Category Archives: Random Blips/ Advice Wanted

Be Bold!

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“Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.” -Basil King

The above quote is probably one of my new favorites. It speaks of such power and faith- be bold! and mighty forces will come to your aid… Basil King was a clergyman born in Canada, so I have to assume he meant be bold in the name of the Lord, and He will come to your aid. That’s just my assumption.

I’ve decided to make weekly posts with little tidbits such as quotes or photos here and there which all reflect my end of the week concept or idea. I hope that’s not too disappointing, but with church commitments, family time, community obligations, work and two doggies to keep me on my toes, I feel this is a more appropriate use of my time.

Be bold… I struggle between being boldly self-confident, and being an arrogant jerk. I could pass the years telling you how many people have misinterpreted my confidence (sometimes feigned!) for arrogance or an “I-think-I’m-better-than-you” attitude. I’ll come right out and say that my personal beliefs and convictions are just that- mine, personal, and convicting. I’m sharing them with you all out of a sense of being called by God to do so. I do not expect that everyone I encounter will agree with me. I do however expect them to respond with the same respect I give their expression of beliefs or opinions.

That being said, please feel free to respond in a respectful and informative manner! ūüôā

The thought that’s been bouncing around in my head this morning is how can I be bold in the name of Christ? And I decided that God will present the opportunities for me and all I have to do is act upon them. It may be in a conversation to my husband (please don’t mistake this for something it isn’t- I fully believe in Biblical submission of a wife to her husband) about some aspect of our marriage. So many couples fail to communicate out of fear or self-consciousness, or guilt. I challenge you to be bold! Boldly and bravely communicate with your spouse, or significant other, because they don’t know our hearts and minds like God does; we have to TELL them how we feel.

It may present itself as a service opportunity. There are so many times that I’ve passed up an opportunity to “get my hands dirty” in service because I was afraid of failure when I should have accepted the challenge with tenacity. Mighty forces will come to your aid! you don’t need to worry about the things you don’t have because God will supply you with all of your needs, and see to it that they are sufficiently met for all of your tasks.

It could be in just talking to a friend (or a complete stranger) about your faith. We are called to share the love of Christ with those around us and to deliver the Gospel message to those who have never heard or known. God has entrusted us with his word! That is an enormous responsibility, and we fall short of God’s grace daily. So strike up that random conversation, tell others what you believe, ask questions to which you don’t know the answers, and give where there is an opportunity to give.

“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have” 1 Corinthians 8:12

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 1 Corinthians 9:8

Stillness

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2013… the start of another year of growth in faith, maturity, wisdom, and hopefully, my sense of humor!

First things first- hello! So much has come to fruition in the past several months that blogging has gotten put on the back burner. I hope I haven’t completely lost my audience, because I don’t feel as if this blog is finished yet, although I don’t intend to keep at it forever… that being said, I have several blessings for which to be thankful, the most recent being my job. I not only secured the substitute teaching position, but as usual, God surpassed my ambitions and desires and led me (quite unexpectedly, and without pursuit on my part) to a full time job as a Teacher Assistant! Praise God and his marvelous provision.

The extra income came at precisely the right time because the car, or Sophie as I’ve come to call ‚Äúher,” hasn’t been feeling well recently and her days are numbered. I trust God completely with the situation though, because blind faith aside, I’ve seen God’s care, guidance, and provision prove true again and again in real and tangible ways. More to come on that story, I imagine.

So that’s what is new. I’m currently dwelling in a period of stillness. Not the stillness of apathy,¬† or indifference, but the stillness of obedience and God’s peace. There are seemingly lots of external stressors that, by all earthly standards, should be causing me to be in a frenzied panic. But as I keep telling people, I feel stress, but it isn’t distress, it’s eustress; it’s a positive energy, and the fatigue of working in a school full-time, and being so busy- even outside of work- I don’t have time to dwell on the negative.

