Good news, Good for the Soul

2 Nov

“Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written,

‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

-Romans 8:33-39

Continue reading

Oh Sweet Slumber!

25 Oct

Today was a day I did not want to wake up for. Everything about sleep was seducing me from the tasks of the day. I had a delightfully unrealistic dream that put me in a pleasant mood, and I was warm in my bed, safe from the violent thunder claps outside our home. My husband’s arms were wrapped tightly around me with my head cradled on his shoulder. Nothing, I was convinced, would take me from this sweet, sweet place.

Then that god-awful sound of the alarm clock began going off…

Just ignore it, I told myself. Just ignore it, I tried to communicate telepathically to my man. Somehow the ESP connection was not made and he actually got out of bed. I rolled over and looked up at him.

“Go back to sleep,” he commanded.

Obediently, I rolled back over and gathered part of the comforter in my arms, drew it up to my face, and curled up in a fetal position. Yes, I will go back to that glorious place I just came from. Now, where was it?

Have you ever tried to go back to that sweet place of slumber once you’ve left it? It doesn’t work. I tried. I tried very hard, but my to-do list for the day began to creep into my brain instead. It finally caused enough anxiety to get me out of bed and on to the day’s work. I’ve already accomplished the three most pressing matters, thankfully. Now, I must move on to the mountain of other matters that wait for me.

If only I could escape to somewhere else. If only I could go back to bed. But I know that’s not real life, and I can’t ignore the things I have to do. So, I shall endeavor to make the things I have to do more pleasant. Some theme music should do the trick.

When was the last time you heard the gospel?

10 Oct

I’ve been listening to a lot of different podcasts and sermons lately in my free time. The messages have been pretty good, and they’ve been biblical, but I’ve noticed something pretty important has been missing. Namely, the gospel. It’s only, what, the MOST IMPORTANT part of the Christian faith. So, you’ll understand if I am a little concerned, right? As I’ve been listening, I’ve heard scriptures and biblical principles preached, which are good things to hear and learn about. However, without the main character (Jesus Christ, in case you were wondering), it just doesn’t pack quite the same punch. God is mentioned, the Holy Spirit is mentioned, and maybe Jesus is mentioned sometimes, but what about the power of the blood of Jesus Christ? What about the significance of God’s sacrifice? What about the fact that the God of the universe humbled Himself and came as baby Jesus to save a lost and dying world that we are a part of? This is a powerful message! This is good news! So why is it that in listening to sermons from several different ministries and churches, I haven’t heard more about it? (I found a couple of sermons that included the gospel, but I really had to search for them…)

I remember having this exact same discussion with some fellow student leaders my senior year in undergrad, and with my classmates in quite a few of my classes. (I was a pastoral care major, and took a lot of theology electives!) That was three years ago. So what’s the deal?

I took a class my junior year called Small Groups and Discipleship. My professor spent a good portion of class time throughout the semester sharing with our class just how much God loves us, how much He longs for us, and how much He paid for our freedom. He loved us so much that He suffered a great and terrible death for our sakes, and He rose again for our salvation, triumphant over death and evil. We were captivated. We were moved in ways beyond pathos. We were changed and healed in ways that we probably didn’t even realize or understand at the time. This class changed my life, and still has a lasting impact on me. It wasn’t the class material (which was very good, by the way, but that’s another blog post), it wasn’t the biblical principles that were taught, it wasn’t even the personality of the professor. It was the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and our professor’s willingness to share the gospel with us through his words AND actions.  That is what had such a beautiful and lasting impact on me. That’s what the gospel does. It changes people. It transforms people. It’s powerful. So why don’t we use it more often?

***I chose these icons of Jesus to insert into this post because I like them. I really like icons. I don’t worship them, as some do, but I do find them to be very meaningful and they inspire me to worship the God they represent. More on that one later. (Looks like I’ve got plenty of blog material to work with in the near future!)***

My week as an invalid

7 Oct

Disclaimer: This could be incredibly boring, but I am not quick or clever enough this morning to think of something else to write about and I haven’t written a new post in a while. Let’s call this a practice in writing or story telling and while you read about my week, I will think of other fun and interesting things to write about in the near future!

