Friday, December 31, 2010

Why I have the best boyfriend EVER!

So for anyone who has not already noticed, today (December 31st) is my birthday. My boyfriend, Ben, had asked me several days ago if I wanted him to drive down to Austin from Waco for my birthday to give me my present in person. I asked him if he would be ditching family New Year's Eve plans to do so, and he said yes, so I told him it would be perfectly fine if he waited until I got back to Waco on the 7th to give me my present. A day or two after that, he also told me that he had handwritten me a letter, and if the post office did it's job right, it would arrive on my birthday.

Apparently, all this was just a cover-up for what he was actually planning. My entire family was in on it, too.

This morning at 9, my mother came in and told me that I needed to get up and get dressed, since a couple of my sister's friends were coming over at 10 to practice for Bible quiz and I was supposed to coach them. I had forgotten about this, so my response was "It's my birthday. Let me sleep in." Mother decided not to push it for fear of giving something away. At 9:30 she came in, said "Okay, you're up, good," but I hadn't actually bothered to brush my hair, get dressed...anything. A few minutes later, my dad comes in and said, "This came in the mail."

It was a letter from Ben, that I very conveniently only glanced over once before opening the envelope. Otherwise it might have dawned on me that a stamp was missing on the envelope, so therefore it couldn't have come through the mail. I opened it up to find this:

I read the poem out loud to my parents, who had both entered my room at this point. The second half of the letter was a poem, which read thus:

Hnecca* is the place where this might rest.

It is a gift of silver, part ninety-seven at best.

It emphasizes your loveliness, this laqueus**.

My gift to you is a necklace.



*Old English for "neck". **Old English for "lace", or something like that.

At the bottom of the letter were the words: "P.S. (On back)" I flipped the paper over to find these two words:

"I'm outside"

For a split second I was completely confused, and then I realized that BEN IS AT MY HOUSE. My hair is a mess, I'm still in my pajamas...and Ben is downstairs!! My mom and dad started laughing first, and then I heard my sisters laughing really hard downstairs. I grabbed a sweater and threw it over my pajamas real quick, then went to the top of the staircase to see Ben waiting for me downstairs. At this point I was in so much shock and laughing/crying too hard, I actually had to stop and sit down at the top of the staircase to catch my breath. I finally was able to get my bearings, head downstairs and give Ben a hug.

I then quickly got dressed, brushed my hair and put on a little bit of makeup before going back downstairs and joining Ben and the rest of my family. We had breakfast together, then Ben and I played charades with Shannon and her friend Laura. Mom let me know that she recruited my friend Tabitha to coach Bible quiz practice so that I didn't have to.

After charades, I opened my presents. Ben got me this beautiful bouquet of flowers:

and the necklace that he had written about in his poem:

After presents, Ben took me to Marie Callendar's for lunch. Unfortunately, he had to leave at 2:30 to get back and spend New Year's Eve with his family, but the few hours that he was here were amazing. The whole thing was so sweet, and I was completely surprised.

Friday, December 24, 2010

2010 Review

[]stayed single
[x] got kissed
[x] kissed someone new
[] kissed in the snow
[] kissed in the rain
[] had my heart broken
[X] celebrated Halloween
[] broke someone else's heart
[] had a stalker
[X] lost a friend
[X] had a good relationship with someone
[] had a bad relationship with someone
[] questioned my sexual orientation
[] came out of my closet
[] got pregnant
[] had an abortion
[] got married
[] had a divorce.
[] kissed someone of the same sex
[X] met someone that I will never forget
[X] did something I regret
[] lost faith in love for awhile
[x] cried over a broken heart
[X] pretended to be happy
[] kissed under mistletoe
[x] got a promotion
[X] got a pay raise
[] changed jobs
[] lost my job
[] quit my job
[] dated a co-worker
[] dated my boss
[] dated my boss's son/ daughter
[] got fired from my job
[] got straight A's
[] failed a class
[X] cut class
[X] skipped school
[X] did something I was proud of
[X] proved myself an idiot
[] embarrassed myself in front of the class
[] fell in love with a teacher
[X] was involved in something that I will never forget
[] painted a picture
[] wrote a poem
[] ran a mile
[X] listened to music I couldn't stand
[X] double dipped
[] skinny dipped
[X] went to a sleepover
[X] went to camp
[] threw a surprise party
[X] laughed till I cried
[] flirted shamelessly
[] visited a foreign country
[x] visited a foreign state
[] cooked a disastrous meal
[X] lost something important to me
[X] got a gift I love
[X] realized something new about myself
[] tried to gain weight
[] dyed my hair
[] came close to losing my life
[] someone close to me died
[] went to a wild party
[] got arrested
[X] read a great book
[X] saw a great movie
[] saw a movie so scary that it made me cry
[] saw a favorite band live
[X] did something that I want to tell everyone
[X] experienced something new
[X] made new friends
[X]found out who your real friends are
[] lied to your parents
[] snuck out
[] kissed in a pool
[] kissed under the stars
[] liked more than 5 people at once
[X] became closer to people
[X] went to a party
[X] had the time of your life
[X] happy danced
[] fell out of love
[X] had a crush on someone
[] changed your sexual preference
[X] swam in a pool
[] made a snowman
[] went snowboarding
[] went sledding
[] slept in past 2 pm
[X] held someone’s hand
[X] held someone’s hand that you care about
[x] told someone you like them as more than a friend
[x] gone on vacation
[] gone on vacation with a friend
[X] driven a car
[] played strip poker
[] danced in the rain
[] seen someone get in a car accident.
[] got in a fist fight.
[X] laughed until you couldn't breathe
[X] had an amazing year
[X] missed someone
[] got hit by car
[] blacked out
[X] feared the future
[] sent someone to the hospital
[] had to go to the hospital
[X] got sick
[] had a major surgery
[] got a new pet
[] mooned someone
[] went over your minutes on your cellphone
[] cut in a line of waiting people
[] kept your New Years resolution
[] remembered your New Years resolution
[X] met someone who changed your life
[X] given up on someone
[X] enjoyed this year overall

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Spring 2011 Class Schedule

16 hours total.

