So anyway, I made it! It was a long, fabulous journey home. I think Virginia is my new favorite state. It was full of snow-topped rolling hills and old wooden farmhouses. I loved driving through. I loved seeing everything in between here and there. But now it's so strange to be back here. New York feels like a dream. This last year feels like a dream. My future feels like a dream. I have no idea where I am headed and that is both terrifying and exhilarating.
Here is what i do know though: I will learn how to build a cabin this year. My parents have some wooded property back behind their house and I am going to build a little "retreat" place for myself, and for anyone else who comes to visit.
I'm still working on "growing to learn to love to live," but I think I'm getting closer. And really, I think that's the point of life. We live so that we can love to live.
I'll have photos of my mini road trip soon, but in the meantime, check out my newest project. This is to get me ready for the cabin - I am helping my parents fix up the attic so that I have a place to stay. Yes, the attic. But it is actually going to be super rad I think. Unless my brother chooses to share it with me. He has a tendency to make things, well, not clean. Yeah we'll see.
The attic, pre-remodel:
This is what happened (long story short): I started packing to go home. My stuff didn't fit in the trailer with the other people's stuff. So I rented a car and I'm bringing the rest home by myself. I decided it's better this way. Because this is one move I am not going to miss. I am not going to sleep while someone else drives. I am not going to fly and miss all of the in-between (which is what really makes things what they are). I am going to see every single mile between New York City and Magnolia Springs, AL. I am going to know how I got there. So there.
p.s. I'm in Virginia and it's 9 degrees outside. Ouch.
|(Photo from skatterplot at bwca.com)|
That's what I read this morning. I've been reading the Message version of Job (check it out - me likey). You know, sometimes it is nice to read about other people's unfortunate lives. I mean, sucks for him, but at least I know I'm not alone. Not that I had my family and health taken from me or anything, but I have sometimes felt a little down and out, if you know what I mean. And I have occasionally felt like the Lord is straight up spitting in my face. Which He isn't really. I mean, does he even have spit?
Anyway, I'm just saying we're not alone. And look at Job - he only went through what he went through cause the Lord knew he could take it, and because he knew there would be people like us who would need to read it.
Sometimes our life events aren't just for us. And the Lord will never give us something we can't handle.
Good to know.
I'm not getting married anymore; at least, not to who asked me first. Don't ask me why because I really don't have a good answer, and I think that's what makes it so hard. Because this guy is the kind of guy fairy tales are made from. But apparently it was not my fairy tale, because it just didn't feel right. And I can't tell you how important it is to feel right about this kind of thing.
So my life is going to be a bit different than I thought. But it is a good thing. It has to be. I mean, yes, I am 26 years old and will be moving back in with my parents in a month. I will be unemployed and in debt. But my heart feels completely right for the first time in a long time. It also hurts like hell, but somehow the hurting feels right too.
I intend to keep you posted on the healing process, and if anyone has any pointers on the whole mending a broken heart thing, I will gladly take them.
How are we going to get a life that has no lust, no self-interest, and is not sensitive to the ridicule of others? How will we have the type of love that “is kind . . . is not provoked, [and] thinks no evil”? (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). The only way is by allowing nothing of the old life to remain, and by having only simple, perfect trust in God— such a trust that we no longer want God’s blessings, but only want God Himself.I cannot imagine not wanting God's blessing, to be honest. I think that is part of what makes Him God to me, and that's a little scary. Because my whole point here in this little life of mine is to live a good life and to love people, but I need God to do that. Because He is the source of goodness and love. I at least know that much. But to only want Him? To want Him alone and none of the perks that come along with knowing Him? That's hard to swallow.
To have simple, perfect trust in God - such a trust that we no longer want God's blessing, but only want God Himself.
That is the mark of a totally surrendered, loving, unselfish person. It is. When we can do that, we can love. We can love because we don't want anything in return. We can be goodness.
It's so funny that I am currently reading Job right now too. I mean this guy was totally devout. Totally trusted God. And then his home, his servants, his children and his health were taken from him. He no longer had any of the blessings of God. But God was still God. He is still the Creator of the universe. He is still the source of all things good and He, above all else, is holy and all deserving of praise. Even if we don't have breath in us to praise.
