Friday, September 30, 2011

Friendly Friday: Carey Scott

Today's Friendly Friday comes from Carey Scott, another one of my fabulous She Speaks gals!

And it just so happens that I'm over at her blog today, too! A swap-a-rooney!

Carey Scott is an inspirational speaker and writer, honest about her walk with the Lord, stumbles, fumbles and all.  She loves to challenge women to be real and authentic. Through her blog - Let’s Get Real - she encourages women to stop living a mediocre, risk-free life and instead step onto the battlefield. She blogs about raising Godly kids on Tuesday at CWAHM, serves as the Wednesday host on Moms Together, and is on the speaking and writing team for LeadHer.  You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. She and her husband live in Colorado with their two kids.

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

Carey Scott

How Do You Wait When You're a Control Freak?


I’ve been writing about the concept of “waiting” more than usual lately.

That’s because I seem to be doing it. A lot.

These last 18 months have been one big wait-fest. And being one who might have a tiny control issue (emphasis mine), this isn’t pleasant.

Not for me. Not for my family.

Why is it that God’s timing and our timing never align? It seems like a no-brainer for Him to do something based on my timeline, rather than His.

How can I control things when I never know when the answers will come? Or what the answers even are?
At times, I wonder, Why even pray? He’s gonna do it His way anyway.

Anyone but me?

I’m so grateful that God has patience with me. He is so gracious to let me have my tantrums, question His strategy, and doubt His willingness to intervene on my behalf.

God knows that eventually, I’ll come around. Sisters, He’s proven Himself terribly faithful at every opportunity. And the bottom line is that I do know that God is in the details and that the waiting is all part of His plan.

Even this self-professed control freak knows God is ultimately in control. (And that is a good thing)
Sometimes, it just takes me a while to get there. And when I look back over the waiting period, I see how clever God is. I see the good it did me to wait. I see how many things needed to line up for His answer to emerge.

Then this verse comes back to mind:

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.” - Romans 8:28

Waiting doesn’t indicate a lazy God. It doesn’t mean He’s busy with someone else. Never believe God is cheering on our controlling nature, hoping we’ll make it work ourselves.

Nope. He is always working things for our good.

Always.

So—we lay down our agenda and wait with confidence knowing that the Creator of the world is working on our behalf to bless us more than we can imagine.

Friends, where are you struggling to give control to God and wait on Him to move?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Short Play By Rachel: Being Sure

No, this isn't a post about deodorant. I almost called it, "Raise your hand if you're sure," but I thought that was a bit much. So we'll start things off with....


A Short Play by Rachel

Being Sure

RACHEL and TODDLER are walking into church for a rehearsal. 
Photo courtesy of 2355 Photography


TODDLER: (seemingly out of nowhere) I'm just not sure, Mama!

RACHEL: What aren't you sure about, baby?

TODDLER: (frantically) I'm just not sure about anything!

RACHEL: Are you sure that I love you?

TODDLER: Yep!

RACHEL: Well, then we've got one thing!


END SCENE.


I'm glad my son is sure that I love him, no matter what. Sometimes there are a lot of things to be unsure of in this world. But there are certain things of which I'm always sure:  God loves me, my husband loves me, my son loves me.

What are you sure of today?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

The Snooze Button

Yesterday, I had to get up early. Like, 7 a.m.! (Yes, I know that's not actually early for most people. My husband gets up at 5:30). So I had to set the alarm on my cell phone.

And that alarm has a snooze button.

It's only five minutes each time, so I hit it three times. I don't know why I didn't just set my alarm for 7:15 if that was an OK time to get up. But I kind of like hitting the snooze button.

I didn't always use the snooze button. I've always had one, but I never wanted to use it. I didn't know how long it would be, so I didn't want to risk getting up too late. So I never tried it. Then in college, one of my fellow RAs said, "Haven't you heard that country song, 'Another Nine Minutes?' It's about hitting the snooze button to get nine more minutes of sleep! Most snooze buttons are nine minutes per hit."

Oh. Nine minutes? Really? I'll have to try that.

And I did. For the rest of college. And beyond. Actually, one of my college roommates got crazy mad at me for hitting the snooze button so many times in the morning. "Just get up already, Rachel! I don't want to hear that alarm one more time!" But I still hit that snooze.

And sometimes I hit the snooze button on my faith, too.

