Archive | October, 2008

Little joys

28 Oct

Ever since my restless post a week ago, I feel like I’ve been more aware than usual of little things that I enjoy, as if God is reminding me that life is supposed to be enjoyable and not just an endless journey toward an ever-heightening goal.

I enjoy crisp fall weather, soft cool breezes and lazy sunshine.

I enjoy writing (in my blog!) and talking to old friends (talked to one of my college roomies last night).

I enjoy taking care of my husband, buying groceries and washing clothes.

I like cooking new recipes and trying new things in the kitchen.

I like keeping a steady exercise schedule and eating right most of the time.

I like changing things up, like my hair, clothes, or even my blog (thought I can’t figure out which layout I want to switch to!!)

I enjoy my job and the responsibility and sense of importance that it gives me.

I love my husband, all his silly nonsense and the way he loves me like no one else ever has–or will (except Jesus!)

I love learning new things about God, having the eyes of my heart enlightened, beginning a prayer only to have a revelation and sit in silent awe.

I enjoy having holidays and family time to look forward to. (And having the chance to go to Mexico for a week in March!!)

I love cats (though I can’t have one) and dogs (though we’re not going to get one for a while).

I love the feeling of fall and Christmas. Heaven must feel something like a hybrid of those 2 things.

I love hope. Without the hope of a life after this one, none of this means anything. Because without the hope of salvation, this world fades away into nothingness, like it never existed.

I am thankful to God that “according to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…” (1 Peter 1:3) It truly is what makes life worth living and what causes and enables me to strive for more…it doesn’t end here. I have an eternity in heaven.

A picture update

26 Oct

It’s time for a picture update. I still haven’t posted any from when the Kluthes (Travis’ mom, dad, and little bro) were out here visiting. So here’s the scoop:

Travis and his dad got up for hunting at 4:30 every morning. They left the condo we were staying at by 5:30, to get out to their spot by sunrise, which was around 7:00. They stayed out all day until sunset, which was also around 7:00. So for Saturday and Sunday, I hung out with Beth and Matthew.

On Saturday, we drove to Estes Park via Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park. If you don’t know anything about Trail Ridge Road, let me tell you: the road is intense. There are long stretches of road where there is literally only about a foot separating your car from a sheer dropoff. And there is no guardrail. The road’s highest point is 12,183 feet above sea level. So you are up there.

The beauty of nature, though, is undeniable. Here are some pics from our drive:

The mountains with their leftover snow patches

The mountains--the red trees are ones that have been eaten (and killed) by the Pine Beetle. 😦

If you can't tell, we are absolutely FREEZING in this pic

If you can't tell, we are absolutely FREEZING in this pic--it was only about 35 degrees out there and WINDY.

These clouds were so cool--we actually went under them on the way down the mountain.

These clouds were so cool--we actually went under them on the way down the mountain.

Due to that, the road is usually only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Weather changes fast at such a high elevation and there can be snow as early as September. I was actually surprised the day we drove on it (October 11th) that it was still open.

My surprise was understandable, since they ended up closing the road due to a snowstorm before we had driven back. 🙂 So instead of a 61-mile drive back to Granby, we had a 125-mile drive around the mountains, up through Winter Park. We did a lot of driving that day!!

Sunday morning, we woke up to this:

A light dusting of snow across the hills

A light dusting of snow across the hills

It got into the 50s that day so the snow started to melt pretty quickly.

It got into the 50s that day so the snow started to melt pretty quickly.

The red circle shows where our condo was

The red circle shows where our condo was

We decided to go horseback riding. Matthew thought maybe he wanted to go for 2 hours but we opted for 1. We chose wisely–we were still really sore afterward.

Matthew, me and Beth on our faithful steeds

Matthew, me and Beth on our faithful steeds

Matthew's horse was named Footloose and he pooped a LOT!

Matthew's horse was named Footloose and he pooped a LOT!

Beth's horse's name was either Mare or Mayor. She tripped once and Beth almost fell off--but she held on!!

Beth's horse was named either Mare or Mayor (I couldn't tell which). Mayor tripped once and Beth almost fell over--almost.

My lovely horse was named Cupcake and she always wanted to go faster than the horse in front of her.

My lovely horse was named Cupcake and she always wanted to go faster than the horse in front of her.