I'm really not sure if I could be like Job. And honestly, I really hope I never have to find out.
Now I want tulle. And more tulle. I want ballgowns and ballet slippers and wildflowers and candlelight. The more froof the better. It's like I'm becoming that little girl again that just wanted to be a pretty princess when I grew up. It's true. I mean I seriously want my flower girls to look like this:
(Photo Credit: Picotte Photography via stylemepretty.com)
Heck, I want to look like that.
What has happened to me?!?
1 an instance of turning something aside from its course
I am easily distracted. Some people may like to call it "free-spirited," but, sorry, no. For example, while writing this post I YET AGAIN changed my blog colors. (but I will stick with this for a while. I promise. You guys probably don't even recognize me anymore...). Ok you get my point.
New projects are rarely finished, even though it drives me crazy to not finish something. I go shopping for ties with my fiancee and get distracted by the pretty shoes (p.s. my fiancee does not love shopping with me).
Sometimes I lose my course...Sometimes I drift over to the other side of where I should be. And I don't mean just at the mall.
It is so hard to keep going sometimes. Especially when I'm unsure of where exactly I'm supposed to be going. I know I have a purpose, and I know that I am here to do good and be good and show others that goodness. But holy hell sometimes I just want to hit people.
Do you realize that Jesus was never diverted? Never. I mean he was God, but he was also a man, on Earth, and there are so many ways to be diverted. But he never erred. He just kept walking. Straight to His purpose.
How do we imitate that??
It still baffles me. I really do want to be good. And I want to get to where I'm going in a timely fashion. But I also want to make Him proud of how I got there.
How do we walk this life, straight to our purpose, without the meaningless distractions? And without hitting people? Anyone?
Photos courtesy of my very talented fiancee. To see more photos from my trip to Kenya, check out Bedouins International's sets on Flickr here and here.
Calla Maria was one of my besties in college and I think I am much the better for it. She taught me how to go on spontaneous road trips and to love the color green. I miss her dearly. She lives in Portland, Oregon now with her sweet-as-pie husband and gorgeous children. I took some photos of them last year when they were in Ft. Lauderdale, just for funsies. She is also going to be one of my maids when I get hitched in March! I am most certainly looking forward to seeing her again. Love you Calla Maria!
So yeah because of the throat sickness I lost my voice. I now have that sexy phlegmy man voice that made Phoebe a rock star.
Anyway, this whole getting engaged thing has been a roller coaster. I feel like a grown up, or at least that I 'm supposed to be a grown up. There are all of these new and terrifying questions. Like, I have a fancy ring on my finger for the first time ever - should I be getting manicures now too? And, apparently setting our wedding date also means we have set the consummation date - does this mean I have to go to the GYNO?!?
Ugh, growing up is scaaaarryy.
It's worse than ball pits.
(I know, right?!?)
But you know, there's also the fun and exciting part. I mean, I have a fancy ring on my finger, and hello, consummation here I come! But let's get real here kids. Why doesn't anyone ever talk about the scary parts too? I feel like I am the only bride-to-be ever who has ever been scared ever of getting married and growing up. I mean I love my fiancee. And I love my life. But is it ok to be scared? Or I guess what I'm really trying to say is, am I evil for seeing a scary side too?
So this is what I did on Friday:
My sly little boyfriend took me on a surprise date to Central Park. He bought me some beautiful little daisies and brought his camera (cause he's a photographer and loves what he does). We frolicked around the park for a while and took photos and it was so fun.
Then we stopped at this little boat rental place and he rented a little row boat (!!!) so that we could paddle across the lake and be so cute (do you know what's coming yet? cause I sure didn't). He paddled us over to the big tree and then started making a big deal about all of the animals..."Hey Jess, look at that turtle way over there"..."Hey look at that Kookaburra up in that tree." I'm like "Where?!?"
I look down at Stephen and he is holding both of my hands and looking at me in a way he's never quite looked at me before. He starts telling me how much he loves me and that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me. And then he slips this guy on my left ring finger:
It is so pretty.
Oh yeah, I said yes.
p.s. Kookaburras only live in Australia.
