Thursday, March 31, 2011

I'm In!

I'm in! It's done! I'm officially a member of the D.A.R!

For those of you who haven't read my earlier post on the subject (including the necessary Gilmore Girls references), this has been in the works for about eight months or so. Only one person in my family—someone who branched off my family tree way up there, whom I've never met—has become a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution (D.A.R.), so I had to do a bunch of genealogy research and complete a huge application. Then it had to go to the headquarters in D.C. and pass rigorous evaluation by the super strict genealogists in their employ. Then I had to be voted in by a council or something. Then I was assigned an official D.A.R. number.

Seriously. It's quite the process.

I found out I was official just before my meeting on Wednesday. I've been going to these D.A.R. meetings knowing—well, hoping—that I'd be official one day. I have a name tent and a button, but I've always felt like a guest. Couldn't really volunteer for much, being "unofficial" and all. Didn't have much to say at meetings.

But now? I'm in. I'm a part of it. I even talked at the meeting tonight! I had input! I counted!

On the way home from my meeting, I thought about what a difference that makes. Being "official," I mean. I feel like I'm truly part of the organization. I'm a member. I'm allowed to talk about the D.A.R. from the perspective of someone who knows what she's talking about.

When do you reach that point in Christianity? Right after you're baptized? That means you're in, doesn't it? You get the Holy Spirit and everything! Or maybe it's not until you become a member of a church. Then you're actually committed. You've settled down. You've said to the world, "I'm in it for the long haul now! I'm going to be a learning, growing Christian!"

Unless you become a member and don't actually go. That so doesn't count.

So when do you get to talk about Christianity with any authority? How do I get to have a blog and write about God all the time? What special council voted me in? Do I get a number and stuff?

Hmm. I'm not sure. What do you think?



P.S. - Now that I've finished all the seasons of Gilmore Girls, I've learned that they barely say anything about the D.A.R. Bummer.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sex and God and Religion and Stuff

I get really irritated with people blaming religion for things. I've read it in several places recently—blog posts, articles, Tweets. Religion does this or that to people. Religion keeps people repressed in all sorts of ways. Religion is awful, essentially, and screws people up.

Here's the difference: Religion may do those things, but God doesn't.

Religion was created by man. Religion is the manner in which you worship or believe, and it's a set of rules and traditions. It's an earthly system created by fallen people. Of course it's going to have flaws. We're human. And most of us are lousy ones, at that. When you put the religion up on a pedestal—religion and the people who are in charge of it—you're going to be disappointed.

Humans make mistakes. Humans misinterpret things. Humans look out for their own best interest sometimes, even when they're supposed to be looking out for others. It's how we are. It's awful.

One thing that I read recently said that people are sexually repressed because of religion. I'll bet that's true for a lot of people.

But you know what? That's not on God.

Have you ever read Song of Songs in the Bible? It's a whole book about how awesome sex is! It's a married couple talking back and forth about sex. What they like about the other's body, how they long for each other when they're apart, how awesome sex is when they're together.

God invented sex. It's intended to be fun and awesome.

But humans have a tendency to go overboard. I mean, even Solomon (who wrote Song of Songs and was the wisest man who ever lived) had, like, 700 wives or something. And 300 concubines.

That was not God's intention. That totally came from a dude's brain.

So humans went to the other extreme. Some, like the Shakers, wouldn't allow men and women—even husbands and wives!—to sit next to each other. Or sleep in the same bed. Or procreate. For reals.

That was not God's intention, either. I'm not sure who thought that was a good idea. That's why there are only three remaining Shakers. Three.

When you're not sure what to think about Christianity, go to the source—the Bible. God. Don't take someone's word for it. Don't rely on this denomination or that to tell you what's up, since they all have different ideas and (man-made) rules set in place. Go straight to The Book and see what it says. I think you'll be surprised.

And, actually, you may be most surprised by the freedom it has for you. Not oppression.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Call to War

You are dangerous.

Did you know that?

You are a threat.

If you only knew.

The world would be different if everyone knew.

Do you know that he’s scared of you?

That he’ll run from you?

Resist the devil, and he will flee.

Stand up to him, and he’ll show his cowardice.

But…

Do you know how to stand up to him?

Do you know how to be a threat?

You have one weapon.

You only need one weapon.

Just say the Word.

Jesus did.

“If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

“It is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

When Satan tells you to worry and be afraid, tell him:

I won’t be anxious about anything! In all things, through prayer and petition, I’ll present my requests to God, and his peace, which is beyond all understanding, will guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.

When Satan wants you to doubt God and His love for you, say:

Neither life nor death, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, my Lord.

When Satan wants you to believe that God will abandon you, that God will leave you alone and helpless, you tell him:

God began a good work in me, and He will carry it to completion!

Then watch Satan run.

Watch his demons scatter.

He can’t stand up to God.

He has already lost. He knows it.

His only revenge is to break us down.

Tempt us.

Lie to us.

Get us to doubt.

But God is bigger than temptation and lies and doubt.

God will help us.

God has helped us.

All we need to do is prepare.

Before temptation comes. Before we are attacked.

We need to be equipped with an arsenal of Truth.

