Monthly Archives: March 2012

Seriously!?

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Did that just happen? Did someone seriously try to post a comment linking a segment of my blog to a website on Wicca and Satan worship? What the what?! How bout no? I’m not even sure how to take that… I’m gonna call it spam. Still… my mind is going, “…Wha-…?”

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“Oh, Waitress…?”

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“She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.” Proverbs 31:12

Ok today’s blog is a ride on my thought train. WOOOOOooooWOOOOOO! So prepare yourself for some seemingly unrelated random thoughts that all somehow connect toward the end.

Glass of water...

Okay. I want you to look at that glass of water in the picture above… Study it for a moment. Now, what is your perception? Is it half empty? Half full?
My personal thought process is that by the time the waitress comes back around, I’m going to need a refill….”Oh, waitress…?” I call myself a realist. My husband might say I’m a pessimistic realist; I see things as they are, but when making my assessment on the next move to be made, I tend to look at the worst case scenario, so as to be prepared if the bottom drops out.

Throughout the season of Lent, the devotional I’ve been reading has me reading 1 chapter of Mark every Thursday and Friday. Today was Mark 12. There was a particular verse in that chapter that struck me as I was reading, and I had to chuckle a little. It was in Mark 12:12, right after Jesus told the Parable of the Tenants:

“Then they looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them. But they were afraid of the crowd; so they left him and went away.” (Mark 12:12)

So the Triumphal Entry had just taken place and Jesus was teaching in the temple courts of Jerusalem. The very same people who would at a later point be giving false testimony against Jesus were now listening attentively to his parables, and singing his praises. If that’s not enough of a kicker for you, take a closer look at verse 12! Rather than be convicted by Jesus’ words toward them, the priests and teachers of the law were offended to the point of just looking for a way to arrest Jesus. HE HADN’T DONE ANYTHING WRONG!!! It was simply that they didn’t approve of his words, and they were too proud to believe that their actions were less than holy. They felt threatened. This insane hubris kept them from an amazing opportunity to preach the witness of Christ! Think about it, if the Pharisees and Sadducees had seen their faults and repented, Christianity would probably not have been nearly such a taboo or persecuted belief system. Instead, they took offense. They were not serving God, they were serving themselves! They denied that Jesus was the Messiah because it wasn’t on their terms. They couldn’t be wrong! They followed all of the laws!… The only problem was that somewhere along the line, it had stopped being about God, and had started being about their own convenience; their pride, their “obedience.”

One of my all-time favorite pieces of philosophy comes from Augustine, when he talks about ordo amoris, or the order of loves. He says that evil springs from our improper valuing of things, rather than the things themselves. He calls this “felix culpa” or a happy fault. Augustine submitted that the turn inward toward love of self was in itself evil. All natures are essentially good. Not the things themselves, but rather our inordinate desire for them is what makes them evil. I wish I hadn’t sold back my Philosophy 101 text-book because I took wonderful notes in the margins… But basically from the scribbles that remain in my notebook, I noted that this ordo amoris was the basic flaw with the Sadducees and Pharisees. It wasn’t that they didn’t love or respect God, it’s just that they put him after their own authority, after their own vanity, after their own hubris, after their own glorification… They failed to put God as their one and only, and from that point on, their loves were super out of whack.

If they were in fact true followers of God, they would have humbled themselves before Christ. They would have seen that they were in fact wrong (Matthew 6:1-8) and they would have repented, and followed Christ, as opposed to looking for a way to justify their selfish actions by arresting an innocent man and accusing him falsely.