I love you Stephen!!! Thanks for picking me!!!!
Anyway. We got our fried deliciousness and took it to a nearby park. We were sitting on a bench next to this black guy and a couple of black ladies. (It's important that they're black. Just wait.)
So I'm talking with the roomie, catching up on our day and such, when the guy next to us looks at us, then our food, then back to us, and says this:
"I didn't know white people ate fried food."
>insert immense internal laughter here<
"Well, yes sir, we do. Especially us white folks from the south."
Then (and this is the best part) the lady he was chatting with, completely appalled, says, "You can't talk to her like that. You're supposed to say 'Caucasian.' Leave the nice lady alone."
>insert even more laughter here<
"It's really ok," I assured her. "I know I'm white."
The world and it's desires will pass away, but the man who does the will of God will live forever. -1 John 2:17which basically means GET OVER IT.
Whew, I feel better now.
This is one of the first things about following Jesus that stuck with me. None of the things we have now (including our problems, hurts, wants, desires, etc) are coming with us when we die. In the big scheme of things, it doesn't hold a great deal of value. Of course, that means nothing to us now, when all we know is what we feel and see and hear and taste.
Part of me is so excited about leaving this place. Is it morbid to say that? I mean, I just can't wait to know what it feels like to not worry about whether or not I'm gonna marry the perfect guy or have the perfect house or wear the cutest clothes. But then again, how awesome would this life be right now if I didn't worry about that stuff anyway?
Maybe a little bit of heaven really is possible right here, right now.
Anyway, just thought I'd share. It kind of takes the pressure off when you realize that all of this will be gone soon, so why worry about it? All we were really made to do is 1) be together and 2) love. Nothing else really matters.
p.s.s. this blog template is also only temporary. i'm trying to make it more "me" so i want to do it from scratch. wasn't loving my face in the header, so i put this up for a bit. as soon as i find the time to create something interesting, i'll be sure to show you.
i'm not too worried about it though :)
Anyway, it has been a bit of an eye opener for me. I think I realized for the first time that I'm white. Is that weird? Maybe it's because I grew up in a small town in south Alabama and went to an all-white high school and mostly-white college, but I've never really been "white" before. Or at least, I've never really had to think about it.
I'm now living in a place where I am most definitely in the minority, and it's weird. I hate to say that, but it's true. I know that race doesn't matter in the big scheme of things - I mean, we all bleed red and all that, but there is still this unfamiliarity I have with other cultures and races that makes being in the minority a little strange for me. Is it ok for me to say that out loud?
I think I like it though. I think I need this. I think everyone needs to get out of their comfort zone every once in a while. You know why? Because maybe (as I think the case is here) your comfort zone might actually be hindering you from the kind of life you deserve to live.
God created a multicolored family for a reason. I think He wants to show me. I mean, why else would he bring me from Magnolia Springs, Alabama to Harlem? I intend to find out.
p.s. If God is taking you out of your comfort zone, I'd love to hear about it. It's way easier to do this when I have company :)
I am proud to be an American.
I know, I'm crazy. I go to Africa and I get all Lee Greenwood on you. But for all the things America stands for that I loathe (i.e. greed, selfishness, obesity, sloth - basically a majority of the 7 Deadly Sins), I truly am blessed to live here.
For one thing, I can have this blog and say whatever I want on it without the fear of someone hunting me down and cutting off my fingers. Seriously, some people don't have that "luxury". I can vote for whoever I want, again without fear of dismemberment. I can believe what I want, say what I want, learn what I want, do what I want, as long as it doesn't kill anybody.
And there are people who died to make that happen. There are people today still making tough choices to ensure that it stays that way. I don't always agree with those choices, but I have to believe that over all, whoever is in charge is doing the right thing, and that ultimately the Lord is in control. And that He put me in the United States of America for a reason.
Why I realized this in Kenya is a little difficult to explain. Obviously, the stark contrast to our freedoms here was a bit overwhelming. I get pissed here if my water smells too much of the chemicals that make it clean. Kenyan children walk up to 20 miles a day to get semi-clean-ish water. You think unemployment here is bad? Try 40% in Kenya. And violence? There are between 250,000-400,000 internally displaced people STILL living in tents in the Rift Valley after the election in 2007. (By the way, that range means they really have NO IDEA how many are out there.)
