Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"i quit!!!"

It was that kind of day earlier today. An 'I quit!' kind of day. If I don't get the job with Link staff, then at least I'll still be able to say I understand a little of what it must be like to be regular staff. The hardest part of all of this is when you work so hard and pour out so much and are really hopeful and all of that completely outstrips what actually happens. People don't always care. We don't always want a part of what is being offered. We can run after God or we can do our own thing. And I'll tell you what, it is discouraging.

Here's the part where I find that I must repent.

There's this: "God's love is relentless in its determination that we be cured of our sins at whatever the cost to us or to him." My man C. S. Lewis knew what he was talking about.

And then from Urbana: "Jesus goes relentlessly to my heart." The word here is relentless. It doesn't quit. Part of my problem is that I'm taking it personally. I guess I just have to let it roll off of me--and persist in loving. I don't know whether God takes it personally when people reject him, although I'm sure it makes him sad ("he is not willing that any should perish"), but his love doesn't change. "Whatever the cost." Right?

Lord, I pray that you would help me to love people, whatever the cost to me or to them, and that you would help me love them in your strength, not in my own. Maybe I won't see the other side of any of this, but that's not mine anyway. I trust that you are doing a good work, that you will carry it on to completion. Help me to do that better.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

hole-y bleeding piercings, batman!

Before I write this post, I would just like to say that some kids in my neighborhood just knocked on my door and tried to sell me a real, live turtle. One of them was holding it--and the turtle was bigger than the kid's head--by the shell with one hand, not really swinging it but holding it how you might hold a football or something. I asked him where he'd gotten it, and he told me Petco, and then I asked him why he was selling it, and he said it was too big, he didn't want it anymore. I didn't buy it, obviously, but whoa. Bizarre.

So, on to the real post. Ever since my freshman year I've wanted to pierce my cartilage about halfway up. I didn't do it then because I thought I'd have to go out of county to do it and ended up never getting around to it. And then a few days ago my lovely roommate Hodgesaur and I decided to go ahead and finally get it done. The first thing to know is that ever since I got the worst three consecutive haircuts known to man, I've had an awkwardly-growing-out section on the front right half of my head (basically like bangs except a fourth of my head) and while it appears to tuck behind my ear, it does not. Which means right around the time Chew (the piercer) was piercing my ear, all of a sudden there was a bunch of hair in the way and he couldn't see what he was doing.

It hurt at first, but not too bad. But since it my hair messed things up a bit, he had to keep trying for well over two minutes, and let me tell you, it like to have killed me. It would have been fine if it had been quick--it even could have hurt a ton more so long as it was fast. That's okay though. So somewhere in the middle of that, my ear flat-out radiating heat, all of a sudden I just felt this huge gush. I threw my hand up to keep it from getting on my shirt and as soon as I did there was blood all over my hand and apparently all over my ear, considering the how the paper towel they'd used looked afterward.

It's pretty normal to bleed some when you get your cartilage pierced, they tell me. Fair enough. I gushed. It ended up on my pants and near about everywhere else, but I do have a pretty great earring to show for it. And, you know, boyish as this may be, if it had to go on hurting as long as it did, at least I got to see it bleed so much--it was pretty satisfying. Weird, right? Think of it this way: imagine running and tripping and accidentally falling down a hill into a tree. For all that, you at least want a good bruise to show for it. Maybe this is the eleven-year-old tomboy in me. That's all right.

Lately it's been busy-ish. Not too crazy, not too slow. I haven't felt like writing on here at all. I've spent the last two or three weeks (ever since the post on waiting) intentionally not thinking about Romania stuff. It's been working how I thought it would, and it's turned out to be good. I don't want to go too much into any of that, but I do have a phone interview with Link on Wednesday. If you're reading this and you'll pray for me, I would really appreciate that. As far as I know, this is pretty much the last thing to do before hearing about whether or not I get hired. The distance I've given this the last few weeks has put it into a totally different perspective. I'm excited, though, and incredibly nervous. I realized I've been doing stuff with this since December. December--and already it's nearly April. When did that happen? Craziest thing. So we'll see what happens. Hopefully I'll have some kind of news, whatever kind, within the week.