They weren’t looking at the glass and seeing it for what it was; a glass of water. They were all caught up in varying perceptions and pride, too concerned with WHO was right rather than WHAT was right. It goes on to say in Mark that they kept trying to ask Jesus trick questions, to get him to say something that broke the law of the Old Testament. But he never did. It says in Mark 12:17 that when Jesus answered their question about paying taxes to Caesar, “they were amazed at him.” Not amazed enough to admit they were wrong, apparently. Mark 14:55, “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree.” That is outrageous to me! They are so bent on stopping Jesus from teaching that they are wrong, that they stoop to false testimony! But even then, none of them line up! In the end, they “get” Jesus on a charge of “blasphemy” because he said, “I am” (Mark 14:62) What really gets me is that Pilate couldn’t see that Jesus had done anything. So he turned Jesus over to the people and what did they do? Those bloodthirsty sinners released a convicted criminal over the Son of God! What the what!?!? Pilate says in verse 14, “Why? What crime has he committed?” but the crowd just shouted louder and louder to crucify Jesus.

I wish someone would draw a Meme about Jesus’ trial and crucifixion and resurrection. Because at the end of it, I’d like to see a drawing of all the Jews doing a “face palm” or Homer Simpson’s “DOH!” when they see Jesus walking around for a week after his resurrection with nail scarred hands and feet. I can’t imagine how foolish Thomas felt when he finally touched the wounds of Christ… Or how foolish Mary Magdalene felt after she assumed Jesus was the gardener. Did these people really know Him at all!?!? How blind could you be not to recognize the man you say you believed in and followed? I keep reading about people mistaking his identity, or wanting proof that it really was Jesus resurrected. I’m wondering what changed between the way Jesus looked before his execution and the way he looked after the resurrection. How did they not see his face and know instantly he was Jesus? Something isn’t computing there, and I’d like someone’s opinion or information if they have any on the subject…

Anyway, that’s my thought train for today. I’m consistently amazed at the sheer foolishness of humanity, both that of people in Biblical times, and currently. It’s enough to make you “face palm” every time you get to that section of the Gospel. In my Bible, I’ve actually written in the margins in some places the word, “Seriously!?” because I find it that difficult to swallow that people could have been so blind. I suppose I can’t complain because I know it was all a part of God’s plan for our salvation and that Jesus had to die for us to be ransomed. Still… I’ll never stop being amazed and disgusted by the “unbelieving generation.”

Dive In!

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“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue” Proverbs 31:26

Good Afternoon all!

My sister recently went through a break-up and I don’t know if I have her full permission to even mention it, but I’m going to because I feel there is a spiritual gain to be made by all via her example.

Anyway, sis is having a hard time feeling useful, feeling needed and wanted, and she’s struggling to find joy. As cliché as it sounds, these are in fact the most opportune times to cry out to Jesus. At your most humble, you are able to step back and see the fullness, and wonder of God. In you innermost emptiness, the Holy Spirit is able to fill you with joy. In your most vulnerable and insecure state, Jesus is able to reach out to you through his word, and comfort you.

I am of the opinion that the worst possible thing you could do to a person while they’re already hurting is “kick ’em while they’re down.” People who are already hurting and reeling from their mistakes don’t need your criticism. They don’t need you to gloat in the fact that you told them so, and you were right from the beginning. They don’t need you to tell them what they should have done, or what they should do now. What they need is for you to show them love. They need your compassion and sympathy. They need to know that you still love them in their darkest hour as Christ loves you in yours. The world will give them plenty of the rest; what they need from you is love.

I’ve learned this through dealing with my own ups and downs. When I’m hurting, I don’t need someone to shove the knife deeper, or throw salt in my wounds. I want them to help me recover. I want their love and support as I throw a band-aid on my hurt and doctor it up with God’s spiritual Neosporin (or the Bible).  Anyway, in talking to my sister, I’m realizing she’s empty. She feels hollow inside, a lot like a chocolate bunny. I read a good quote yesterday but I don’t remember who said it. It was something like, “When you stop chasing the wrong things, it gives the right things a chance to catch up to you.” How true is that? When we stop pursuing the things that are so destructive to us emotionally, physically, spiritually, we create an opening for healing to come in. My sister has stopped running. Now if I do as I’m called and let the Holy Spirit do its thing, I could potentially give my sister the opportunity for the good to find her.

