Tuesday, November 29, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 10

Day 10: A picture of the person you do the most fun things with

This one is definitely Emily MacDonald!!! :)
When the two of us get together, we have to silliest conversations and do the funniest things together. Mostly, they are funny because we are way too easily amused. She and I laugh up a storm almost every time we see each other. Last Saturday night, she was in town for Thanksgiving, and we had a ball! It was one of the funnest times we've had in a while, actually. :) So much fun! We walked around a few stores, went to see a movie, went to dinner, and then I took her home. Doesn't sound too crazy, right? Well, we know how to spice things up ... and just by being together. :) We went to see Breaking Dawn and giggled our way through the cheesy parts (which is most of the movie). And then we laughed about our crush on Jacob all the way to the restaurant. Once at Red Robin, we talked about our struggles and joys, and laughed about all kinds of stuff. On the way home, we stopped at Maggie and Jared's to put a funny message on their door with post-it notes, seeing as they were out of town. And on the way home, we laughed so hard our stomachs AND our heads hurt ... funny stories, bosom buddy bonding time ... it was so great!
Somehow, no matter what I'm doing with Emily, it's fun. We could simply sit on her couch and watch a movie, and we'd find a way to make it fun ... more than usual. Like when we watched Jane Eyre for the first time - it's not a funny show ... but boy, we made it funny! Or looking through Pinterest or You're Not a Photographer.com ... hilarious times! Or when we go out for our picture days - we always do really stupid stuff and take pictures of it! You can find all kinds of pictures of us being dorks on Facebook. Such good times with that girl. ... So yeah, she definitely wins out with this one ... I do the most fun things with Emily!!! :D

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

30-Day Jesus Day 6: Believing Without Seeing

Haha! A long while back, I started a blog project called 30-Day Jesus. It was supposed to be 30 straight days of posting about Jesus and what He was doing in my life each day ... to help me be more consistent in my prayer and devotions. Ha! Well, it looks like I only made it to day 5 and gave up. What a dork. ... I guess I'll have to call it "30-Day Jesus" because it's 30 days of Jesus posts ... not in a row ... but just Jesus and what He's doing in my life. ... Every time I post one of my 30-Day Photo Challenge pictures, I think of these 30-Day Jesus posts. It might be good to finish this blog project, so here I go - day 6 is today. :)

I've been thinking a lot about the goodness of God over the past several months. To be honest, I've struggled a lot with believing that God WASN'T good. Eek! Don't tell anybody I said that. A youth pastor who doesn't believe God is good? Umm ... no. "Ban her from the church!" "Get her away from those teenagers!" "Kick her out of the Christian community altogether!" ... Haha! Okay, so I'm taking that a bit far. ... But that's how I've felt! "Oh my gosh. I'm a leader in my church ... I'm teaching the teenagers about Jesus ... people think I've got it together ... and I don't believe God is good???" Ahhh!!!! Yeah, it was quite the struggle for a lot of months.

Thankfully, recently, God's been really at work in my life. He always is ... but recently, it's been extra amazing! :) The Holy Spirit brought a phrase to mind several weeks back that has changed my perspective entirely. I was on my way to my Thursday morning Bible study, when the Holy Spirit whispered to my spirit, "Believe without seeing." Although I couldn't think of the Scripture passage He was pulling this from, I immediately knew He was speaking directly to me and that finding the context of this phrase would be huge. I burst into tears as I thought more about what this phrase really entailed ... and what it meant for my current circumstances.

For so many months, I had been focused on everything but Jesus. I had been wallowing in past hurts, suffocating in dreams that had still not been met, and feeling quite depressed and defeated. ... On Thursday mornings, we had be reading and discussing the book, "Lies Women Believe" by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. Wow, that's a great book! And the very first lie was "God is not really good." At the time, I had no idea that I was believing THIS SPECIFIC lie. But as we kept studying the book and things began to sink in, wow! Putting my finger on the lie really started changing my perspective. God was at work! He was telling me that I should no longer be depressed and defeated, that I was to BELIEVE in HIM no matter what my circumstances ... even though I couldn't SEE what He was doing and what He was gonna do.