Friday, March 26, 2010

wombat fun!

Just now, while putting lotion on my face, I wrote this song:

I am a wombat and I love trees
I hang out in them as much as I please
I chew on granola
I drink Coca Cola
I am a wombat and I love trees.

Currently thinking about ways to expand this... teehee.

p.s. apparently I am a very confused wombat, hrmm..

Sunday, March 21, 2010

the love song of l. car and sarawr

In the ongoing chronicles of my little car and me: today was almost it for us. I'm divorcing my car. I'm serious. I can't love it well enough and it can't protect me. This is no semi-conservative, biblically based relationship--I've learned that much from church the last five weeks.

Here's the thing. I'm driving it illegally (traffic laws are for the man) (just kidding). It didn't pass inspection recently and even more recently I got pulled over for the first time ever and was ticketed for being expired. There are so many things wrong with it and it's going to cost so much to fix that I figured, if I get the Link job and have to get rid of it anyway, that it may not even be worth doing anything but getting rid of it. Among the more notable problems are the fact that my steering tends to quit working while I'm driving and that it pulls badly to the left. Turns out I have a bad tire! Explains the pulling. That said, I'm riding my bike more, driving little car as infrequently as I can and biding my time.

However, today I babysat for two lovely kids and I needed my car to get across town. About two miles away, big old noise and big old jerk to the left and then flap flap flap--I realize I have had a blow out. (I'm tense shifting again, guys.) Thankfully, I was able to get to a parking lot, didn't lose control of my car, none of that. And after my roommates brought me one of their cars, the dad of the kids I was babysitting helped me put the spare on.

So I'm hesitant at this point. I love my little car. Break up? I don't know if I can go through with it. And after all, even in all the mess of it, we made it through together today. One day at a time? Building trust, communicating? In it for the long drive? I think so.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

"i can ride my bike with no handlebars"

Let me tell you, I am sore. It's Spring again, or at least it feels like it outside, which means my body wakes back up and starts moving around again and my heart has not been thanking me for the three-ish months of hibernation. But in the last two days I've ridden my bike about ten miles and threw some frisbee for about an hour, none of which is much at all, generally, but it's good to move again.

I'm sort of split-fence when it comes to working out. I used to be a runner and this time four years ago I could run a good eight or nine miles without thinking twice, but except when I've got someone pushing me, I don't really like working out or running for the sake of doing so. If it's something I'm doing because I'm doing something else physical--soccer, hiking, ultimate, etc.--then bring it on. I just get bored by doing it to do it.

Biking is different though. I grew up riding my bike all the time, spending hours and hours of my day riding with my brother, my neighbor, whoever, just riding all day and turning brown and getting into all kinds of trouble. And so if I could spend my day riding around town now--well, no complaints. My car is currently out of commission, at least legally, and while I can drive it, it's so unsafe that I decided to go ahead and make the jump to the bike. So I rode my bike to work today and it's not a bad ride at all, only two miles, and as much as I thought it would kill me to do it so soon after waking up, it was nice.

The plan for the summer includes a lot of bike riding. If I get the Link job, I'm gonna work a less than I normally do this summer and, apart from fund raising, I'm hoping to get to go to the beach a good amount. Ride down there with a couple of friends a couple times a week. What's that?--to work twice and to the beach twice--a good twenty-four miles a week? Anyway. I'm just ready to run around outside and do handstands and play volleyball or pick-up soccer or play tag on the beach on a night where the moon is huge and the water is still like a lake and we're splashing into the water, hiding underneath, to keep from being tagged it.

It's funny, the song Handlebars by Flobots just started playing. The first time I heard it I was in Colombia and it seemed so random and crazy in the middle of all the Spanish that I thought it was the most hilarious thing I'd ever heard and then I heard it again when I came back to the States and I realized it was incredible. Deeper meanings aside, though, we used to do that, ride our bikes with no handlebars. We used to ride standing up on them (feet on the pedals, knees holding on to the seat, hands in the air... like you just don't care!).

Aaaaand, speaking of human ingenuity, I've got to rig up a basket for my bike out of the inside cardboard of two paper rolls and some rubberbands and duct tape, so on that note--happy Wednesday!

