Sunday, April 29, 2007

Contentness in Singleness

During the sermon today my pastor spoke on singleness. He focused on the blessing a single person get from spending their life passionately following Christ and spreading a passion for him to others around them. The joy of having a child in Christ as a fellow believer is far greater than marriage and children of your own. It was a good reminder to me to stay content in whatever stage of life I am in at the time. A poem I wrote several months ago came to my mind as I thought on this topic. This is a free verse poem that talks about my promise ring and my resolve to not only remain pure but to also save my heart for my future husband if that is God's will or to save it for service to my King.

The Garden Wall

The ring sits, sparkling on my finger,
like a wall around the garden of my heart.
Placed on my left hand as a symbol,
the symbol of love but of a special kind.

The diamonds and sapphire, sit in splendor,
like a riot of blossoms giving a glimpse of my heart.

Only one will see behind that wall,
only one will behold the riches inside.

Inside the wall lies my heart in waiting,
and from it flows the spring of my life.
Inside the wall lies my first kiss in waiting,
saved for the one and given at the altar.

The garden is closed for the time,
to all but the gardener, the one who
created it and fuels the spring.

Until the day one is granted the right to enter,
my love is solely for the gardener.
My life is His to weed out imperfections.
and to fertilize new hope and joy.

My love is here in the garden,
waiting for the one
with the right to enter.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Part 2 - The actual story

Setting and Conflict

Leah stood in the back of the room contemplating on where to sit. As she gazed around she was excited and intimidated with so many people. She went through this every Wednesday night at youth group. Every week the girl would tell herself to be brave and sit with some of the other girls she desperately wanted to be friends with but when the time came she did not have the courage or she waited too long to get a space in the row. Most nights now Leah just gave in to her fear and sat in one of the back rows. Those nights either one of the leaders would take pity on her and sit next to her or she would end up next to some kids who would rather whisper and giggle through the lesson instead of listen. Did she have the courage? Not tonight, she gave in again. As Leah slid into the second to last row she wondered why this happened to her not only in youth group but also at her school classes. She did great one-on-one with people or with small groups she knew, but in a crowd she was ignored.
"Hi, is anyone sitting here?" a cheerful voice asked. Leah looked up and saw Megan, one of the leaders smiling down at her.
"No, I guess not," Leah responded still deep in thought.
"How's your week? Is school going good? I don't think I saw you in Sunday school last Sunday." Megan inquired. The common questions Leah had come to expect were asked. How should she respond? Leah looked at Megan trying to decide whether she truly cared or was just being a polite leader doing her job. No it actually seemed like Megan wanted to be her friend.
Leah tried to answer the questions honestly but had a hard time giving too much detail, "It's been a long week but I'm doing okay. School and work tend to be tiring, I have a lot to do. As for Sunday school I don't go because I'm working with Children's Ministry Sunday mornings." I guess I do have some friends in Sunday school Leah thought, even if they are only five or six, they will love anyone. Just as Megan began to ask another question Josh the youth pastor walked to the front to welcome everyone. Leah took her cue and walked around the side of the room and then up to the front and took her place behind a microphone. One of her musical passions besides playing the piano was singing with the youth band for her high school group. As with any type of music, Leah was able to escape reality for the ten minutes she was on stage doing the background vocals.
"That was great. I didn't know you were on the worship team," Megan whispered as Leah sat back down after worship.
"Thanks, I love to do it," Leah responded politely. Another person I am invisible to thought Leah. She had been on the worship team for the past year singing almost every week. Would anyone ever know who she really was?
"Tonight we are going to be talking about friendship. What is a friend? How do you pick true friends? And how can you be a friend?" Josh's voice broke through Leah's thoughts causing her to jerk up as the lesson started.
"Great, this is what everyone needs to hear," Leah muttered to herself but as the lesson started she was proved drastically wrong. As the lesson went on Leah soon realized that everyone else didn’t need this talk, she did. How could she forget about all the people who were friendly to her? Every female leader knew her by name and said hi to her each week. There were several nurses she new that where always happy to talk to her about what to expect in nursing school and give her all the tips should could want. There were the kids who knew her as Miss Leah and were thrilled to see her and talk to her every time they saw her. There was the worship team who encouraged her to be on the team and thanked her for coming in each week to practice. There was Krista who would listen to her talk for hours and would laugh and cry with her. And there was her mom who would quietly encourage and guide her. The reason Leah thought that she had no friends was because she was not being a friend to others. She had built a wall around her with fear. She was the one that needed to open up and start to include others in her life. After the lesson ended, Leah stood up with an ear-to-ear grin as she looked around the room at all the people she could befriend, not all the people who needed to befriend her. The world was full of opportunities but Leah had to step out to take hold of her chances.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A story of my life - Part 1

Last month for my literature class we had to write about a character then put that character in a conflict. I'll post the character part here and give the story in a day or so. Names and some details have been changed. Some of the minor characters do exist but some are fictional. This struggle Leah, the main character, will go through is a struggle I'm have been through. Leah has found the simple answer but it is never as easy in real life as on paper so I am still searching for my own answer to the problem.