BL 3305-02-Legal Environment of Business-MWF 9:05-Agee

MGT 4336-03-Personnel/Human Resource Management-MWF 10:10-Cox

MGT 4333-01-Procurement and Materials Management-M 12:30-Moyer

BUS 3315-07-Integrated Business Writing-TTh 8:00-Young

MGT 4330-01-Project Management-TTh 11:00-Umble

MUS 1124-02-Class Voice-TTh 12:30-Johnson

I am considering dropping Human Resources Management to take Principles of Real Estate instead, which would push the total to 17 hours. We'll see though. Likely, I'll just end up keeping this schedule.

Friday, November 26, 2010

I am so blessed!

Wow, I haven't posted on here in a long time. But for those of you who actually still check and/or read this blog, I just had to introduce you to the latest blessing in my life. That's right, I'm now dating somebody!!!

His name is Ben Smith. We've known each other since freshman year, but haven't been close friends until this semester. After spending a few weeks becoming closer friends, Ben asked me out. My original answer was actually no. But Ben was determined, and wouldn't take no for an answer! I eventually decided to give him a chance. This is the second-best decision I've ever made (way behind, obviously, the decision to trust Christ as Savior). We have been official since November 19th!

Ben is also a Baylor student and the same year I am (junior). He is a strong Christian, a gentleman, and one of the sweetest guys I have ever known. I cannot wait to see how God grows and matures both of us through this relationship.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Discussing Dating: Part 1

I have been looking forward to my college pastor's series on dating ever since he announced it at the end of last semester. Today he started with part 1. Listen to it at the link below, and then come back and discuss it!

(For anyone who doesn't know my college pastor, be forewarned that he has a tendency to be sarcastic sometimes ;-) )

Potential discussion questions:

1) Anything he didn't discuss that you wish he had? I wish that he had at least mentioned something about "becoming" the right person, or living your life in a "marriage-minded" direction, stuff that can happen even before a first date. For example, in my opinion, a marriage-minded person tries to handle their finances well so that they don't come into marriage with debt (or are working to pay off any debt they already have), are involved in spiritual community to be actively growing as a believer, etc. Granted, he only had so much time to talk...I just wish he had at least mentioned that being "marriage-minded" can encompass more than just being proactive and asking people out on dates.

2) What do you think it means to be "marriage-minded"?

3) Anything he said that you disagree with?

4) What about the ladies' role? I, personally, am one of those two-thirds of the ladies who would never suggest dating to a guy. Maybe someday I'll change my opinion on this, but I can't get past the fact that even suggesting something romantic to a guy before he's asked me out seems like I'm taking away the "risk" factor. And that "risk" factor is, in my opinion, what separates the pansies from the men.

However, if we don't ever bring up the possibility, are their still other ways that ladies can encourage the guys around them to be proactive in the dating process?

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer ends soon!

Or, at least, my job ends and I head back to Waco in 17 days. I'm really excited about going back, though I know there are things about summer that I will miss.

What I will miss about summer:

1. Reading good books Hopefully I will make more time for this during the school year. With the extra time I've had this summer, I've made it a point to read some good quality literature. So far I've finished My Antonia, the entire My Side of the Mountain trilogy, and Eight Cousin and its sequel, Rose in Bloom. I had forgotten just how awesome reading is. I'm sure I'll read some during the school year, but there's won't be nearly as much time.

2. Rabbit Trails The awesome Bible study on Thursday nights where the Bible is the authority and no topic is taboo. And I get to see a lot of people that I don't get to see during the school year.

3. Seeing my family every day Because I love 'em. :)

4. Mommy's cooking And not having to cook for myself so much. It's nice to come home to a meal waiting for me after work.

What I'm looking forward to at school:

1. My awesome new apartment It's so awesome and sophisticated. I'm really looking forward to living there.

2. Walking places I never thought I would say this, but I'm getting tired of driving. I'm looking forward to being able to walk everywhere again.

3. Connection Group I'm really looking forward to seeing the girls again and studying the Bible with them.

4. Awana I'm especially looking forward to seeing Mrs. Arnold, Mrs. McDonald, and my girls again. :)

5. Getting involved in Student Foundation, Hankamer Christian Fellowship, and the Association of Logistics, Procurement, and Supply Chain Students.

6. Seeing my friends again. :)

Counting down the days...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

For those who have asked: Dating vs. Courting

Last night I officially went on my first date ever (and last date with this particular guy, we decided we're just going to be friends). Some people think that this means that I left the "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" viewpoint that I had in highschool behind. Well, partially yes, but mostly no. For those of you wondering how my viewpoint on romantic relationships has changed since high school, here's a general explanation on what I believe now.

First, I think most people have missed the point of "I Kissed Dating Goodbye". Kissing dating goodbye is not about never going on dates. By "dating", Joshua Harris meant an attitude and a lifestyle--an attitude that romance is all about me, and finding someone that I enjoy being with, and a lifestyle of "trying on" different people romantically. That is what Joshua Harris kissed goodbye. When he finally did meet and court his bride, he took her on dates. The fact that I went on one date (and plan on going on more should another guy of godly character ask me) does not mean that I'm changing my attitude toward romantic relationships.

