Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Redemption that was 2007

To be honest, 2007 didn't start out the best. In fact, within the first week of January, I was thinking about how miserable this year was starting out to be. Faced with a suddenly changed college major, a totally new living situation, my closest friends leaving Indiana for 10 weeks and scariest of all, a dad with cancer, I didn't have high hopes for what this year might hold.

But God is the great Redeemer. The new major worked out. I got a bunch of fantastic new friends from that living situation. My other friends all came back to Indiana [like they were supposed to ;)]. Dad is still cancer-free. If you had told me last year at this time that I would have a full-time job, a wonderful church, new friends, worked at a summer job I loved and great housemates/roommates, I wouldn't have believed you. The rug had been pulled from under my feet and I didn't see how I would stand again.

I won't go into all the details of how each of those events were redeemed, but if you want to know more, just ask. Really, it's a story of God's grace and sovereignty. I don't know why He allowed those things to happen, yet He did. If it was up to me, none of those events would have transpired, but I am not God (you can all be thankful for that). As a result of 2007, though, I have known God better, known His Word better and trusted His grace and wisdom more fully.

And you know what? Despite gloomy outlook this year seemed to hold, it all turned out for His glory and good, just like He promised.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Pro-life doesn't equal anti-abortion

(Note: The idea for this post was shamelessly stolen from a [old] blog post and subsequent conversation with Jacob. I've also blogged about this issue a little bit here.)

Generally, the phrase "pro-life" means that someone is anti-abortion. To some extent, this is true. Abortion is the removal of life, so if someone is against that, they are in a sense for life. However, I think we've forgotten other facets of being pro-life.

If someone is pro-life (and Christians are called to be pro-life, as our Creator is), they value life in all forms, from conception to its end. That means supporting a pregnant teenager and a family with 6 kids. It also means supporting a family with 1 child and the 83-year-old lady who spent her life serving the Lord single in Indonesia. It means viewing each and every life as a precious miracle. No matter how many kids a couple has, each one is a miracle, whether or not the child was "easily" conceived or whether it took years of trying.

As Jacob said, "I do not want to simply end the abortion culture. I want to have a pro-life culture. I want to live in a society in which mothers who taking their 5+ children to the grocery store are praised, not harassed." Seriously, what would our culture be like if we valued life in that way? Instead of pointing at a family with seven kids and a pregnant mom and saying, "don't they know what causes that?" what if we supported them, served them and encouraged them?

Now, does valuing life mean that everyone should have 10 kids? No. One principle, many methods, as we learned at Women's Group a few weeks ago. What I am saying, though, is that even if you choose to only have a few children, don't look down or pity the mom with eight kids--support her!

I feel like I am sort of rambling [hence the name of this blog ;)] and saying a lot of disjointed things. I'm still learning about this issue, and it's something that's been coming up more and more in my life. From the special-needs camp I worked at, to working in a retirement home, to four-five years of studying about the Deaf culture, I've come to learn more and more about what it means to be pro-life, beyond not supporting abortion.

As I sort of touched on earlier, this doesn't mean just kids. I believe that being pro-life means treating all people, without regard to race, gender, audiological ability, physical ability, religion, sexual orientation or socio-economic status with the utmost honor and kindness. It's showing that we value all of God's creation, no matter who they are or how different they are from us.

[An aside: To those who say we are running out of room--the world is not overpopulated--the amount of resources we have are simply distributed unevenly. But I'll save that for another time.]

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Advent of the Flute

I seem to go in phases of instruments that I like to play. Right now, I am on a flute kick, so this afternoon, I went into my dad's study/music room armed with a flute, two hymn books and my mp3 player and set out to see if I could record a few Advent songs.

About a half hour's work yielded these results...nothing stunning, or even that good, to be sure, but I had fun with them.

Here are the links to them. If anyone dares to listen, please don't blame me if you go deaf. :)
Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus
Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
O Come, All Ye Faithful
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

(Note: click on the link and click "download file now." It'll open as a Media Player file.)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

22 while 22

Each year around my birthday, I post a list of things I did for the first time during that year of life. The things range from the important to the utterly mundane. Here is this year's list, only about a week late. ;)

