helped us. I couldn’t just sit around!) But Friday night was miserable. I couldn’t lay down any which way without intense pain so I propped 2 pillows against the wall and tried to sleep sitting up. It didn’t work. About 2:30, I got up and went to Walgreen’s for some pain medicine (we didn’t have any at our house because we hadn’t moved all of our stuff down yet). That helped–so I got about 5 hours of sleep that night.

    Saturday was Moving Day. We got up at 7 and went to Home Depot because we weren’t quite done with painting and needed to buy one more gallon for the living room. After finishing that, we drove up to Boulder and some of our other friends met us there to help us load the truck. About an hour and a half later, our lives were loaded into a 16-ft Budget truck. We drove down to Boulder and the unloading began. Another hour later and we were done (with that part)! We ate pizza at Beau Jo’s for lunch and then it was back to the grind.

    Or not. I tried putting stuff away for maybe an hour or two but I was so in pain (this time it was my collarbone…?) that I eventually had to call it quits (against my stubborn nature). I took some Tylenol PM and watched TV (we finally get some stations!) waiting for it to kick in. I decided to sleep on the couch that night because I was scared of the bed (it was so mean to me the night before). Travis, again what a sweetie, slept on the futon so that he could be close to me. What an amazing man, huh? I actually slept really well on the couch–I could even lie down flat!

    Sunday I felt good. I had a little pain in the morning but I took some more ibuprofen and I was good to go. Which was SUCH a blessing from the Lord because Sunday was Apartment Cleaning Day. It took Travis and me 4 1/2 hours to clean our tiny 700 sq ft apartment. But it is DARN clean, let me tell ya. Let’s just see what the landlords think tomorrow at our walk-through.

    I even felt good enough last night to put stuff away in our apartment. I was a whirlwind–I unpacked all of our boxes and organized everything but our picture frames (I can never figure out where to put those!)

    Anyway, this blog post is way too long now and you’re probably not even reading it anymore! (If you are, thank you for your dedication to my nothingness) 🙂

    What I hate about moving…

    1 Aug

    Travis and I painted more last night and actually got quite a bit done. We painted the guest bedroom so that is done, except for the baseboards. We also painted the purple wall in the living room. It is now a celery green. But there isn’t an overhead light in the living room and we were painting it at sunset (and it faces east, not west) so there are a few minor spots that we missed with the roller. We’ll try to touch them up. The other wall in the living room that we were going to paint (to cover up some marks) we’re just going to touch up. The couch will go in front of the marks anyway.

    Then Travis left for his hockey game so I started working on the trim. I finished one doorframe! Doesn’t sound like much huh? Actually, I got one coat on the closet and door frames of the MB, on the door frame of the GB, and on the door frame of the linen closet. Everything is going to take 2 coats so it’s just a long tedious process.

    Tonight, we’re going to paint the office and try to get all the baseboards done in the rooms where we’ll have furniture against the wall. Then we’ll be ready to move in tomorrow and we finish painting over the next week or so.

    A reassuring thought, though, while I’m busting my butt doing all this painting (I painted last night from 5 PM-11 PM) is that this is our permanent residence. We can live in this house as long as we want. And we don’t have to worry about our rent going skyhigh or landlords tweaking out. We can make improvements like this and ENJOY THEM for longer than a year! Seriously, I haven’t lived in one place longer than 2 years since moving to college. My freshman year, I lived in the dorms. Then I lived in a house my sophomore year. Then I lived in an apartment my junior year. Then I lived in another house my senior year and stayed there the year after I graduated (because Travis lived only 3 houses away!) Then I moved when we got married. Then we moved to boulder, Colorado. Now we’re moving to Wheat Ridge. And all that since 2002. Whew!

    This is what I hate about moving:

    Changing your address with the bank, school, work, credit cards, and places you never even think about until you get a forwarded letter in the mail that they had sent to your old address.

    Having to throw out perfectly good address labels because you no longer live at that address.

    Having checks with the address on them that you lived at 2 houses ago because you didn’t live there long enough to actually use up those checks.

    Having mail go to 3 different houses at one time.

    Going to all the work of making your residence liveable only to move out a year later.