Returning

Well, I finally have internet again.  So I will be returning to my posts soon.  Need some inspiration.  But for now, I just need to get something off my chest.  I don’t tend to listen to Christian radio stations because they’re just so darn cheesy.  They play the same shallow ten songs over and over, and dot the commercial breaks with lame parenting advice.  That’s just my take on it.  I know that many, many people are encouraged and blessed by these stations.  Not going to lie: sometimes I do hear a song… ugh… “at just the right moment”… and then I feel like a hypocrite.  Story of my life.  But overall, I just don’t enjoy it.

Today I heard a song on a Christian radio station that made me think, ‘What the whaaa?  … That’s just wrong.’  Below are a portion of the lyrics that made me cringe:

‘Holy Spirit, You are welcome here,
come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.
Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for,
to be overcome by Your presence, Lord.’

Maybe it’s wrong that my first thought was so negative.  But I just can’t stand the first line.  I’m sure it’s probably not how the writer meant it, but to announce that the Holy Spirit is welcome [‘here’, especially] just seems dumb.  I’ve always thought it’s ridiculous when people pray and “invite the Holy Spirit in” or something along those lines.  If you think that’s necessary, I don’t think you really get it.  I was also immediately thrown for a loop with the last line of that chorus.  Here’s where my mind ended up wandering: While experiencing the presence of God is a wondrous thing, and those “God-highs” are certainly a pleasant experience, being overcome by His presence is not what it’s all about.  I mean, I suppose that I’m just saying that when we focus all of our time and energy into having those experiences, we miss out on so much.

I know this song is not trying to lead people from what truly matters.  I know this song isn’t truly saying what I have written above; those are simply my personal opinions/thoughts that came about based on thinking about what I heard.  And, as a silly human, I know I read too much into things, misinterpret meanings, etc.  But I was glad to have heard that song for the first time, because it made me think, and reflect on what I believe.  And that is a good thing.

Side note: upon reading the chorus of that song to my boyfriend, he said it simply sounds arrogant.  … Can you see why we’re made for each other?  Baha.

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Ch. 859 – “A Little with Righteousness”

My current season of life is quite pleasing to me.  It is deliciously warm and comfortable, yet I am being challenged in more ways than one.  Not to mention it is about to become very fun and exciting.  And I am so thankful to God for what He has done, and is doing, both in me and for me.  He is so very, very good.  Everything He does and speaks into my life is exquisitely purposeful, and helps guide me to Him all the more.

‘He has made everything beautiful in its time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end.  I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live.  That everything may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil – this is the gift of God.’
[Ecclesiastes 3:11-13]

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Ch. 858 – Mr. Sassypants!

‘On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee.  Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.  When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.”
“Dear woman, why do you involve me?  Jesus replied.  “My time has not yet come.”
His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
[John 2:1-5, emphasis my own]

Come on.  Admit it.  Sometimes Jesus sounds a bit sassy.

…… And you like it.

Can’t you just imagine Jesus speaking to His mother with a teasing half-smile on his face?  Then, in mock seriousness, raising his eyebrows as He says, “My time has not yet come.” ?
Can you see His mother rolling her eyes as she turns from Him to instruct the servants?

I love the idea of Jesus having a wonderful sense of humor.  I personally think I see said humor quite a few times in the Gospels, based on how He responds to some of the ridicule doled out by doubters and Pharisaical minds, as well as how He speaks/responds to those close to Him.  The humor given to His voice by the authors helps draw me in to what they have written.  And I don’t see anything wrong with that.  It never hinders or distorts the truth of His words.  If anything, sometimes it helps to magnify His message.  I think humor can be used to help us see things more easily; it can widen the gap between the extremes, making something more obvious.  Humor can certainly make whatever it is that someone is trying to convey more understandable.  So, when it comes to having a better sense of God and His nature, this is a very good thing.  I’m all for it.

I’m not about to call Jesus a comedian, but I will never consider it a sin to find myself chuckling in earnest as I read through the Gospels.