We must have strength of conviction.

We must surrender to the sheer strength of the Lord.

First, submit to God.

Submit to God and know His Word.

Submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.

Be dangerous.


Are you dangerous?


Friday, March 25, 2011

Friendly Friday: Not a DIY Life

It's a guest-posty kind of week here at The Lazy Christian! I've been out and about for two days, and now it's Friendly Friday! Where does the time go?

Today's blogger is Heather from Not a DIY Life! Yes, that's where my guest post showed up yesterday. It's like a swap this week! Heather is a swell gal who has completely turned her health around in the last year or so, and her blog is not only Christiany, it's healthy.

Do not expect such miracles here at The Lazy Christian.

I can really identify with Heather's post today, as it's something I've been struggling with lately. So read on, and then show her some love over at Not a DIY Life!

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Priorities. Do we find time for them? Or do we make time for them? Is it really true that what we spend the most time on reflects our real priorities?

Since becoming a mother, I’ve struggled with making time for private time with God. The struggle actually started when I got married. It was so much more tempting to stay snuggled in bed with a warm husband than to get out of bed early and spend time in a darkened room with a lamp, a blanket and my Bible.

But when our precious bundle came along, all semblance of consistency went out the window, along with a “normal” sleep routine! She is almost four, so maybe I need to get this “making time” thing figured out.

And it’s not like I don’t make time for other things. A little over a year ago, I had a wake-up call with my health and realized that I needed to get healthy. I’ve changed the way I eat, and I make time for exercise six mornings a week. Unless I get up at 4:30am, which doesn’t happen, my early-bird child is awake by the time I’m finished with my workout and I jump straight into parenting duties.

So morning quiet time doesn’t happen anymore. I miss it. I miss the consistency, I miss the connection, I miss the stillness that comes over my soul when I spend time with God.

I have tried to build prayer into my daily routine, which is good. I have prayer books and devotional books stashed around the house. If I have two spare minutes, I can pick one up and read a page.

When I’m stopped at a red light, or have to wait for a lot of traffic before making a turn, I stop and say a short prayer of thanks that God keeps us safe while we’re out and about.
When I’m watering plants, I breathe a prayer of wonder at God’s creation and that He allows me to be part of it by caring for living things.

When I’m running in the pre-dawn light with only the sounds of my breathing and footfalls on the pavement, God and I talk a lot.

When I’m lying with my child at bedtime, waiting for sounds of sleep, I pray over my daughter, for her safety, for her future, for her to grow in wisdom and love of the Lord.

But…

That consistent, devoted time to be still isn’t there. And I miss it. Especially on busy days when everything seems out of control. And on hard parenting days.

Thankfully, I’m a work in progress. Thankfully, God gives me another chance every day to make time to spend in His presence. And that’s what it comes down to. Do I find time, or do I make time?

I want to make time, because He is worthy and I need Him.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guest Post at Not a DIY Life!

Today I have another guest post over at Not a DIY Life! Go check it out and read some of Heather's healthy blogging!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Guest Post at Relevant Brokenness!

I'm not posting here today—I'm over at my pal Marni Arnold's blog, Relevant Brokenness! While you're there, be sure to check out some of Marni's wonderfully thoughtful writing!  :)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

What Happened?

It seems like such a simple question. We hear that something happened—somewhere, to someone—and we ask, “What happened?” We want to know the details. We want them to retell whatever it is so we can know. Whether it happened to them or to someone else, we want the info.

Our reasons vary. Sometimes we want to pray for whatever it is and be able to pray specifically. But sometimes—sometimes—it’s just for our own interest. Just because we want to know.

Psst—that’s called gossip.

Whether you’re on the telling end or the receiving end, gossip is gossip. I’m not going to lie—I struggle with both parts sometimes. Surprisingly, I’m a little better at not telling information than not receiving it.

When someone knows something and I don’t, it—it just burns in my chest, you know? It may be part of my desire to control, and I love to control information. I have to know everything. I’m a trivia queen. I know lots of stupid stuff (and a few useful things, too). I know facts about things you didn’t even know had facts. And I retain facts incredibly well. Indefinitely, even. To the point of annoyance.

Annoyance to others, that is.

This is why gossip is so hard for me to avoid. Not that I get a lot of it, mind you. I have super great friends who are very unwilling to partake in gossip. And I try not to ask for it—I try not to pry, not to ask for more information than I need. I also have to try not to share more information than is necessary. But this is actually easier, since I don't get any information from my friends.

Seriously. They're like Fort Knox.

Gossip can be hurtful. It can ruin friendships and families. While the sharing of information can bring people closer, in some situations it can drive them apart.

Do you struggle with gossip? What do you do if you find yourself in the middle of sharing it (or hearing it)? I want to know!

But, you know, I don't need to know...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Get Thee Behind Me, Jerkface

Another Sunday, another near-disaster.

I was in another scene this week at church. This one was rehearsed for a couple weeks and really well done by everyone involved. But we got out on stage for the first service and my mic didn't work.

Again.

It was on! I checked! The booth just wasn't getting a signal. The stage manager had to come out and sneak me a hand mic. The scene actually went really well despite that little problem, and the other services were just fine.