She was asking me how to chase after God. I said, “I’m still figuring that one out.” What I did initially to “chase” God was make him a priority in my life. Each morning, I wake up, I have breakfast and a cup of coffee or tea (depending on my level of alertness 😉 ) and I open up my Bible. When I started out, I was reading a chapter or two a day, starting with Matthew. In 3 months, I had finished the entire New Testament. I didn’t always “get” what was written, but I was exposing myself to the Word. And I’ll tell you what I’ve learned: the more time you spend reading the Bible and thinking about its meaning and meditating on God’s message, the more it begins to make sense in your life in new and relevant ways you never noticed before. The moment you open yourself up to the Holy Spirit, that very moment he begins to work and change your life. That tiny choice, to seek God; to pursue righteousness rather than self… That will begin to spread in to every aspect of your life. It begins to affect the things you watch on TV, the books or magazines you read, the way you speak, the clothes you wear, the people with whom you spend time… And at first, it might look like you’re missing out. But keep with it. If you quit before you saw results, you quit too soon. Because God stands to offer you far more than anyone or anything else in this world. Eventually you’ll begin to notice how blessed you are. You’ll begin to notice your friends and family asking you what your secret to happiness is… You’ll find that you wouldn’t trade your life for that of your closest friends, because if you gave up your faith, your passion and commitment to God, there would be something missing that no one could replace. You’ll begin to notice a difference in your relationships. Your husband will talk a little sweeter. He might even replace the blue Gatorade you had put in the fridge for after your 3 mile run with another one, without you asking him to, after he takes out the first one and drinks it. You’ll notice you have a lot more people willing to help you in your times of need or distress because you have become more willing to reach out to them in theirs. God has done amazing things in my life. And I know that I have all these blessings, home, husband, health, happiness (lets call them the 4H’s- no offense to the 4H clubs) all stemming from my hope in the Lord, and my daily “chasing” after Him.

HIS Hands and Feet

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“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” Proverbs 31:20

It’s been on my heart recently to be more actively involved in my faith than simply going to church on Sundays, and throwing my offering in the plate and calling it “faithful following.” Don’t get me wrong, regular church attendance is wonderful and so is tithing, but I desperately want to take my faith further from just believing to doing. So I decided to take action. There are two members of my church family that I know of who have been diagnosed with MS (Multiple Sclerosis). One woman is a pastor of the church, and the other woman is a devoted member of the church and military spouse. Having met and spoken to each of these women, I am amazed at the way God is working in their lives, and in the church through them. In their honor, I (and hopefully Mitch, if he isn’t on duty or in the field) will be participating in the annual 2012 Walk MS: Wilmington, NC. I am participating in honor of the two women in our church, as a part of the Military Spouse group from Trinity United Methodist Church. We have decided to use our hands and feet (mostly feet in the case of the 5k walk) to become “hands and feet” in the bigger concept of the body of Christ. (1 Corinthians 27:31)

I realized this morning as I was completing my registration that I have the power, through this blog, to reach out to all of you and gain your help in the fight against MS. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the disease, please click here to learn about MS and its effects.

I just ask that you take a spin past my team’s website, located here. Please, read a little bit about our team. From that site, you can join our team for the walk on April 21, 2012 in Wilmington, NC. You do not have to be present at the walk to make a donation to sponsor our team. Our goal is to raise $500 for the research and study to combat this destructive disease. So far, we are at a whopping $70 for our team, 14% of our goal. If you’re looking for a cause for which to be passionate, look in to this one. Your donations make a difference, regardless of their size. Seriously, even giving $1 to our team is giving $1 dollar to show those women of Trinity and people all over the world affected by MS that you’re aware of their struggle, and that you care and want to help. Another alternative would be to take a weeks offering that you would have given to the church and give it to this cause. Call it designated offering, if you will. 🙂

I thank all who do choose to support my husband and I, and more importantly, the rest of our team and the National MS Society in general. Please consider using your hands and feet to be a part of the bigger body of Christ.

