When the mind breaks…

Devotioanl Blog:

“Looking for love in all the wrong places”, “You Can”, “There is a Plan”; 6/23/2012, 6/22/2012, 3/12/2012; 1 Peter 4:8, Luke 13:12, Jeremiah 29:11

You ever hear the joke that you should listen to country songs backwards? Why? Because then they become exceedingly happier…you get your house back, your dog back, your woman back, your tires un-slashed and your guitar un-smashed.

I’ve noticed a trend in many entries of this book. In many examples of people’s lives that she uses…when it rains it doesn’t just pour–it’s a fricken hurricane and it’s not ‘waves of life’ that hit people, it’s a damn tsunami! Continue reading “When the mind breaks…”

The ominous projector screen of ‘life’

Devotional Blog:

“Lights Flashing”, 6/21/2012, 1 Corinthians 4:5

Ok, back to the book after quite the hiatus.

When the Lord comes, he will bring our deepest secrets to light and will reveal our private motives… ~1 Corinthians 4:5

Well now isn’t that a scary thought? How many secrets does one carry throughout life? How many thoughts do we think would we be ashamed of if someone were to actually crawl into our head and listen to. Thankfully people can’t crawl into each others heads and truly hear the thoughts that roll through them.

Funny thing is, growing up this verse made us wary of the ‘big’ secrets…infidelity, sex before marriage, stealing, physically hurting someone etc. Our pastors would often times use the image of a huge projector screen showing all our sins and evil thoughts to the world for all our family and friends to see. Oh the embarrassment! Oh the judgement! Oh the pain we would cause ourselves and other people with our hidden sins that haven’t been brought to light and forgiven. I used to live in fear as a kid, paranoia even that when I died God would put me on a stage and broadcast my entire ‘evil’ life of every little thing I’d ever done that wasn’t 100% ‘saintly’, down to beating the crap out of a stuffed animal because I was angry. Yes, as a child I occasionally beat the crap out of dolls and stuffed animals out of frustration. I ripped pages out of my journals and threw tantrums in my room out of sight and earshot of anyone. Much of my anger and frustration growing up I kept inside, in fact all of it I kept inside. And while these ‘tantrums’ and stuffed animal beatings seem harmless enough at first sight, my thoughts got darker as I grew up.

What about the little ‘secrets’ the thoughts no one hears about, the thoughts that will never be voiced but are nonetheless there… the dark thoughts. Continue reading “The ominous projector screen of ‘life’”

My definition of good must be broken…

Devotional Blog:

6/14/2012: “When good isn’t good enough” Romans 8:28

This isn’t out of the book I am going through which coincidentally arrived in the mail from Thailand in our first round of boxes–this is one I am just going to write.

If you’ve read my previous blogs in the devotion section or perhaps in my life section or such you’ll know how I was raised. In a faith that stresses undying, unwavering faith in God and that everything works toward his plan and purpose. That no matter how ‘rough’ life gets ‘it’s all good’ because God knows how it’ll all turn out and that’ll be what’s ‘good’. I was raised in the midst of prophets who communicated God’s promises to my family, the plans he had, the constant assurance that he hasn’t forgotten us that his plans will come to pass–that we will walk into the awesomeness he has in store for us. I was raised to pray. I was raised to believe. No matter what happens, how many years pass, how many people hurt in the meantime…it’ll all ‘come out in the wash’ persay.

I’m currently encountering an all out mental rebellion occurring due to the clash of what I feel logically should be done and faith.

My mother says when things get difficult and things don’t seem to come to pass its because of choice. Everyone has free choice and certain people choose to ‘bar your way’ in essence, toward achieving the plans God has for your life. It doesn’t mean you won’t achieve it, it means it’ll take longer. My question, if God knows all this, knows people will stand in the way, knows this will drive you mad with frustration, why does he put you on that particular path to your purpose? Why does he pick that path for you?  Why does he put you at the mercy of people who could give two sh*ts or less about God and his plan? Is it supposed to be character building? Faith building? Ok, so God wants us to ‘learn’ something…but what happens when a ‘lesson’ controlled by the choices of people who don’t care about God and his ‘plans’ but directly affecting your ‘promise’ seems to be destined to extend to the end of your days. Ok perhaps that’s a bit melodramatic, but when you are getting past 20 years and have seen no end leading you to the goal of the plan, or even worse, you ‘see’ endings that get taken away from you, I really want to look up at the sky and say WTF.