There’s that saying, ‚ÄúI’m too blessed to be stressed.” It’s really resonating with me right now. God is developing my patience, but more so, I feel He is building upon my understanding. Not understanding of any one thing in particular, but of all aspects of my life; my marriage (this is the biggest area of growth), my faith, of course, and my new job. I have found that all of these periods of waiting for military related things have helped me to strengthen my patience and have given me discernment in all of the aforesaid areas. I know what God’s peace is NOT- I think we’ve all felt and experienced that turmoil before. It’s the feeling that no matter what you do to stay afloat, life keeps trying to drown you. And if that is the opposite of God’s peace, then I know what to stop dwelling on. I don’t have to know the next step, because God already does, and He promises He will catch me if I fall.

When I was in 8th grade, my dad was my principal at a small k-8 school in Northern Illinois. My dad liked to take advantage of every opportunity to have a teachable moment via assemblies or pep rallies. (or so it seemed to me) One specific motivational activity came to mind. The group was based out of one of the area high schools and it was called B.L.I.N.D. It stood for Building Lasting Impressions that Never Die… and seeing as I still remember it in my early twenties, I’d say the organization has lived up to its name. Anyway, we had all gone to the gym for various team building exercises; the trust fall, the ‚Äúhow do we get all the people across the ‚Äėriver’ making only one trip at a time” game, and numerous others. The time came for the final challenge- a blindfolded maze walk. The B.L.I.N.D. guides led all of the blindfolded students outside and placed our left hands on a rope. Our task was to follow the rope to the end of the maze, without peeking. But, if at any point we became exasperated and determined we couldn’t complete the maze, we were instructed to stop, raise our hands and ask to be led from the maze. Easy, right?¬† So I took the rope, and started to walk along, letting the rope guide me through the maze. I could hear people all around me, mere seconds into the maze stopping and asking for help. Seriously?¬† They had barely even tried! I kept going, confident I could find my way- after all,¬† I had the rope stretched out before me. Logic said if the rope went from beginning to end, then following it would ultimately get me to the exit. I kept walking. More and more people fell out. I couldn’t believe it!¬† Where was their perseverance? Where was their iron will? I had the courage and conviction to keep going- I was going to get through that maze! Pretty soon, I noticed that my footsteps were the only ones I could hear… had every one given up? How long was this maze? Did they forget, and leave me outside, blindfolded and alone? I walked a little slower, less and less sure of my steps. My confidence in my ability to find the end of the maze dwindled and at last, I stopped walking. I wondered if turning around and going the way I had come would get me back to the beginning… I didn’t want to be the last one left in the maze, but I certainly didn’t want to give up… I heard a guide say, ‚ÄúRemember, if you need help finding the end, just raise your hand and one of us will come to you…” I had disappointed myself. Not only had I stopped walking,¬† but here I was about to ask for help, to be led out of the maze.¬† I hesitantly raised my hand, wondering what the repercussions of giving up would be… a guide came to me and she asked, ‚Äúdo you need help?” My cheeks flushed as I admitted my own defeat. ‚ÄúYeah… I think I missed a turn or something…” She said okay, and took me by the arm and lead me away from the rope. After we had taken a few steps she instructed me to remove the blindfold. When I took the bandanna from my eyes, I turned to look at where I had ended up, wanting to see how close I had come to finding the end of the maze. I was convince I had gotten close, and was still disappointed in my decision to quit. But as I turned to look back at the rope maze from which I had come, I was shocked to see that I’d been Tricked! Fooled! hoodwinked! Bamboozled!!! It wasn’t a maze at all! It was a giant loop around the asphalt basketball courts! I had been walking in circles… arrogantly, self-assuredly, and blindly walking in circles. I looked at the few of my classmates who were still trudging forward, determined not to seem weak in asking to be led out… and I remember thinking… wow, my pride caused me to look like a fool to all of these guides watching me. And I started to feel something like pity for the few stragglers who hadn’t yet gotten the point of the exercise. All I had to do was stop, admit my own ineptitude and ask for help.