I never have to worry about that. But what I do have to worry about is why I don't have to worry about it. Is there a reason the good Lord (who really is good, by the way) put me here and not there? I think there is. I think we are blessed so that we can bless others. That is the only thing I can think of. That is what we are here for. And oh my, if Americans really lived up to what they are here for, the world would seriously be a better place. We can make the world a better place.
And I think we are trying. America sends billions and billions of dollars to third world countries. I think Bush sent 48 billion to Africa alone. Not to mention all of our philanthropists and missionaries who send not only money, but people and time, one of America's most beloved resources.
I won't keep going, but suffice it to say that as wicked as America and Americans can be, there is so much good here that we cannot overlook nor take for granted. We have one of the most organized governments in the world - so much so that a pothole doesn't even go unnoticed. A pothole. Have you ever driven in Africa??
Fixing a flat tire. This happens quite often.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this - especially from you non-Americans out there...what is your view on America vs. the "third world"? Are we "here" and others "there" for a reason?
Photos by Stephen DeVries of Bedouins International.
Read some awesome stories and see more photos on the Bedouins Blog. Personal experiences coming soon!
I am so excited about this oppotunity. It's really gonna help them, you know? Media and marketing are so expensive to those who have a good story to tell, yet for some reason it comes totally free if disaster happens or some crazy monster kills thousands of people. I hate that. It's not right. Anyway, we're trying to change that. We want you to know about some good stuff too. Follow the Bedouins blog to keep up with our story in Kenya, and I'll be back May 7th to share some of my own experiences with you!
Then the nurse handed me a sheet of paper talking about why my hemoglobin might be so low (it basically told me I needed to eat better - Ramen Noodles do not give me the Iron I need) so that I could be prepared for next time. Now I know that I need to eat green leafy veggies, eggs and more meat. I am prepared for next time.
I wish life was that easy. I wish I could just eat some Popeye spinach and feel strong enough to face the world and fight off the bad guys. But I get tired. Sometimes everything hurts and I just want to stay in bed all. day. long. And it isn't an easy choice to get out of bed in the mornings. It's never easy to do something you don't want to do - even if it might save someone's life.
Paul actually wrote a letter to the Galatians back in the day about this exact matter. He said: Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
I think they must have been getting tired too. And probably not because of an iron deficiency (though that may have been a component...) but because it wears you out to be good all the time. Because being good isn't just about giving a little blood - it is about giving everything you have. And it is tiring and painful and sometimes it breaks your heart. But it is worth it. Or at least, it will be.
That's what we're told anyway. And sweet Jesus I am trusting you to be faithful to that. Because I cannot do this whole "life" thing by myself. But what I can do is prepare myself for what is to come. I will eat my vegetables and poultry and hope that one day I am ready to save someone's life. If only I do not give up.
Photo Credit: Stephen DeVries
So I was talking to my very wise mommy yesterday, and of course I was rambling about how I couldn't wait until this! and was so looking forward to this! oh my gosh and this! too.
And then she was like, "Chill. Out." Ok, she didn't really say it like that, but I'm translating for you.
I have got to stop looking forward to things that may or may not happen! I am blessed where I am right here and now. I mean it is wonderful to dream - so , so wonderful - but if I'm always looking forward, won't I miss everything that is happening right now?
And what a tragedy that would be.
Remember that "Happy List" I was making? Oh, did you forget about it too? Ha, no worries. Well, I started on it and only listed 2 things - 1) Beautiful house in the country (with a paragraph about where it would be and how it would look) 2) Adoring husband, blah blah blah. AND THAT'S AS FAR AS I GOT. Like those 2 things were going to make me the happiest person alive. Sweet Jesus.
But then I got a comment from a lovely lady (Hi Lori!) who suggested that rather than making a list of my dreams and then feeling bad about dreaming them, I could instead think about what I have now and appreciate them. Yes! One.day.at.a.time.
Ok. Here goes.
1) Perfect little apartment, very reasonalbly priced, in New York City.