I suppose it all started last week when my wonderful, sweet husband started experiencing symptoms of illness. Being the hard worker that he is, he suffered through the rest of the week at work, and then spent the weekend in bed. I on the other hand, went and did 3 lia sophia parties this weekend and sang on the worship team Sunday morning, leaving my Nathan all alone in his suffering.  I came home Sunday afternoon and realized that I was not feeling all that well either. A wonderful friend of ours dropped off some much needed medicine and food. And Nathan and I were miserable together for the day.

The next two days were absolutely awful- body aches, head aches, congested nose, terribly sore throat. Nate went back to work. I suddenly felt terrible for leaving my husband alone sick all weekend when he felt this way. I should have done a better job taking care of him. Perhaps my punishment for not doing so was inheriting his illness. Tuesday night I went to bed at 10, and slept until 11 the next morning. I felt like a rockstar on Wednesday! Thursday I actually went out into the world to go to work at The Life Connection Counseling Center and a tickle began in my throat, progressing throughout the day and overnight into a lovely, raging cough. So here I am Friday morning, confined to my bed again with hot tea and more episodes of Greek because I want to be healthy to enjoy the weekend with my husband, and hopefully some friends.

It’s been a long week of not feeling well, and it’s been a lonely week of not feeling well because you can’t go out and get other people sick when you’re sick. That’s just not nice.

Perhaps some cleaning will take place this afternoon if I am feeling better. Lord knows the house could use some serious cleaning after this week. I was so looking forward to putting in some hard work this week with my lia sophia business and working on building my clientele for counseling. Perhaps I will work a little bit on these things in between resting and getting healthy 🙂 Perhaps. We shall see.

P.S. What do you think of my new theme? I liked the old one because it was so eclectic looking and artsy fartsy, but I also got sick of it pretty fast. We’ll see how long this new theme lasts. I like to change things up every now and then.

Cinderella I am not!

23 Sep

This morning as I was brushing my teeth, I started to really look at our bathroom counter, and I decided it was time to clean. Right then and there. I began scrubbing the bathroom sink before Nate even left for work. I neglected to make him breakfast because I was so distracted by my new desire to make our lovely, blue bathroom sparkle like a diamond in the sun! My poor, hungry husband…I did hug and kiss him good-bye as he left for work, and immediately returned to the bathroom for more cleaning, complete with bleach. (I never cleaned my bathroom with bleach until I met my husband. I always used comet and scrubbing bubbles. Today I used bleach and a multi-purpose cleaner because it’s what we have.)

Anyway, I had scrubbed the counters, and had moved on to the shower, when I heard a strange noise. “I’m home alone. Surely Nate didn’t forget something. What on earth –” I turned around to locate the noises and saw a scuttling, furry creature zig zag its way ferociously towards me. Petrified, I jumped and started screaming. I must have scared it because it moved closer to the other side of the floor and moved past me as I bolted out of the bathroom, still screaming. I ran down the hall, through the kitchen, into the den, and jumped on top of the chair, letting out one more scream for good measure. I sat there for a good minute before I realized that it was not coming after me and that I had probably scared it as much as it had scared me. I ran across the den, grabbed my phone, ran back to the chair and quickly dialed Nate’s number.

“What’s up?”

“There’s a mouse in our house!”

“Where did it come from?”

“I think it came from the guest bedroom, but it ran into the bathroom!”

“Where is it now?”

“I don’t know. I ran away!”

Nate reminded me that all the rooms were open this morning. Gulp. That means I have to go close all the doors…Okay, I can do this. It’s just one little mouse. I am bigger and scarier than it is. Why don’t I own a bb gun? I could just kill it myself! I wonder if I would be able to hit it while it was on the move…I slipped on my flip flops (because they give me courage) and I stomped my way to the hallway. That’s right, I stomped. I did not wish to see this thing again and I wanted it to know I was coming! Stomp, stomp.

