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Archive for July, 2008

Do Hard Things.

I’ve been reading this book this summer with some of my girls – Do Hard Things by Alex and Brett Harris. It’s a book written by teenagers for teenagers. It’s all about defying the culturally low expectations for adolescence and going above and beyond. It’s a MUST-READ for every teenager…and anyone who has ever been one, has one, or still acts like one. I might not be a teenager anymore, but it has seriously kicked my butt.

Anyway, as we’ve talked about the book, we keep talking the specific “Do Hard Things” tasks that God has given each of us. The list ranges from little things like being respectful toward our families to major things like tackling a cultural issue like abortion. Just before our second get-together to talk about the book, I was whining about how annoying my hair has gotten recently and how much I just wanted to whack it all off. I said something about how I’ve always wanted it to be long enough to donate to Locks of Love, but I’ve never actually had the guts to do it. I love my hair way too much, and I’ve had it shoulder-length or longer since elementary school. It would be too hard for me to go through with it.

 Well…you can see where this is going. Silly, but true.  I opened my mouth…and before I knew it, I had been persuaded to do it. Hard for me? Yes. Ridiculous? Of course. But I think it’s a bit symbolic too. In the grand scheme of things, if I can make little sacrifices like this to serve another person, why not? Vanity is hardly a reason to forego an opportunity for service. And if I can agree to “do hard things” in the little stuff, won’t I be more likely to “do hard things” when God gives me a huge task to take on???

So I did it today. I didn’t cry. Or throw up. Or pass out. I kept my cool, and I think I’m actually going to like the new ‘do. We cut off around 12″ to donate, but then we cut off several more to style and shape. Britney and I guessed somewhere between 14-15 inches of my hair is gone. GONE. Holy Cow.  I still can’t believe it’s gone.

Before...with the curl.

Before...with the curl.

Before. Straight hair. Terrified face.

Before. Straight hair. Terrified face.

Someone Else's Hairpiece

Someone Else's Hairpiece

Finished product #1.

Finished product #1.

Finished product #2.

Finished product #2.

Finished product #3.

Finished product #3.

Not my best photo ever…but that’s the cut. It’s done. Finally. Whew. Breathe.

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Busy.

I’ve wanted to post about a hundred times this weekend, but I’m on a strict priorities list for the next few days…and a good blog post just didn’t make the cut. Sorry. I have approximately ten more minutes before my to-do list says I have to go to sleep, so here are a few points of interest.

1. Why is it that every single time I go to Target/BedBath&Beyond/HomeGoods/etc I find approximately 1,482,391 things that would look so cute in my apartment, with my bedding, or in my bathroom…but when I go looking for something specific, they NEVER HAVE ANYTHING I NEED?????? Bummer. This is not just a furnishings/decorating phenomenon. It happens with shoes and clothes too.  I have a love-hate relationship with retail.

2. I’m moving this week. Finally. I’m completely dreading it…and absolutely looking forward to. A new place. New roommate. New neighbors. And boxes. Lots of boxes. Pictures to come.

3. After spending three hours tonight packing up books – Just Books – I’ve decided that my goal to own a vast personal library may need to be downplayed until I’m married, settled into a house with great built-in shelves, and can afford movers to move everything I own.

4.  I’m getting a hair cut this week. No big deal, right? I’m freaking out. Have you ever been to one of those cheesy women’s events where you end up going around a circle and saying something you like about yourself? I hate that question. But I always pick my hair. Not that I treat it well or fix it often…but I’m really attached. Really Attached. But that is another blog post for another day this week. Pictures of the new ‘do to come.

5. I still have a year left of school, but I actually meet with a client for the first time this week to counsel on my own. I would be a terrible liar if I told you that I wasn’t at least a little bit nervous about it.  I’m not sure there is anything that drives me to my knees more than the understanding that God has given me the privilege and responsibility to invest in others’ lives. I am both petrified at the thought of completely blowing it….and so grateful that a God so Holy would ever choose to use a wretch like me.

Busy-busy-busy week.  Bring it on.

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Want to…

Most people I know fall into one of two categories when it comes to Bible Ownership:

1. Get a new Bible every time a new one hits the shelves at Lifeway. Carry different Bibles for different occasions. Take the monster-sized one to Bible study because it has all the references and gives you the appearance of being “hard core”. Take the compact one to work since it’s a bit more discreet. Take the cute brown one that matches your shoes to church on Sunday…because, let’s face it, you just want to look good on Sunday morning. 