2) Adoring boyfriend who loves me even in the grumpy morning time!! (and grumpy sleepy time, and grumpy hungry time...)
3) My dream job(s). I get to help people with their wedding, and help awesome humanitarians and missionaries tell their stories! Awesome!
4) Beautiful, sweet friends who encourage me and love me and tell me I am neat.
5) Wonderfully wise and supportive parents. They even throw a little cash my way when they find out I eat nothing but Ramen :)
6) Dreams. Yes, I will count them as a blessing. How wonderful to be able to dream, how wonderful that the Lord gives us dreams and wants and desires.
Let's just be sure to remember when those dreams come true, and not just ask for "More, please."
(p.s., I am counting this as my "accomplishment" for the week. :) )
So anyway, here is my "experience" for the week:
I was at work yesterday when we heard this crazy explosion outside. I looked out my window to see smoke coming out of a grate and then this blue-green fire. Apparently, some guys were doing electrical work and a transformer ended up blowing. We heard an announcement to turn off all computers, and then eventually the electricity went out. We watched as firetrucks started pulling up and guys in big heavy suits started trying to put out the fire. About 20 minutes later we were evacuated from the building and told that due to the dangerous levels of carbon monoxide we couldn't come back until Thursday.
(photo by KFox)
See the Times Square Church sign? My office is the corner office 2 windows above the sign. Check out a news report and video of the fire here.
Anyway, I'm glad no one was seriously injured (and that I'm off of work today!) Hope you all had a wonderful Tuesday, and I look forward to hearing from you!
Anyway, I was reading her post (which actually happened to be a rip off of Anthony de Mello's "The Way of Love" - but at least we gave credit where credit was due!) and it really moved something in me. I am always looking towards the future and how much happier I will be when I get married and when I have my own house and when I have a puppy. Happy happy happy!
But you know what? I also thought I would be happier if I got out of Birmingham, or got back together with my ex-boyfriend, or let my hair grow out. Silly, silly girl. I have all of that now, and what am I doing? Still looking for happiness. Because your circumstances and situations do not make you happy. Knowing who you were created to be, knowing that you have purpose in this world, knowing that you are loved by the creator of the universe (which, p.s., is kind of a big deal) - that is what can make you happy, if you let it.
So as Mr. de Mello suggests, I plan to do the following: "Make a list of all your attachments and desires and to each of them say these words: 'Deep down in my heart I know that even after I have got you I will not get happiness.' And ponder on the truth of those words."
He also said this awesome quotable: "The fulfillment of desire can, at the most, bring flashes of pleasure and excitement. Don’t mistake that for happiness."
Ok friends, I am off to list the meaningless attachments and desires I have so that I can then rebuke them. I dare you to join me.
p.s. check out the rest of Jena's post here
1) Your comments! My goodness, how good it is to have friends. Even more so for friends that I have not met. Thank you so much for sharing your stories with me. I was so incredibly thrilled that so many of you decided to take part in sharing your experiences with me. Totally the highlight of my week. Here's hoping I can now keep up with my commitment to share my own experiences, pleasures and accomplishments with you!
2) A young Latino. Ok this is going to sound so racist. But let's be honest. I'm not racist. At all. (In fact, I'm still praying for a miraculous miracle that would allow me to have biracial babies if I marry a white guy.) So anyway. I was on the train the other day, and this old white lady sneezed, and then this young thug-tacular latino next to her looked at her with the kindest eyes and said "God bless you." That's it. I know it's crazy. But there was just something so beautiful about this big dude with his black yankees cap and mechanic's jumpsuit saying God bless you to this old lady in her khaki trenchcoat - I just melted.
3) I have tomorrow off. Praise the Lord. And I mean that, because He is the reason I get the day off :)
So those are a few of my "pleasures" for the week...and yours??? Experiences and accomplishments to come (I hope).
So they interchanged their small experiences, accomplishments and pleasures, and both were the better, as well as the happier, for it; because in this way only can we truly love our neighbor as ourself, and get the real sweetness out of life.
-Louisa May Alcott, Under the Lilacs.I like starting things with quotes. Mostly because other people say stuff better than me.