22 Things I did while I was 22...

1. Graduated from college. Barefeoot!
2. Bought my first car.
3. Got an honest-to-goodness real job, complete with a parking garage and company meetings.
4. Moved out of my parent's house.
5. Moved into a house 80+ years old (one of my life goals).
6. Found a new church and began the process of becoming a member.
7. Went on vacation to Seattle.
8. Went on vacation to White Rock (I promise I did more than go on vacation!)
9. Was stretched and grew a LOT during my summer job.
10. Learned more about computers than I ever thought I would.
11. Helped my wonderful grandparents celebrate their 60th anniversary.
12. Learned about God's goodness, mercy and faithfulness when my dad had cancer.
13. Joined a Community Group.
14. Visited a mosque.
15. Played with my church's worship team.
16. Actually learned how to make homemade bread.
17. Cooked meals for my family regularly.
18. Revisited my favorite childhood vacation spot--the home of Laura Ingalls Wilder
19. Bought an ESV Journaling Bible.
20. Discovered the amazingness that is Moleskine.
21. Bought a new (and working!) computer.
22. Found out that I type faster than the president of my company.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Of birthdays and such…

1. I got a year older the other day…it was a pretty great day. Thanks to everyone who made me feel loved.

2. A few weeks ago at Community Group, we sang the hymn “The Love of God,” which ends with this verse:
Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry.
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.


I love the imagery in that verse—if the ocean was ink and the sky a scroll, we still run out of room to describe the love of God. Amazing love, indeed.

3. Homemade bread is fantastic. I think I will never ever buy store-bought bread again. (Well, I probably will, but I like to think I won’t.)

4.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Amen

By far, my favorite moment comes after communion, when Pete says “let’s stand and give thanks” and everyone sings the Doxology. I’m not sure if it’s the a capella voices, or knowing that we are just a few of the millions of people that have sung this over the years, or something else entirely different, but I find this short song to be the most beautiful, touching moment of my whole week. I love hearing the voices blend together—everyone from the four year olds to the forty year olds.
It is such a fitting response after communion. When we’ve celebrated Jesus giving His life for us, is not our response to be, “praise God from whom all blessings flow”?

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Has it really been two months?

Life seems to be flying by these days, and I don't anticipate it slowing down anytime soon, though I am definitely loving this season of my life.

I have had a wonderful Sabbath, dear friends. Taught Sunday School this morning and made some new friends of the three-year-old variety. Went to second service and sat with people I am getting to know better....I love my church. The Advent mural is up and looking fabulous! After church was over, I skipped out on the money class (bad me!) because a friend had offered to drive me to where I had left Oliver (my car) yesterday due to bad roads. We got to Oliver and after brushing him off, I bade her farewell with a grateful heart and set off for grocery shopping...I actually do not mind doing this. Of course, staying on my budget for food helped with my good mood.

Upon getting home, I set to work making truffles and candy cane cookies. During my busy baking, I was serenaded with some lovely Christmas music by Nat King Cole, Andrew Peterson and a host of others. Now the cookies are coming out of the oven (they don't look as good as my mom's, but some of them aren't too bad) and I have a pile of dishes calling my name. There are also truffles waiting to be rolled and rice ready to be made for dinner.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Grace happens

I saw this phrase recently on a bumper sticker, and it got me thinking. Sometimes, I think so much of the Big Grace of God (mainly dying on the cross for me) and I tend to forget the Little Grace. Little graces, like customers who are so grateful for help, classes that randomly get cancelled (or let out early), bosses who bring around ice-cold drinks to your desk, a day of sunshine in the midst of rain, coming home from a weekend away to a house full of good food, babies falling asleep in your arms...the list goes on and on. Grace does happen, in Big ways (redeeming humanity, for example) and little ways (someone saying, "you made my day.")

Sunday, September 16, 2007

10 years ago this month

September of 1997 was a pretty significant month. Princess Diana died right before the new month began, and Mother Teresa and Rich Mullins also passed away during September ten years ago.

For me, however, September of 1997 was significant in a different way. It was ten years ago that I went to my first Bible Quizzing event--a kickoff retreat held at Good News Fellowship. For reasons only God knows, I went to this retreat without knowing a single person--something I would never have done as a shy 12-year-old. I have certain memories from that retreat--brushing teeth by the drinking fountain with Sarah, seeing a quiz demo done by Derek and thinking I could never do this because it looked so incredibly hard and hanging out with Crystal, because she was the only person I remotely knew.

In His grace, though, God allowed me to have enough fun in a new situation that I wanted to go back. So I did. And I went back year after year after year. For six years, I Bible quizzed. Looking back on it, I cannot measure the impact it has had on my life. Although I was raised in Awana, quizzing ignited even more of a passion for God's Word in my life. On a secondary level, I learned to become more of a detail person, as a result of the word-perfect rule, I learned discipline in memorizing and many other lessons I'm sure I haven't yet realized, but what keeps coming back to my mind is the love for God's Word instilled in me by quizzing.