Monday morning, I had to go back to work 😦 so I got myself a triple-shot grande pumpkin spice latte from Starbuck’s and hit the road. Travis and his family stayed up in Granby until Wednesday afternoon. After 4 1/2 full days of hunting, the guys still hadn’t seen one elk. Poor guys… We toured the Coors brewery on Thursday after work and then Travis’ family headed home on Friday.

That’s all I have to say about that.

Lately, Travis has been obsessed with birdfeeders. I bought him a little birdbook while we were in Rocky Mountain National Park, since he had been talking about wanting one for months. This is the birdfeeder we first got:

Our little birdfeeder

Our little birdfeeder

Then Travis decided that he wanted to build another one for bigger birds. Only problem is, squirrels can easily get into it. Like this:

Big, fat squirrel eating our birdseed!

Big, fat squirrel eating our birdseed!

Travis took action and put flashing on the bottom of the feeder’s post but the squirrels could still climb on it…so thus far, Travis has been losing the battle against the squirrels. But not for long…Travis has a few more tricks up his sleeve. He will have to be very clever, though, since the squirrels can perform acrobatic feats:

Like hanging upside down on a birdfeeder and eating seed through a tiny hole.

Like hanging upside down on a birdfeeder and eating seed through a tiny hole.

They are very persistent!!

Last night, Travis and I had dinner with our friends, Carrie and Paul. I made lasagna and we also had salad and garlic bread–and strawberries + whipped cream for dessert. Delicious… We also had a friendly pumpkin-carving contest. Both couples ended up carving bats…which was not planned.

Travis and my pumpkin (we used a stencil)

Travis and my pumpkin (we used a stencil)

Paul and Carrie's pumpkin (they did theirs freehand and it turned out well!)

Paul and Carrie's pumpkin (they did theirs freehand and look how well it turned out!)

Travis and me with our pumpkin--can you tell I dyed my hair? Just a little darker...

Travis and me with our pumpkin--can you tell I dyed my hair? Just a little darker...

That’s all folks!!

Hope amidst Hopelessness

24 Oct

I talked to Travis on Wednesday night about what I wrote in my last post. He said that he felt that way at times too, though not to that extent. I think a natural part of our human nature craves to be part of something bigger than ourselves. I know that I had that desire even before I became a Christian–in fact, it was the biggest thing that attracted me to becoming a Christian: something to live for.

So what has happened since then? Christ is still my only hope of salvation. I still daily surrender (or at least try to!) my life and will to the Father’s. But I lack one very important thing: courage.

As I was praying about this Wednesday morning, it dawned on me that even though I know what I want to be doing and what kind of life I want to be living, it is still a giant leap from where I am now to that place. And to be honest, that giant leap scares the $#!* out of me.

Tangent: It’s kind of ironic that the thing in the Christian life that I’m the worst at (in the sense that I don’t do it at all) is evangelism. I can’t remember the last time I shared my faith, it’s that bad. The reason why it’s ironic is because I was deeply involved in Campus Outreach in college–a campus ministry that focused on reaching the lost world for Christ–and now I work at Dare 2 Share Ministries–if you didn’t catch it in the name, we’re all teaching and mobilizing teens to share their faith with the teens they know.

My lack of courage is what is currently holding me back. Before, I didn’t even realize that I was moving through life on a conveyor belt. There was an expected progression to things; I accepted it without question. I realize now that I haven’t really strived for anything. I’ve worked hard (to graduate with honors and get a good job) but that’s just because I’m anal-retentive.

But now that I’m out of college and married, I have realized that I have something they call “options.” I can choose what to do with my life. It’s very weird and hard to get used to. As I’ve been mulling this over in my mind, I have come up with some ideas of what I could do to move myself toward the life I want to be living:

1. Start intentionally writing–whether it be the full story of how I became a Christian, or just freelancing to build a portfolio.

2. Take a class–or two. I really want to take a class on Photoshop (for my current job) and a class on writing non-fiction (for my dream job).

3. Get a new job (shhh…don’t tell my boss) writing for a magazine or Christian company.

4. Read books about Marketing and Leadership to continue to grow in my current role at D2S.

5. Get my ESL (English as a Second Language) license and teach immigrants (with CAK?)

6. Find an organization that I can get involved with through volunteering. Thoughts have been: Big Sister, a pregnancy center, Samaritans Purse, a nursing home, etc.