God is Lord over my love life.
I pursue purity in both mind and body.
Every relationship is for the purpose of glorifying God.
My responsibility in any relationship is to pursue God's will.

These sum up my attitude toward relationships, romantically involved or not. This was my attitude in high school, and that attitude has not changed.

I still think dating when you're not ready for marriage is pointless. That's why I never dated--or even just "went on one date"--in high school. I knew I wasn't ready to get married. I still recommend that high school students avoid romantic relationships and "dating" until they are at least out of high school. But I am no longer in the "not ready for marriage" stage. If the right guy comes along, I could realistically marry him within the next 6 to 12 months. (Obviously, this would not be realistic with every guy, so I'm only open to pursuing relationships with guys who I could realistically marry within this time frame.) Could that potentially mean being a married college student? Yes. Could that potentially mean not finishing college? Yes. Are either of those things to be avoided? I honestly don't think so. I'm open for whatever God's will is. And over this past year, God has made it pretty clear that I am no longer in the "sit back and wait" stage. I am now officially in the "sit up, look and pay attention" stage. Or, for those of y'all that speak Joshua Harris, I've moved on from "I've Kissed Dating Goodbye" to "Boy Meets Girl".

I think debating dating vs. courtship is pretty useless. I quit using the term "courting" when I got to college, because it confused people too much (or they associated it with negative views of Joshua Harris). Nowadays, I'm more likely to say something like "biblical dating". While we can debate specifics (such as, should the guy ask out the girl first, or should he go and ask the father before the girl even knows he's interested?), the plain and honest truth is that there is no one-size-fits-all for every romantic relationship. I've seen plenty of relationships that were hybrids between what people traditionally think of as "dating" and "courting". As long as a relationship is conducted in a way that is pleasing to God, that emphasizes purity and accountability, let's not get hung up over specifics.

In my case, it doesn't look like any relationship I have will fit the traditional "courting" mold for several reasons. Anyone who is interested in these reasons may ask me, but I'm not going to go into them here. Nevertheless, I don't think that disqualifies me from having God-centered relationships. I still plan on "courting" as I plan on having a relationship/relationships that emphasize high family involvement, accountability to the church, service to God, and purposefully moving in the direction of marriage be it God's will. If not following a lock-step guide to getting there disqualifies me from "courting", so be it. That's not my concern. My concern is conducting my relationships in a God-glorifying manner.

I went on one date with Josh to see if God had anything further planned for us beyond friendship. I had seen his godly character in action and wanted to get to know him better as an individual, and in our particular circumstances, a date was pretty much the only way to do that. Josh treated me very respectfully on our date, and our conversation was really interesting and God-centered. At the end of the date though, Josh made it clear he wasn't interested in anything beyond friendship. And I'm okay with that, I think God's will for us after that date was pretty clear. I don't have any regrets, and when Mr. Right does finally come along, I won't have any qualms telling him about Josh.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Halfway There

After I take my last final tomorrow, I will officially be halfway done with my college career.

That is an incredibly scary thought.

So much has changed over the past couple of years. So many things have changed over this past year. So many things have changed over this past semester.

And things will continue to change. I'll continue to grow as a person and in my relationship with God. New friendships will be made, some old friendships will dissolve. I'll continue to learn new skills as I pursue my degree. I'll learn new skills and have a whole new set of experiences through Student Foundation and Hankamer Christian Fellowship. Hopefully I'll make new friends through those organizations as well. Maybe I'll finally figure out what I want to do with my life ( if I'll every know...)

Two years from now, I hope to at least have an idea of what I want to do with my life. Hopefully I will have met someone special and will at least be engaged, if not married. (But if not, that's okay. God knows best.) But most importantly, two years from now I hope to be closer to God than I ever have been before.

As I reflect on these past two years of college, and especially this past year, there are some things that I just have to thank God for.

First off, words cannot describe how incredibly thankful I am for my mom. Today is mother's day, and I'd like to take a moment to rant about how amazing my mom is. Words cannot describe how much I love her, or how lost I would be without her. Whenever I have had problems and I need advice, she is the first person I call. And she has never failed me. Seriously, my mother has never once steered me wrong with her advice. She is one of the wisest people I know. I am also happy to be able to say that my mom really is my best friend. I may not call her as often as I should, but she always gets the full run-down on how life is going whenever I go home. She knows me better than anyone else does, and is genuinely my number one fan in life. I am so thankful that God has given me the mom that He has. I only hope that I can one day be as wise and caring as she is.

But where would I be without Dad? I would be lying if I didn't say my dad is pretty awesome too. :) Like my mom, he's also really wise and gives good advice. He's a really hard-working person and is really inspiring. Even in the midst of his busyness, he always takes time to invest in my life. I'm really thankful for my daddy.

I'm thankful for Mrs. McDonald and Mrs. Arnold. Even though I only talk to these women about once a week, they probably have no clue how much they help me keep my sanity. Although I know and love a lot of people my own age, I NEED interaction with adults. There's not much of that kind of interaction in college world, apart from professors. These two women, especially Mrs. McDonald, have given me that interaction I need to stay sane and mature. My only regret is that I haven't invested as much in my relationships with these women as they have with me. Mrs. McDonald especially. She actually asks, cares, and remembers what's going on in my life! Only recently have I realized how much of a blessing these women have been in my life.

I'm thankful for Kyle Dunn. My amazing college pastor who really, truly, honestly cares about his students. Which, in a college ministry of around 400 students, is a difficult thing to do. But this man really has taken a personal interest in his students. While he may not get to talk to everyone personally, he really does care and has shown that he is available when he is needed. After the accident last semester, he sat down with me and talked through all the ugly and confusing emotions that resulted from that. I still have the notes he wrote from that conversation on my wall. I am so thankful to be able to say that my college pastor is a man of God. He roots his sermons in Scripture, and really runs a Bible-centered ministry. The ministry mic and the two weeks of spiritual disciplines shows that this man is a man of action and application, not just theory and words.

