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.)

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

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.