I was ready to jump ship after 7 years at my Ph.D. it seemed like it was just becoming ‘impossible’ to finish but I knew a ‘finish’ was there, I saw it, it was tangible and I knew exactly what I had to do to obtain that finish. What happens when you don’t know HOW to obtain the finish line? What happens when the ‘finish line’ turns into a moving target of which you cannot predict the direction? What happens when your best, your devotion, your walk, isn’t good enough–why after 20+ years you must still continue to walk through hell, taking it on faith that the promise is somewhere…out there…on the other side? The response I’ve gotten from friends and family in these situations is…well we’ve walked this far for this long we ‘have’ to keep going.

My logic: this situation must change, change it

My faith: keep walking or let them keep walking

My ‘power’ over the situation: i am but a ‘spectator’ in this

My duty: to just pray

My frustration: Magnified a 1000 fold.

My understanding: Apparently very little

My desire: for the situaiton(s) to change or the promise become realized.

There are the examples of Joseph and Job. Joseph who was sold into slavery by his brothers for decades, God gave Joseph dreams and visions and he ended up an advisor for Pharoh, rich and well situated. Job who lost absolutely everything; his family killed, his land and assets taken, his health stricken and he still never denied faith in God and God rewarded that and restored everything to him in the end. There are miraculous stories within the Bible of God coming into peoples lives and speaking to them directly or such other manifestation of his presence/power. But God doesn’t manifest himself, his power or his promises like he used to…such as in the old testmant or new testament…making ‘faith’ that much more important and easier to lose I suppose too. Honestly though, in this day and age I think if God threw a bolt of lightening down and spoke people would shrug or run screaming thinking we were being invaded by aliens. Such is the skepticism of our time.

Perhaps I have to just ‘come to peace’ with the fact I cannot or am not being allowed to actually change situations myself. Perhaps the first step is to understand that we are not ‘promised’ our purpose. We are promised God’s purpose and it’s our decision to accept or reject that. And apparently accepting that opens us up to all the ‘events’ that come with it whether its personal or mental injury, lessness, starvation, watching those we love suffer…

Therefore, God’s plan and purpose can come with a fantastic potential grab bag of human crap that is out of our control and his because of human choice.

Human choice. It frees us and enslaves us all at the same time.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” ~Romans 8:28

 That’s a hard verse to swallow when those you love most suffer. And when life crashes down, and our own expectations of what’s “good” or “fair” even, fall apart, perhaps we think God has failed us. Perhaps we think he does not love us. Perhaps “all things” don’t work for the good, just some things…

I don’t doubt God…but I do have a lot of unanswerable questions.

I wish I had a summation that says “Never Fear! God is Here! HUZZAH and POOF, everything will work out and your dreams and promises WILL all come true, keep fighting the good fight you are almost there!” Why can’t I say that? Because it hasn’t happened yet, because I don’t know if ‘you’, ‘I’, or ‘they’ are almost there and I am personally not privy to God’s plans.

What I can say is that, of all the people in my life that do things by the purpose they believe God has given them, the people that walk through every fire imaginable in their lives, and they spit out the other end…I haven’t encountered one who regrets it. No matter how hard everything got…in the end, they don’t regret it and most are quite happy and successful at the end. So along with the virtual grab bag of human crap you inevitably have to deal with…apparently, in the end, it’ll all be worth it.

Doesn’t make it any easier to watch at present but I suppose its of some small consolence.

 

Weight of the world

Devotional Blog:

Burdens, 03/02/2012, Galatians 6:1-5, Romans 15:1-7

Are you a worry wort? I can be. I can worry about the most inane irrelevant things sometimes. Things I cannot control I worry about…I’m absolutely ridiculous sometimes, keeping myself awake at night worrying about things that are utterly pointless to worry about. And I worry about them at the MOST inopportune times as well…such as when I am taking off in a plane and I’m like–huh what if we crash? It’s really dumb as the statistics support me getting  pwnd by so many other causes before dying in a plane crash (1 in 7,032-lifetime odds, Source).