-OR-

2. Never, ever, ever under any circumstances get a new Bible. All Bibles should look like they’ve been through both the washing machine and dryer. Pages should be crumpled, ripped, and falling out. Binding should be broken.  Whole chapters should be missing, and the actual text should be very difficult to read underneath years of handwritten notes. The worse the Bible looks, the more holy the owner. Obviously.

I got a new Bible this week. This kind of a big ordeal. I’m not one to hold onto Bibles for years after the term “wear and tear” becomes a vast understatement…but I don’t part easily with the familiar layout and tear-stained pages.  My Bible holds the picture of my life for a given season, with hearts and stars and tattered pages where God has shown me the most. 

So here is the new Bible:

 

I’ve spent almost every waking moment for the past week transferring my notes into this Bible. It just doesn’t feel like mine until the pages are full of my own writing. I’m almost through with it, and I’ll be glad when I’m done. It is a labor of love. But a labor worth every single minute.

I don’t always love the Word like I should.  I love it when I find a hidden treasure in the Hebrew or Greek or when I see the connection between Old Testament stories and New Testament doctrines. I love it when it speaks so clearly to my life situation. I love it when it offers intellectual answers to tough faith questions. But I struggle to love it in my day-to-day like I want to. I want to know all the stories, understand all the history, and memorize most of it before I die…but I just don’t value it in my day-to-day like those desires really require. I have a hard time studying it diligently or digging as deep as I should. I go through seasons where I can’t get enough of it…but more of my life is spent on the other end of the spectrum. I’m constantly praying for God to change my “want to” in this area. I want to want the Word. I want to desire it. I want to want to live the reality of Sola Scriptura in my life.

As I’ve labored over the notes in my new Bible this week, I’ve gotten a glimpse of what that might be like. I was overwhelmed at just how amazing Scripture really is. I couldn’t get enough of it. Every tough Truth cut to my heart, and every Promise held fresh hope for my day. Even with the little bit that I know, I was overwhelmed by how intricate and beautiful and perfectly orchestrated the whole thing is.  And it made me want more. I want to know more. I want to study more. I want to treasure it more.

Undoubtedly, my Bible is always a great tangible presence in my life. I literally cling to it at times, holding it close to my chest or laying my head down on its pages as if I were literally breathing in its hope. And reading it is definitely a key aspect of my day-to-day life. But this time around – for the duration of ownership for this particular Bible – I’m praying that God will allow it to really capture my heart. That it would really become the air I breathe and the satisfaction I know. That Sola Scriptura would become a reality both in my “want to” and in my day-to-day. That I would literally be captivated by the breath of God in its pages…

I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word (Ps. 119:15-16).

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Lessons learned….

….on a Friday night in Nashville:

1. Live music is a great idea…until you are squeezed into the back room of a sketchy coffee shop with the band and twenty of their closest (immediate) relatives. Do not bother trying to talk. You can’t hear anyway. And…definitely avoid drinking hot tea to the tune of obnoxiously loud IWishIWereRockMusic.  Not a good idea.  I nearly ended up with third degree burns in my lap.

2. Lonnie’s Karaoke Bar on West End is NOT the same as Lonnie’s in Printer’s Alley. Lonnie’s in Printer’s Alley is supposedly one of the best Karaoke places around town…but the one on West End is…uh…lacking in the downtown enthusiasm. Ask me how I know that. Go ahead. Ask me. Or the other three people that were actually there.  AWKWARD CITY.

It was a funny night indeed.

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Amazing.

It has recently become a daily tradition for me to listen to this song every morning, laid out on the floor of my bedroom, before I ever open my Bible or step foot outside of my apartment. It is changing the way I approach the Lord…which is changing the way I approach my day. LOVE it.

Kari Jobe, The More I Seek You

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Camping.

Class is good so far. If you want a good laugh, please picture me counseling two middle age men with families. Not only am I more than ten years younger than either of them and in a completely different life stage…let’s please keep in mind that I’m regularly usually Mistaken For A Middle Schooler. It’s been a growing experience to say the least. For all of us. Now, on to a real post.  