My husband had a rough morning, too. He was playing electric guitar in the praise band, and a bunch of things went wrong for him—he forgot his capo, they changed they key of one of the songs and he didn't know, there were problems with the in-ears or something. He had a long list.

But you know what? None of that came back on God. We were sitting around talking between services and someone mentioned that our scene and our church service as a whole must really be effective if Satan was going to such great lengths to sabotage it.

Oh. It's not God messing things up. It's Satan.

Why didn't I think of that?

And who let him into church? On a Sunday? For reals?

If you've never thought of Satan as a real entity who is actively working against you, think again. He is quite capable of getting all up in our stuff and messing it up.

The sermon yesterday was about making the decision to go against culture—and the drama was about two people living together without being married and a father with a moral objection. That sort of thing is bound to step on a lot of toes. Maybe even change some people's minds about how they're living their lives. Satan certainly doesn't want that. He wants people to go on doing whatever they want to do and not bringing themselves under the authority of God.

You know what's funny? As I sit here writing this, I'm concerned about how my readers will react. Surprisingly, Satan can be a divisive thing. How he interferes—whether he does at all—can make people argue. But the Bible indicates he is real—a lot. It talks about Satan interfering and trying to take you away from God. That's how Satan gets back at God: misleads God's people and breaks God's heart.

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8


He's really a jerk. I'm pretty sure God wouldn't have a problem with me saying that.

On Sunday, what Satan wanted us to do was have bad attitudes. Get grumpy about things, get grumpy with God, let that rub off on the people around us, not focus on what we were there to do and who we were there to worship. I'm sorry to admit that I let it get to me more than I should have. When someone brought up Satan messing with stuff, it actually made me proud to be a part of something that would irritate him so much.

So let's give Satan his due—make sure he gets credit for all the lousy things that go on. When you hate yourself? Satan. When someone is cruel and violent? Satan. When things try to interfere with others knowing Jesus? Satan.

Yes, let's give Satan all that junk. What can you attribute to Satan? I'll bet there's more than you even realize.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Friendly Friday: Eternal Lizdom


Welcome to Friendly Friday! Sorry I've been MIA all week. Just one of those weeks, you know?

But today's Friendly Friday won't disappoint! Her name is Liz from Eternal Lizdom. I had the pleasure of meeting her last month, but I feel like we've gotten to know each other so much better since then simply through our Tweeting and blogging. 

Tweeting and blogging. What weird words. Isn't the Interweb so weird?

Anyhoo.

Please enjoy this post from Liz, and be sure to check her out over at Eternal Lizdom!

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Eternal Lizdom


First, I just have to say that I am so excited to be part of The Lazy Christian!  I met Rachel back in February when we attended an event together at the Indiana Statehouse, but I feel like she and I have so much in common and have this fantastic connection!  And I was so thrilled when she asked me to write a post.

But what on earth would I write about?

Rachel suggested sharing something I struggle with when it comes to my faith.

Sometimes, I struggle with life.  I rarely struggle with faith.

Let me explain that a bit.

Early in my life, I faced a lot of difficulties.  In the midst of those hard times, things happened that were solid proof—for me—that God existed and that God was all about love.  And that even when really bad things happen, He is with me. 

Here is what I know, believe, hold dear, cling to, and more

  1.  God loves us.  All of us.  Any of us.  You, me, him, her, them.  It’s a love without definition and without limits.  It’s a love beyond our comprehension. 
  2.  God doesn’t make bad things happen or create bad things or plan bad things.  Life is full of hard times.  That’s life. I think God takes care of us in the hardest times.
  3. God celebrates with us and delights in us.  This is my favorite part!  I think of God in that parental role—watching us, delighting in us when we make the best choices, when we help others, when we learn, when we laugh, when we praise.

One of the hardest lessons I've had to learn is the importance of a church family. I grew up in a church.  My mother’s father was a pastor.  Church was very important in my childhood, but I grew up in a more conservative congregation where the pulpit was used to separate “us” from “them.”  That part never felt right.  So when I left home for college, I left church behind as well.  I searched for the answers.  I knew that there had to be a place that recognized God’s love for what it was- but I wasn’t searching in the right places.  I visited churches and faiths and learned so much about spirituality and belief and faith.  My belief in God never faltered- but my eyes had been opened to all of the beauty in all of the different ways that we worship and turn to Him.

I did eventually find a church home and over the past few years, as I’ve begun to raise a family in my church home, I am realizing more and more how much that love expands and grows and takes a life of its own when you have a family to share it with.  Can I love on my own?  Can I care and give and help on my own?  Absolutely.  Is there a greater depth when I can share my passions, my worries, my joys with others who understand and come from the same place?  Absolutely. 

Life can be a struggle.  Life can shred your soul, dislodge your compass, leave you questioning everything you thought you knew.  I have been hit with big problems and little problems.  I have suffered through terrible times and limped my way through everyday stress.  And there is more of it ahead of me.  Life isn’t all sunshine and roses.  But having those hard time makes the gift of sunshine and roses even sweeter. 

