what is grace anyway?

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
-Gal 5:13

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.



meet me in montauk.

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.



hurting those you love the most.

Do you do this too? Why?

I find it so much easier to hurt the people I love the most. How silly that it's the people I would gladly give my life for are the ones who receive my wrath more often than anyone else - or instead of anyone else.

I guess I assume they will always forgive me? But even so, why hurt them? When you love someone, aren't you supposed to will their highest good, and then help them achieve that good? So why instead do I insist on speaking out of anger and saying whatever it is that I am thinking when I KNOW it will hurt this person deeply? That is not love my friends. Not love.

But really is it just me or is anyone out there feeling like me too? Do I have another broken piece in my brain that forgets to tell me when I am saying awful things that no one should have to hear, especially the person that I love and who somehow loves me too even though I am the way that I am. I mean if anything, that person is demonstrating true love - being able to forgive constantly and love unconditionally. That's what Jesus teaches after all.

Ok I'm just ranting now. I just want to know how to fix it. I do not want to be the greatest source of pain for someone to whom I am supposed to be the greatest source of joy (second to the Lord, of course). But this is like a life-long struggle. So what do I do?