Monday, March 15, 2010

oh, brother

Lately I've been talking to my brother on Gmail chat. It's nice. He's not really a phone talker, and really he's hardly a talker at all unless we're face to face, but it's been more natural this way. It's good to hear from him, just to listen, even if what we talk about doesn't always make me worry less. He's nearly eighteen now, nearly graduated from high school. Nearly so many things.

A friend of mine asked me the other night what he was going to do after he got out of school. I've certainly thought about it--I'm left trying to figure out how to make everything work every time he and I talk--but the question caught me by surprise. I didn't know. I don't know. There are ideas, none terribly promising, but I find myself wanting to do do do, to work everything out for him, set things up so he'll succeed and it always ends in: I can't live his life for him.

This has been popping up everywhere, lately. Not just with my brother. With my friends, people I care about so much. I don't really feel this way with my mom, but there are people who I want so many good things for and I can point and pray all day long, but the decisions they make are their own. I feel this most strongly with Josh, of course, but it's like I'm holding onto these last few pieces, trying to keep everything from falling apart and I'm terrified of what will happen if I can't do that.

I think, where will he live? and, who will love him? On the one hand, it's practical. On the other, dramatic, maybe, but regardless, still very present. I've worried about this as long as I've considered going overseas, and I don't think this will be something that will stop from doing that--if I'm honest with myself, I can do little more from here than from there, these decisions being fully his--but it's something I think will stay with me.

Writing this I know there is a disparity between the responsibility and worry and love I feel for my brother and entrusting him to God. I don't think it has to be one or the other. Surely I'm okay to want to make sure he is taken care of, that there are good things for him, support and hope and all of that. But this must be within the context of trusting his whole life, every bit of it that I can't make right for him, to God. It's really the only thing I can do, at least ultimately, and at the same time it's the hardest possible thing. What if this and this and this and this? And then I'm paralyzed by it all, it's too much, and so surely giving it to God is the most freeing thing I could do, but how could I possibly do that?

I know the logical answers to these questions. My head knows what I should do, what is good and right and that, yes, my God has my brother and loves him and wants for him things better than I could ever hope. But how do I translate that to my heart? What does it look like? What do I do? (Because surely I can't do nothing, is what my head says.)

And the lesson, as always, stretches into every part of my life. I see my tendencies to either want to not have to think about it at all or to take too much of it, to not guard my heart, to let it overwhelm me. In this I see just how much more my Father loves his children and how this could be likened to some minute, minute version of what it must be like to give free will to the world and watch the creation you love reject it. My brother's not a robot. He's smart and he's got a good heart and he needs things only God can give him. And I can't be God to him.

My heart wants to say that he isn't a lesson. He's a boy with a life who needs life. I can't give it to him. I can't do it for my friends and I can't do it for myself, even. And so there's no resolution with this one. Just hands held out. That it would be the Lord's.

Friday, March 12, 2010

trying to find the balance

The title to this post sounds like the beginning of something very Zen. I don't mean making sure my desk has the right amount of supplies on each side, because although I do really like symmetry when I organize, I don't. Organize, that is--or, well, I do so rarely. The real point of this post, and I'm getting to it four sentences in (as opposed to four paragraphs), is:

On the one hand, I have to turn to Scripture to affirm, to reaffirm where my identity and worth lie. I am a daughter of the King, I am a servant and God chose me. True that I'm also broken, but I'm being restored. True that my nature is anything but godly, but apparently he thinks it's worth even dying to reconcile me to himself. I am what he is in me, what he is making me into. And he loves the heck out of me--literally even loves the hell out of me.

On the other, I am to be humble. Again, a servant. "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble." James 4:6 Arrogant, proud, haughty? None of these stand. And I find God nudging me toward this, gently pointing out the places where I lift up myself instead of my God.

When I first thought about this a week or so ago, I couldn't understand how two things that seem to clash happen together. If there should be an issue, shouldn't it be that I am either riddled with insecurities or that I'm really arrogant? One, either, but surely not both. But I find myself having to remind myself of where my worth is, and, at the same time, in different parts of me, I catch myself starting on a road that leads surely to arrogance.