What I continue to work on is figuring out where I can make a difference. What I have control over. Where I have a choice versus what I can’t do anything about so I need to turn it over to God until I see what my choices are.  When life is hard, when stress overwhelms, when the kids are acting up, I’m overscheduled, my husband and I are in a fight, money is too tight, the house is dirty, and work is slamming me with projects—sorting all of that out into what I can take action on and what I need to let God handle can be hard.  

I believe God gave me my instincts, my feelings, my brain as tools to get through hard times and to help others in their hard times.  Learning to trust Him and to trust and use those tools he gave me on a consistent basis, having that full trust in Him and His intention for my life— that is the part I strive to stay focused on day in and day out.  Life works hard to pull me down sometimes.  But remembering those three points up there—God loves me, God doesn’t make the bad things happen, God delights in my good choices—guides me through those hard times.

If you are going through hell, keep going.  Winston Churchill

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Psalm 46:1


© Eternal Lizdom 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Grumpy with God (Revisited)

In January, I posted about being grumpy with God. In that post, I said I'd never been grumpy with God myself.

Strike that. It happened Sunday.

Sunday morning—

Wait, let's back up.

Saturday afternoon, I was asked to do a monologue for Sunday morning (yes, I shared with you ahead of time—I wrote it, and I figure stuff I write is fair game for my blog). The idea had been tossed around, but not decided, so I had just a few hours to memorize the monologue. I was freaked out at first, but I got it under control and had the thing memorized and ready to go.

The first service was great. Well, not great. I got the thing out and only missed one line. That's great in my book. I prayed hard that God would carry me through it, and he did.

Then came second service.

I prayed again that God would carry me through, since did such a smashing job the first time. But then I got onstage and my mic wasn't working. The mic pack itself was on, so whether it was malfunctioning or I wasn't turned on at the soundboard is still up for debate. I had an awkward moment while I fiddled with the thing (which I typically don't do) and then something started to work.

I thanked God. Yes, he was going to carry me through again!

And then I had no idea what to say next. Not. A. Clue. I made something up. I went on.

Then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something moving. It was me on the ginormous screens next to the stage. The camera feed wasn't working first service, so this was new to me. It was in my peripheral vision and terribly distracting.

Again, I forgot what to say next. I made something up. I think I may have even skipped to the last few lines (which were the ones I had trouble memorizing to begin with) just to get myself off that blessed stage.

I was embarrassed. I was mad that my mic didn't work and that no one told me about the 20-foot-tall me, and I was mad that I messed up so horribly. I know that hardly anybody knew what I was supposed to say, but there were pauses so pregnant that they could have belonged to Octomom. I went home and sulked.

Then I had to stop sulking and go to the grocery. That's when the pain came in. My back with its ruptured disc, which God has so miraculously healed, started to hurt so much that I almost needed to call my husband in to rescue me out of the middle of the grocery. I ended up going through the checkout, and the ladies behind me were nice enough to empty my cart for me. A Meijer employee helped me put the bags in my trunk. Then I had to cancel plans with a friend so I could ice my back and try to forget about the most painful shopping trip ever.

What a day.

The only thing I could think of was, "God, why did you let me fail? I asked you nicely! You've carried me through before! And what's up with my back? I tell everyone how awesome you are because you healed it, and now it's messed up again. It doesn't make sense! I've been giving you all the glory for it—why would you want to mess that up?"

I know how awful all of that sounds. And how ridiculous the idea is of God trying to mess up my testimony. Why I assume God should do whatever I tell him to do is beyond me (and thanks to Rachel for pointing that out). He's not subject to my every whim, nor should he be. That's what makes him God and me Rachel.

I don't really have a lesson in all of this. I can't tie it up with a neat little bow today and tell you that I've got it all figured out. I don't. In fact, I think I kind of gave God the silent treatment today. So if this is the worst blog post you've ever read, you can put the blame squarely on that choice. My choice.

Oh, wait. I guess I did learn something. Just now. While writing that. Which means it's not entirely thought through, but...

When I'm angry at God, it's all me. My choice. God's not angry. God's not giving me the silent treatment back. I'm choosing to be grumpy with God. Choosing to think he didn't want to help me. So I can also choose not to be grumpy with God. Choose to wait for him to show me his reasoning. Wait for the miracles that could follow Sunday's episode if I'd just give him a minute to let his plans play out.

So that's what I'll do. I'll assume Sunday's awfulness is going to a good cause.

There's your bow, people.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Price of Admission

The other day, I had a very revealing parenting moment: I had to teach my son to say "I don't know."

Whenever I ask him anything—anything—he has an answer. If he doesn't have an answer, he makes one up. Usually nonsensical sounds that go together to make what he thinks is a word. An answer. (He's a toddler, after all.) So I had to spell it out for him and say, "When you don't know the answer to something. It's OK to say 'I don't know.' Can you say, 'I don't know?'" It was weird, but necessary.

Hmm. From whence does he get this strange trait? Let us examine this through an anecdote:

[insert yet-to-be-written "Rachel's Anecdote" song here]

My son happens to be an Elvis fan. Yes, this is my fault. I'm not, like, hang-out-on-the-lawn-of-Graceland crazy. But that may be because I don't live in Memphis. He's got an Elvis poster in his room, we listen to Elvis at home and in the car. He's even got a little Elvis RV from the movie Cars. The kid's crazy for the King.