7. Plan a mission trip with Travis (it might have to be in 2010…)

8. Volunteer more at my church by helping with planning/organizing events or translating resources into Spanish (though I would definitely have to brush up on my skills!!)

I feel like these are good ideas but I am aware that I have only so many hours in the day. I can’t do them all, nor do I want to. I need to figure out what my passions are and what I really want to invest in.

But the good news is, God is faithful!! (like He ever isn’t…) On Wednesday during chapel I had to laugh at God a little–only He would give me hope amidst hopelessness. Kind of like Abraham and Sarah–they hoped against hope. God is a God of hope when there is no hope. And I feel the sparks of excitement and anticipation of what I can make my life be like with God’s help. I am not relegated to being a mediocre bum!!

A self-imposed glass ceiling

21 Oct

“I want to feel that each day is better than the day before and that I’m happy to be waking up and have the opportunity to do the things I do. And when I no longer feel that, I’ll do something else.”

That’s what Helene Gayle, CEO of CARE USA, said in the Newsweek from October 13, 2008. As I read that statement, I find myself half-scoffing at her, half-wondering what her secret is. How did she get to that place where she enjoys her job and feels that her life has meaning? How can she be so content with the world and herself to say that she wakes up feeling that every day is better than the day before? How I wish I had that contentment!!

I know all the trite Christian stuff: Christ gives my life meaning, I have so much to be thankful for, I have been given the greatest mission on earth, yadda yadda yadda. While I’m not saying those things aren’t true (since I still am a Christian, I know they’re true) what I have felt stirring in my heart and soul for the past year goes a lot deeper than that. Those pie-in-the-sky answers feel like a band-aid for a severed limb.

I’m disturbed lately about what my life is like. I’m not satisfied with it. I don’t like what I do everyday. I think it’s pointless. I’m living for myself and my own pathetic desires. I get up every morning to take a shower, do my hair and makeup, get dressed (while wishing for more and cuter clothes), eat breakfast, make lunches for me and Trav, read my Bible reading plan, fix some coffee and go to work. After work, I come home, make dinner (most nights), read/watch TV/blog, exercise, and go to bed.

These are the times when I think that being a non-Christian must be so much easier. Instead of fighting all the natural desires, you get to indulge them. Sure, they end being your ruin but at least you go down without a fight. But as a Christian, I feel like I’m stuck in limbo between 2 worlds. Half of me hates the materialistic, vain, narcisstic culture than we live in while the other half of me takes the bait and runs. I want to be free from the desire to have a big house, cute clothes, go on exotic vacations and see the world, have gorgeous wedding pictures, etc. But when I see others who have or do them, it feels like jealousy eats me alive.

Last weekend, I was in a major funk. All I wanted to do was sleep, laze, do nothing. So that’s what I did–and at the end of the weekend, I felt disgusted with myself. Yesterday and today I have been more active but still, what did I do that was of importance? Sure, I educated myself about the Colorado amendments and exercised. But I also watched 3 episodes of House and an hour of Boston Legal. Even if I had spent that same time reading though, I doubt it would have done anything for my conscience or sense of self-worth.

Some would say that my job (at a non-profit Christian ministry) is contributing something worthwhile. I suppose in some remote way, I am helping teens get trained to share their faith. But that’s just the thing–they’re the ones being trained to get out there. They are the ones living our vision out. Me? I just work there. Punch in my 9 to 5 and come home to…what?

I’m somewhat confounded at the seemingly sudden unrest with my life. Where did it come from? Why is it here? Why am I not like everyone else, going through life, content with the status quo, never doubting or guessing why their life is the way it is? Isn’t this what I’m supposed to be doing–working, married, living, breathing.

But it’s not enough for me.

I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even want to do this for the rest of the year. My life is passing by right before my eyes and I am doing absolutely nothing about it. I do dream about what my life would be like if I was doing something I really believed in, something I could feel good about leaving behind. A legacy of any sort. But I fear that if I died tomorrow, only my family and a few friends would truly care. Surely the world would not notice at all.