This and That

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Good afternoon blogging community! It’s been a while, I know… and for that I apologize.

I’ve been diving in to getting dishes washed, and laundry done, and things packed. If it weren’t for my friend Kara coming over this afternoon, I wouldn’t have gotten much of the packing done at all. In fact, I hadn’t done any of it at that point. Thanks to her though, I have all of one bookshelf packed, the vast majority of another, and a couple of boxes of, “Are you crazy? It’s seventy-five degrees outside, there’s no way I’m wearing that” clothes.

On to the next thing… Finally got the minor details of housing swap under control. Cleanings and sprays are scheduled without conflict, inspection by rental company scheduled, and inspection by base housing people scheduled. Tomorrow we’re actually planning on helping some friends move in to their new home, so it’s like a giant move-out/in party in my neighborhood now (by neighborhood, I mean basically our specific group of friends, because none of us live near each other).

Also, I have a couple new recipes for you, both of which I made for the first time today! Click here for Key Lime Pie, and Minestrone

In other news, I have been kicking up my running. I’m now back to being able to run an 8 minute mile. However, I am purposely scaling back to 10 minute miles to prevent injury. I’ve been running every other morning and doing yoga on the non-running days. Add in some boxing on the weekends, and I have to say I’m pretty proud of myself. Of course, new running gear and shoes always help to boost my motivation to work out. The nice Spring weather is a contributing factor to my fitness gusto as well.  I’ve also been eating healthier this week, although that may be due to my eating habits while my husband is away; we like to order pizza on the weekends he’s home, but I tend to stick more to veggies when he’s not around to make “yuckie face” at them 🙂 He’s just going to have to learn that if he wants to keep that 29 inch waist into his 30s he’s going to have to eat more veggies.

The Irish Mothers and Sweethearts show is next weekend. I look forward to stepping foot on a stage again, even if it is only for the duration of one song. It’s been difficult to get used to not doing shows every two months, so this show is a welcome event.

In the more spiritual realm of my life, I’ve finished reading Kyle Idleman’s Not a Fan. You can’t read that book cover to cover and not analyze your relationship with the Lord. And if you can, you probably have bigger problems than that book. I strongly recommend it. I feel it is a book that is meant to be read, re-read and even discussed with other Christians. That’s the only way to really grow as a follower. You need to make yourself accountable. I feel that this blog does that for me in large part. I’ve started reading Christianity’s Family Tree, and I’ve learned a lot. The first chapter was on Christian Orthodoxy, and I’ve just begun chapter two, on Catholicism. I think we all stand to gain a lot simply by learning about and understanding the differences in beliefs  held by ourselves and others. It’s interesting to see where and how the different denominations split off after the death and resurrection of Christ, and the Church founded by the earliest Christians. As Easter draws closer, I’m filled with sorrow at the death of my savior; that undeserving as I am of his salvation, he still extends it to me. But I’m also filled with joy, because our God didn’t end our story at the cross. Even from the beginning, (Genesis 3:15) God knew what it would take to set us right with His holiness. He says, “And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.” That specific scripture was a part of my devotional this morning. It went on to say that In saying this to the serpent, (Satan) God was talking about the demonic forces of evil when he spoke of the serpent’s offspring, and he was speaking of Jesus when he spoke of the woman’s offspring. It pointed out the difference in the battle between the two: the serpent will strike the Son of Man’s heel, but the Son will strike the serpent’s head. This led me to the thought, Jesus may have been injured, but it wasn’t for good. It was a strike to his heel, not a devastating blow to the head like that which the serpent received. Our God had planned our salvation from the beginning. Not 10 verses from the time the woman first ate of the forbidden fruit, God was already working out their punishment, but also their salvation. Then in verse 21, it says that “the Lord God made clothing out of animal skins” for both the man and woman. Even after their deliberate disobedience, God was STILL providing for them and caring for them. If that’s not a sobering depiction of God’s love and mercy, I don’t know what is.

Those are my thoughts for today. Keep checking back for the links to the new recipes, they should be up within the next day or so, as my schedule allows.