You know, put something off for a little while. Oh, I really should be doing this, but I'll just wait a few days. Or weeks. Whatever. It'll be cool.

The problem is, do we really know how long the snooze button is? I mean, Jesus could show up tomorrow and here I am, snoozing away like I've got forever.

And what sorts of things do I hit the snooze on? Oh, Bible study. For sure. I mean, I do what I've got to do for my small group every two weeks, but am I in the Word every day? Nope. The Bible will be the same tomorrow, so I can just hit the snooze on that. And I could be praying more. I go through phases with my prayer life, and it seems like the times I should be praying the most is when I actually pray the least. It makes no sense. But God will be there to listen tomorrow, so—snooze!

What things are you hitting the "spiritual snooze" on these days? How can we get out of our snooze-button ruts?




P.S. - I just typed and read the word "snooze" so many times, it no longer looks like a word. Just FYI.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Politics and the Price of Fish

Photo courtesy of 2355 Photography
Here's something: I don't like thinking about politics.

I did in college. It made me feel smart and current and I could join in all the college-y political discussions going on around me. Then when I wanted to be a journalist, I kept up with it so I could, you know, be a journalist.

But at this point in my life, thinking about politics stresses me out.

I don't know why. Maybe because I don't like trying to figure out who the "good guys" are and who the "bad guys" are. Maybe I don't like figuring out who's telling the truth. Maybe I don't like all the lines that are drawn between people—lines that aren't even accurate most of the time. Maybe it's just because I'm more easily stressed out than I used to be.

And maybe I'm just lazy. I suppose that's always a possibility with me.

Don't get me wrong—who's running the country is important. But sometimes it just feels impossible to know what the right thing to do is or who the right people are.

And I. Hate. Campaign. Ads. Well, except this one:



FACT: I get most of my political information from Saturday Night Live!

What are your thoughts? Do you follow politics? How do you decide what to do come election time?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friendly Friday: Michele Montgomery

Today's Friendly Friday post comes from one of my She Speaks gals, Michele Montgomery. She writes over at The Journey North (if it sounds familiar, I had a guest post there not too long ago!).

Michele is a Christian, wife, mother of six, and an aspiring writer, and she still manages to work full-time. Her blog is about her non-traditional, blended family, the everchanging worlds of parenting, relationships and working, and keeping her eyes on God through all of that.

You'd really have to. That's a lot!

So check her out here and then go read her blog!

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



A Moment of Insight

I have many flaws.

Okay, I could easily stop right there and be done with my confession. I can already hear my husband saying, “Can we have an amen?” Sigh. I have many, many flaws. I am very aware of most of them. However, every so often it takes someone else lifting the veil from my eyes to reveal a few of my deeper hidden issues.
 
Over the summer, one of these blemishes on my character came screaming to the surface. Learning that I had this particular flaw did not surprise me. I have struggled with it my entire life. The shock came from the revelation that I hurt others unintentionally. I had focused so intently on how I felt that I neglected to comprehend how my reactions affected others.

During one of our frequent visits to my parents’ house in East Texas, my aunt and I chatted pleasantly about various subjects as we lounged peacefully by the water’s edge just after sunset. Suddenly, my aunt announced, “You don’t know how to take a compliment.” Taken aback by the sudden change in topic, I cautiously glanced in her direction to determine the seriousness of her statement. The look on her face confirmed my fears.

It’s not that I disagreed with her observation. I have always had difficulty accepting compliments whether from family, friends, teachers, co-workers or bosses. The thing is compliments make me uncomfortable. Over the years, I have found that it is easier to disregard or downplay the remarks, than to graciously accept them.

Taking a deep breath, she turned fully towards me. My stomach dropped, she had more to say on the topic. I braced myself for the cold, hard facts that I knew followed that look. However, what she said next took my breath away.

“When you downplay a compliment that is given to you, it makes the other person feel that their opinion is not worthy or good enough for you.”

Speechless, my eyes widened as the truth of her words fought their way into my heart. My insecurities with accepting kindly offered words of gratitude and recognition caused others to think that I didn’t value their thoughts or perspective. The crushing weight of her words left me feeling humbled.

How many times had my efforts to conceal my uncertainty and discomfort leave others feeling discounted and unappreciated?

That night as I lay praying before drifting off to sleep, I asked God to help me to learn how to accept a compliment and to be able to gratefully express how much others’ thoughts and opinions matter to me.