Anyhoo, we (my husband, my son, and I) were listening to his Elvis mix in the car, and the song "King Creole" came on in the car. My husband asked him who sang that song, and he said "King Creole sing it." No, Elvis sings it. The song is about a guy called King Creole. "No, King Creole sing it." This argument went back and forth (literally—from the back seat to the front seat) for the remainder of the song. Then "Rock-A-Hula Baby" came on. I asked him who sang that one, and his answer was "Rock-a-hoo sing that one." No, Elvis sings it. I started to argue with him, but then I gave up and started singing along.

Then the kid made a sorry mistake.

He said, "Mama, let Elvis sing it!"

After the initial sting of my kid not wanting me to sing, I realized what he'd said. "A-HA!" I exclaimed. "Elvis does sing this song!" He laughed and said, "Noooooo, Mama! Rock-a-hoo! Rock-a-hoo!" Then I razzed him (unnecessarily, since he is a toddler) about how he just admitted Elvis sang it and mama was right all along. He continued to argue with me half-heartedly—laughing harder as he did so and only further admitting his error!—until we got home.

Let's take a look at my awesome parenting skills, shall we?

Angle 1: I argued with a two-year-old over who sings the songs "King Creole" and "Rock-a-Hula Baby," not willing to give in and let him go on with wrong information. I can't send my kid out into the world misinformed, can I?

Verdict: Good mom!

Angle 2: I argued with a two-year-old over who sings the songs "King Creole" and "Rock-a-Hula Baby" because I was right and he was wrong. And he clearly needed to admit that Mama was right.

Verdict: Eh. Not-as-good mom.

Hmm. I now see where my son gets it.

I'm always right. Even when I'm wrong, I'm still right. Somehow. I'll go down fighting, regardless. I rarely say, "I don't know." I always have an answer in some form or another.

This poses a problem when it comes to admitting things to God. Now, the situation is slightly different—for the most part, I know when I've done something wrong—but I have a really hard time making the words.

Some of you may be thinking, "Well, you don't need to say the words. God knows your heart! He knows you know what you did was wrong!"

That's not how repentance works, yo. I've got to actually admit my yuck to God. Bring it before him. Lay it out. Apologize. Ask him for the strength to do better next time. He does know my heart, but that's what makes it all the more important to just go ahead and admit I was wrong. He can see my screw-up. I can see my screw-up. It's the elephant in the room.

And you know how those elephants make everyone feel. Like when you and your friend have super awkward conversations because both of you know there's something you need to talk about and neither one of you wants to bring it up first? Well, it's like that with God, too. It interferes with your relationship with him. Makes it hard to pray when that stuff is clogging up the airways. Clogging up your heart.

So.

Get rid of the gunk. Give it all to God. He's got enough grace for whatever you did. And you know what? You'll probably do something else down the line. He'll have enough grace for that, too. He doesn't really run out of the stuff. You just have to ask for it.

Do you have a problem admitting you're wrong?


P.S. - Despite teaching my son the phrase "I don't know," he has yet to use it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Friendly Friday: Marni Arnold

Today's Friendly Friday comes from Marni Arnold, author of the blog Relevant Brokenness. Marni's not afraid to be honest and share her shortcomings—a girl after my own heart! She's very forthcoming about her faith struggles, and she's very insightful about them, as well. Plus she says super nice things about me (no, that's not how she got the guest post. But, you know, if that's something you want to do...). 

Make sure you take some time to check her out!


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Supported by my husband and some very supportive people in my life, recently I’ve entered counseling for the first time in eighteen years. The only other time I had gone to counseling before was for grief counseling when I was fifteen to help deal with the passing of my grandfather that I was having a hard time handling, as was my mother. She discussed the situation with me considering to go, but she made the ultimate decision “we’d” both go to counseling. Yet, now the tables are turned – and this is completely my own choice to go.

I struggled greatly as a child growing up, and when I was a teenager things didn’t ease up in the least. In fact, all I learned to do was push down anything I ever felt that was painful; and whenever I desired to (or actually did exercise my ability) to talk things out – I was met with resistance in one form or another. Usually, the resistance came in the images of my family, or friends distancing themselves from me. Either way, I walked around deeply wounded inside - and no one ever knew, because honestly that is how I believed I needed to walk around.

I believed people didn’t really want to know me – Marni. So I hid – and have for a very long time.

I’ve carried this belief about me up until very recently…and it has now just started coming to the surface that behaviorally I am a product of what I have allowed into my life; messages (more non-verbal, than verbal, messages) that I am worthless, not worthy of being listened to, and that I sincerely had nothing to offer anyone other than what others expect out of me. Yet, ten times out of ten, I’ve disappointed anyone and everyone (including myself) when I haven’t “measure up” to those standards set down before me.