It was hard for me to ask for help that day, and it still is difficult today. I don’t like seeming weak or incapable to my peers, my coworkers, my friends, especially not to my husband… but that’s what we are, isn’t it? We’re all just blindfolded students on a journey to learn to ask for help when we can’t find our way. It’s not about the end of the maze, though that’s what the rope (and society) tells us. It’s about humbling ourselves and casting aside the arrogance and insecurities that keep us walking in circles, and that prevent us from experiencing the fullness of God’s peace.

It’s freeing to finally admit to myself that I’m not capable of making it through a single day in my attempts to ‚Äúbe a good person” on my own. It doesn’t work like that because goodness- righteousness- comes from God, and we can’t receive it until we stop walking in circles and ask Him to guide us to it.

That’s what I’ve been meditating on since the beginning of this new year- I’ve been seeking God’s strength and admitting my weakness. Because even at my best, I am unworthy of His grace, yet he extends it freely to me, and to all who humbly come before Him.

I resolve to quit walking in circles (it’s dizzying, it truly is) and to instead stop and take in the stillness, and let the Father lead me.

Stress

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Stress

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

I’m having a difficult time with stress lately. Mitch’s work and my lack there of are sort of converging into what is starting to feel like a giant ball of molten lead sitting in the pit of my stomach and I can’t make it go away.

Fry from Futurama, obviously feeling stressed

I’ve really been leaning heavily on the Holy Spirit for guidance and peace. That’s not to say that my human nature isn’t fighting for the win in keeping me a nervous, anxious wreck…

There are so many things that I thought would be different after a year here at our Permanent duty station, and they’re not at all the way I imagined them to be. That’s life though, right? I feel like I’m in the midst of a “tower of Babel” situation; I had great and lofty plans for myself and none of them seem to be working out the way I wanted them to, leaving me with a sense of defeat and confusion.

I trust that God has something spectacular in mind for me and I just have to buckle up and enjoy the ride that takes me there. In the mean time, I’m praying for the Lord to just destroy my anxious spirit and bring me peace amid the chaos.

It’s strange that the more you try to plan for something the less prepared you feel. I can’t keep thinking of all the worst-case scenarios though, because it’s creating stress over things that don’t even exist! How ridiculous is that?

Imagine being in a construction zone, but without any road signs; that’s my current state. I can’t see where I’m going, but I know that the closer to the Light, the more you can see… so I’m doing my best to remain as close as possible to God in a time when I know I need His guidance most. I feel like that is something I’ve gained- being able to know when I need God- in wisdom in the past year. It wasn’t always so clear to me, although it seems blatantly obvious now.

I feel somewhat detached, as if I were watching from above someone else living my life. I typically try to be a source of encouragement in my blogs, but it would appear as if I’m the one currently in need of encouragement. If nothing else, know that whatever struggles you are currently facing, there is always someone else out there who is also fighting a battle. I’m reminded of a passage in Ecclesiastes that says something to the effect that there is nothing now that has not been before, and God will call the past to account. My feelings are nothing new… and God is bigger than anything I go through.

Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Here’s to faith and trust that when the time is right, I’ll understand, and that I’ll be able to rest in the peace of Christ until then.

Updates

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Updates

“She sees that her trading is profitable, and her lamp does not go out at night.” Proverbs 31:18

So far at our new house, I haven’t really done anything to make it “mine.” I did repaint the bathroom in the master bedroom, which I feel is a vast improvement solely based on the fact that the color no longer distorts the lighting when I do my makeup. Three cheers for NOT looking like a clown on Sunday mornings. It actually wasn’t that bad before, but the periwinkle/lavender with chrome and white accents it has going on now is much more my style.

We are discussing/planning to replace the sliding door to the back yard and build on a deck/patio area! This is a major project- the first one we have encountered as a married, home-owning couple thus far so I pray God gives us the resolve to finish it, as well as the finances to complete the project and do it well, and that God just destroys my pride so that we can get through the building project without putting a strain on our marriage… We’ve built things together before for our shows in college, but the infamous “Sweeney Todd Wagon” was just down and out an almost relationship destroyer… or at the very least, it tested us both in patience and communication.