I'm thankful for living fairly far off-campus without a car. Not being able to just walk anywhere whenever I wanted taught me several things. It caused me to be more intentional about how I used my time. It taught me to plan ahead better. It taught me to prioritize. Living in an off-campus apartment caused me to mature a little bit more. Still having to depend on rides from people enhanced some friendships that may have otherwise stayed a little more stagnant. Honestly, some friendships faded a little more easily due to not having such easy access to people. But as hard as it is to admit, I'm thankful for that because it helped me to discern who my true friends really are.

I'm thankful for friendships that grew stronger (and, as weird as it may seem, friendships that dissolved) I'm especially thankful for friends that I can have honest conversations about God, relationships, and hopes and dreams with. Friends that encourage me to think in a God-centered manner. I'm also thankful that God has taught me that friendships need to be invested in. And I'm thankful that God is giving me wisdom about which friendships to invest in.

I'm thankful for the accident Although I still don't understand why God let the men die, I realized that I had some wrong views about God that the accident helped correct. During difficult situations like that, you discover what theology you really believe. I realized I was asking the wrong questions and my perspective on my role wasn't accurate. I stopped asking "Why did it happen?" and started asking "What do you want to teach me through it?" I also realized that I needed to be more humble. While I have a relationship with God so that I can ask Him questions, He is still God and is not under any obligation to answer them. The fact that He does is a blessing, not something He is obligated to do for me.

I'm thankful for visits to HPU And I'm especially thankful for long walks and deep conversations with Adam Hardy and Charity Chambers.

I'm thankful that God has been teaching me about intentionality This lesson has had several applications in my life. I've been learning that a close relationship with God doesn't just happen, that I have to put effort in it through prayer, Bible reading, service, and other spiritual disciplines. I've learned that who I am and who I will be doesn't just happen. I can decide who I want to be through choosing who I spend time with, what I read/watch/listen to, and what activities I take part in. I've learned that it's okay to be intentional about wanting to get married and pursuing activities and relationships that will help get me there (thank you Boundless!). I've realized that if I want to get something in life, such as a good job or internship, I have to pursue it, I can't just expect it to drop in my lap. If I want to be good at what I do, I have to practice, be it at writing, managing, or swing dancing. While I definitely believe in the sovereignty of God, I also believe that attitude and effort determines where you end up in life. God can force a close relationship with me if He wants, but He's not going to. That's up to me. I believe it's the same with the rest of life. God can force things to happen, but I don't think He will. I think He lets us reap the consequences of our actions. If we want to get somewhere, to do something, we need to work on getting there. Reaping what we sow is a biblical concept.

Last, but not least, I'm glad that God gives me purpose There are days when this can all seem pretty pointless. Why am I pursuing this degree, why did I choose this major, why did I choose these activities? Without God, it would all seem pretty pointless. It's awesome to know that God planned my life out before the foundation of the world, and He has a purpose for everything. I'm thankful that I even have a God to serve, because honestly, without someone to serve, the only person left to serve is me. And that's pretty pointless. I'm glad that at the end of it all, when it seems like all the effort I've put forth in this world is worthless, Jesus is coming back. To tell you the honest truth, I don't know why Jesus coming back gives me a reason to keep pursing my college degree. But somehow it does, and I'm thankful for that.

What has God done for you this year that you're thankful for?

Friday, April 30, 2010

Think About It

Random thought that I've brought up with my amazing Journey girls this semester:

Back in Old Testament times where people, on average, lived to be several hundred years old (Noah was over 600 when he started building the ark), a boy was considered a man and a girl was considered a woman when they turned 12.

Now, with an average life span of less than a century, we don't consider people adults until they're at least 21...more like 25.

Something just seems wrong with that.

There's a difference between being a kid at heart and still being a kid. It seems most of the people around the late teens/early 20s mark that I know are the latter. And I don't think that's how God meant it to be:

"When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man, I put away childish things."-1 Corinthians 13:11

By the way, my friends Alex and Brett have written a whole book on this subject. If you haven't read Do Hard Things yet, you should. It's mostly geared toward teenagers, but people of all ages will find it helpful. I have a copy that I'm willing to lend. :) also has some great articles on this geared toward the college-aged crowd, including The Peter Pan Syndrome.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fall 2010 Class Schedule

My first schedule with NO 8 AMs!!!!! YAY!!!

Also my first semester where the majority of my classes actually relate to my major. What a concept. :)

FIN 3310-02-Introduction to Financial Management-MWF 9:05-Potts
MGT 4320-02-Negotiation and Conflict Resolution-MW 2:30-Hunter (<--I am SO AMAZINGLY EXCITED about this class!)
MGT 3320-01-Distribution Management-TTh 11:00-Parris
MIS 3305-08-Management Information Systems-TTh 12:30-Koch
MGT 3325-07-Operations Management-TTh 3:30-Umble

Friday, April 2, 2010

Life is Tough

The title pretty much sums it up.

I don't mean tough in an emo, "my life is really difficult" kind of way. I just mean that life is a balancing act. It is not easy to decide where the balance lies in a lot of areas. For example, is it better to be blunt and tell a friend the hard and honest truth, or is it better to let things slide if you know there's a possibility that the truth will hurt feelings, or is there a middle-of-the-road approach? Or when you know your current lifestyle is not satisfying all your needs, nor is it giving you a chance to pursue what you really want. How do you go about pushing your life to head in a different direction without giving up what is good about your current life? How do you decide what is good, what is better, and what is best, and is there a way to pursue the better without giving up the good? Or, maybe sometime's it's necessary to give up the good to pursue the best.