As I said earlier, this has been going on for about a year. Really, ever since we moved to Colorado. There’s something about being out here, about being torn away from everything so familiar that you don’t think twice about, that is revealing and intrusive. I try to think about my life back in Minnesota, about why I didn’t feel like this then. Why was I ok with my life? I’m really not all that different from who I was then. Actually, I’ve volunteered more out here in Colorado than I did back in Minnesota–one year vs. 24. Doesn’t that show that I’m becoming more concerned about others, rather than wasting my life on myself?

If anything, the times I’ve volunteered out here in Colorado have shown me just how little I do for anyone but myself. All of my thoughts constantly center on me and what I want. When I feel like I don’t do enough for other people, instead of moving into action to remedy the problem, I mope and feel depressed. Which just shows that it’s really all about me in the end anyway.

What I yearn to do is break free from living under my own glass ceiling. I dream about doing big things–but I always rationalize my way out of them. I fantasize about being impulsive and about throwing all my eggs into one basket to achieve something of epic proportions–but well-meaning advice from well-meaning friends coaxes me from the edge. So I try to pacify myself with a life of mediocrity, monotony, and quasi-fulfillment.

It may sound to some reading this that I’m on the verge of doing something rash. But I’m not. I know that the Lord is in control of my life and I truly believe that He has put this unrest in my soul for a reason. It has come along enough times now that I finally realize that I need to grab it and ride it, though I have no idea where it may take me and when. While my fleshly desire is to despair under the comforter on my bed, my Spirit is preparing me for the biggest battle I will ever have to fight–the battle against myself.

Was that last line too cheesy? 🙂 I couldn’t resist.

To blog or not to blog?

18 Oct

I am going to warn you now that this post could be scattered and random, since I have quite a few thoughts in my head and they are not all completely related… Also, I am using my laptop to type this and for some reason, it thinks that I want to search for something on the web page every time I want to insert an apostrophe. So I will not be using many contractions, even thought it makes me sound kinda stuffy.

I started my blog back in January because I love to write. I double-majored in Journalism and Spanish in college so pretty much all I did in college was write. I learned that to really hone your writing skills and produce any work worth reading, you need to constantly practice. Writers need to force themselves to write, even if it is one of those days that putting words on paper seems like pulling teeth.

Well, with a full-time job to work, a house to clean and manage, church activities to attend, and House episodes to watch, I do not have much time to write. I am toying with the idea of working 4 10-hour days (my work changed the HR policy for hourly employees to allow them to do that). I could use that day off to write and volunteer at a pregnancy center. But with my old boss leaving and a lot of stuff going on right now at work, it does not seem like I am going to be approved for that work situation anytime soon.

All that to say, I started a blog so that I would have some outlet to write, with some chance that other people would see and read it besides me. I had also planned to post my memoir on my blog pages. That has not really happened yet…

When I first started my blog, no one but my husband knew about it (but he did not even read it–and still does not!!) I used to frequent the Nest message boards a lot (not anymore) and put a link to my blog in my board signature, as well as my email signature. So people found and read my blog that way. But I did not physically tell anyone that I had a blog.

I have recently discovered that I am not the only person who did not tell anyone about their blog. The reasons for not doing so are different for each person. For my blogger friend Leah, she did not tell anyone because she wanted to maintain face-to-face communication. For my real-life friend (and I just discovered, also blogger) Katie, she was afraid to tell anyone because of what they would think about what she REALLY thinks. For me, I just could not figure out a way to tell people I knew about my blog without feeling like I was saying “Check me out! I am sooooo awesome!”

I never had the intention that my blog would be the blow-by-blow of my life (some people have blogs like that, that is their prerogative). Instead, I wanted to muse on the random NESS of life and the different things I was learning about God. And I think (and hope!) that for the most part, my blog has not been a bunch of fluff and description about what I actually DO every day, but rather deep (or at least deepER) thoughts about life, love, and God.

So this morning, when I was thinking about where I have been lately with the whole eating/exercise thing, I thought about blogging about it. But then, I was scared about my friends back in Minnesota reading about it. Because for some reason, I have always felt the need to keep secret my struggle with body image, eating, exercise, etc. I do know that I have talked about it with a few girls (and I talk about it with Travis, who tries to understand as well as he can as a guy) but by and large, I keep it to myself.