I find it funny that in the same source I have a 1 in 120,864 chance of dying by being pwnd by someones dog. In their wording–“bitten or struck by dog”. Ya that’s right, don’t you just hate it when Mitzy comes up to you and ‘bitch slaps’ you, haha, really bad joke–but really one day, her strike could kill you!

I digress…I think I’ve made my point about pointless worrying.

Continue reading “Weight of the world”

Salvation and Sugar Damning…

Devotional Blog:

Christian ‘Culture’, Depravity and Salvation, 2/29/2012, Ephesians 2:8-9

I love meeting new people, hearing new points of view listening to life adventures, life realizations and commiserating on mutual experiences. So 2012 is a leap year and there was no entry in my devotional book for this day so this is my own devotional. Honestly I do have any number of pages in the book dog eared to write about as I am fantastically behind in my posting, but I find I enjoy writing more when I am writing about something that is currently bothering or inspiring me. Enter today’s topic.

I had the pleasure of meeting someone with a very similar upbringing to myself and we bantered back and forth about being children having grown up in the church. Children who grew up in the church, most likely said their ‘salvation’ prayer at a young age, went through the ‘Christian’ motions growing up, sunday school, youth camp, retreats, revivals, door to door evangelism, whatnot. We ‘shunned’ the people we were supposed to shun or hate, we accepted the people that fit into the Christian box and we were encouraged that the greatest calling in life is that of ministry. Christian culture surrounded us, we memorized verses, held our hands up in deference to God during worship, allowed people to pray for us, we prayed for people, we knew all the ins and outs of the culture and we really didn’t have an understanding of what true ‘salvation’ was…but of course we were saved…weren’t we? Continue reading “Salvation and Sugar Damning…”

God said wha???

Devotional Blog:

Topic: “Confused?…go Back”, 01/24/2012, Jeremiah 24: 6-7

How does one ‘hear’ from God? This is a loaded topic for me…

“I will give them hearts that will recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly” -NIV, Jeremiah 24:7

 

“After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” -NIV, 1 Kings 19:12

 

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” -NIV, Rev 3:22

Confused? Always. I bumble my path routinely in an effort to ‘hear’ God and know what his plan and purpose for my life is. I say the prayers, I keep so still as to nearly faint from not breathing enough, I close my eyes and meditate during worship, think of things I’ve learned, listen to pastors and mentors more learned than me…

Majority of the time I think I must be on the wrong channel…cause all I ever get is static and I rarely know what exactly it is I am doing wrong. Continue reading “God said wha???”

Dream within a dream

Devotional Blog:

Topic: “Pretty Good Company”, 12/29/11, John 12: 20-28

Happy Birthday Edgar Allen Poe, Born January 19, 1809. Odd way to start a devotional post complete with topic title and Bible verse by saying happy birthday to a man whose poetry and stories are often of the macabre gothic nature and depressing, but now that I’ve piqued your curiosity, stick with me…

Today’s entry is about walking into the dreams that God has given us in our lives. The visions, the promises, the hopes…and perhaps not getting to see or experience the fruits of our labors, our suffering, our patience. The author (Pam) goes onto to say, ‘you are not alone’. You are not the only one to receive great promises only to never see them come to pass in your lifetime or as Moses did, stand at the border and watch your people walk into the promise led by another man. How heinously frustrating. You do everything you believe God is telling you to do, you walk through the doors, you invest time, faith, money, more time, more faith….you sit and watch as others experience the joy that comes from their dreams or promises coming to pass and you sit. You sit, telling yourself to be patient, telling yourself God has not forgotten you, telling yourself that you want things in God’s timing. Then you look up and you say God WHEN is your timing!!!???  And you cry out…you cry out. Continue reading “Dream within a dream”

I am a fussy toddler…

Devotional Blog:

Topic: “Cultivating the quiet”, 01/08/12, Psalm 23: 1-6

Hey…I’m into January in this book…well actually I’m backlogged and still have some blogs from December’s month in the book to write but I kind of just dog-ear them and will get to them, eventually.

Interestingly this one came up. In a previous entry in the book the author had encouraged us to spend our time productively and not waste it and I wrote a blog about how taking moments to ‘space out’ and how valuable that can be for ones mental health. Now in this entry she encourages moments of quiet stating that a ‘quiet heart is a receptive heart’. 1 Peter 3:4 states, pulling from the previous verse–beauty…”should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” Pslam 23: 2 states: “He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams…”

Flipping through the book this morning to find an entry dog-earred to write about I came across this and it hit a nerve for me. In the past few weeks my life has taken a tremendous turn. Continue reading “I am a fussy toddler…”

A womans place is in the home…???