Also, when I start making Thanksgiving and Christmas posts respectively two months early, I’m not crazy, it’s just that with the deployment looming ever nearer, I’ve decided to mega condense all of our holidays as the NC Elstons, so that we get to celebrate them ALL together.

That being said, I need to start planning my Thanksgiving dinner! (And figure out some way to have some football on since we don’t have cable TV) Football aside, I have never cooked a turkey before so this will be an interesting experience. I DO however have wonderful friends who are foodies and HAVE gone all out and made the whole spread before, so I’m looking forward to learning from their expertise!

Lately I’ve been in to the whole DIY thing with making my own cleaning/gardening supplies without using so many harsh chemicals and going toward more of a natural/non-toxic route. May I just say that baking soda and white distilled vinegar are my new favorite things!

Here is a recipe I used for my version of Windex:

  • 1 tsp. Dawn dish detergent
  • 6 Tbsp. White distilled vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp. Jet dry solution
  • 1 empty Febreeze bottle; fill the rest of the way with water. Shake before each use
  • I got the original recipe from Pinterest here. I tweaked it to add the jet dry for a streak-free shine. Making your own household cleaning products is far and away cheaper than buying the brand name stuff from the store, and I liked this particular recipe because it was free of ammonia, which frequently irritates my eyes and my lungs. I’ve been finding/using lots of helpful cleaning tips found via Pinterest and you may follow me by searching “edenelston” on the site.

Anyway, that’s my update of sorts. Check back to my page entitled “Home Repairs” for more hints, tips, and pictures of our work on our new home!

Thanks for reading, and God bless!

Why I Don’t Hate Chick-fil-a

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Why I Don’t Hate Chick-fil-a

*NOTICE- I REFERENCED WIKIPEDIA IN THE FOLLOWING POST*

Now before I go off spewing my opinions on the recent protest of Chick-fil-a’s stated values concerning same sex marriage, let me first say that while I typically cringe at the thought of Wikipedia.org being a viable source for information, I did find the best summation of two quotes which I would like to share with you. They aren’t properly cited, but I linked to the page on which I found them. They are basically just copied and pasted as follows:

The phrase “[A] hedge or¬†wall of separation¬†between the garden of the church and the wilderness of the world” was first used by Baptist theologian¬†Roger Williams, the founder of the colony of¬†Rhode Island, in his 1644 book¬†The Bloody Tenent of Persecution.[13][14]¬†The phrase was later used by¬†Thomas Jefferson¬†as a description of the¬†First Amendment¬†and its restriction on the legislative branch of the federal government, in an 1802 letter[15]¬†to the¬†Danbury Baptists¬†(a religious minority concerned about the dominant position of the¬†Congregationalist church¬†in¬†Connecticut):

Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their “legislature” should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a¬†wall of separation¬†between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.

Jefferson’s letter was in reply to a letter[16]¬†that he had received from the Danbury Baptist Association dated October 7, 1801. In an 1808 letter to Virginia Baptists, Jefferson would use the same theme:

We have solved, by fair experiment, the great and interesting question whether freedom of religion is compatible with order in government and obedience to the laws. And we have experienced the quiet as well as the comfort which results from leaving every one to profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries. (Wikipedia, Separation of Church and State…)

Now, what Jefferson clearly stated in the quote from his letter in reply to the Danbury Baptist Association was basically that when you allow people to “profess freely and openly those principles of religion which are the inductions of his own reason and the serious convictions of his own inquiries,” that the people as a whole experience a peace, known as tolerance.

Tolerance is different from acceptance.

tol¬∑er¬∑ance/ňąt√§l…ôr…ôns/: (Noun) 1.¬†The ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily accept as his own.: “religious tolerance”

ac¬∑cept¬∑ance/akňąsept…ôns/: (Noun) 1.¬†The action of consenting to receive or undertake something offered.

Do we see the difference? Acceptance means you consent to a particular ideal or behavior. Tolerance is keeping your derogatory comments to yourself out of respect for the feelings of other people, regardless of your own beliefs and opinions; it’s allowing others the freedom to have opinions, ideals, beliefs, and moral values that you may not share with them. For clich√©’s sake, If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.