The Character

The people who knew Leah would say that she is nice but no one really knew who she was. Leah was a junior in high school who was trying to find her place in life. She was quiet and reserved around her peers and would often get lost in the background. When around adults Leah would enter her comfort zone and flourish but how can a teenager become friends with an adult? She considered herself to be average looking, not the prettiest but not ugly. She didn't dress in the most fashionable or colorful clothing but always looked nice and professional. While at youth group some kids would ask her if she was a leader and almost everyone else thought she had to be a senior because of the maturity in her actions. When at work she was often identified as twenty or twenty-two instead of her sixteen, going on seventeen years. A perfectionist like her father and grandfather, Leah always did the best she could in school and maintained high grades in order to get scholarships for college. She had wanted to be a nurse most of her life and was focused on achieving that goal so she could travel the world helping others. Leah often thought about her future. Would she ever find someone who would love her for who she was? Would her life have a purpose? Could she make a difference in her world? Would she ever be able to say that she had friends? Leah loved being around people and worked with the children at her church as much as she could. At work Leah also worked with people helping them with directions and answering questions and complaints. She loved what she did but it was also draining on her to always deal with angry and stressed out customers. Leah spent much of her free time pouring over her piano where her emotions came though the music and she was able to escape the realities of life if only for a little while. Leah's one friend was also a source of comfort and encouragement. When around Krista, Leah became a totally different person. Krista was one of the few people who could make Leah relax and act her true self – fun loving, a little crazy at times.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Beauty of Submission

During the sermon this morning my pastor talked about a wife's role to be submissive. He based his sermon on 1 Peter 2:13 - 3:8. Several of his points really stuck out to me, encouraging and challenging my actions.
The definition of submission (or as much as I could get in my notes) is: A divine calling of the wife to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help him carry it out using her gifts.
Often we think of submission as losing the right to be an individual, unique and special. Submission is not: agreeing with everything the husband says (can disagree when he is not a Christian), leaving you brain and will at the wedding alter (you can think for yourself), avoiding every effort to change a husband (can win him to Christ without saying a word), putting husband's will before Christ's will (He is supreme over everything), getting all spiritual strength from husband, acting out of fear of husband (submission is a free choice).
As I was listening to the sermon I thought how can this apply to me? As a student with any prospect of marriage at least five years out how can I apply this teaching in my own life? A wife's submission is just one species of submission. In 1 Peter 2:13 and following it talks about everyone's submission to God foremost, government, and masters (bosses). 1 Peter 2:17 stuck out to me 1 Peter 2:17 "Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor."

The other part of the sermon was on Biblical womanhood based on 1 Peter 3:3-6. It say that women should not have external adornment, braiding of hair, wearing of gold, and putting on of clothing. This does not mean that all these are bad and you cannot do them, but we need to focus our time and energy in beautifying our inner souls. Biblical womanhood's deepest root is hope in God not in looks or finding the perfect husband. This hope yields fearlessness and brings a maturity that is aware of the suffering to come. And she makes beauty of matter of proportion and priority focusing on the adornment of tranquil, gentle, quiet, serene inner spirit. When a Godly woman yearns after these three things, hope in God, fearlessness, and adornment of the inner spirit, submission and true beauty will grow from it.

All in a days work

Work can be fun and encouraging or it can be stressful and draining. I've worked 17 hours since Thursday and another 4 1/2 on Monday which may not seem like much but is about double the hours for me. So, I'm going share some lessons I learned and revelations I had while standing in a skyway for 3 hours.

1. Not all hospitals validate parking. Don't badger staff when they say that they can't validate your parking ticket it's because they don't have a stamp.

2. When all else is quiet, heating systems can be extremely loud and a footstep can be heard from down the hall and around the corner. Silence can be great for thinking but too much can force you to talk to yourself or wave at security cameras.

3. Yes, greeters do have to stand for long periods of time and asking them why they cannot sit down and saying they should complain to their boss doesn't help the greeter to feel any better.

4. When someone comes up to you and says that they broke their finger last night, wrapped it in scotch tape, are just coming into the ER, starts to call you 'sis,' and says that they 'saw the stars' when their finger broke you have the right to feel afraid, very afraid.

5. Having the president of a company wander around the building throughout the day will put employees on edge. Besides creating more stress, this will improve productivity and perfectionism.

6. Mistakes happen to everyone and they aren't the messenger's fault. Be patient and accept a sincere apology. The messenger normally knows just as much as you.

7. If you ever buy uniforms, show kindness to your employees and don't get anything made of polyester. It traps the cold, winter wind and the hot, summer sun inside.

8. Be ready with small talk to discuss with cashiers, greeters, receptionists, and anyone else you briefly interact with. They've already asked others about today's weather 40 times.