I love it when people share with me. And not just their food or toys, though I love that too. I like getting to know people - you know, what makes them "tick" as they say. I want to know why in the world you tilt your head to the side every time I talk to you. Is this your way of letting me know you are listening? Or maybe your way of making me think you are listening while your thoughts wander elewhere? I dunno. But I want to.
As Louisa says, knowing each other is the only way we can truly love each other. I mean think about it - how am I supposed to love you if I don't really know you?
So tell me, what are your experiences and accomplishments and pleasures?
No really, I want to know.
Oh my gosh, I just had the best idea. Just now. Ok here it is. Every week, I am going to post a new experience, a new accomplishment and a new pleasure. Holy dude man, that is 3 posts a week, plus my usual ramblings. Can I really do this? Yes. Maybe. You won't hate me if I fail? I'll try really hard not to fail. But here's the deal - I want to hear yours too.
Let's be friends k?
And hopefully something exciting happens tomorrow so I don't bore your pants off...
Here's what happened:
I am on a packed train, blessed with a seat and trying to catch up on some sleep, when three 16-ish year olds get on, one obviously a bit eccentric with his bleached afro-hawk and nose piercing and multiple tatoos, jewelry and red and black checkered skinny jeans. Dear boy. At first I wanted to be his friend. And then, he starts giggling with his friends and rapping Eminem's "Under the Influence" as loud as he could. Over and over again. I have refrained from writing out some of the lyrics here, so as not to do the same thing to you that he did to me. But you can click the title if you are super curious. Suffice it to say that it was obvious that he admired Eminem's disregard for what other people thought.
But then here's my thing: If he really did not care about what other people thought, why oh why did he make such a point of trying to get a reaction out of everyone around him (including the poor girl who tried getting on the train and was met by this strange boy humping the air)??
What is up with this generation? Are they so starved for attention that they will actually go to the extremes of wanting someone to get angry? Maybe I shouldn't generalize to the whole generation - I know not everyone is like that. But seriously, it made me so sad. What was going through his head? Is he so insecure that he wants to overcompensate by acting like he doesn't care? Do his parents completely suck? I wish I could understand people like him. I wish I could be his friend and show him that he can be loved, that he is in fact loved. How he doesn't need to try and incite a reaction out of someone to get attention.
Ugh. But I am no one. And talking to him would have ended with him laughing in my face and getting exactly what he wanted - a reaction. I hate being so helpless in these situations. I mean I don't want to pretend like I know what's going on in his head, but at the same time I know that something is going on, you know?
Well, I just pray that he meets someone who can talk to him. Who does have some kind of a say in his life and his future. Cause I mean, if he harnesses that energy and outgoingness for good, he will be a force to be reckoned with. Fo shizzle. Ha, maybe then we could be friends. :)
How many of you have been hurt by The Church? (I use its proper noun form when I mean the people who make up what we call The Church, not the building itself of course. Unless a church fell on you, or you tripped over an old rug and bumped your head and got a concussion...ok I digress...) Anyway, I'm being serious here. Who is mad at The Church?
Ok I'll start. I am.
Can I vent for a second? I hate it when churches invest millions of dollars in fancy chairs and a fancy stage and other things that don't seem too important WHEN THERE ARE STARVING PEOPLE OUTSIDE THEIR DOOR. Now I do understand wanting the House of God to be warm and welcoming, and even beautiful (I mean, ancient Jewish temples were immaculate, but in a good way usually. They lived in reverence to God and wanted His House to be the most beautiful place they entered...but of course there is a fine line between revering God and merely trying to please Him [remember grace?] but that's a whole different story.)
So that's part I do hate. The selfish, striving, "I'm right and you're wrong" kind of attitude.
But that isn't why I go to church every Sunday.
Yesterday I went to this great little church in East Harlem. The worship team might not have made it too far on American Idol, but they loved the Lord, and they sang to Him. Everyone was dancing and shouting and praying out loud. And smiling.
I looked over to my right and saw a woman leaning against the wall. She was obviously not feeling too good, and kept rubbing her neck - it looked like she had some back pain. I saw a woman in the row in front of me get up and go over to her and start rubbing her shoulders and talking to her. She kept rubbing her shoulders for a while. That other woman started smiling.