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Ch. 857 – “Haters Gonna Hate”

‘Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you;
rebuke the wise and they will love you.’
[Proverbs 9:8]

Such resounding truth.

If we are humble and welcome rebuke, criticism, instruction, etc., we are provided with opportunities for learning and growth and development.  I am absolutely terrible at receiving criticism – even when it’s constructive!  One of my greatest weaknesses is that I, more often than not, tend to take anything and everything personally.  It is truly something I struggle with.  Always have… ask my mom.  But I am working at reducing its prevalence in my life.  Sometimes it comes down to thinking over and over in my mind, ‘It’s not personal.  It’s not personal.  It’s not personal.’  This may sound silly or dumb or useless, but it does help me.

When I am reproached and given feedback that I don’t necessarily want to hear at the time, I need to continually remind myself that I am not being condemned or punished, but rather being presented with honest opportunities to become a better person.  And there should never be any shame or guilt or sadness when this is the case!  I like to think that this approach to rebuke and whatnot is a sign of wisdom.  But I don’t like to truly say or believe that I am wise in any way.  I don’t think that can be decided of one’s self by self.  I also am very slow to describe someone as wise, even when it comes to a simple decision that is being made (i.e., saying, “Oh, that’s a wise choice!”).  I think doing so diminishes the meaning of wisdom, and the true gift that it is to the one on whom it has been bestowed.

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Ch. 856 – Sirens

I currently live about three blocks from the campus of the University of Northern Iowa.  It’s pretty great.  I’m close to everything to which I could ever want to be close, and Cedar Falls in general is a nice, little town.  Demographically it’s pretty boring.  Just a bunch of middle-aged, middle-class, white people.  A lot of them work in nearby Waterloo, but it’s “too dangerous” to live there, so they live in (more expensive) Cedar Falls.  Thus, they tend to think they’re better than anyone and everyone, because they don’t have to live in Waterloo.  Let me tell you, people-watching has never been better: to see the terror in some Cedar Falls soccer mom’s eyes while she is forced to have an interaction in Waterloo with a minimum-wage employee, and then watch her prance away to her SUV that is double-parked in two handicap parking spots is delightfully entertaining.

… One-hundred percent true story, by the way.

I’m actually moving to a new apartment in Waterloo in about a month, and I absolutely cannot wait.  It is exactly two miles from where I work, twenty yards from one of the paved bike trails that is part of the incredibly extensive trail system within Cedar Falls and Waterloo, and – just like where I am now – close to everything to which I could ever want to be close.  Oh, and dogs are allowed.  SCORE.  It’s in a quiet area of Waterloo – one of the “safe” areas.  Sigh.  I just feel so silly saying that.  Every town has its area[s] that you might want to avoid for whatever reason.  It’s just how it is.  Is Waterloo’s area perhaps a bit larger than that of other towns?  Maybe.  Couldn’t really tell you.  But is it truly fair to say that the entirety of Waterloo is dangerous?  No.  Yet I hear it over and over and over again.

“Don’t go there!”
“Don’t live in Waterloo!  You’ll be sorry!”
“No matter where you go in that whole stinking town, it’s bad!”

I take these so-called warnings incredibly lightly.  The people who are saying these things to me are one-town citizens.  They were born in Cedar Falls, they were raised in Cedar Falls, and they will die in Cedar Falls.  They are not open-minded.  They are judgmental.  They are bigoted.  And I have no respect for them.  This move is good for me, and I will not be swayed by idiotic (and usually racist) remarks.