“I’m coming for ya, you ugly little pest!” (Yes, I actually shouted that down the hall)

I quickly closed the guest room without looking in. I briefly checked the office. No sign of a mouse there, so I closed that door. I looked in our bedroom and noticed the clothes on the floor (What? Old habits die hard.) and pictured the ugly little monster hiding beneath a pair of jeans. I became really quiet and listened to hear something. Nothing. I closed the door and told myself I would come back and pick up our room and do a more thorough search later. I walked toward the bathroom. The light was still on. In my frenzied panic, I had forgotten to turn the light off as I left the room. I didn’t see anything. I didn’t hear anything. But I was not about to just walk in and look around. It’s a small space. So I hopped up on the newly cleaned bathroom counter and tip-toed across to look more thoroughly for the mouse, and any hole it might have run into. Nothing. No mouse. No hole.

Huh. Well where did it go?

Why didn’t I just hop up on the ledge and watch where it went when it came running in here? Now it could be anywhere, in any room, just waiting to pop out again and scare me to death! Come to think of it, where did it even come from and why on earth did it run towards me? Aren’t mice supposed to be afraid of people? Maybe there is some other creature in our house that it was trying to escape (besides me).

I hopped down from the bathroom counter and walked back to the den, my refuge. Too bad I’m allergic to cats. We could just get one and that would solve the problem. I ended up finding the number for the exterminator.

“This is Jackie, how can I help you?”

“We have a mouse in our house. Do you guys deal with that?”

“Well we can have someone come out and take a look. They wouldn’t be able to come till next week. Do you want to wait and schedule something if you see more of the little guy this weekend?”

“No. I saw him once and I never want to see him again. Let’s schedule now.”

Here’s the thing. I’m not a big cleaning person. I like things to be clean, so I will clean, but it’s usually the last thing on my to-do list. So this morning was kind of a big deal because I was actually in the cleaning mood! Having a mouse appear in the midst of my cleaning process is not a reward to me. I do not like mice and I never have. Quite frankly, I don’t understand why Cinderella made them her friends. That’s just weird. People and mice are not meant to be friends or to co-habitate. It’s just wrong.

So for the time being, our bathroom will remain half cleaned, and I will continue to announce myself before entering a room. But come Tuesday morning at 8 am (yeah, that was the earliest available), that mouse will be gone! (I hope!) Cinderella I am not!

We’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto.

22 Sep

Spending two days at my alma mater has been quite an experience. There really is no other place on the planet like Oral Roberts University. At least, I don’t think there is. I haven’t actually traveled the world to find out if this is indeed true, but I can imagine it is. I just can’t help but think that a place like ORU has got to be one of a kind! Hanging out here on campus the past two days has reminded me of why I loved going to school here and it has reminded me why I am glad my days here are done. Let’s go through the list, shall we?

What I’ve missed(and haven’t missed):

  • My incredible boss who actually cared about what was going on in my life, and still does!
  • My amazing counseling professor who basically gave me 20 minutes of free therapy, and helped me sort out my life. Total genius!
  • The amazing personal pizzas from the deli. Yeah, that’s right. I have missed the food. Never in a million years did I ever think I would ever say that ever!
  • Automatic deep conversations with random strangers. (Why do you keep talking to me? I don’t know you and this is getting awkward. Oh! You’re still talking and it doesn’t sound like you are anywhere near being done! At this point I have no idea what you’re saying anymore because all I can think about is how uncomfortable I am…and you’re still talking.)
  • Being able to eavesdrop on the ridiculous conversations of naive college freshman. (Girl #1: I’ve only ever been grounded once. It was like in middle school and it was really stupid. Two hours after my mom grounded me, I asked to do something, and my mom said yes. So yeah, it didn’t really work. Girl #2: My parents tried to take my phone away from me one time, but that didn’t really work either…Me in my head: “One time I took my mom’s car without asking and I was grounded from driving for a whole month. So my parents actually enforced it and I didn’t drive for a whole month.” ?!)
  • Judgmental looks when my skirt happens to catch as I sit down and it slides up revealing…gasp…my leggings! (Yes, a lady just made eye contact with me and very emphatically gave me that look! I am not making this up. I’m almost ashamed to admit that I hastily pulled my skirt down, instead of leaving it where it was for spite.)
  • The seemingly random laying on of hands and praying for someone at any location on campus. Part of me thinks, “What are they doing? They are so weird!” The other part of me thinks, “How awesome is it that there is freedom to do that and how awesome that they are so ready to pray for others!”  Yeah, there are mixed emotions on that one.
  • Free books handed out at chapel. I didn’t go to chapel yesterday when I was here, but my friend did because she’s a student here and she showed me the free book she got and I instantly wished I had gone just to get the free book even though I probably would never ever read it, just like I never ever read any of the free books I got in chapel while I was a student here.