There are quite a few people at my work, men and women both, who openly and frequently talk about their efforts to be healthier, lose weight, exercise, train for an event, etc. It seems strange to me that it is like that, since I am so the opposite. Maybe I feel that way because I have been told so many times before when I even mention something of trying to lose weight/tone/eat better “You do NOT need to lose weight!! You are already skinny!” Or maybe it is because I feel like I struggle to make it not an idol, rather than, like other people, struggle to make it even remotely a priority. Whatever the reason is, I never chime in on what I am currently doing to “maintain my physique” because I would just feel exposed.

As I had all those thoughts, I realized that my intention for blogging had slowly been morphing without my knowledge or consent. I read somewhere online, when researching a better blog name (which I finally came up with!), that you can’t write anything without thinking about a certain audience. (Side note: I just discovered that my apostrophe button has now decided it will work and give me an apostrophe! YAY!! ””””’ Look at all those!) I have been tempted to filter what I blog about according to my audience. That defeats the whole point of my blog!!

So, in the name of not filtering my blog, I will write about what I’m tempted to not write about: my struggle with eating/exercise/body image.

I will first of qualify this by saying that I know that I’m not fat. I would like to lose a few pounds but I’m sure the majority of women fall into that category with me.

My biggest struggle lately has been eating horribly. My parents were out here for a weekend and then Travis parents just left yesterday after being out here for a whole week. For some inexplicable reason, I eat like a horse around my family. Thanksgiving and Christmas last year were anomalies in my holiday eating habits (in that I didn’t eat like a pig). I know that a lot of people struggle with eating around the holidays–but me, I just struggle with eating around my family. (Doesn’t help either that the exercise is pretty much non-existent when I’m around them).

When I eat horribly, I get bloated and feel gross. So I wear baggy clothes, which makes it easy for me to continue to eat horribly. And when I already feel gross, I feel like “Well, why not eat another bowl of ice cream?”

I envy those people who are even-keeled, who eat the same way all the time, who respect their internal fullness mechanism and stop when they don’t need anymore. I tend to be more of an emotional and spastic eater. I will eat a huge dessert when I’m already stuffed to the gills because I want dessert. I will eat ice cream, chocolate, and sweets even when I’ve decided not to (anyone who has read my blog consistently knows that!) because I have this puny little willpower. I eat when I’m bored or especially when I’m tired. I love cereal so much that I’m tempted (but lately have refrained from) eating 2 big bowls for breakfast.

I don’t really struggle a whole ton with the exercise part. I really do enjoy exercising (except for when I’m in a funk…then doing anything but lie on the couch seems like an extraordinary amount of effort). I have been going to aerobics classes at the Wheat Ridge Rec Center. I love them. They are challenging (exertion-wise AND routine-wise) but fun, the time goes really fast, and I push myself more than I would if I were by myself. I just need to get my eating under control.

Back in Sept, I had written a post about imposing a no-sweet rule on myself for the rest of Sept. Well, if you couldn’t tell, that didn’t really happen. After a week-long gaffe, I got back on track…for a while. But the end of Sept and early Oct have been pretty pathetic. But last night, I decided that I was sick of feeling nasty. I know that it affects the way I feel about myself and it affects my marriage (when you don’t feel sexy, it’s hard to act like you do!!) And I know that God doesn’t want me to beat myself up all the time over the way I look–He doesn’t want me to disrespect or abuse my body either, through under-training and overeating, or even the reverse.

There have been periods of time when I felt very in control (in a good way!!) of myself–what and how much I ate, how much I exercised, etc. I felt great being in control–but it’s the time when I drive myself into the ground and get discouraged that seem to be the hardest to get out of. I don’t want diet and exercise to rule my life–I want it to be a natural part of it. I don’t want to throw caution to the wind but I don’t want to be a Nazi about it either. Only the Lord can help me find the happy medium–because I can’t do anything loving for a body that I hate. I need to believe that I am beautiful the way I am but that God has called me to something better–He has called me to ENJOY the body that I have been given. I know that I enjoy my body the most when I take the best care of it–by feeding it healthy foods and moving it through exercise.

I also have been researching ways to prevent breast cancer, osteoporosis and heart disease–very real threats to women. I want to live long and be able to move around a lot when I’m older. So that is also motivation for being healthy now.