Connecting this back to my journey of taking steps into counseling now, I am discovering a lot of this is stemming from very close women relationships in my life. From this, I found better connection with boys than I did girls because I was always listened to and understood by boys better – rather than dismissed and torn apart. This kind of mindset has followed me deeply into adulthood, and I’m starting to realize I am created for so much more as a woman; and I need to embrace the creation God made me to be.

This is a very deep struggle for me because of the trust factor with women. It sincerely is difficult to embrace myself completely as a woman because of the fear I will become the very things I have been hurt by with other women. Things like gossip, disappointment, distancing, passive-aggressive attitudes, and desires to persuade me to fit their molds.

How God is helping me through this fear though is calling me into ministry with women, and to seek out relationships with women - and simply trusting Him that He will make all things good concerning myself and women. He has called me to connect, and to also embrace the many things I do enjoy as a woman.

It’s not an easy step to make – but no step God calls us into that tests our faith will be without pain or fear. Faith is not walking in absence of fear or pain; it is walking in the midst of the fear and pain.
I’ve reached a point in my life to walk in this faith and to embrace the truth of who I am completely as a woman, and go for these relationships with women that have terrified me for years.

I am a complete work in progress, and if anything – that is what this struggle in my life has taught me above all else. God is unfolding me as He needs me to – I just need to trust, and have faith, that He knows what He is doing as He is revealing who He made me to be to myself, other women, and this world.

 © Marni Arnold, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Faith/Belief

Faith.

Belief.

Are they the same thing?

Not quite.

When I pull up to an intersection, I believe that when my light turns green, the other lights will stay red.

I believe it. That’s how it’s supposed to work. That’s what I’ve been told. What I’ve learned.

But that belief only becomes faith when I drive through that intersection.

When my belief turns to action.

When my foot hits the gas, that’s faith.

Right now, you’re at a stop light. A crossroads.

You have a choice.

You can simply believe. Keep your foot on the brake and sit there with knowledge of who God is and what Christ has done for you. Not let it impact your life at all.

Or you can hit the gas. You can make a move. Allow yourself to have faith.

Tell God, “God, I know you’re there, so I don’t want to stay here. Show me where you want me to go.”

And then go. Do what he wants you to do. Be who he wants you to be.

Without second-guessing. Without questioning him.

That’s faith.

It’s a choice. It’s an action.

You can believe and not have faith.

You can sit at this intersection forever.

Or you can step out in faith and allow your life to change. Forever.

So...

Do you have faith, or do you simply have belief?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Slow Fast

So my husband and I had the zany idea to do a Daniel Fast over Lent this year. The fast is based on Daniel and his buddies (from, you know, the book of Daniel) where they eat fruits and veggies instead of the hearty meats and fancy desserts the king offers them. Kind of a spiritual protest.

Don't worry, I'm not protesting anything. It's more of a spiritual "reset" button. And a physical one, as I fear I've become a sugar addict of late and my pancreas is getting cranky again. So it's fruits, veggies, legumes, whole grains. No sugar, nothing made with yeast, and only water to drink. Avoiding processed things. Here's the official list.

Yay...beans. Lots and lots of them. Beany goodness. Mmm.

Yesterday was officially Fat Tuesday at our house. We ate junk all day yesterday. Donuts for breakfast, Chick-Fil-A for lunch, nachos at Moe's for dinner. The nachos were vegetarian, if that counts for anything!

It doesn't. I know.

If I cross your mind, please pray for us. I'm also trying to cut down on the amount of TV I watch. My Roku player and my Netflix instant queue are awesome and awful at the same time. I have plenty of other things to do! I don't need to watch junk!

But I want to watch junk. Le sigh.

So pray for my husband and me as we embark on this reset of the spirit, body, and mind. It's going to be a long forty days.

And I don't know why they call it a fast. It's going to go soooooo sloooooowly...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hanging with the J-Dubs

Last summer, my doorbell rang. I opened it, and there stood a woman and a man.

She introduced herself as Diane, and the gentleman with her was her son (whose name escapes me). I think the first thing she asked me what was going to happen to the earth at the end of time.

I said, "Hmm. The Bible says that this world will pass away, and there'll be a new Heaven and a new Earth. I'm not sure if that means everything will be brand new or what 'passing away' looks like. I'm not super concerned. God's got it under control." She then engaged me in a conversation about living in the new heaven and earth.

The conversation didn't last much longer, but they left me with some literature to read over. It wasn't until I started looking through the materials that I realized they were—

*bum bum BAAAAAAAAH*

Jehovah's Witnesses.

Now, I've read books and taken classes on what other faiths and sects (and cults) believe. But when these people are standing right in front of you, it's hard to remember who believes what and what you're supposed to say.

Diane came back to my door a few more times, and—honestly—I hid. Straight up ducked and covered. Hid in the dark. Didn't answer the door. I felt guilty, and I could just see God shaking his head at me with a, "Tsk, tsk, tsk. I raised you better than that, Rachel."

But one day, I couldn't hide.

Diane and another woman happened to pull up as I was getting my son in the car to go to the grocery store. I couldn't very well ignore them. I may be chicken, but I'm not rude. We talked for just a moment, and then I did the unthinkable: I made an appointment with them. The following Monday at 10 a.m., Diane and another woman were going to come over and talk to me.