My Flaws and My Strengths

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Ok, I’m aware that I can be a stubborn individual. I prefer to call it being, “strong-willed, and determined.” I tend to be prideful at times. I like to call it being, “courageous and confident.” I know that I am naive and young. I like to call that “fresh and innovative.” I gloss over my faults and sell them as strengths. It’s like writing a resume… No one want’s to hire someone who is stubborn or prideful- they won’t work well with others. No one wants to hire someone who is naive and ignorant- they lack experience. But I realize that I’m not perfect. I don’t embody perfection in the least; but Christ does. And it is through him that my weakness becomes strength.

I prayed for a friend, God gave me Jaymie. I prayed for a house, he showed me Jaymie’s house. I prayed for the doors to be clearly marked, God showed me a perfect place, it went under contract, and then showed me Jaymie’s house again. Now I’m not saying that I have vast knowledge, but I’m not stupid enough to ignore the hints. The realtor we had begun working with through the whole looking process (before we discovered Jaymie’s house) has said that she’s looking out for us; that she’s got our best interest at heart. And I trust her. But at the same time, I see things that are contradictory to the information we’ve been given.

If you do a search on the properties around the house that we’re looking at, you can see the specs. of each home, the price for which it was last sold, and its current estimated value. All of the surrounding homes were built within the same year as the house in question, they all have on average, 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms. They all are just outside city limits so they have county taxes, which are cheaper. They are all on septic systems. They all have county water. They are all valued at least $3,000 more than the house in question. A call from my realtor shook my confidence in our decision to buy this house… She had said that there were brand new homes selling for the same price, that we’d have a difficult time selling, that we wouldn’t have any equity, and so on and so forth… But the thing is, we didn’t disclose all of our financial situation to the realtor. We intentionally kept our situation under wraps in our looking process so as not to be “sold” a house, but so that we could make a decision, based on what was best for us. We have prayed and prayed and prayed over this situation. We have asked God to take it from us and lead us where we should be. And in reading Not a Fan., I noticed that sometimes we have a tendency to make God our consultant rather than our God. We tend to ask his opinion and advice, then do what we want to anyway. I don’t believe that’s how my husband and I have handled this situation at all. Instead of making God our consultant, we’ve kept him as our God, letting him ultimately take us where we’re meant to go, and we’ve kept the realtor as a consultant.

To further prove that this matter is in God’s hands, I’ll recount a story for you. We had just agreed to buy the house from our friend when I got a call from the realtor. We explained the situation to her in her office later that week, and she actually advised us to look in to the house. After some further research on her part, she gave me another call. She gave some statistics from the house that she had gotten from the real estate data base and it made my brow furrow a bit. There were flaws in her findings. The house in fact has 3 bedrooms, not 2. The house has a 5-year-old roof, not a 20-year-old roof. There are in fact 2 bathrooms, not 1. And there are original hardwood floors in the bedrooms (which I have seen with my own eyes, while I was helping Jaymie rip up the old carpet!) I had knowledge that the realtor did not. How did this happen? Why did this happen? Was it because she has a listing for the same asking price? Because that listing would have put us an hour away from base and church; that’s no good. Was it because the owners hadn’t put their home on the market yet, so the information had not been updated? Possibly. The realtor said she was worried that both buyer and seller may be getting in over our heads by not having a realtor to represent us. And maybe she’s right; maybe we’re all novices here and none of us know what we’re doing. But I do know that God knows what He’s doing. I do not believe he would have led us to this house if it was not the best thing for us.

I suppose my purpose in telling you all this today is that I did question my decision. I did falter in my determination, and I did sway in my courage; but then I looked to God. I prayed, “Lord, I know that you will always lead us to what is best for us in accordance to Your will. We fully surrender this situation into Your hands. God, I just ask you now to affirm our decision; if we’re making a mistake, shut the door so tightly that we cannot shove it open. Lead us to where we belong.”