That's what it's all about my friends.
Like I've said many times before, people screw up. And unfortunately, people have given The Church, and Christ himself, a bad name. But you don't go to church because of those people. You go to church to worship the one who made you, and to love those whom He made.
I encourage you to find a place where these people are - people who love the Lord and people you can relate to. People you can find fellowship and friendship with. I promise they are out there. And it has made all the difference in the world to me.
I love this verse. I love it because it taught me a very valuable lesson.
I grew up thinking that churches suck. God is good, men are hypocrites. And in a way, sadly, I was right. Many times, Christians do not live up to the Christ they follow. Because of that, I did (and still do sometimes) have a hard time calling myself a Christian. I do not want to be one of those people with the Jesus sticker on their car who flips off the guy who is driving too slow.
Anyway. I found myself going from one extreme to the other. I didn't want to suck. I wanted to be good. I would strive to be good, to be the girl I was supposed to be. I didn't want to disappoint Him.
But here's the deal kids: we do not have the power to take ourselves out of the love of God. You don't even have to believe in God for Him to love you. I mean, He kind of is love. That's just how He rolls.
So then I had this beautiful revelation of grace - this love that we do not deserve, but that we are entitled to just for being the children of God, followers of Christ. Because in case you don't know about this Jesus dude, He is actually God who came down as man and said "Hey, I know there is this law that says if you sin against God, you have to be removed from Him, which is the equivalent of death, but God doesn't like being away from you. So, what I'm gonna do is take your place. If you will just accept me and this sacrifice I am making for you, you will never have to be removed from God. He can be with you always."
Awesome deal right? Yes. So Jesus dies and leaves His spirit to take His place and give us guidance...but then we start going to extremes again. We say, "Sweet, we can do whatever we want and know that we are forgiven because we can just pull the Jesus card and be forgiven! Yay for grace!"
Well crap, that can't be right either. Grace can't be an excuse to do whatever you want.
You see, the thing that really happened when Jesus came down and took our place was this: He opened up the door and allowed you to know God more intimately by leaving us all with the Holy Spirit which He left when his body died. Grace does not mean the law does not exist, it just means that the law is now "written on our hearts" (check out Jeremiah 31:31-34 and 2 Cor 3). We can know God (to a certain extent) and if we know Him, we can love Him. And if we love Him, we obey Him. Because to obey the Lord of creation is GOOD.
Am I making sense here? Grace does not entitle us to do what we want, it just gives us the freedom to know God and to love love love. Because that is why we are here. To love.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." -2 Cor 3:17-18
Churches don't have to suck. Yeah we are human and we mess up, and grace does say that we are forgiven, that we are not bound by rules and legalistic attidudes (i.e. like the Pharisees), but what the Lord says is still true too. He is still God. And we still need to love Him. And to love Him is to love His people, His children - who also happen to be your brothers and sisters if you think about it. Let's be a family again guys.
Have you ever seen Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind? Surely you have. Ok well since that movie I have always wanted to visit this little place called Montauk. It's a beach town on the tip of Long Island. In the movie, the main characters meet in Montauk and there's snow and it's just beautiful. I finally got to go! I brought along my trusty holga with a roll of slide film (I got it cross processed - hence the funky colors on some of them) and a roll of 15-year-expired film that Stephen and I found in an abandoned house. Yeah. Awesome. (The ones with the black borders are the expired film; the ones that have the Fuji negative borders are the cross processed chrome film.)
I went with my friends Stephen, Taylor, Philip, and my new roommate Mandy. The beach still had some snow on it, and around the bend there was a rocky shoreline with even more snow - so beautiful!
Then of course we found a little frozen puddle/pond (did I mention it was freezing! seriously, like 3 degrees or something) and we did a little ice skating. Or sliding rather. I just kind of scooted though (awesome video of this here).
And then my favorite part - the lighthouse!
This was seriously such a fun trip. Thanks to this guy for scanning and editing my film. (You can see more awesome photos by following that link as well :) )
It is good to spend good time with good friends. Take more time to do that.