I’ve been contemplating this post for about a week now. These thoughts follow suit with the last few months of my life. Check here and here  if you need a refresher and/or context.

I’m learning a lot about waiting these days. And about choosing obedience and contentment while I wait. I’ve spent most of the last few months begging the Lord for a sense of release. I want out. I want to start over. I don’t know what to do with all this consistency and routine in my life, and I’ve had a hard time settling into it. 

At some point, I made the mistake of praying that God would teach me what it means to choose His plans over my own, no matter what the cost or outcome. And, of course, that’s exactly what He has been showing me. I’m learning that choosing His plans over my own will not always result in my immediate and inevitable satisfaction. It will not always be encouraging. It will not always look like my calling or gifting or the desires of my heart.  But I can still trust Him with my life plan. And if I know for certain that where I am is exactly where I’m called to be, there is no other plan that is worth seeking.

I have asked the Lord nearly every day if this is really it for now. Is this really what You have called me to do for this season of life? Is there anywhere else You could/would lead me right now? Over and over and over again, the answer has been the same. Stay where He’s placed me until He places me somewhere else. Stay put in the struggle and in the disappointment until He releases me from it. It’s almost too simple. There has never been a time in my life where I had to fend for myself when it came to life plans. I have never opened my own doors. I have never felt a sense of release from one thing in my life until I have felt the call to another. God has never left me hanging in the balance, and I have never been disappointed in the bigger picture of God’s plans for my life.

These were the thoughts in my mind last weekend as I drove to Atlanta for Deeper Still.  I know God is calling me to choose obedience in surrendered waiting, in trusting, in patience with His plans. But everything in me just wants to say no. To make my own way for awhile. To try my own thing. To stop trusting in His plans. Priscilla Shirer’s message drove it home for me though. She spoke about this passage in Exodus where the Israelites are camping in the wilderness. God had led them to camp in the wilderness in preparation for a divine invitation…the giving of the law. 

Priscilla talked about how these seasons of questioning and wondering and running in circles can seem so pointless…until we recognize that they are almost always a part of the preparation for a divine invitation. And then she pointed out this fact: the Israelites camped in the wilderness (Ex. 19:2). They set up tents, settled down, and waited there. They settled into their wilderness experience because they knew it was a part of God’s plan.

That is exactly where I am at these days. This is not “it” for me. I haven’t arrived at my ideal life yet. I’m reminded of that a hundred different ways every single day. But I know this is what I’m called to for now. And when God decides that this season should be over, He will open doors and call me to something new. I can wait expectantly for that because He is faithful and His promises are unfailing. Until then, I am settling into the camping mode for awhile. I learning to be patient. Not just patient while I argue and complain and waste my days begging for change. But patience in obedience that this – my mundane, routine, day-to-day – is it for now, and I can choose satisfaction in that. I will wait for the Lord.

Psalm 130:5 – I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.

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I’m officially settled in for the week at Liberty. Part of the requirements for my Master’s is to spend three weeks on campus doing one-course intensives. From what I hear, they are intense (clever, right?).

I meant to update the blog on about five different occasions this week, but I just ran out of time. The pre-course assignments for this class are out of control. I managed to get them all done before I left town for the 4th of July, but I was so exhausted from Camp and Deeper Still and Homework that I literally slept for about sixteen hours on the 4th. I still haven’t recovered completely.

So….I’m on vacation for the week. In the classroom. I’ll be spending all of my vacation days this year in the classroom, so I’m going to try to make the most of a week away…even if it is filled with homework and papers and such. I’m reading some good books that I’m going to try to post about as I finish, so stay tuned. I don’t really know anybody here yet, so I may have more blogging time than ever. In the mean time, here are some great tid-bits of nonsense to keep you entertained:

1. My dog tried to “go” on a small frog this weekend. The frog was startled (obviously, wouldn’t you be startled???) and jumped up…and, well, my dog may never get over that trauma again.

2. My sister-in-law made some FIERCE Southwest Eggrolls for us yesterday. They could set you free – yes, that good. I’ll try to post the recipe later this week. My waisteline may never be the same again.

3. There is still no better place to relax than at our family cabin. I tried to take a picture of the view on my cell phone today, but I can’t seem to get it uploaded onto here. Unfortunate. But here is a picture I took on the road trip today. Be jealous.

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