The truth of matter is, the President of Chick-fil-a, Dan Cathy, holds certain beliefs and ideals concerning same-sex marriage which differ greatly from those of much of the liberal community of the United States. The fact that groups would organize and protest this one man’s statement of belief as a blanket belief of the corporation is unfair and is a prime example of the bigotry double standard that is being touted as tolerance today. It’s not tolerance if you only have it for the people to don’t offend you, in fact, that’s kind of the opposite of tolerance.

A lot of you are probably not going to read the rest of this article, but for those who choose to continue reading, let me attempt to clarify and expound upon my point. Under the first amendment, we as Americans are entitled to the freedom of speech. That means, in essence, that you are free to tell me my blog is stupid. And I’m free to tell you that you chose a weak adjective when you said “stupid” and that you may want to be more specific and less rude when leaving comments next time. The point is, with freedom of expression, both positive and negative, the differences in the beliefs of the people are going to become more profound and more openly expressed. When one disagrees with a statement made by another, they have the freedom to express their opposing opinion, although politeness and courtesy are not outlined in the constitution as necessary niceties.

People need to not take every opposing belief and opinion held by others as a personal attack on their character. That makes for one brutally dissatisfied life. I have liberal friends who would shudder if I told them that I believe that same-sex marriage is not¬†biblical, and therefore sinful, and hedonistic in nature. I have conservative friends who would be shocked to learn that when it comes to abortion, I believe that if it comes down to aborting a pregnancy in which the child would die before birth anyway due to lack of physical development, or saving a young mother’s life, I would choose to save the mother’s life, save her from the emotional distress of carrying a deceased child in her womb, and allow her the chance to conceive again and carry a healthy baby to full term. But you’ll notice that I used the word “friend,” meaning these people, despite their opposing beliefs and views are still valuable human beings who are dear to me.

You see, the problem is that government will never be able to adequately legislate morality. Why? For the very same reasons I’m able to hold both conservative and liberal views on the various hot-button subjects:¬†morality is subjective. Government should not (in my OPINION) be allowed to legislate commerce (the establishment of a restaurant in a specific city) based upon the beliefs of the establishment’s president. Instead, let the people decide for themselves where they will or will not choose to give their patronage. Of course, I’m operating on the assumption that the vast majority of individuals have the basic cognitive function of CHOICE, and can so CHOOSE either to walk in to a Chick-fil-a, or to walk past one.

From a Christian standpoint, I believe that if you do not base your beliefs on the Christian faith, and you deny God, (or His existence) you inevitably affirm something else in His place. You may affirm hedonism or the seeking of unadulterated pleasure for its own sake. You may affirm existentialism¬†or the idea that your life experience is what ultimately defines you as a human being. You may choose to affirm any number of other things. I choose to affirm that God Almighty, maker of heaven and earth is the supreme ruler of the earth and of all creation; that His son, Jesus, is the Christ, the Messiah sent to earth in the form of a man to die an innocent death to pay the penalty for the sins of the world, past, present, and future, justifying man’s existence and bridging the gap of sin between man and God, so that we may experience life eternal in the kingdom of heaven; that the Holy Spirit is the very Spirit of God sent to intercede for man, and ultimately convict us of our sins and lead us to the Father through the Son.

I’m free to believe these things. I’m free to tell you I believe these things. You’re free to question my beliefs and my faith and I’m free to offer you a biblical explanation and justification. That is what makes America great; diversity, tolerance.

Out of respect for the feelings of others who hold beliefs different from mine, I have POLITELY stated my opinions. Out of courtesy toward those who may believe differently from me, I have not demeaned, derided, or disrespected you in the voicing of my views. Like I said before, there is a difference between acceptance and tolerance. While I do not accept the views and beliefs of the gay and lesbian community concerning same-sex marriage as my own, I tolerate their right to live in the way they so choose, and to respect their freedom to choose a lifestyle. I’ve chosen a lifestyle of faith. It is not my place to condemn those who haven’t.

In the words of Thomas Jefferson, “…¬†religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions…”