And I was going to be prepared.

I met with a pastor friend of mine. We talked thoroughly about what JWs believe about God, Jesus—the works. How to refute these things with Scripture. All of them. I was ready for battle.

Sooner than I anticipated, the day came. The doorbell rang. I knew who it was. I'd spent all morning reviewing my notes. I let them in. They sat down.

And I was utterly unprepared for what I felt.

In that moment, as I was ready to take them down in a hail of Scripture, God spoke into my heart. He said, "I love these women, too, Rachel." While my mind was prepared for a ruthless argument, God wanted me to show them love.

Interesting.

What was more interesting was their first question. They had me read an excerpt in one of their pamphlets that talked about the name "Jehovah." Not something I studied, honestly. Not something that occurred to me as important. I had not thought about this issue for one second. Not. One. Second.

All of my carefully prepared arguments? Useless.

So I prayed. I asked God to give me the words so I could say what they needed to hear. Diane explained to me that Jehovah was the English translation of the Hebrew name for God: YHWH (it was even printed in the literature like that). Which leads us to:

****************

A Short Play By Rachel: Lost in Translation

DIANE has just had RACHEL read an excerpt from a Watchtower brochure that mentions the "unpronounceable" name of God.

RACHEL:   Oh. You mean Yahweh? In the Hebrew?

DIANE:      Oh. You know that name for God?

RACHEL:   Well, yes.

DIANE:      So that is the personal name of God, and Jehovah is how it is translated into English. Do you know what's important about knowing God's personal name?

RACHEL:   Knowing his name helps us to build relationship with him. It's easier to talk to him when we know his name. We feel closer to him. But—one thing...

DIANE:      Yes?

RACHEL:   Why would I call God by a translated name when I can just say Yahweh?

DIANE:      (stating the obvious) Because it's in English. We speak English, so we'd use his English name.

RACHEL:   Yes, but I've been to several countries, and in those countries, I'm still Rachel. They don't translate my name into something else. In Italy, I was Rachel. In China, I was Rachel. Anywhere I go, people will try to call me by my given name, not translate it. God's name is the same, too. I mean, if Jesus came up to me and introduced himself, he'd probably call himself Jeshua. That was his given name, not Jesus.

DIANE:      (a bit shocked) And you'd call him that? You'd call him Jeshua?

RACHEL:   (jovially) Well, that's his name! If that's how he introduced himself, of course that's what I'd call him. You call me Rachel, don't you? Because that's how I introduced myself to you. Besides, I think the important thing is that we talk to God at all. He doesn't care if we call him God or Lord or Jeshua or Yahweh. As long as we're calling out to him.

DIANE pauses thoughtfully for a moment. Then:

DIANE:      Are you in a Bible study? Do you go to church?

RACHEL:   Yes, I go to [that church over there]. We're studying Nehemiah right now. And I'm in a Bible study, too. We're studying Galatians.

DIANE:      Oh.

END SCENE.



****************


I'm not sure why the conversation ended so quickly after that. Do they only want to talk to people who have little or no scripture knowledge? Possibly. I can't claim to know. But I gave her my phone number—my phone number, people—and told her she was welcome in my home anytime; she just had to give me a call.

I've never heard from her again.

But you know what? That's OK. I did just what God asked of me. I was gentle. I was reasonable. I wasn't defensive, and I didn't attack them or their beliefs. There was no need to come out with guns blazing. In that moment, God reminded me of the love he has for those two women and that it was important that I speak the truth in love.

When you come across someone who doesn't believe the same things as you, remember that God loves them. He wants them to know who he is, just like he wants you to know who he is. He wants everyone to come to repentance—everyone has the same chance to be saved, and their chances only increase when you show them the love and grace that God's shown you. No one was ever saved by cruelty, mocking, or judgement.

I still pray for Diane. I saw her in the grocery store the other day, but she didn't look in my direction. I'm still waiting for that phone call...

Monday, March 7, 2011

And the Winner Is...

With the help of Random.org, we have our winner!

Congratulations to Amy from The 4th Frog!

Jeepers! She got a guest post and a winning contest entry this week. She's clearly on a roll! Amy's won a copy of The Sacred Echo from Margaret Feinberg. Maybe it'll even be autographed! Ooooh!  Ahhhhh!

Thank you to everyone who entered. Hopefully I can have another giveaway for you soon! 

I don't have much else to say today. Do you have any prayer requests for me? E-mail them to me, and I'll be your prayer warrior!


Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Never Post on Saturdays!

Yes, I'm a Monday-Friday blogger. I like having my weekends off. But today I have a guest post over at Honest (Mostly) Conversations About Life, Real and Surreal. My bloggy friend there, Amy, has had a rough week (a colleague of hers died), so I offered to guest post. Go over there and give her some love, and then give her some prayers!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Friendly Friday: The 4th Frog

First, I have to tell you that I've got a guest post up elsewhere today! It's actually a memoir-type piece for The Red Dress Club meme. Check it out at my Twitter pal Nancy's blog, Away We Go! Stick around to read some of her work, as well—she's very talented. For reals.