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Well, That's Embarrassing

I've posted before about my newly minted membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR). I'm all patriotic and whatnot! Woo!

And then came The Help.

I read the book, but I somehow glossed over the scene where Mrs. Phelan's DAR group is visiting her home. And then I saw the movie and was cruelly reminded. Although they call the group "Daughters of America" in the movie, there's no doubt that it's the DAR. They even wear the little blue ribbons with the pins, just like we do!

And they're not very nice.

My husband leaned over and said, "You're in that, you know."

Yes. Yes, I know. But it's not like that! I mean, maybe it was in the 1960s, but the ladies I've met thus far are terribly nice and don't appear to have any racist qualities. I mean, I guess we haven't had a discussion about it, but I'm in it, right? So they must be decent. That can't be representative of the whole group, but now everyone who sees this is going to think that we're all like that!

And then I realized that I've had the same conversation in my head about Christianity. 

When some loud, crazy person does some loud, crazy thing and says that the Bible says so (but it's twisted) or God gave them a personal revelation (and it's clearly not something Christ-like), I feel horribly embarrassed. 

I'm in that group, you know.

Now whenever my friends see or read The Help and they watch that unflattering scene, they're going to think of me, Rachel, who's so proud to be in the DAR. And I'm sure a lot of my friends think of me when they see stories about Christianity or Christians, and they think, "Wow, Rachel's associated with them?"

The good thing about Christianity is that it's for everyone. Everyone on the planet is welcome to be a Christian. No exceptions. Unfortunately, there are a lot of Christians who aren't living Christ-like lives. And it's not like we kick people out or anything. I mean, even I have my less-than-stellar moments, but fortunately none of mine have been televised for the world to look at and say, "Look, there's one of those Christians doing un-Christian stuff again." But I'm trying! Don't kick me out!

So what do we do when we hear of Christians who are being hateful or violent, supposedly in the name of God? 

Well, after the initial embarrassment, I usually feel sorry for them, shake my head and turn the channel. But I'll bet praying for them would be a better option. Pray that their hearts would be turned toward truth and away from hatred. Pray they would learn to love like their Creator loves them. Pray that I would love them like their Creator loves them. I dunno. Just a suggestion.

Do you ever feel embarrassed by the words and actions of other Christians? What do you do when it happens?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Lazy Christian is Expanding!

And I'm not talking about my blog reach.

Apparently, a small human has taken up residence somewhere around my middle and has no plans to leave until late April. I apologize for my spotty content of late, as this squatter has made me ridiculously sick for the past several weeks (and shows no signs of letting up). Please bear with me as I try to cope with the sickness and still bring you new things to read!

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Jesus, I Love Thee

From the moment I met you, I loved you. I wanted you to be in the center of my life.

I was willing to give everything up for you. All the meaningless things I’d been chasing after. I say “was” because—because now it’s getting harder to keep giving things up for you. Loving you is so demanding and so…so…heart consuming.

Yes, you redeemed me. You paid for my crummy life with your precious life. I appreciate that. I just don’t know how to give you everything anymore.

You loved me before I was made—before I even got here. You loved me despite all of my flaws and all of my shortcomings. You loved me even though I hurt you. Repeatedly. And I still hurt you. Repeatedly.

Don’t you see how impossible you are to live up to? You died for me. I can’t do anything to make that up to you. I can’t even come close! You were humiliated—for me. You were tortured and mocked—for me. Because you loved me.

I’m willing to be humiliated and tortured for you. I’d be glad to endure those things. Because they are things—they are tangible. But what you want is love. That is the most intangible thing you could ask of me.

What is my love for you supposed to look like? I can’t send you flowers or cards. I can’t hug you or hold you. Is there a book on your “love language?” Because I’m totally willing to love you all the way until the end—if I just knew how to do it.

Praising you doesn't seem like enough. It seems like you want more from me than that. How do I give you my heart? What does that even look like?

Please, just let me hear you. Let me know what you think or what I’m supposed to do. What can I give you? What will show you I love you? I feel broken in front of you.

I just want to love you.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Friendly Friday: Kurt Willems

I've got another feller I'd like to share with you for Friendly Friday! Kurt Willems is a terrific writer with a great style, and he's a super Tweep to follow, as well. 