Right now, I'm really glad that God talks a lot about wisdom in the Bible. That's something that I need a huge dose of right now.

I hope that this post has been sufficiently vague enough. If you think that you know what I'm talking about...keep it to yourself. I just watched Mean Girls for the first time this week, and was very disgusted by the ugliness of the gossip and rumors. I have no desire for gossip and rumors in my world. Please help me in keeping this little corner of the world rumor and gossip-free.

But for a non-vague do you get the cute Christian guy who sits behind you in class to ask you out on a date? :P

Friday, March 12, 2010


Okay, so this isn't really a paradigm shift to me, just something that I was thinking about recently. But maybe it will be a paradigm shift to someone else.

What makes a hero? That we could debate
Is a hero a constant state of being, like being male or female
Or is it something we grow into, like being a man or a woman
Or is it something we are for a fleeting moment
Yet recognized forever
Such as an olympic gold medal winner
Or is it something that comes and goes
Like a world record holder
Who knows

This I am convinced of, though
A true hero isn't made by accomplishing spectacular feats
Everybody can be a hero
Sometimes you'll be recognized as a hero by everybody
Other times, nobody will know except you and God
But I'm convinced that everyone can be a hero

For what is a hero
Except someone who simply puts others before themselves
When a friend needs a shoulder to cry on
And you are there, you are a hero
When your partner needs a task done
And you do it for them, even though you don't have to, you are a hero
When someone is to blame for something
And you take the blame, even though you're at fault
You're a hero, even if they never realize it

Most of the time, opportunities to be a hero are small
But many times, just a small dose of selflessness
Could transform you from the person who made the problem worse
To somebody's hero

Yes, you have needs too
And there are many times when standing up for what you need is good
But there are times when you should forget your own needs
And that was one of those times
I can't say what you were thinking
But to me the right thing to do seemed obvious

If you didn't feel like being a hero
You didn't have to be
You could have ignored the situation
Instead, you had to go and make it worse
Is it really that difficult to see that sometimes what you need just doesn't matter
That the right thing to do is to give up your need for a moment
You didn't have to come and try to help
Although if you did, you could have been her hero

I just think it's so sad
That in a moment where you could have been a hero
You not only chose not to be
But became the enemy
The choice seems so clear and so simple to my eyes
Maybe its not to yours

Yet the fact remains
You could have been a hero
But you weren't

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sooo...what exactly is sin?

If you're like me and you've grown up in the church, you probably think the answer to the above question is really, really simply. Especially if you were taught a short, simply, Sunday School-type answer like "Sin is anything we think, say, or do that goes against what God says in the Bible."

But could it be that the simple Sunday School definition misses the point?

I think the traditional definition of sin that we all grew up with is closer to the Wikipedia definition of sin rather than the actual meaning of the word: sin is the concept of acts that violate a moral rule (Wikipedia).

First and most obvious problem with the Wikipedia definition is that "acts" is too narrow--the Bible clearly demonstrates that their are thoughts, attitudes, and lifestyles that are sinful. Second is that sometimes there aren't cut-and-dry "moral rules". Sometimes there are--the ten commandments are an obvious example. But other times, we are simply given general principles to live by.

So what exactly is sin? The Greek word for sin is hamartia, which literally translates "to miss or fall short". In the Greek, this word is often used in the context of archery, meaning "to miss the target". It doesn't carry the connotation of aiming for the wrong thing. It carries the connotation of aiming for the right thing and missing.

Sin is not simply a list of actions, thoughts and attitudes that displease God. Sin is anything that falls short of God's glory. So for all of us who memorized Romans 3:23, "For all of sinned and fall short of the glory of God", it's time for a paradigm shift. We don't fall short of the glory of God because we sin (as I thought for so long). We sin because we fall short of the glory of God. James 4:17 is also a good passage to keep in mind--"To him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin." If sin was only a list of don't's, this verse wouldn't apply very well.

So many times we ask ourselves the wrong question: "Is this wrong?" when what we really should be asking is "Does this help me grow to be more like Christ? Would I want Jesus Christ to sit next to me as I listen to this music/watch this movie/etc.?"

Phillipians 4:8 is a good passage to look to when deciding whether something is okay or not. The question is not "What is wrong with this?" but "What is right?"

I'll use a very obvious example to illustrate the difference--boundaries in dating. Too many people ask the question "How far is too far?" when contemplating physical boundaries with their significant other. That question shows a misunderstanding of sin. The question isn't "How much can I get away with?" but rather "How can I glorify God in this relationship?" God's standard isn't a line to be played with. God's standard is purity and treating the other person with respect. In the end, the practical application may be different for everyone. I know that I don't want anyone kissing me unless they're seriously committed to me. This is why I've decided I'm saving my first kiss for the day I get engaged at least, if not my wedding day. Other people may have no problem kissing their boyfriend or girlfriend while dating--that's between them and God. But I don't consider my standard a "line". Instead, I've decided I want to pursue purity in my relationships and treat others the way I want to be treated.

So let us quit asking what is sin and what is not, and let us pursue God's standards. We will fall short, yes, and let us repent and ask forgiveness when we do. But let's shift our focus off of a list of rules and onto striving for Christlike character. For as Proverbs says, the heart is the wellspring of life (paraphrased). If we have Christlike character, our actions will follow.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

It's Okay to be Judgmental

You probably read the title of this post and immediately though, what? She's out of her mind. That's definitely false. What about "Judge not lest ye be judged"? That's in the Bible.