I have to remember that I should be confident of things in the Lord, in him, in his work. Not my own knowledge of such and such. I have to remember that it is his work in me, not my work in myself. If I understand both of these things, then I come to this:

I am worth the Lord dying in my place specifically because he did so, and I'm fully dependent on that, too. I am worth something bigger than I can put into words, but it's life support--if I pull the plug, that's it. So I am to be confident of the thing that gives me life while not confusing it for my own ability to go on living. I have to remember one without forgetting the other.

What all this means as far as grace, where it fits in, I'm not sure yet. I'm thinking about it though. Also, I do want to note, because I am all the time worried about this when I write blogs, I know that blogs tend to be me me me, and especially so if they're super introspective. That said, when I write about this kind of thing, I don't want to sound like I'm preaching. This is what God's teaching me, what it looks like in my life, and what I hope is that it can help.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

almost right

It's so close to being warm now. I'm sitting next to the sliding glass door in my living room with blinds drawn open and outside it is bright as can be, perfect day, all of that. And it's about sixty degrees which means it's nice but it's a few degrees short of being able to sit in it without having goosebumps when the air moves. And so here I am, the last hour or so spent reading Jeremiah and rereading The Four Loves.

When it's about this temperature and my car is parked in the sun, the inside feels perfect. My roommate thinks it's stifling, and it does tend to turn into something like a little oven, but I love that when it's cool enough outside to appreciate it. So yesterday I got in my car and drove to campus and parked under one of the live oaks in front of the intermural fields and, sky and grass through the windshield, light all dappled like water shining on my arms through the leaves, I read my book and pretended I was stretched out on a blanket under the sun.

It's so close now. Everyone's ready, it seems like. In conversation, in a few blogs, even. Practically, as soon as it's consistently warm I can start riding my bike places and won't have to be so worried about my car. And impractically, sentimentally, romantically (in the literary sense), I'm ready for it to be warm for the sake of it, so I can stand in it with my arms stretched out and wear skirts and write about restless Spring, everything opening up and moving around, all the commotion of new life.

I reread We the Living recently--I've been wanting to since the summer, and suddenly the missing book reappeared on my desk at work--and it makes me think of all this. Wanting something simply because you enjoy it. I've had several people tell me that Ayn Rand was so close to being right. I've always thought she was crazy and I've never really been able to ask those people to explain to me what they mean by 'almost right.' Honestly I'm not a very critical reader--I tend to do much better when people ask me questions, and so I could read a book twice through and miss all the big thematic points if not prompted. I don't like to admit that in literature classes--all the brilliant people to whom those things just jump right out are incredibly intimidating to me--but there you have it.

So, not having given it as much thought as I intend to, I'm not so sure yet how she nearly got it right. I think it does have something to do with wanting something only because you enjoy it, because it makes you happy. I'm wondering how this extends to the worth something has inherently. Is that a stretch? Or does she mean its worth is that it makes one happy? Or does it make her happy because it's good and it's good on its own? ''This is good because it makes me happy," or, "This makes me happy because it's good." I don't know. I feel like I could argue it either way within the context of the book, but I can say for sure that she means the value doesn't come out of usefulness to the 'collective,' and that its usefulness to oneself is all that matters.

I see how she's wrong. I think she'd hate everything I stand for. And I can see pieces of how she's right, but not how she's almost right. This is a conversation I really want to have, things I really want to think about, mull over. I know there are things that are good, that are really good, and I love them out of how that goodness affects me. Does that make sense? The sky and the air and a huge mountain or the ocean and the way it feels when the seasons are changing--creation, and how many times in Genesis 1 does it say 'and God saw that it was good?' Even 'very good.'

Do I love all of this because it's good or because of the reaction its goodness produces in me? Well, I don't love rain because it makes crops grow for poor African families. I love that it does, but it's not the reason I love it. I don't love the way the air feels for any reason except where it takes me, how it makes me think of God. If I look at a mountain, there is awe: it produces awe in me. It's true what C. S. Lewis said. These things give me meaning for words that mean everything to me.