He is an Anabaptist writer and pastor who is preparing for church planting by finishing work towards a Master of Divinity degree at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary.  You can catch up with Kurt at the Pangea BlogTwitter, and Facebook.  He’s a contributing writer for Red Letter Christians, and has also written for The OozeEmergent Village, and Sojourners

This is probably my favorite post he's written, and such a great reminder of what it really means to be a Christian. Be sure to check out his work!

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



Something happened last week.  I went on a retreat with an amazing spiritual director / teacher named Jan Johnson.  By the end of our time together I realized that I’m done with living like a Christian.
  • I’m done serving the poor.
  • I’m done going the extra mile.
  • I’m done being a husband who strives to love his wife as Christ loves the church.
  • I’m done visiting the sick.
  • I’m done opening up my life to Christian community.
  • I’m done loving my neighbor.
  • I’m done living with integrity.
  • I’m done loving my enemies.
  • I’m done giving finances to global causes.
  • I’m done opposing violence.
  • I’m done speaking out against hatred.
  • I’m done standing up for the marginalized.
  • I’m D-O-N-E done…
This past week made me realize that doing all these things won’t change the world.  That’s because the world can’t be changed unless God changes me.
For the past several years, ups and downs defined my spiritual life.  Moments in the journey were some of the most intimate encounters with Jesus that I’ve known.  Real (nearly tangible) experiences, that can’t be explained by anything but the power of the Holy Spirit, took place. Other moments, when I showed love to a neighbor, prayed for an enemy, served the poor… these were times when Jesus was right there with me.
Then there were the times when I got stuck trying to live like Jesus.  In the Christian world we call these “good works” or “ethics.”  I made my aim “doing” rather than “being.” By “doing” I believed that my “being” would be consumed by an experience of the life of God.  Unfortunately, the God encounters often fade when all my time is spent “doing” or theorizing about such “doing.”
For me, it’s time to stop doing.  It’s time to simply be done.  Done “doing” because the Holy Spirit invites us to stop and to “be.”
  • To be the kind of person who serves the poor.
  • Be the kind of person who goes the extra mile.
  • Be the kind of person who is an awesome self-giving husband.
  • Be the kind of person who visits the sick.
  • Be the kind of person who opens my life up to Christian community.
  • Be the kind of person who loves my neighbor.
  • Be the kind of person who chooses integrity.
  • Be the kind of person who loves enemies.
  • Be the kind of person who gives generously to global causes.
  • Be the kind of person who responds to evil with creative nonviolence.
  • Be the kind of person who not only speaks out against hatred, but who suffers for the sake of the hated.
  • Be the kind of person who stands in the margins with those who’ve been placed there by society (and even the church).
  • I want to BE, and in the process, become a different kind of follower of Jesus.
Why the distinction?  It’s easy to follow the Sermon on the Mount and other ethical teachings of Jesus and to miss the Christ who taught such things.Dallas Willard puts it this way:
Jesus never expected us simply to turn the other cheek, go the second mile, bless those who persecute us, give unto them that ask, and so forth.  These responses, generally and rightly understood to be characteristic of Chrsitlikeness, were put forth by him as illustrative of what might be expected of a new kind of person – one who intelligently and steadfastly seeks, above all else, to live within the rule of God and be possessed by the kind of righteousness that God himself has, as Matthew 6:33 portrays.  Instead, Jesus did invite people to follow him into that sort of life from which behavior such as loving one’s enemies will seem like the only sensible and happy thing to do.  For a person living that life, the hard thing to do would be to hate the enemy, to turn the supplicant away, or to curse the curser…  True Christlikeness, true companionship with Christ, comes at the point where it is hard not to respond as he would.[1]
So, yes, I’m done with living like a Christian.  I’m trading that in for living in a deeper relationship with Christ.  I want to know Jesus.  I want to hear Jesus.  I want to be empowered by Jesus.  Not simply in theory as I do the good things that he calls us to do, but as the natural outflow of intimacy with God.  The former way “gets the job done.”  The latter way changes the world.
For me, this means a new-found intentionality of placing myself in a position to hear from the Spirit.  Spiritual practices like – solitude, Sabbath, lectio divina, silence, confession, prayer, and practicing the presence of God – these neglected areas of my life have led to a Christianity defined by “doing” rather than “being.”
My prayer for us is that our intimate relationships with Christ would make it impossible to not respond with the ethics marked out by the Kingdom of God.  Not out of effort to do good things, but out of our efforts to know Jesus Christ through an awareness of the presence of God’s Spirit.  When this becomes normative, we won’t be able to help it… we will just start looking like Jesus.