I guess my motivations for staying healthy are morphing as I get older and grow in my Christian walk. I keep hoping for the day when I wake up and I no longer struggle with wanting to be thinner. It hasn’t come yet. So I guess I will have to just keep on moving forward in faith, asking the Lord to free me from this idol and struggle, and give me life in His ways.

There! I blogged about it. I don’t feel better–it’s still a nasty struggle–but i don’t feel worse either. Because I know other women have this struggle. And if you have any advice or tips, I’d love to hear them!

Am I a big hypocrite?

17 Oct

When I was in college, Facebook became the rage. Now there’s myspace too and a bunch of other social networks like Friendster and what-have-you. But back in 2005 and 2006, Facebook was the top dawg.

Almost all of my friends had it. They had their profiles and their friends and spent hours and hours of time on Facebook, reading about other people’s lives without actually talking to them at all. It was possible to know everything about a person–what they did every day, what bands they liked, who they were dating, etc–without actually ever talking to them!

I have yet to meet a person (besides my husband) who has a Facebook account and hasn’t gotten sucked in to spending hours a day on it. Plenty of my close friends in college even admitted to the fact that Facebook was/is addicting.

Which is why I steered clear of Facebook and all its social network relatives. I never signed up for it, despite the fact that many people pressured me to join. “You should get Facebook,” they’d say. “Um, how about you just call and talk to me to find out what I’m up to? Unless you really don’t care about ME, you care about seeing what I’m DOING…which would just be weird.” 

To be honest, I’m still kind of proud of the fact that I’ve never had a Facebook page. People of my kind are few and far between. Seems like everyone and their grandma has fallen prey to the social networking phenomenon.

Anyway…

So I have found recently that many of my good friends from back home have started blogs. This is so excited for me, as a member of the blogging world as well. I love reading about what my old friends are up to and the struggles/joys they’re going through. It’s fun seeing pictures of them, their family, and their activities.

As I was pondering this after finding my friend Katie‘s blog today, it hit me: am I now a Facebooker without having Facebook? The whole reason why I despised Facebook (and sinfully/playfully felt myself superior to those who had it) was because of the “Look at me, look at me” and peeping tom-NESS. But now, I am reading about people’s lives and not calling them. What’s happening to me?!?!?!?

I could defend myself by saying I only read my friends-in-real-life’s blogs… But I don’t.

I could defend myself by saying I actually talk to the people whose blogs I read… But I don’t.

But I can defend myself by saying that I don’t know what their favorite bands are or what their favorite life quote is. And no one can poke me or write on my wall in my blog!!

Although, they can comment on my posts…

What do you think? Is blogging like Facebook, in that I am being a sorta-kinda-peeping tom?

Ode to CAK

14 Oct

Travis’ parents are in Colorado right now so that explains why I haven’t posted in a while. We were up near Granby for the weekend–they’re actually still up there but I had to come back to work (POO!)–and I did not have access to a computer. I have some awesome pics to post but I left my camera with Beth and Matthew (Trav’s mom and bro) so that they could take pictures of stuff if they wanted to (Lord knows I’m not taking any down here!) Once I get those pics, I’ll tell about what we did.

But right now, I am going to mourn. My boss Carol Ann Kelly (aka CAK) had her last day at our ministry on Friday. Her office is empty and it’s weird that she’s not here. To celebrate her memory (and explain why I’m so sad that she’s gone…because I realize that not everyone loves their boss like I do/did), here are some funny things about her:

I could hear her every once in a while in her office laughing at a funny email.

Even though her office was only 10 feet from my cube, she paged me on our phone intercoms–the funny thing was, when she didn’t get me, she’d just yell “Hey Kathy?”

She had her own language and “isms”–a few of which are (with sample sentences):

Ish: “That postcard drops October 24th-ish.”

Except not: “The Atlanta previews are this week…Except not–they’re really next week.”

Ness: “So the deal with the budget-ness is that we’re 59% over our allotted amount.”

So that’s fun: “Debb just told me that they want it done by Friday. So that’s fun.”

Whoopsy daisy: “We forgot to put in a PO for the Youth Leader Notebook. Whoopsy daisy.”

Brain dump: “I’m thinking we should just go to Starbuck’s for a brain dump fest.”

So here’s the deal: “So here’s the deal…we’re going to make these changes to the GOSPEL Journey Maui postcard…last ones I promise!”