I really love this time of year.  Most of the students have gone away for the summer by now, allowing for more peace and quiet to settle through the area in which my current apartment is situated.  Don’t get me wrong, living in a college town can be fun.  It provides for an energetic atmosphere almost everywhere you go, which I technically like.  But man alive, some of these kids are annoying as all get out.  I’m an old lady at twenty-six years of age, and I just can’t handle their racket!  I live at the bottom of “The Hill” and I have a love/hate relationship with this fact.  The Hill is constantly evolving.  Businesses up and down the hill include bars, multiple pizza joints and other restaurants, a [pretty hipster] coffee shop, a Copyworks, a laundromat, a hair/tanning salon, a clothing boutique, a total-hole-in-the-wall liquor store, a comic book store, and – coming soon – a shop that sells and delivers cookies until three in the morning, which is replacing the site of a taxi service business.  Oh, and in the summer and fall months,  a small parking lot near the bottom of The Hill plays host to a small farmers market on Thursdays.  Goodness gracious.

Needless to say, The Hill gets some crazy action basically all year, by the general and student populations alike.  Those aforementioned soccer moms and super seniors are constantly flying down The Hill, right in front of my apartment building.  And guess what?  So are the Cedar Falls police cruisers.  BAM, gotcha!  Lights flashing, sirens blaring, engines roaring.  I love the sight and sound of a police car following after some idiotic driver.  Absolutely beautiful.  I did say that I like peace and quiet.  And I do.  Yet when it comes to hearing sirens, I actually kind of like the noise.  Weird and contradictory, I know.  But here’s the thing: I associate sirens with urgency and proclamation.

“Watch out!”
“Make way!”
“Here it comes!”

This is a good thing.

When I was being shown the Waterloo apartment by a property manager, I asked about the area.  Any fire departments nearby?  High levels of activity that call for police officers to patrol the area?  In short, he said that I should be able to sleep at night undisturbed – unlike here in Cedar Falls.  That’s basically anybody’s dream come true, right?  But man, I really do like my sirens of The Hill.  Even since I began typing this, I have heard two – make that three – police cars drive by.

They make me stop.  They make me think.  They make me pray.

I think everybody would be better off in their spiritual lives by focusing on the idea of urgency.  I’m sure you’ve heard it before: people are dying and going to hell every day!  … Whether they are truly going to “hell” is not the point here.  The point is, people are dying and we aren’t loving them.  We aren’t living generously towards others.  We aren’t sharing the Gospel.  We aren’t doing life with people.  Rather, we turn inwards and focus on our own lives.  We settle into routines.  We become comfortable.  We become stagnant.  And we live each day without purpose.

“Watch out!”
We should be living with our eyes truly open.
“Make way!”
For a Way has been made.
“Something is coming!”
And He is coming once more.

Why wouldn’t we want to share this with others?

We may not know when it will happen, but we have been told that it will happen.  Sound the alarm.  It may take time to truly resonate and be heard by all, but if it is not sounded in the first place… well, what’s the point of even having a working alarm?

Be that alarm, sounding out to those who need to be woken.

Be the bell, pealing clear and strong to all.
Be the light, shining on the hill for all to see.

God is constantly providing me with opportunities to be used by Him.
Living with a sense of urgency in order to see those opportunities more easily does not seem to be asking too much of myself.

‘ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
[Matthew 24:42-44]

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Ch. 855 – High Horses

I have decided that I am thankful for situations in which I get to first-hand experience the hatred and self-righteousness of others.  Because it is then that I am reminded of the unconditional and righteous love of God.

Everything is finite and fleeting, except for Him.
Fame.
Beauty.
Wealth.
Success.
Friendships.
Even families.

Sometimes when things go awry between myself and another person, I worry.  Then I feel fear.  I worry about what that other person might be thinking or what actions they may take… and then I become afraid about what I believe could possibly be the consequence[s] of the whole situation.  But fretting over these things can be so destructive.  And how can I possibly profit by concerning myself with people who obviously care only about themselves?

‘ “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” ‘
[John 14:27]

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Ch. 854 – Meditation

‘The Spirit of God has made me;
the breath of the Almighty gives me
life.’
[Job 33:4]

Breathe in.
Breathe out.

Become more aware of self.
Plant your feet upon the Rock.

Breathe in.
Breathe out.

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