© Kurt Willems, 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm Worth Ten Cows!

A story, retold:

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

Once upon a time, there was a girl. A very, very plain girl. She wasn't pretty in the least. She wasn't great around the house. Her father was pretty sure he'd never be able to marry her off, even though he'd set it in his mind to only ask one cow in exchange for her hand.

Now, one cow would get you a woman who was breathing. Four cows would get you a decent wife who could cook. Anything better than seven would get you a pretty woman with at least a couple of talents.

Her father was aiming for one cow. One.

Along came a man on the lookout for a wife. He saw the girl and offered her father ten cows for the girl. Her father couldn't believe it. "Ten cows? Are you sure? I'd settle for less! Much, much less. In fact, I'll give her to you for one cow!"

"No," the man said. "Ten cows will be just perfect."

The father laughed and accepted the cows, imagining that the man would bring the girl back after only a few days—once he realized how very plain the girl was and how very little she would be able to do for him. 

But he didn't bring her back. And after a few weeks, the father went to go visit his daughter in her new home. As he sat down to the table, he looked into the kitchen and saw a beautiful woman preparing the meal. 

"Ah! I see you have hired a cook!" the father exclaimed, not at all surprised.

"No," said the man. "That is my wife."

The father was confused. "Your wife? My daughter? It can't be!" As he said it, the beautiful girl floated into the room, smiled brilliantly, and served her father and her husband. She bowed slightly and then made a graceful exit back into the kitchen.

Her father was flabbergasted. "How did you do it? How did you make her so beautiful?"

The man smiled. "You told me she was worth only a few cows. But I loved your daughter, and I wanted a ten-cow wife. She believed she was worth nothing; now she knows she is worth more than any other woman we know. And that makes all the difference."

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


Remember that you were bought for a price. You are worth far more than ten cows to your Creator.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Elvis and the Jerkface

I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before, but I'm a big Elvis fan. There's even a bronze bust of him in our music room.
The '68 Comeback Special

I'm not joking.

Because of this, I've read books on Elvis. I've even seen a lot of Elvis' moves as well as biopics on his life, although I find facts in some of them rather dubious. The made-for-TV movie Elvis and Me (based on Priscilla Presley's book of the same name, which I've read) is probably my favorite, followed by Elvis: The Mini-Series from just a few years ago starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers. And if you've never seen his '68 Comeback Special (although, you know, it wasn't called that when it actually aired), I highly recommend it.

So, I love Elvis. My son loves Elvis. Even my husband is starting to appreciate Elvis more as a musician thanks to my endless Elvis listening/watching.

You're welcome, Elvis.

One fact I've always found fascinating is that Elvis never had a concert tour overseas. For reals! He only played in U.S. venues. According to some biographies, his manager, "Colonel" Parker, had some sort of warrant on him in Europe and couldn't travel there, so he dissuaded Elvis from going, too. Instead, he had Elvis play Vegas. Really? That's not Europe. Not even close. He also signed Elvis up for silly movie after silly movie, even after Elvis made it clear that he was uninterested in the dumb movies he was making. Yeah, Clambake? Only has a clambake in it for about three minutes. Why name the movie after that? It's mostly about boat racing, not clam baking. So dumb.

But I digress...

The Colonel had a strong hold over Elvis; what the Colonel wanted, the Colonel got, even from The King. Elvis was a fiercely loyal person, but there must have been more to it. Can you imagine being as wildly popular (and, in most circles, wildly powerful) as Elvis and still having to answer to someone? Giving in to someone and just letting them control your life, even when you didn't want them to?

Not that I'm comparing Colonel Parker to Satan but—yeah, I'm kind of going to.

We are wildly powerful. When we belong to Christ, we are given all sorts of privileges as sons and daughters of our King. But the Jerkface is still such a strong presence in our lives. We don't need him; why do we continue to listen? He keeps us from doing the things we should do or want to do and leads us into things we don't want to do—and yet we go!

It's kind of ridiculous.

When you realize you're being pulled in a direction you don't want to go, what do you do? Do fight it? How? Do you ask God to pull you out of that situation? Or do you end up just going along with it?