Now I'm 22 and helping others get that same love in their hearts. It's weird--familiar faces from my years in quizzing have been replaced by many unknown ones (and some that look just like their siblings with whom I quizzed). I am so incredibly excited, though, because not only do I get to spend time hearing verses I learned years ago come back to mind, but now it's my turn to give back and invest in lives as a return for those who invested in my life all those years. I'm excited because I see these quizzers as being leaders with a solid biblical foundation thanks to quizzing.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

I'm not at school

And it feels so weird. Seeing pictures and wall posts on facebook about moving back to campus, knowing the Back to School Party is tonight and I'm not there...it makes me miss my friends. Knowing that my classmates aren't there eases the ache, but at graduation, I didn't know how much I'd miss those who returned this fall. Walks to/from the DC, beautiful fall evenings, Saturday morning brunch, game nights...all the good memories that came from my years at Bethel. I don't think I'm wishing to be back in school--I don't miss the papers, homework or tests, but I do miss the people.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Bible is like...steak?

Please bear with my bad analogy. :) I recently visited a church, the sermons of which I greatly enjoy and learn from. Mark Driscoll, the teaching pastor at said church, has very 'meaty' sermons (hence the bad steak pun). (They are also funny and easily applicable to life...but that's not the point of this post.) I have listened to several sermons from the church's website, and I love that when he preaches, he simply prays and starts preaching. He doesn't start with stories or illustrations, but rather, starts with Scripture. I'm not saying that all stories in preaching are bad, but they must be kept to a minimum and Scripture held as the source of the teaching. And let's face it, sermon illustrations aren't known for being the most...well-written...or creative.

The more I listen to 'meaty' sermons, the more I've realized how much more I enjoy and learn from this type of expository preaching. The more you have the good stuff (steak) the less desirable the weak stuff is (McDonald's). Josh Harris wrote that Scripture is the meat, not the seasoning of a sermon.

(The steak analogy makes me laugh because I don't really like steak.)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Zzzzz...

How ironic that I'm writing this when I should be sleeping, because sleep is what I want to blog about. This is probably due to the fact that I just finished a House episode about sleep, but awhile back, I read a quote by C.J. Mahaney regarding sleep, and it's stuck with me. I want to touch on two things about sleep.
First off, the C.J. Mahaney quote. I don't remember where I first saw it, but a quick Google yielded the quote from Justin Taylor. In this interview, C.J. says, "Sleep is a sweet gift from God but it is also a daily reminder that we are not God. Only God “neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Psalm 121:4). Each night as I confront my need for sleep I am reminded that I am a totally dependent upon God. Sleep is a gift but it’s a humbling gift. Don’t just fall asleep tonight but seize the moment before you fall asleep to weaken pride and cultivate humility by acknowledging you are not self-sufficient, you are not the Creator. Sleep is a daily humbling reminder that we are completely dependent upon God." (Emphasis added)
We are totally dependent on God and sleep is a reminder of this. Try as we may to keep ourselves awake via activity, energy drinks, caffeine or sheer willpower (any college student has used at least one of those methods when studying), our bodies can't function without sleep. If we don't get it, we'll die.
Secondly, isn't it so cool that we get to sleep? I mean, God could have made us take a magic pill to revitalize ourselves or sit for 3.5 minutes and stare into space, but he didn't. He lets us sleep. It's a gift. As someone who enjoys sleep, I think this is rather cool.
Now, this gift must be used with precaution, certainly. Proverbs 6:10-11 and 20:13 both warn us of the consequence of laziness and too much slumber.
So while we must be careful not to indulge this gift too much (and really that warning goes for any of God's gifts), take the chance to enjoy sleep. You may be at a stage in life where it's precious and rare. Enjoy it, little as it may be. Learn to depend on God through sleep, and be thankful he gave it to us.
Goodnight. ;)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Good music you should all listen to.

Andrew Osenga, formerly of The Normals and currently of Caedmon's Call, recently put together a brilliant project of which you should all take advantage. He solicited song ideas from his readers and wrote six songs based on their ideas. The songs are simply him, a guitar and...his readers. They recorded small snippets of the songs which he used as background vocals. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Anyway, you can download the project [called Letters to the Editor, vol. 1] here. It's free, but you can paypal him some money if you wish. The 'liner notes' [an Adobe file] are also great to read [and have cool pictures]. I didn't participate in this project, but if he does another [and he will, by all indications], I fully intend to be a part of it. So download the album, send him a few bucks if you can, and enjoy good music.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

An odd trip down memory lane

Recently, I organized all of the notes from my college career. Three massive binders, thousands of pages and numerous dividers later, the project is done. I wasn't quite prepared for the memories that would come back to me as my eyes scanned these pages. The linguistics chart I studied for hours (and still don't feel I mastered), English Equivalents from ASL IV and many more pages reminded me of all the hours I spent studying in college. Sometimes, memory triggers can be really odd things.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The end of a chapter

One week from today, I will graduate from college. I've been looking forward to it for a long time--mostly, I'm excited to have no homework and not let school dominate my life. I know that while my formal education is complete (at least as far as I know now), my learning is not. I want to be a life-long learner; this summer, I plan to do things like finish my quilt, learn to can, learn a bit of Greek and try to figure out my life. Camp will be daily lessons in loving kids who desperately need it.