That was my prayer. I trust that God would not have lit the way with green arrows and blinking signs if it weren’t the best thing for us. And even if it is not, and we are somehow being mislead and deceived, I trust that God will take care of us and work it our for the good of his purpose. I’m letting go. It’s up to God. If this is right, we will sign the contract, there will be no issue with obtaining the mortgage, and everything will go smoothly. If not, then we’ll know it’s not for us. Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for today… I best be working on some laundry and dishes now!

New Beginnings

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“She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.” Proverbs 31:26

I love beginnings. The overture of musicals, the first bite of a doughnut, the first inhale breath when you open a new can of Folgers, the first game of the season, the first flowers of Spring… I could go on and on and on…

I was upset about a month ago because I felt like all my beginnings were over. Silly right? I’m only 21… But that’s how I was feeling. I’m already married, I’ve got an established household, (well sort of, it’s in the chaos of transition now) my puppies are no longer considered puppies by scientific standards. I wasn’t feeling like I had nothing for which to look forward. But that was so foolish! Now we’re buying our first house, and in a few months, we’ll be facing our first deployment. There is a lot of newness going on right now. It just wasn’t the kind of newness that I thought I should be experiencing. And that’s what got me thinking… I’m so far from being in control of my life, it’s laughable. I don’t get to choose what crazy unexpected things pop up in my life; thus the definition of unexpected. But those challenges are what make life great. Those trials we face which force us to turn to God and to our families; to re-evaluate what we’re  really striving for in life… Those things are what build our faith and our relationships. I’ve found that the more time I spend reading the Bible and praying, the less those little surprises overcome me, and the more I am able to overcome them.

The devotion I read this morning was thought-provoking on this subject. I’ll let you in on its message:

“In order to fully and faithfully understand the cross, we need to begin where it all began…literally. We need to go back to the Garden of Eden, where God brought His creation into being and pronounced it “very good.”
Why do we have to start there? Because it’s there where we see God’s perfect will in play. It’s there where we see things the way He intended them to be. It’s there where we witness the standard of life that all of us were supposed to experience and enjoy.

God did something. Something very good, something that was perfect and required absolutely no revision or improvement whatsoever. Everything was in balance and harmony. Creation was perfectly in tune- from the birds of the air to the creatures of the sea, from the canvas of constellations to the grass-gilded hills and valleys. Every animal, every insect, every single thing was just as it should be. Nothing was out-of-place or less than perfect, including man.

Imagine it: an existence without fear, without illness, without pain, without guilt, without frustration or angst. man had a conscience that was completely clear, without spot or stain. No evil or impure thoughts, no harsh or hurtful words. Everything about man and everywhere he went was “very good.”

Again, this is where we need to begin, because it’s the essence of this, “very good” existence that the cross is founded on. It speaks of a reality that every human heart longs for- a return to Paradise, a restoration to a former glory that we’re instinctively and curiously aware of. The cross plays a pivotal part in getting us back to that place, to the place where we belong. (Gen. 1:31)”Active Word Daily Devotional, Day 60

With today being the first day of Spring, I’m always reminded at this time of year about the goodness and beauty of God. I look at the budding trees and flowers and I catch a glimpse of what He intended our lives to be in the beginning. In the season of Lent, I’m reminded of the sacrifice made when God took out his wrath for the whole world on his son; his perfect, sinless, precious son. Everyone thought that day on the cross was the end. But three days later, Christ rose again, and gave us all a new beginning. I know that sometimes it feels like it’s too late to start over; like you’re not capable of any more new beginnings in your life. But you are! You are because of Christ. It’s not too late ’till you’re dead, really… I mean, that may sound morbid, but it’s true.

It’s always while I’m wrapped up in the middle of something that I forget to notice the new opportunities and challenges that God has given me. I challenge you all to evaluate your “middles” and “ends” and see if God hasn’t managed to sneak a few “beginnings” in there while you weren’t looking.

Oh, and happy 47th wedding anniversary to my G’ma and G’pa Gayer 🙂