I guess there won't be any "What Would Elvis Do?" bracelets anytime soon. Oh, but there are t-shirts. *sigh* Too late.

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 and Lazy Book Review: Thunder Dog

I was running late for my online journalism class at The University of Akron. I had thrown on jeans and a hoodie and was racing across campus, and I decided to cut through the student center. People were gathered around TVs in every corner, which I thought was weird. Was there a game on this early in the day? That doesn't make any sense.

When I got to my class, the room was abuzz and my professor hadn't shown up yet. The students were trying to figure out what happened. "Did you see it? Who would do that?" Both planes had already crashed into the World Trade Center, so hearing this from the other kids in my class was weird. Like they were making it up or something.

Our professor came in about 15 minutes late. He worked for Knight Ridder at the time and had been inundated with calls. He immediately plugged in his laptop to the overhead projector and surfed the web to show us all the things that were already online. Pictures, stories, videos. Some of us saw the crashes for the very first time on the Internet. My professor was raving about how quickly the content had been produced and how amazing the Internet was for future journalists like us...

And then his phone rang. The Pentagon had been hit. He had to go—duty called. And we were sent home early.

My first thought as I left class was, "I wonder if Missy's OK." My friend Missy went to Fordham and had an internship in Manhattan a few days a week. I tried calling, but all the circuits were busy.

As I cut back through the student center, there was an announcement that all afternoon classes had been cancelled. When I returned to the Townhouses, our Residence Life Coordinator informed us that we had to go to all of our residents and tell them to kick out anyone who didn't live in their room/house, then ask them to lock their doors and draw their curtains. No one knew what to expect—would there be looting? Mass hysteria? We had to make sure the students in university housing were taken care of.

After all of that was done, I got on my computer and—lo and behold!—there was Missy on instant messenger. She had indeed gone to her internship that day and was now stranded in Manhattan, since all of the trains were stopped. Fordham had a van that took students into the city for their internships, and there was a kid on the van that morning who had been headed to the World Trade Center when the planes hit. But he was safe, Missy was safe, and, in true Missy fashion, she interviewed people at the train station later that night for an article. That girl was born to be a journalist.

I spent the rest of the day on the couch with my fellow RAs watching news coverage and trying to figure out what had happened. Terrorists? What? Was that even a thing? Who knew the world would change so much in just one morning?

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

Thunder Dog: The True Story of a Blind Man, His Guide Dog, and the Triumph of Trust at Ground Zero by Michael Hingson

So I was a little skeptical of this book at first. I mean, it's called Thunder Dog. But the premise sounded interesting: A blind man who works on the 78th floor of Tower One relies on his trusty guide dog to help him navigate the destruction of 9/11. That story is interwoven with stories of Michael's experiences being blind. About his parents, his education (his parents mainstreamed him when no one else was doing that), his hobbies, his work, his guide dogs, his wife, and some general information about blindness and blind organizations.

The latter was a little tedious at times. It seemed like a lot of biography and just a little bit of 9/11. The 9/11 parts of the story seemed to be stretched very thin and the bulk of the book was about his life. And I thought the book would be a little longer, but there's a large chunk in the back with resources for the blind, text of a speech, etc. While reading it, I could tell that the author isn't primarily a writer. Not that anyone can't tell their story, but it makes a difference in the flow of the writing.

It was fascinating to read about how guide dogs are trained and how they function. They're like furry little machines when it comes to doing their job, and even in the chaos of 9/11, Hingson's dog, Roselle, didn't falter. She got him down 1,463 stairs, through the dust cloud after the collapse, and home at the end of the day. Hingson stresses that it's a partnership; he and the dog are a team. After reading his harrowing escape from the World Trade Center, I believe it. When humans take on an every-man-for-himself attitude, a guide dog doesn't. That amazes me.

So the book was OK. It's not a bad read, but not high on my list.


Apart from getting the book for free from BookSneeze, I received no compensation for this review. All opinions are mine. Clearly.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Friendly Friday: Jessica Kirkland

Today's Friendly Friday blogger is Jessica Kirkland from ChristianApps4Kids.com. I had the pleasure of meeting Jessica at She Speaks, and I also got to check out her new iPad story app, "The Sounds of Night." My son loves it! She is the owner of Christian Apps 4 Kids, which is a writing ministry dedicated to producing quality book apps that draw kids closer to Christ. She's also a writer, a speaker, a mom (to five-year-old triplets, no less), and a Texan, ya'll!