Devotional Blog:

12/21/11, Topic: “Workers at Home”, Titus 2: 3-5

I’ve heard this verse used to justify a woman’s calling to ‘stay at ‘ and raise a family as opposed to being independent and working. I’m not going to say much about this books devotional entry except that I like how the author deals with this and I agree with what she says…amazing given I rarely agree with what she has to say.

Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the world of God. (Titus 2:4-5, NIV).

Now fundamentally I do not disagree with anything in this verse. I do believe that women should love their husbands and children and make them first in their lives. I do believe that women (and men) should practice self control, be kind and be subject to their husbands (or wives). Purity is a subject for another blog but I don’t necessarily disagree with what the verse says about that. And of course there’s the ‘busy at home’. In a previous blog I addressed what ‘home’ is for me…personally, growing up I was never taught that I should aspire to go to college to get my M.R.S. (Mrs.) degree. My parents were always encouraging us to go out there live our lives, get jobs and accomplish our goals and aspirations with no expectation that we should marry and have babies right away…although I know my mother would love to be a grandmother.

I think at one point my mom, when she had my little brother whose 21 years younger than me…she joked that she was tired of waiting for me to have grandbabies for her so she made another of her own.

The author of the devotional, in her studies, found that the definition of ‘busy at home’ is “worker at home”, “a guard of the home; keeper of the home; domestically inclined…” She read more opinions, studies and commentaries about the subject and they all had one common feature, a woman’s heart is at home. Her priorities and heart reflect God and a family focused value system. I can agree with this and not just because it’s ‘convenient’ for me to agree with this because of my life choices.

God can use women same as men in every aspect of life. God is an equal opportunity ’employer’ and I don’t believe it’s ‘left up to the men’ to do ‘all God’s work’. Yes, God made women to bear children and we have a more natural ‘maternal’ (obviously) disposition which makes us suited to having kids and running a home. And I am not opposed nor ever have been opposed to having kids. I love kids, I’ve just never had a ‘biological clock’. If I have kids, great, if I don’t, I don’t. And I know my own disposition, I’d go nuts from cabin fever if I had to spend 18 years at home only ‘allowed’ to raise my kids and ‘keep house’. I don’t think God intends that. We all have gifts outside the ‘home’ and while my priorities will always be my family, I think its possible and encouraging to have other ‘callings’ as well.

I agree with her when she says:  “Your feet can be anywhere but your heart should be ‘at home’.”

God bless…no strings attached

Unofficial Devotional Blog: (not in book, but I’m gonna write it anyway)

Topic: “love, judgement, right and wrong” (verses…many, see below)

Since I started this devotional ‘section’ to my blog I’ve talked about a lot of different topics introduced to me by this rather ‘fluffy’ devotional book that I’ve been making my way through. And I actually was going to write another entry based in that book but as I opened the link to start a new blog…all this came flowing out instead. For an introduction to how this all got started in all the ‘devotion’ stuff see the first blog about my attempt at keeping regular devotions and analyzing my faith. Topics ranged in this book from finding your ‘hidden sin (blog post)’, leadership and mentorship (blog 1, blog 2), family and finances (blog), wishing for a different life (blog), acceptance (blog), love and forgiveness (blog), relationships with non-believers (blog), trauma (blog), life purpose/being saved for something I wrote on the anniversary of 9/11 (blog) and many of the things I’ve said, done or written have gotten me pegged throughout life as a ‘lukewarm Christian’.

I read a blog post entitled “I’m Christian unless you are Gay” written by a guy whose blog I follow because he has interesting things to say. Since it’s been written it’s gotten 74K plus facebook ‘likes’ and has been shared I’m sure countless times to ‘mixed’ reviews sometimes. I am one of those that shared this post on facebook and now I am sharing it here with my own take. I encourage you to read his post (linked above) in its entirety as well as some of the responses to the post both negative and positive. He’s caused quite the firestorm and some of the responses were very powerful.

After reading his post and all the responses…two quotes stuck with me. Continue reading “God bless…no strings attached”