First off-yes, that is in the Bible. But it's been twisted. Allow me (or more accurately, God through me) to potentially shift your paradigm when it comes to the issue of judging.

First off, what does it mean to be judgmental? Typically, people say someone else is "judging" them when they perceive the other person to disapprove of their choices. Technically, "judging" means calling anything either right or wrong, but the vast majority of the time, "judging" carries a negative connotation. In my experience, there are several different types of judging, some right, some wrong.

There are a few types of wrong judgment that are very obvious. For example, treating someone differently because they don't wear name-brand clothing is very, very wrong. Treating someone else in a disrespectful manner due to a morally wrong choice they made is also wrong--two wrongs don't make a right. Some more "subtle" examples of this kind of judging are also wrong. For example, cutting off a friendship completely because you differ on a morally "gray" area is probably not necessary (unless they are asking you to do stuff that goes against your conscience, such as watching a movie that has content you are not comfortable with).

However, most of the time when people complain about other people being "judgmental", they are simply complaining that someone else has a moral issue with a choice they made. Most of the time the people haven't actually treated them disrespectfully, but they can't stand the thought that anyone would dare make a moral judgment about their choice.

Making moral judgments about other people's choices, however, is not just okay--it's necessary. It's necessary in order to decide how much time you should be spending with someone. It's necessary in order to know how to pray for them. It's necessary so that you don't get sucked into their wrong choices. It's necessary because the Bible commands it.

Are you serious? You may be asking. Completely:

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment. John 7:24

And the verse that you're probably quoting in your head right now in order to refute me? Let's take a look at that verse in context:

1Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

3"Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. Matthew 7:1-5

First off, let's think about the crowds that Jesus was talking to. These were a very religious people, taught by the Scribes and the Pharisees, two religious groups that are well-known for their legalism. They were concerned with the correct religious appearance on the outside, not about their heart attitude toward God. Judging with a wrong attitude is wrong.

But that doesn't mean that all judgment is wrong. Take a second look at verse 5 again. Most people just see the beginning part "First take the plank out of your own eye..." and miss the second part "...and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." It's assumed that eventually you will remove the speck from your brother's eye. You're not going to just leave it there.

What Jesus is saying in this passage is NOT "You're not perfect, so don't judge anyone" like so many people think He's saying. What He's actually doing is warning us about judging. As is said in verse 2, others will judge us the way we judge others. If you get onto somebody about not spending time in the Word daily, people will hold you accountable to be in the Word daily. If you question people's choices of friends, people will scrutinize who you choose to befriend. Be sure that you are right with God in a particular area before making a moral judgment about someone else in that same area. Beware the plank in your eye before judging the speck in your brother's.

So if you're disobedient to your parents, don't confront your friend about his or her disobedience to their parents. First, deal with your sin before confronting someone else about theirs. But don't use this passage to avoid confronting fellow brothers and sisters in Christ about their sin. And definitely avoid using the passage in order to justify not using discernment at all.

As long as your motives and behavior are in line, making judgments about others behavior is not just okay, it's required. Sometimes you won't come to a definite decision--you may decide that it's a gray area. But you need to be exercising discernment.

And if you feel that someone else has been judgmental of you, it may be time to step back and re-evaluate. Too many times, people put up walls and refuse to listen to other people, saying "Don't judge me" and using the Bible improperly to justify their defensiveness. If you feel that you have been judged, there are a few questions I have for you:

Is it possible that they're right? Or at the very least, that they see something that you don't? Even if they are being wrongfully judgmental, we should always be looking to see if their's some truth in what they're saying.

Have they actually changed how they're treating you because of your choice? Are they treating you disrespectfully? Most of the time, people haven't changed their behavior. We just feel like they have because we expect their disapproval. If they have changed their behavior, is it justified? For example, have they stopped hanging around you because they are uncomfortable with a behavior, such as excessive drinking or cussing?

Have you changed the way you've treated them? Have you given them a reason to be wary of you? I have had people tell me outright "Don't you dare be judgmental of me" right after telling me about something I don't approve of. To put it bluntly, that puts me in a really difficult spot! Especially if it's a brother or sister in Christ. Notice that you're doing the same thing you're accusing the other person of doing--being judgmental! If you change your behavior or attitude towards others, of course they're probably going to change their behavior and attitude towards you.

There is a lot of judging going on in this world that is wrong. A lot. But our culture has gone to the opposite end of the extreme in teaching that all judgment is wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is okay to be judgmental. Don't be scared of morally discerning other's actions. As long as your motives are right and your basing your discernment upon God's Word, judge with confidence. If you feel that you've been judged, it may be time for a paradigm shift on your end.

Judge with right judgment.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The most impacting paradigm shift I've experienced

This was originally a post I made on an old blog of mine called "God Said It Best", which turned into my senior speech at Grace Covenant Church, which turned into my original oratory speech in the NCFCA. Over the years (wow, it's literally been a couple years) since I originally wrote it, I have seen people both freed by their understanding of this message, as well as get really angry and fight against it with all their might. It's probably the most controversial of all the paradigm shifters I'm going to post about, but it's the biggest one with the most far-reaching impact. It will impact your understanding of who God is, who you are, and your place in God's plan.

The title of this message?

God Does NOT Care About Your Happiness.

Translation: By "not caring", I mean that when God (who is all-knowing, all-wise, and all-powerful) decides how He is going to arrange the circumstances in your life, your happiness is not a factor in His decisions. God's goal is not for you to be happy.

Old paradigm: "God wants me to be happy. He died on the cross because He couldn't stand the thought of living without me. If I had been the only one on earth, He still would have died for me."