But she doesn't have big hair. You know, if you're worried about that sort of thing.

Jessica's post today hits too close to home. Do you remember when God and I had a little conversation about me not watching Angel anymore? I totally feel Jessica, and I've been tugged at and whispered to plenty. I hope you enjoy her post! Go read her blog, follow her on Twitter, and check out her Facebook page. Oh, and don't forget to go download her app, "The Sounds of Night!"

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

Jessica Kirkland


Down the Tube


I turned them off and it took me years to finally obey. Let me clarify; not all television is bad, unless it becomes your idol. I was simply doing what the rest of America was, enjoying my freedom to be mindlessly entertained. Until the day I felt God tug and whisper, “You don’t need this. I have more important things for you to do.”

“Oh, don’t make me give up my favorite TV shows,” I silently begged. After all, it was my “me” time. I had triplets and once they were in bed, I’d click the television on and slip into worlds of gossip, romance, and drama that made my life look as normal as apple pie. I felt entitled to these programs. Hadn’t I given God enough of me? But, He just kept tugging and whispering, “Time is short. I have more important things for you to do.”

He waited patiently, for years. Eventually, I gave up one show. One show whose storyline had gone down a path I didn’t like anyway. I dusted off my hands and said, “There, there’s your sacrifice.” It was pretty painless.

Tug.


Whisper.


Tug.


Whisper.

“Fine! God!” I gave up a series that I had become deeply involved in. I didn’t want to give it up, but the thought of my God-given dreams going down the tube because of my disobedience, soon began to outweigh my need to watch the show. They were not good for me and I knew it. I stayed up late to watch them, therefore losing sleep. They brought a spirit of confusion into my life that in turn would wreak havoc on my mind. They corrupted my view of romance in my own marriage. And, show-by-show, they decomposed my self-esteem, as I would look in the mirror and say, “Gosh, you are so ugly.”

The truth was God had more for me. He had purpose, my purpose in life, hanging there in the balance. All He asked was that I be obedient to Him, to take hold of it. Slowly, but surely, I let them go. Our need as humans to hold onto our idols is ironic because we forget that when God asks us to give something up, it is for our good. He wants to “prosper us, not to harm us, to give us a hope and a future” according to Jeremiah 29:11. God longs to draw us closer to Him, but He cannot be associated with our sin.

God doesn’t have to use a couch potato. But, He longs to use us! Now, don’t get me wrong, I do watch television. I’m just not addicted to it anymore. It’s no longer my idol. And the moment I was obedient, God opened up His storehouse of blessing and began to move me forward in my dream to write and speak of His miracles in my life. Obedience led me to freedom and the favor to live out my calling.

Do you want that today? What is God asking you to do? Don’t ignore the tug. God longs for you to live out your God-given purposes in life.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Guest Post Extravaganza!

OK, so I'm not sure if you can count two guest posts on the same day as an "extravaganza." Ah, well. Just go with it.

I have, in fact, written two swell guest posts for today. The first is one about fear and anxiety over at Nicole Cottrell's Modern Reject! The second is about judgment over at Marni Arnold's Relevant Brokenness! It's The Lazy Christian everywhere you look today!

Go read them. Laugh at them. Comment on them. Ensure that my hard work isn't all for naught! Then join me back here tomorrow for a Friendly Friday post from Jessica Kirkland!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Girl Comes Around

The Townhouses
This is where I spent three out of four of my college years:

Aren't they...well, they're hideous. But they were home. The Townhouses. I was a resident assistant (RA) for three years at The University of Akron, and this is where I lived with three other RAs during the school year. Over the course of three years, I had approximately 11 roommates (there may be one I'm forgetting). One is now a gospel singer. Another one is a missionary living on the other side of the globe. A couple of them work in higher education now.

And the Townhouses have been demolished.

The good old U of A (which is also Tickled Pink Tammy's alma mater, as I learned at She Speaks!) has to make way for bigger and better housing structures. Ones that will hold more students and be flashier, I'm sure. Such is life. Out with the old, in with the new.

But there's a story from these Townhouses that I'd like to share. During my second year as an RA (my junior year of college), I lived with Kristy, Colleen, and Renee. I think it was the only year I had the same roommates from the beginning of the school year to the end. The other two years, there seemed to be a revolving door on our townhouse.