Sometimes, I wonder if I have matured all that much in college. Sure, I can tell you the three types of commitment to a religous group, facets of ASL, the difference between deaf and Deaf, the two types of interpreting, but have I changed all that much from a rather anxious girl who moved 2300 miles away for college? I hope I have. Some differences are obvious--I've learned self-discipline and time management. I've changed some of my theological beliefs (hopefully for the better).
I'm excited, scared, anxious, nervous and ready to take this step in my life. I know that God will provide plans for next fall in His time--which isn't my time, but that's okay.

Along with all the learning, I have made a bookful of memories I'll cherish forever, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Summer

I love summer. I love everything about it. The beautiful, warm weather, the sunshine, the carefree attitudes, picnics, no school, camp and so much more. I even like rainy days during the summer (especially when accompanied by a thunderstorm). I have tried to tell myself that I need to like snow, because of its beauty, and while I will agree that it is pleasing to the eye, there's just something about summer that I love.

Camp has always been the highlight of my year, ever since I went for the first time when I was about 11. The summers I've been able to work outside, I've loved it and realized again that the Pacific Northwest has the most beautiful summers in the world.

I love evening picnics by the beach, walks on summer days, flip-flops (oh wait, I wear those all the time), fresh fruit, fireworks on the 4th of July.

As someone a winter birthday, I desperately want to get married in the summer. I figure since I couldn't have outdoor birthday parties growing up (lest I freeze my guests), the least I can do is chose to have my wedding during the summer.

Even though today is only the first day of March, I'm already excited for summer. This one will be a bit unique as I don't have school lurking ahead of me next fall; instead, my life is one big question mark. That's okay, though, because wherever I am, I'll make the most of my summer, and the time that follows.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Singleness

I am single. If you're reading this and you know me, this probably won't come as a big surprise, as I have been that way ever since I entered the world 22 years and 19 days ago. I sometimes wonder if I shall remain this way until Jesus comes back or I die, whichever happens first. For the most part, I am content to be single. However, upon turning 22, thoughts of "I'll never get married!!!" have started to flood my brain. I normally dismiss them with a wave of the proverbial hand, but I have to admit, I do wonder, "what if the next 22 years are like the last?"

I recently finished a book called "Did I Kiss Marriage Goodbye? Trusting God with a Hope Deferred" by Carolyn McCulley. The author is a recently turned 40 single woman, and although I felt young reading a lot of it (I haven't yet graduated college, etc.), the first few chapters of this book are gems.

In the chapter called "Esteeming the Gift," Carolyn talks about the gift of singleness. It is a gift that everyone is given for at least a short time. In 1 Cor. 7:7, Paul talks about singleness being a gift. Apparently, that is the same Greek word [charisma] used in 1 Cor. 12 when talking about spiritual gifts. She maintains that singleness is given to us for the common good, and as I read, I began to see just how true that is. (And if you want to be un-single just for your own benefit, please, go read Phil. 2.)

Please don't think I'm saying marriage is bad or that married people are selfish...I would love to get married, but since I can't control the fact that I am not, why complain? Marriage is gift and so is singleness.

I don't know how long I will be single. Maybe by the time I am 23, I'll have a boyfriend. Maybe I won't. All I know is that for now, I am in a season of being single, and that means I have the opportunity to invest in my local church and those around me in a way I might not be able to in the future. This season is a time to focus on becoming a godly man or woman, whether or not we get married.

Carolyn also uses a quote from Elizabeth Elliot to distinguish the difference between singleness and celibacy. I am too lazy to type it out right now, but if you want to read it, either get the book from the library or ask me kindly and I will do it for you. :)

So, my challenge to all you singles (which I am guessing is the majority of the three people who probably read this) is to embrace the gift God has given you. He want to give us good gifts, right? (James 1:17) For now, He's given us singleness; maybe in the future, He will give us marriage. Either way, find your ultimate fulfillment in Christ, serve your local church and those around you, and be content in your season.