You probably think that you don't view things through this paradigm, but chances are you probably do. This paradigm manifests itself in many different ways-from the miniscule, almost unnoticeable to the big and devastating.

The Truth: God did not die for you because you are special. You are special because God died for you. God is more concerned that you grow in character than He is about you feeling happy. Happiness is not a goal that God strives for, and neither should we. God's main goal is His glory, and when we strive for that goal, we experience joy and true happiness. Happiness is a byproduct, not a goal.

I'm surprised by the number of people who justify disobedience to God based on what they think will make them happy. "You have no clue what I've gone through/am going through", they say. "Surely God understands. The rules don't exactly apply in my situation."

Um, let me break it to you. God doesn't understand. His rules apply regardless of your situation. Show me one verse in the Bible where it says that God's goal is for you to be happy. No really, I challenge you to look. If you find it, I want to see it. We hear so much in church about how "God love you so much that if you had been the only one on earth, God would have died for you".

That's not in the Bible.

What is in the Bible is this: "God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the One who justifies those who have faith in Jesus."-Romans 3:25-26, emphasis mine.

Why did God let Jesus die on the cross? To have a restored relationship with us, yes. But I don't believe that was the primary purpose.

But wait! you say. What about Romans 5:8, where it says that "God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us"?

Notice a word that is common between those two verses. Yes, God sent Jesus to die in our place because He loves us. I'm not arguing against that. What I am saying is that God's love for us was a secondary purpose. I very important secondary purpose, yes, but a secondary purpose nonetheless.

Did you find the word?

The word is demonstrates.

God didn't have to die for us. But He did because it brought Him glory. It demonstrated parts of His character-His justice (as Romans 3:25-26 says) as well as His love (Romans 5:8). Demonstrating His character through the cross brought glory to God.

I've had many people tell me that if I was the only one on earth, Christ would have died for me. I can't find it in the Bible. What I do find is verses that tell me that Christ's death brought glory to God. If I had been the only one on earth, and dying for me still brought God glory, I'm sure He would have done it. But if it didn't bring Him glory, I don't believe He would have.

I went off on a tangent about the cross because I wanted to point out something--God's primary goal. It's not to love us. Not to make us happy. It's to bring glory to Himself.

Christians today, especially American Christians, have gotten the wrong view that God's goal is to make humans happy. That God is some sort of "genie in a bottle" to grant us our wishes and make us comfortable. Nothing could be further from the truth.

So, in the grand scheme of things, what does bringing glory to God mean for us? The answer is found in Romans 8:29: For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

A lot of people use this verse to debate predestination, and miss the point. God's goal for Christians is clearly spelled out in this verse: conformity to the image of Christ. Happiness is a byproduct of pursuing conformity to Christ. Actually, let me take that back for a second.

"Happiness" is a pretty vague word. Often, "happiness" is used interchangeably with "joy", although the two mean very different things. Happiness is an emotion, while joy is a character quality. Anything can give us happiness, but only pursuing conformity to Christ can give us true joy.God gives us opportunities to develop Christlike character qualities. Sometimes (dare I say, oftentimes), that means that God arranges circumstances that will actually make us unhappy and uncomfortable.

However, if we take those opportunities to develop Christlike character, we will develop
joy, which is superior to happiness. As I said, happiness is an emotion. Thus it is fleeting. Joy, on the other hand, is a character quality, and thus is constant.

So, paradigm shift: Stop thinking that God cares about your happiness. He cares about your character. Put God in His rightful position. Pursue His goals, and you will find yourself truly joyful.

Heaven, we need some paradigms shifted

"Everything that can be invented has been invented."-Charles H. Duell, U.S. Commissioner of Patenets, in 1899

Sounds pretty stupid, no? But he was convinced it was true.

I had the privilege of a two hour drive with my sister this past Sunday, and we talked a lot about paradigms. For those of you who don't know what a paradigm is, it's basically your point of view, your belief system, your frame of reference. Actually, everyone has multiple paradigms. Paradigms are like the glasses through which we see the world. Most of the time, we have inaccurate or incomplete paradigms, and it's like seeing the world through glasses with the wrong prescription. Props to Sean Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens, for the glasses analogy. Speaking of that book, by the way, my sister is currently reading it, and I read it several years ago. Highly, highly recommended book. I have a copy of it here with me at college and I'm willing to lend it to anyone who wants to read it.

But back to the point. We were talking about paradigms, and how most of the time our paradigms are inaccurate and cause us to view things in a skewed manner. For example, have you ever had a friend who is usually talkative become very quiet around you, and you assume that you did something wrong? When you finally talked to them about it, it turned out that they were having a bad day--maybe they were worried about their grade in a class, or they had just gotten in a fight with another friend. Your paradigm was inaccurate because you had incomplete information. Once you had the additional information, your paradigm was shifted.

Other times, our paradigms are messed up because we have messed up beliefs to begin with. For example, you may believe that you aren't good at a particular subject, such as math or science. When you get a low grade on a test, you may conclude that it's because you just can't learn the material, even though the truth is that you can learn the material, and it's likely that the material on the test was just difficult.

When we have messed up paradigms, we end up making statements that sound just as stupid as the quote at the beginning of the post. The thing is, most of the time nobody realizes just how stupid the statements really are. For example:

"God doesn't care where I go to college/who I marry/etc."
"You can't judge me. You don't understand where I'm coming from!"
"You can't judge me, the Bible says not to judge."
"That can't be God's will, because it won't make me happy."
"You need to date a lot of people to figure out what kind of person you want to marry."
"God, You better have an explanation for that one."
"God, do You even care?"
"I'm this way because of how I grew up/my parents/my education/etc."
"It's part of my personality, I can't help it."