And finally what I have missed from my days here at ORU:

  • The incredible sense of community and the easy access to good friends and good conversations about real things and the working out of our faith together in person, day to day. There really is nothing like it and it is absolutely incredible. And I miss it!

But it’s a new season, and I have to build a new and different community because I’m not in college anymore.

The thing about blogging

7 Sep

The thing about blogging is that it seems like such a commitment. I know people who try to post everyday or every few days or at the very least every week. Have you noticed that in the past year I have posted twice? But really could you blame me? I was kind of busy.

I was finishing up grad school, and taking on a full course load to do it, I was working two part time jobs, and planning a wedding. Blogging was just not a reality. I am not entirely sure it will be a reality to keep up with now either, but I was inspired by a friend’s private blog to at least try. The thing about blogging is that it forces you to use your mind to articulate the things that you think and feel, and let’s be honest here, now that I’m finished with school, I really don’t want my mind to turn to mush.

I actually wrote on my twitter last night that I miss school. I do not miss the countless hours of hardcore studying, or the tests, or the homework of endless papers. That part I am glad to be rid of. What I miss is the continued learning and the use of my mind, having to think critically and growing my brain (not literally of course, that would be a serious medical condition). I miss the discussions of various topics in class and hearing different viewpoints and perspectives from my classmates. I miss being challenged intellectually. And yes, I do feel a little guilty that since graduation I have only finished one book and it was a work of fiction. (At least it was something!)

So I’m not really sure what this will be because in one sense I don’t have much control over it, and also I am afraid to make a commitment to my blog. However, I would like to at least try to blog once a week, and I would love for it to become a discussion among friends, new and old. With that being said, what is the most recent book you’ve read and what have you learned from reading it?

I recently finished InkHeart and I realized as I read it that I still am very much a child at heart, and my favorite thing to do is to play. Also, I love using my imagination.

Happy Thanksgiving!

24 Nov

“Prayer involves transformed passions. In prayer, real prayer, we begin to think God’s thoughts after Him: to desire the things He desires, to love the things He loves, to will the things He wills.”  -Richard Foster, Prayer: Finding the Heart’s True Home

I know it’s the Thanksgiving season, and it would be highly appropriate to insert a quote about gratitude, but what better way to show God thanks than to spend a little extra time with Him over the break? To be like Christ is what we, as Christians, ought to be striving for, and readings like these are good for meditating on this truth, and then practicing it by being in God’s presence.

Needing and Wanting

6 Sep

I read in an article a few weeks ago about Christians sharing in the suffering of Christ, as well as in His joy.  It was a fascinating article, and I hope to discuss more about it at another time. For now, I want to share a comment the author made in passing about the Trinity that really stuck out to me. The essence of this comment was that God, being the three persons of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) has no need of us for relationship, because He is relationally fulfilled within Himself.

Think about this for a minute.  God does not need us. God doesn’t need me. He doesn’t need you.

As people, many of us find value in being needed by others. Admit it, when a friend or loved one says to us, “I need your help,” we feel pretty good about ourselves. We are needed. We matter. We are valuable because we are needed.  There is merit in being needed.

But God doesn’t need us. He wants us. He didn’t go through all this trouble of dying to save us from our sins because he needed us for fulfillment or to accomplish something.  I mean let’s get real, He’s the God of the universe, He’s pretty capable.  No, the God of all things came in human form, lived the physical life we live everyday, endured suffering, died on the cross in our place, to free us from our own sin so that we could be free to enjoy a relationship with Him forever because He wanted us that bad!

That’s pretty amazing when you think about it. God’s desire is for all humankind, on a personal and corporate level. He wants us! (see 2 Peter 3:9)

Sometimes it feels good to be needed, but to simply be wanted is so much better!