9. Whenever you have a doctor's appointment at an office within a medical complex know: the doctor's name, the doctor's specialty, the name of the clinic, the address of the clinic, the name of the building it's in, the closest parking ramp, and why you are seeing the doctor in lay terms. Also, arrive with plenty of time to spare so you can get lost five times before getting the right directions.

10. When interacting with workers who serve you (receptionists, greeters, customer service representatives, cashiers, waiters, etc.) show your thanks and appreciation. They are not at a lower social standing because of their job position. Be polite and patient. The best way to show appreciation, encourage them, and receive better service is to use their name while interacting with them and thank them by name. You can brighten anyone's day up by simply showing them that they are an individual person with their own name.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Similies, Metaphors, and Personifications

Since school and life have been busy I don't have must time to be creative and write anything new but I have to keep writing so my few, thought faithful, readers will continue looking this up. I share with you some similes, metaphors, and personifications I came up with (with the help of prompts) for my literature class. You might get an idea of the crazy way my mind works at times. My favorite one is the second personification on winter. Writing it was a highly comical scene as my mother and I sat at Starbucks drinking our hot chocolate. Books, papers, and homework surrounded me as we sat at a corner table blocked in by business people. When no ideas for the personification came immediately I became frustrated. My frustration grew as the ideas finally came but made no sense to anyone. I sat in the corner, shifting around in my chair and making large hand motions trying to get my mom to follow my train of thought (which is hard on a normal day). As I talked the assignment out the stares became more and more frequent and more and more sceptical. I'll just say that in the end it did work out, at least my teacher like it which is all that really matters. :) I hope this brings a smile to you day.

1. Rain on a roof sounds like the pitter-patter of small, bare feet on a wooden floor.

2. Ice cream on a hot day tastes like an unexpected day off at work.

3. Jumping into cold water on the first day of summer vacation feels like opening a present on Christmas Eve.

4. Summer is a child’s weekend.

5. A fierce thunderstorm is a step in life; trouble some at times but leading to rejuvenation.

6. Growing up is a journey, constantly moving, forever learning, and always experiencing new things.

7. A tree (try personifying it as old and wise)
The tree sits back as he watched his grandchildren sprout up around him. As life comes to a close he spends his days sharing his tales and instilling truth in them. All to often though, the children run, missing a once in a lifetime chance they will soon regret ignoring.

8. Winter (personify it anyway you want)
Winter glides into the ballroom, her skirt of snow swirls across the floor as she flutters throughout the room. The other dancers give way to her brilliance but they cannot be kept away for long. Spring soon stomps on Winter’s train, marring it with mud and Flowers will over take the floor shunning her out the door. Winter had her moment to shine but fame does not last.

Monday, April 9, 2007


I hope that all of my readers had a wonderful Easter. I thought I would share some of the blessings that God has shown me in the past weeks. I will start with Easter afternoon yesterday. My family invited my brothers entire college over for dinner (clarification: this includes 11 students, 10 came) and some other friends from church. After lunch my brother took all of the students on a walk down to the Mississippi River. It was a beautiful, crisp, sunny, spring day. I enjoyed taking nature photographs which I haven't done for several months. It was amazing to see God's handiwork in new spring buds, sunlight, and some lingering ice.

This past semester in my Wednesday night youth group meetings we have been studying the book of Galatians. At our last meeting several works stuck out to me: righteous, faith, trust, rely. "Righteous" talks about the children of God and ties in with "faith" which is what we need to have in order to be saved. Many of us try to do things on own our, take our destiny into our own hands, or make our own decisions which is a matter of pride in our hearts. When this happens we must "trust" in Christ that he has a plan for our lives and that his plan is perfect. Secondly, we need to "rely" on his timing and way of doing things. So often in the past week I have felt like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, at these times I need to trust and rely on Christ. I have relaxing into God's arms as he eases the weight off. I need the constant reminder that I will not figure life out on my own but need regular doses of prayer and trust.

Although this post is getting long, I would like to share one more event that shook my life this week. My best friend's father has been in Iraq with the Army on his second tour of duty for the past year and a half. The past Friday we had a joyous welcoming home for him at the airport. At the airport I hung back while he talked with the other adults but after saying hi to my dad he came over and almost immediately asked how school was for me and if I was keeping my grades up. I answered that I was staying busy but have been able to keep high grades so far. His response to my answer blew me away. He said that he had been praying for me! Here is a man who is across the world in a war zone worry about a million different things and he took time to pray for me and my school classes. A grade seems like such a little thing compared to the problems that he faced. I was humbled as I thought back to how often I had actually prayed for him which were very few and far between. If a soldier in Iraq can have such a strong dedication to pray for friends back home how strong can my prayer life be. How often do I point blank as my friends how their life is truly going and how I can pray for them. I hope this is an encouragement to give your worries to Christ so that you can slow down and take time to pray for those around you.