Colleen and Renee went to church. They had Bible studies. They prayed and stuff. They had devoted Christian boyfriends (to whom they're now married). They were really nice.

I didn't do any of these things. In fact, Kristy and I called them "The Christian Coalition" behind their backs.

Look! It's College Rachel!
Oh, I still called myself a Christian. I'd gone to a Christian school for seven years, after all. I was a Christian. But I'd never really learned what that looked like as an adult. So all the things my roommates were doing looked like overkill, especially to cynical, academic Rachel.

When I think about that year and the things I said and did to my roommates, I'm incredibly embarrassed. I've spoken to both of them since then and even asked forgiveness for being a jerk. They were kind and both said the equivalent of, "Well, we knew what you were going through. We just prayed for you to figure it out."

And I did. Eventually. Took about two years after I lived with those girls, but I came around.

Is there someone in your life right now who needs to "figure it out?" Someone who is feigning Christianity, or doing Christianity "lite?"

I'll tell you, those girls never preached at me. They never said, "Hey, if you're a Christian, you need to straighten up, woman." Because they knew I wasn't really being a Christian. We had a few conversations, sure, but they were all very non-threatening. Made me think, but didn't make me feel bad. They never acted like they knew better than I did, and they were never ashamed of their faith and how they were living it out.

But they prayed. For me. And here I am, a girl who writes about God all the time. Who'd have thought?

Who can you pray for today? Better yet, who can I help you pray for today? Send me an email and I'll help you pray for your friend. Because we all need people praying for us. You never know what might come of it.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Karaoke Contentment

So last week I wrote this great post about gifts and talents. And like one or two other posts I've written about gifts and talents, I mentioned that singing is not my gift. I wish it was, but it's not.

This is the last time I'll mention it. Promise. Because I've had an epiphany!

On Friday night, I had the pleasure of accompanying one of my friends to an evening of karaoke at a local establishment. I'd never been to this place before, and I haven't done any karaoke in a few years. My first song? "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield. And, yes, I'm aware of the highly inappropriate nature of the song. My apologies. But Dusty Springfield is a total crowd-pleaser!

After I finished singing, I got some high-fives from a few tables, and I returned to mine, where my friends congratulated me heartily. Then an older gentleman came over to our table and asked if I sang any Janis Joplin. I said that I could, but some of her songs are a little low for me. He said that he was going to put my name in for a Janis Joplin song, and would I sing one for him?

OK, Perfect Stranger. I'll totally sing a Janis Joplin song for you.

He didn't tell me which one he picked, and, as it turned out, he didn't actually pick one. I had to go up to the DJ and make my choice. I chose "Piece of my Heart," as it's a little higher than "Me and Bobby McGee" (although that's one of my all-time favorite songs).

When it was my turn, I got up and sang. I thought it went OK. But the crowd went nuts! They sang along, they got out their lighters and held them up, and I got a standing ovation at the end. There was even a big hug from the guy who'd asked me to sing, and he thanked me for singing for him.

Really?

Then as I was on my way back to my seat, a girl stopped me, held my hands in hers, looked straight into my eyes and said, "You have a really beautiful voice, you know." I jokingly said, "Thanks, but I guess that depends on how much you've had to drink." She laughed and said, "I haven't had that much. You're the one who sang 'Son of a Preacher Man,' right?" I said yes, and she said, "Then, yes. You have a lovely voice. I really enjoyed listening to you sing." I thanked her profusely and went back to my table.

The next day, as I was regaling the events for my not-much-for-karaoke husband, I felt God speak to my heart. He said:

Rachel, you have a talent for singing. You do have a lovely voice. Everyone in that room knew it. It's just not my gift for you.

A-ha! I see. So you can have a talent for something, but it's not necessarily your gift. It may not be the thing God uses in your personal ministry. It may not be the thing that you make a life out of. It's just kind of a—a bonus, so to speak. I knew that, but I felt like, since singing wasn't my gift, I must not have a real talent for it. But that's just not true.

Secondly, I'm amazed that God can use a bar full of people to make that point. Isn't he cool that way? Perhaps I'll be a local karaoke superstar in my spare time, but I won't ever be a worship leader or a Broadway star or make a life for myself as a singer. But that's OK. Because I'm a good singer. My Creator told me so.

I can definitely live with that.

What minor talents do you have that you need to learn to be content with?