She also got word and letter orders mixed up a lot. She’d say “Oback Barama” instead of “Barack Obama” and “Choy Sai Latte” instead of “Soy Chai Latte.” Instead of “a whole boatload,” she’d say “a whole buttload.” Instead of “put the pedal to the metal,” she’d say “put your foot to the pedal” or “put your metal to the pedal” or “put your foot to the metal.” The funniest parts came when she realized that she had messed up and said it again slowly so that she’d get it right…only to say it wrong again.

I realize it may sound like my boss is a woman who’s been sniffing the Ultra Fine Point Sharpies (her writing utensils of choice) one too many years… but CAK is a very intelligent, savvy, and strategic thinker. She sees the big picture and is not afraid to voice her opinions (and dissensions) 🙂

In addition to her wonderfully unique personality, CAK was a great boss. A lot of frustrating, unplanned, spur-of-the-moment stuff happens in our Marketing Dept but CAK kept us laughing and hopeful through it all, when it would have been really easy to get discouraged and crabby. She believed in her staff. She didn’t try to do our jobs for us or always need to have a say in everything. She trusted us and our judgment, which allowed us to grow and expand our horizons.

It’s the end of an era. I honestly don’t think our ministry will ever be the same without her. It’s not a bad thing–I know that we’ll survive without her but it’ll be different. Change is always hard–because the things you knew and loved get replaced with different things. The challenge is in accepting how the change is different and not trying to make it be exactly what the former was.

I love you CAK!

Too good to be true?

7 Oct

I  just started reading J. I. Packer’s Knowing God. I’ve heard a lot of great things about the book and thought that at this stage of my Christian walk, when I am struggling to understand the practical implications of salvation and the Christian life, that it would be a good book to read. After all, Packer says in his preface that instead of balconeers who just muse upon things they experientially know nothing of, “this is a book for travelers, and it is with travelers’ questions that it deals.” A traveler is out there experiencing and doing.

But I have gotten to chapter four and the book has convicted and saddened me of how much I don’t know God. It’s not that I have been living a sort of exterior Christianity or that my desire for God isn’t authentic. It’s that I don’t understand. I don’t get it. It’s kind of like a calculus problem for me: I can understand the basic idea, I can even follow someone solving a problem, but I can’t for the life of me solve a problem correctly on my own.

As I was reading tonight, I came across this part in chapter 3: “What matters supremely, therefore, is not, in the last analysis, the fact that I know God, but the larger fact which underlies it–the fact that he knows me…He knows me as a friend, one who loves me; and there is no moment when his eye is off me, or his attention distracted from me, and no moment, therefore, when his care falters…God is constantly taking knowledge of me in love and watching over me for my good…his love to me is utterly realistic, based at every point on prior knowledge of the worst about me…”

As I read that, my heart stops. My throat gets tight. I can hardly believe it’s true. Literally. I can feel in my heart that being loved by God like that is my ultimate desire. I was made for God’s love–to live in it, thrive in it, and be transformed by it. But my heart seems so…closed right now. I keep waiting for salvation and a relationship with the God of the universe to make sense, for me to really understand why and how. How I want it to be true!! And deep in my heart of hearts, I know that it is. But I don’t believe it enough for it to transform me. The knowledge of that truth has no impact on me except for making me fall on my knees before the Father and admitting that I cannot understand anything about Him without the aid of the Holy Spirit. Truly, God’s ways are higher than mine and without His enlightenment, everything about Jesus and salvation is utterly confusing and incredulous.

My heart is saying, “Yes, this is the truth and love that I have been longing for,” but my mind is questioning, “Doesn’t it sound a little too good to be true?” My mind has been asking that very thing for the past several months. I believe that God has me questioning these things for a reason, that He has chosen to withhold understanding for a purpose, and I can only pray that this season will bring me into a deeper knowledge and understanding of Him in God’s time.

An anomalous day

5 Oct

Today is strange. I don’t have anything that I have to do…and yet, I feel like I shouldn’t just spend my time lying on the couch watching TV. It’s a weird feeling really. This doesn’t usually happen to me… usually I have lots of stuff to do or I don’t want to do anything but lie on the couch and watch TV.