Today's Friendly Friday post is from someone I've actually gotten to meet! In real life! Her name is Amy, and she writes at The 4th Frog. Her blog is mostly about her family, and she's very open and honest about things going on in her life—which is how she ended up doing this blog post for me! I was really moved by some of her recent trials and how her faith is persevering through them. Be sure to go check her out when you're done with this post, and definitely send some encouragement her way right here!

****************************


When I started blogging almost three years ago, I had no idea where it would take me. I just really wanted to invest some time and energy in writing, and blogging seemed like a good way to go. And now, here I am, guest blogging on The Lazy Christian.

I met Rachel a few weeks ago at the Indiana Statehouse. Then a week or so later, my husband was laid off – for the second time in just over a year. I posted on my blog that the sudden upending of our lives led me to a fairly frank conversation with God that went something like this:

"What is it? What haven't we learned yet? The past 4 or 5 years have seemed like we are swinging from one crisis to the next. Unemployment. Separation. Illness. Financial strain brought on by all the above. What now, God? In the last two or three months, I've finally felt like we were becoming whole again. Paying off debt, learning to trust and love again, enjoying each other's company. What are we missing that our path keeps plunging us into chaos and disarray? What do You want?!"

I wasn’t – and still am not – angry with God. I just wanted to be clear about what is being asked of us, so we can get back to a smoother road as soon as possible.  As I poured my heart out to God in church that Sunday morning, I began to hear a message that maybe I’ve been ignoring for too long.

It’s not about US. Maybe our focus, MY focus, has been too narrow. Perhaps God is calling us to look beyond our own trials and reach a hand out to someone else in need. I felt pretty good about hearing that grace-filled whisper. I believed that some of the “stuff” that’s been overwhelming our lives might be resolved when I reached out to help someone else with their stuff. And that’s where I was when Rachel invited me to guest post here.

Since then, I’ve gone online to find information about the organization I felt called to volunteer for. It’s a retirement home for people who have little to no family and even fewer means. I’ve considering volunteering there for quite some time (we’re talking years, people) and felt certain that God was nudging me in that direction.

What?! I can’t submit a volunteer application online? You mean I have to print it out, fill it in and drive it over there?

I called to talk to the person listed as the volunteer coordinator.


What do you mean she’s not there? Oh? She’s a volunteer, too, and not in every day?

I could feel the frustration rising within me.

Can’t they see that I want to help? Why are there so many obstacles between me and them?

I was sure that I had heard what God was calling me to. But I could also hear my own objections.

There are too many hoops to jump through. I don’t really have enough time to do this.

So the application still sits on my desk, glued there by my own frustration and my own stubbornness.  And I’m back to what got me stuck in the first place: ME and my concerns.

Somewhere, God is shaking his head, wondering when I will ever learn.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

You Learn Something New Every Day

I'm terrible at studying the Bible. Really, I am. I'm working on it! I'm trying to improve! I'm trying to tell myself that, while an education in Greek and Hebrew may be helpful, they're not required, so I should just hunker down and get into the Word. No excuses. So I'm totally going to do my study.

Right after I watch this episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer...

*ahem*

But now my husband and I lead a small group. As in, we're kind of in charge. And our group is really trying to hold each other accountable for stuff. As in, if someone doesn't do their study, someone gets all up in their grill and says, "Why didn't you do your study?" Instead of just ignoring it and hope they get it done the next week. Which is far more comfortable. Easier.

Being a leader, though, means I definitely have to get mine done. There's no two ways about it. I need to study the book of John like it's my job. Like I get paid by the hour to learn about Jesus. 

So I did my study last week. It was an in-depth look at John 1:1-18. We're using the LifeChange study guide to John. If you've never tried the LifeChange series, I highly recommend it, especially if you want to learn how to do a study without having to use a book every time. It's a good starting place.

I did the study. Even the life application questions, which I've always considered optional. Very, very optional. I even learned a passage! "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was there with God in the beginning. Everything was made through him. Without him, nothing would be made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:1-5

And I totally just did that from memory! If you don't believe me, you can look it up since I'm sure it's not 100% correct because I rarely memorize scripture unless I'm told to.

If you've never read that passage before, "the Word" is Jesus (it says so in verse 17). One of the questions the study guide asked was, "What does it mean to you that Jesus took part in Creation?"

Hmm. I never thought of that before. Jesus is the Savior in my mind. Jesus isn't the Creator. 

But he is.

This means Jesus knows how many hairs are on my head. He knows why my pancreas acts up. He knows how many of those little white flecks I have on each of my fingernails and how they got there. 

He knows that I don't love to read my Bible 24/7. He knows that in college I used to swear like a sailor's little sister. He knows that I haven't always been an upstanding citizen.

He knows me inside and out.

And he was willing to die for me. Me. This awful, selfish me that I am 99.9% of the time. He was willing to sacrifice his life knowing all the worst things about me.

And he's willing to believe the best things about me. He's willing to give me chance after chance. Willing to say, "I'm sure she'll read her Bible tomorrow. Yes, I'm sure she will." He doesn't give up on me.

This gives me a whole new perspective on Christ's death. 

And all because I actually did my Bible study for once.