Tuesday, June 29, 2010

YOU ARE GORGEOUS AND I LOVE YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
<3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
(A secret message to Jaimie from Chris).

Monday, June 28, 2010

A Fictional Character's Favorite Question

I'm really bad about asking "why?" I mean, I do it way too often, and always expect an answer. Case in point: twice, I inadvertently wrote this aspect of me into the main character of my short story "House Divided..."

Nothing was more frustrating than confusion.

Not really knowing why things were the way they were infuriated her. Now that she had come to this milestone, her education seemed glaringly incomplete.

As of late I've been convinced that God is using the lack of answers to my "whys" to show me what trust really looks like.

It's particularly hard to trust God's goodness and sovereignty in areas I feel like I can and should have control over. One of these areas is the state of my own heart. My misinformed view--though I know better, on an intellectual level--is that God wants our hearts right before him, meaning I need to make that happen myself. Whether assiduously reading my Bible, memorizing x number of verses or helping x number of people, I use my Christian checklist to try to force myself to grow.

Once again, the Word shines light on falsehood and gives me yet another reason to have hope and joy in the God of my salvation:

Philippians 1:6 - "And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you [ie. not you own self] will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."

Then there's Paul, who, in the context of a discussion in Philippians 3 about pressing onward to gain a righteousness by faith, says, "Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained."

What a comfort! As we pursue God, we may "think otherwise." Though our mind may hold fast to a viewpoint, God has the power to break through the most stubborn barrier and show us reality. Only he can do it, and he will.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Not-so-happy Mail

Chelsea to me at Homeland: "I love going grocery shopping with fellow penny pinchers."


Happy 100th post, Refining Process! I have just added you to the long list of inanimate objects I speak to!

Hi, dear reader. I received one of my short stories back today, the one my professor Mel said he thought had a high chance of getting published. He joked that there is no justice in the world if it didn't.

The story was rejected. I summarily sent Mel an email saying there must not be any justice in the world.

I happily acknowledge that errs a little on the melodramatic side. I am truly disappointed, though. I just got back from lunch with Karen where I was gushing about how much I love to write. During the drive home, I chewed on some wonderful, colorful plot ideas and was ready to hop onto the couch and start typing furiously.

Unfortunately, I blow such big bubbles that it doesn't take much to burst them! I'll keep writing and writing, because that's what I do, but I need to take an hour to recover from the keen letdown of someone rejecting the thing I poured my heart into.

Hey, is that how guys feel when they're turned down for a date?

Monday, June 21, 2010

Where's the Fun in God?

God has a sense of humor, made clear by the fact that we have a sense of humor, and that there are things like this walking the face of the earth.

Why, then, do I see God as so unflaggingly serious?

Karen (my mentor) and I are working through the "Be Transformed" Bible study this summer. It's material she used to counsel me for the last year that changed my life before I ever even saw the book. The current lesson helped me uncover some faulty views of God that I've nursed over the years.

If you know me well, these samples won't surprise you:

OH MY GOSH! Chris just scared the heck out of me by hijacking my screen from the other room using his Mac! I thought Verk 4--that's my MacBook--was haunted! I just typed the above colon when the screen started typing on itself:

"II' am really pretty! Yay! Chris loves me! Sorry..." <(the "II' am" was the result of me trying to fight the computer ghost)

Anyway, as I was saying, these samples won't surprise you:
- I feel as if I need to be favored by God to be worth anything as a Christian.
- I feel as if God gets exasperated with me.
- I feel approved of when I'm "doing things right" but shunned when I make a mistake.

Based Jesus' statement that he and the Father are one, the Bible study instructed me to write down my emotional understanding of Jesus and compare it to my understanding of God. They were quite different, but one thing stayed the same: I feel like Jesus and God are hard to approach, hard to relate to, and very, very serious.

And sure, of course they're serious! But that's not all they are.

For some reason, though, I can't seem to fit extreme joy, giddiness, delight into what I read about God in the Bible. I know it must be in there somewhere! God created me with a very happy heart that loves life, so that is, unquestionably, part of him, my Creator. Why can't I see it?

Any insight, dear reader? If I find a vestige of an answer, I'll let you know!
Until then, I'm off to cook dinner with Chelsea!

Sunday, June 20, 2010


I do not think drinking is a sin. In fact, Chris and I like to enjoy a drink a few times a week (maybe me more than Chris, haha). I think being drunk is sinful, based on Ephesians 5:18 among others.

As far as this webisode goes, I felt personally convicted on the basis of where my heart was at when I was drinking. I was almost drunk, which means I was in a sinful spot, especially since I was pushing the line just to see how far I could go without crossing it.

Hopefully, that clears things up. Drinking is not a sin. Getting drunk is. My heart attitude was the problem in this situation--I knew I was being unwise, yet drank more anyway.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Battle is Not Romantic

The battle is not romantic.
How it hurts to live the war!
More sure in books; more tame in scenes:
God and the devil,
Keeping score.

The battle is not romantic.
As a child, you better knew
its black and white; how white will win:
Meanwhile, though, black obscures
What's true.

The battle is not romantic,
But we look to the end!
The victor sees, the victor comes:
Bronze bows are easiest
For him to bend.