I'm sure anyone reading this has probably said something on the above list, or something similar, before. I know I have. I know I've probably offended someone with the above list.

I don't care.

And here's why:

Over the past several years of my life, God has shown me a lot of truths that go against a lot of what is taught in youth groups, sunday schools, churches, and bible studies today. Some of the things that are taught are just flat out wrong. Others are partially true, but must be balanced against another side of the coin. The result of these wrong or skewed teachings, though, is having a devastating effect on my generation and the generations below me.

Over the next few days I want to post a few of the most major paradigm shifters God has revealed to me, through His Word, other people who are wiser than I, books, sermons, etc. My hope is that others can have their perspectives change the way mine has. I'm not perfect, or even close to perfect, by any means. I'm just a child of God who is frustrated by all the messed up paradigms she sees around her. God can free this generation of the paradigms holding us back. But in order to do so, we must be willing to listen to the truth.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Learning About Trust

I used to think that trusting God came easily to me.

What a joke.

It did, for what I understood trusting God to mean. I could say "My God will supply all my needs" with full confidence and not a single ounce of doubt. But lately, I've been having a harder and harder time trusting God.

So what happened?

The lightbulb went on when I was talking with Charity this weekend. My problem has never really been with "My God will supply". I believe with all of my being that God is all-powerful and all-good, and that it is He alone who controls the universe. My problem has been with "all my needs".

See, for many, many years now I have defined "needs" as what I need to physically survive-food, clothing, and shelter. I've never worried that there wouldn't be food on the table. I've never worried that I won't have anything to wear. I've never worried that I won't have a place to sleep at night. I've never worried that there won't be enough money. It's truly, honestly never even crossed my mind.

But it hit me recently that "needs" is not just restricted to physical needs. You think I would have realized this a loooooong time ago, especially considering that I studied Maslow's hierarchy of needs freshman year of college. For those of you not familiar, Maslow's theory was that people's needs are like a pyramid. On the bottom are physiological needs-food, water, shelter. The next level was safety needs, both physical and emotional safety. Next is love/belonging needs, followed by the esteem needs (need for accomplishment, respect, etc.). At the top are the "self-actualization" needs, basically the ability to "be all you can be". His theory was that humans fulfill the needs in that order, and if a more basic need is being met, humans will ignore the "higher" needs until the basic needs are fulfilled. There are some flaws with his theory, but that's not the point.

The point is that for the longest time I have only defined "needs" as the bottom level, or maybe the bottom two levels, of the pyramid. My God WILL supply all my physical and safety needs. I've never had a single problem believing that.

I've realized that my problem is that my definition of "needs" is too narrow. I've realized that to really trust God means to believe that my God will supply ALL MY NEEDS-from the physical needs, to the needs for love and relationships, to the need to feel fulfilled. Trusting God means believing that HE and HE ALONE will fulfill every last need that I have.

My God will supply all my needs.

No doubts.


So that's what "trust" means in the context of relating to God. Next question: Does that "trust" extend to other humans, or does trusting other people take on a different meaning that trusting God? Can you still "trust" someone while maintaining a bit of a guard because you know that they are human, and they will more than likely fail you? What do you do when someone loses your trust? Should you ever get to the point where you unconditionally trust somebody?

My God will supply all my needs...including answers to the big(ger) questions of life.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Sorting Out

My room has been messy for a long time. I've made several efforts to clean it but have yet to actually get to a state of cleanliness. Partly because it's freezing in there and I don't really want to be in there, but I think the main reason, which I realized today, is that a lot of stuff in there doesn't really have a place to go.

Kind of like the condition of my life right now.

Nevertheless, when you have friends like Anna, Austin, and Stephen, who talk with you for hours, hold you when you cry, and buy you a bouquet of flowers for Valentine's Day, you know everything is going to turn out okay. Not that the rest of my friends aren't amazing as well-I'm just particularly appreciative of those three at the moment. At a time in my life where I felt like there wasn't as much love in my world anymore, they have poured a ton right back in.

For the 21st time in my life, I will be single on Valentine's Day. And I'm okay with that. I have a feeling this one will be pretty special. Not because I expect any sort of romance to appear in my life-in fact, I'd rather it not at this point. I don't know, I just think God has something special for this day up His sleeve. Maybe it'll be a sunny day, maybe it'll be a really good time at church tomorrow, maybe it'll be a hug from the right person at just the right time. *Shrug* I don't know.

Happy Valentine's Day everyone. And may you remember that God defines love, for He is love, He has given us the ultimate example of love through Christ, and it is He who gives us the capability to love.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

I am so spoiled

Michelle Kick spent $12 on a small white chocolate raspberry cake for me. Just because.

I am so spoiled to have amazing friends like her. :) :) :)

Monday, January 25, 2010

I don't think you have a clue

You think you know what love is.

I think you're full of it.

When you spend the night in a leaking tent, the only counselor with three girls, one of who is deathly afraid of the thunder and lightning outside, freezing cold, not comfortable in any way...because you want to give these girls a chance to know God the way you do...that is love.

You think you're happy.

I don't think you have the first clue.

Give up something you really want to follow God. Make knowing Him your first priority. Abandon all else only for Him. Then you will experience true joy.

And when the little girl turns over, says "I love you" and kisses you on the that moment you will and joy. In that moment you'll see. In that moment everything else will seem worthless...and this will be worth it.

And yet...the God of the universe created every detail about me, knows every detail about me, continues to love me anyway, and sent His Son to die for my sins...even as I continue to care less about Him.

I thought I knew what love was.

I thought I was happy.

I'm full of it.

And I don't have a clue...