So far, since coming home from church, I have cleaned out the coffeemaker with vinegar (something that was LONG overdue!), watched our wedding video (for old time’s sake), painted the wooden box I’m going to hang in the bathroom when Trav gets home, and folded the laundry. I have a canvas that I want to paint our wedding vows on but I feel like I should have a stencil instead of just doing it free hand. I could work on my memoir but I just really don’t feel like it. I think I will read…and possibly take a nap 🙂

Meanwhile, here are the pictures of our wonderful new patio furniture–that we have yet to use since it’s cold here already! We also have an orange umbrella that goes with it but we haven’t taken that out of the box yet…

We chose the lowest maintenance furniture we could find.

We chose the lowest maintenance furniture we could find.

But the chairs are actually really comfy!

But the chairs are actually really comfy!

The chairs rock--literally

The chairs rock--literally

The lone tree in our backyard is finally turning yellow!

The lone tree in our backyard is finally turning yellow!

That’s it for now. I’m off to read The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever.

Faith and Justification

4 Oct

While reading the Bible today, I came across James 2:24. This is a sticky verse and no doubt, the verse that has caused some Christians to rip the book out of their Bible completely. It says:

“You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone.”

But in Galatians 2:16, the Apostle Paul writes,

“…we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.”

At first glance, those verses seem to be in opposition with each other, huh? But I believe that the book of James is in the Bible for a reason and when you take James 2:24 in context, you can see where James is coming from and what he is getting at.

The verse is very pragmatic. It doesn’t deal with the spirituality mumbo jumbo that floats around in the air and never comes to fruition in something tangible. What James is saying is that if you say you have faith, and yet that faith doesn’t affect you at all or cause/motivate you to do anything differently (things contrary to human nature, like thinking for others, being merciful, generous, kind, and honest), then your faith is pointless, useless, and essentially dead.

I think of Galatians 5:6–

“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”

So our actions don’t justify us but they aren’t unnecessary either. Faith + Works does not equal Salvation. However, Faith does equal Salvation + Works. A true faith will result in works, which is what I think James is getting at. He uses the example of Abraham and his son Isaac–Abraham had to do the WORK of almost sacrificing his son but the action was motivated by and done in FAITH. Abraham could have just said “C’mon God, You know everything. You can see my heart. You know if I have faith or not. Isn’t that enough?” But he didn’t say that. He obeyed God in faith. He tied his son up, put him on top of the altar and wood, and raised his hand to kill him. God stopped him just in time because Abraham had proved through his works that he had faith.

As I have been questioning the practical implications of faith for the past several months, these verses were very interesting to me. I see here that faith alone doesn’t change anything practically. I can’t just think good thoughts and hope (cross my fingers) that things turn out how I want them to. That isn’t faith. That’s just wishful thinking, which has no power whatsoever. But when my faith is working in me, it leads me to do something, to engage with the Truth and let it influence and change my behavior and outlook.

For example, if I am anxious about something and I read Romans 8:28, nothing happens unless I 1) choose to believe that the verse is true and 2) choose to bank my hope on that promise. When I let that verse change my outlook, it is faith at work. It is easy to say “Ah, everything will work out.” That’s pretty much just crossing my fingers and hoping that the cosmic forces of the universe will align all circumstances to my favor (and how likely is that?)

Banking on God’s promises is different than wishful thinking. Why?

1) Because God is real. God IS reality. Nothing and no one is more real than He is.

2) Because God loves His creation and His people. He pays attention to every little detail of my life.

Why do those 2 points change things?

1) That God is real means that there is an eternal being who is sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. If God isn’t real, then there is nothing controlling this universe and frankly, that scares the $#&* out of me.

2) That God loves me (Romans 8:37-39) means that all of His promises are true–they all find their Yes in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). I wouldn’t want to bank everything on a God who didn’t love me or made me earn his love. But God tangibly demonstrated His love for me through Christ’s death on the cross. Romans 8:32 says:

“He who did not spare His own son, but offered him up for us all, how will He not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Since God has already sacrificed the hardest and most precious thing for us, why would He withhold anything else?

So then, faith is taking those truths and LIVING THEM. When I truly understood in 2004 that God is real and that He loves me, my whole paradigm shifted. As a sinful human being, I (obviously) must remind myself of these truths every day and CHOOSE to let them change me. As I am transformed by the renewal of my mind through God’s Word and prayer, I become less and less conformed to this world and more and more conformed to my Savior.