Dear reader,
Fighting the battle today.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Weird Whales, Weird World

"'Weird' is a weird word!"   - me, to Chelsea


Chris, Chelsea (a friend staying with us for awhile) and I watched a few episodes of "Planet Earth" (on blu-ray! Bam!) yesterday night, and I was crying out with surprise and delight the entire time, like a little child.

No wonder so many kids are fascinated with whales, lions, elephants...they are COOL! My childhood friends and I would see pictures of deep-sea fish with glowing lures and graceful dolphins in perfect dance and declare that we wanted to be oceanographers. Kids possess the subconscious knowledge that Creation is truly awe-inspiring.

Think about it! There is blue-grey mammal the weight of a 747, larger than the largest dinosaur ever was, just swimming around in the water--the water!--and it eats tiny krill instead of other big fish, like we might expect! Not to mention the gargantuan thing can jump out of the water.

Photo courtesy of soe.ucdavis.edu

And, how weird is an elephant? It's huge, and wrinkly, and it stomps around heavily and has a really long random nose-thing that can squirt water--I don't know about you, but I can't squirt water out of my nose--and it makes the strangest noise: Wa-iiiiih!

Photo courtesy of wallpapers.jurko.net
Come now. Give me credit for trying. :) In any case, God intended it to make that noise in a trumpeting forte.

In the bizarre, in the varied, God's creativity shines forth and shows him once again, in yet another way, absolutely glorious.

If you get the chance, watch "Planet Earth" (maybe even on blu-ray! Bam!) Prepare to be amazed, and to feel like a kid again.

Photo courtesy of declubz.com

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Her weapon of choice? Sticky notes.

Some Sweepstakes lady just called me, telling me I was eligible to win $100,000, or something like that. This, friend, is why you shouldn't fill out surveys for Facebook offers that require your phone number and address. Now, Sweepstakes lady might just haunt me until the day I...tell her not to.

This, however, has nothing to do with the story I want to tell you.


My friend Dotty and I went shopping at JC Penney yesterday. As I chatted with her and ran my hands across lines of colorful shirts and dresses (a habit of mine; I feel like I'm not looking at the clothes unless I'm touching them), I began to contemplate looks. That's a slippery slope for me.

First, I sighed inwardly and berated myself for past clothes-buying decisions, wondering, "Why didn't I pay more attention to what flatters me and buy this style instead of that one? I bet that shirt I wear looks really cheap to people. I have a lame fashion sense. If only I had chosen this cut of jeans instead of that one, I'd look way better..."

Rooted in this mindset, I looked in the mirror to tug the wrinkles out of the bottom half of my shirt (another habit of mine). Reflected there was the person I dreaded most to see. I saw myself. I frowned at myself. I felt my heart falling into despair as those perfidious, lying voices told me how pale, short, tired-looking,unattractive and [the list goes on] I was.

I've fought this battle a hundred times over. I've given in more times than I can count. It led to slow self-destruction in the past--though I praise God that's not the case anymore, the battle still isn't easy for me to fight, or even to want to fight. I sat there in JC Penney, gritting my teeth against the lies, clenching my fists as I threw out a desperate spiritual S.O.S.

By God's grace, my mind moved on to a new train of thought, shelving the old one to deal with later.

Ten minutes later, as I wandered through the clothes racks again, I encountered another mirror. The first thing I noticed was a yellow sticky note rather than my reflection. It said:

"You are beautiful! :-)

It was such a small thing, yet it was like a small smile from God.

I checked out the site later today, and it made me smile. Movements like this, gestures like this, may seem cheesy at times, but they can be a real blessing. So, thanks, random girl, whoever and wherever you are, for taking the time to put that sticky note on a mirror in a JC Penney in Moore, Oklahoma. Your operation was a success.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stop Asking Questions, and Follow Already!

God's really good at lining things up.
Showing here:

First - Some people take note of my writing. A classmate gets spitefully jealous.
Second - God brings it to my attention that I am severely hurting my walk by comparing myself to others.
Third - Chris pointed out great, Biblical posts about envy on the Girl Talk blog (definitely worth reading).
Fourth, and the force behind this post - A classmate gets her story published in a fairly well-known magazine, and I find myself on the other side of success, desperate to rejoice with her and banish jealous thoughts from my mind.

The premise of above-mentioned series is John 21:20-22 -
Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who had been reclining at table close to him and had said, "Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?" When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, "Lord, what about this man?" Jesus said to him, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!"

This is a fantastic passage. It's encouraging that it's available the time I need it--I had forgotten it existed!

To summarize the outstanding parts of the series: When we envy, "we don’t want others to have what we can’t have. We want to be the best. We doubt God’s goodness." It's not our business or prerogative to know ("what is that to you?") why God chooses some woman to be gorgeous, or some men to be adored the world over, or some to own a fancy house and car or to raise angelic children. God will not do something that ultimately brings harm, no matter how the situation looks through our eyes.

What we go through is his specific design for one specific life. We are not called to examine the circumstances of our neighbors, peeking over their fences to see if their yard is small and trashy or huge and well-kept. We are only called to walk after him ("You follow me!")

As I continue to write for his glory, I must fix my eyes on his face. Whether I flourish or fail is not the point. I want to be a "Chariots of Fire" woman, delighted that when I write, I can feel God's pleasure!