I'm realizing that I'm either revealing an incredible amount of selfishness or a large lack of empathy. I know that things can be intrinsically good: they are good because God made them and he is good. And if I pretended to have this altruistic love that was rooted in only that altruism and had nothing to do with myself, I think you all would know I was lying. But immediately following creation, we see God seeing what he's made as good. I hope this logic isn't faulty, but before there are any people for the light to shine on or for, it is still considered good. And I think it's perfectly okay to like something for that reason. Are my own enjoyments that pure? I highly doubt it, but I think we can see glimpses of this nature of God in how a mountain that is of no particular use to us is mighty and good, and "it is this feeling which would make a man unwilling to deface a great picture even if he were the last man alive and himself about to die; which makes us glad of unspoiled forests that we shall never see..." And, "This judgment that the object is very good, this attention (almost homage) offered to it as a kind of debt, this wish that it should be and should continue being what it is even if we were never to enjoy it, can go out not only to things but to persons. When it is offered to a woman, we call it admiration; when to a man, hero-worship; when to God, worship simply." (both from The Four Loves)

And I think I might have just stumbled onto part of how Ayn Rand was almost right. This is exactly the sort of thing she writes about, only it's always projected toward a person. In We the Living, it's toward Leo, this hero-worship, this reverence. These are words she uses. He is like a god, she describes him this way. Things can be good simply because they are and they deserve our reverence, our worship even. Only her object wasn't God.

I will say that this time around, I didn't like the book as much. I almost didn't finish it. It's such a sad, frustrating book, and it made me want to throw it across the room several times toward the end. Still my favorite book? Probably. Particularly now, after having written all this out, trying to make some sense of it. Figuring out which way it points, and pointing those places toward God.

Monday, March 1, 2010

some thoughts on evangelism

"For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. So from now on we regard no one from a wordly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin fo rus, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."
--2 Corinthians 5:14-21

I'm not going to break this passage apart too much, but I think there are some important things we can get out of it about why we share the good news of Christ. First, exactly like it says: 'For Christ's love compels us.' We share because we are compeled to, because Christ's love for us makes it necessary that we do so. Later, it says 'we implore you.' We beg you, we beseech you.

Compel, implore. This is pretty urgent language. I think this is what was trying to be communicated Friday night, and I agree with that completely. At some point--and probably at many points--we will hear messages about 'what if you wake up tomorrow and get in a car accident?' or 'what if your friend dies suddenly?' and either you've never accepted Christ or your friend hasn't.

BUT--and I think this part is important and needs to be very clear--salvation is the Lord's and the Lord's only. The eternal souls of the people we care about and of anyone are not in our hands. We are called to share the gospel, yes. 'On Christ's behalf.' We are commanded to go and make disciples. If we love our neighbor, we will also share Christ with him, and we do so no because God needs us to, not because if we don't we're condemning people to hell, but because we have a chance to be a part of glorifying God. If we don't, God will still be glorified, his plans will still be made complete and perfect, we just might have forfeited our part there. Like in Luke 19, if no one praises the Lord, then even 'the stones will cry out.'

I don't say this to say that we don't have to evangelize. We do. The Bible is very clear about this. Matthew 28:19-20, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, all through Acts and a bunch of other places. However, if anyone tells you that if you don't do this and this, then so-and-so will reject Christ and it is your fault, then I would respond to him: the Bible does not say that. Yes. We are called to share the gospel. We are compeled to do so. But not out of guilt and fear, and it is no more in our power to condemn than to save. And our God is so much bigger than that. He can't save this person if we don't do this and this? True that they can still reject him, but the only person who can reject God is that person. And in fact, I'd say that God's more about using how imperfectly we share the gospel in our words and how we live. You see? It's not in our power. 2 Cor. 12:9: "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the moer gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me."

So. Please don't misunderstand me. I thought Friday was wonderful. And I thought the intentions were to glorify the Lord, to call people to share the good news, and these are wonderful things. However, they are because of Christ's love, not out of fear or guilt: "For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control." 2 Timothy 1:7 And the great thing about Friday? The message could have been either of those things, it could have been the best message ever or a train wreck and still God would use it! He is, he already is!

And to that I would say: praise God. Praise God that he is working good things out of everything we give him and that he will be glorified. And that's what we want to do. We just want to glorify God.