And since that morning, I've been a new woman! I still have a long way to go in so many areas ... but God is really working in me about my circumstances. Believe without seeing. That phrase has really changed my life. ... Oh, and by the way, that phrase comes from Thomas' story after Jesus' death and resurrection - go read about it in John 20:24-29. Wow, it's good stuff! ... No matter what you're facing today, know that Jesus is at work in your life. Even if you can't SEE the work, BELIEVE. BELIEVE! If we believe without seeing, our faith will grow like crazy! Because that's what faith is - BELIEVING WITHOUT SEEING. :)

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 9

Day 9: A picture of the person who has gotten you through the most

This guy is probably the most incredible person you'll ever meet. Ben Nilsen is nonpareil. Haha! Didn't know I had such cool words up my sleeve, huh? ... Actually, I'm stealing it from a really great lady from church, Ronda Coon. :) ... Nonpareil means "a person or thing having no equal." That's quite a word, eh? Well, I think it's the perfect word to describe Ben. If you knew Ben, you'd agree. :) But anyways ... Ben is a great friend of mine. We've kind of lost touch over the past year ... and I still need to call him up for a friend date - told him I would do that weeks ago! Man. But I called him a few weeks back, and even though we hadn't spoken in months, we were able to chat like old times. I'm so thankful for that.

Ben has probably been my greatest encourager ... especially, a couple years back when I was going through a really rough time. I'd had a falling out with a friend, and I was totally heartbroken over it. It caused me a lot of pain. And Ben was my greatest supporter, listener, encourager, and prayer warrior friend during that year of my life. He's the kind of friend you know is praying when you ask (and even when you don't) ... you know is caring even when you haven't spoken in a while ... you know will drop everything and come to your "aide" if you need it. ... We may not be as close or stay in touch as often as we used to - seasons come and go - but Ben will forever have a special place in my heart for all the support he gave me during the roughest season of my life (so far, anyway). I really love and appreciate that guy! He is an incredible brother in Christ! :)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Depravity (Part 2): What is the Point?

So what is the point? I bet you're wondering if I had a big epiphany while I was gone. Haha! And well, I think it's coming - slowly but surely. ... but I do have to say that I still don't know why God created us when He knew we were gonna be a bunch of sin bags. He knows His purposes. Obviously, there is more glory to come out of our lives than we will ever know - thank GOD for that!

But ... there is a big ... HUGE ... really IMPORTANT point to be taken away from these ramblings (and from Galatians 6:16-26 and Romans 6 - go read these passages if you haven't already). The answer is found all over these two passages, but I think it is best summed up in two little verses ...

Romans 6:1-2
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?"

The point is really as simple as that ... in a phrase you might hear my dad use, "Knock it off, ya bozos!" Hahaha! ... That's right - STOP SINNING, YOU DEPRAVED PEOPLE!!!!

I know what you're thinking ... well, at least, I'M thinking it ... "That's NOT simple!!!" I just told you in the last post that I fall into so many sinful attitudes so easily - pride, ungratefulness, impatience, down-right meanness, and the list goes on - and all in 5 minutes too! ... But seriously ... why would Paul (or whoever the heck wrote this book) - who got it from God in the first place - give us this sixth chapter of Romans if he didn't intend for us to LIVE it??? God expects us to read this passage and then DO it!!! Man, that's a heavy order, huh? But it's turning my cringing and my cowering into thoughtfulness, which makes me fix my eyes on Jesus for direction and clarity, which will eventually help me LIVE out this passage - or at least attempt to - a little at a time, day by day. And that brings glory to God! Ha! And there we have it ... the point is bringing glory to God

"But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh." Galatians 6:16

... THAT is the point, my dear friends - to turn away from our sin, to stop it in its tracks, and not just walk, but run, after Jesus, which will, in turn, bring glory to God.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Depravity (Part 1)

I've been thinking about my own depravity lately. Ugh. It makes me cringe. Literally. I am scrunching up my face and my body is cowering a little bit even now as I'm typing. And I want you to think about depravity too. If you can't think about your own 'cause, like me, it makes you sick, then just think about mine. Yes, think about Mical Masterson's depravity.

Have you read the definition of depravity lately? Yuck. I just did, and it makes me cower even more.

Depravity: "corrupt, wicked, or perverted."

*Big sigh and a sad face*

Man. This makes me really upset ... heartbroken, even. Heartbroken because my depravity ... my corrupt, wicked, and perverted nature hurts my Savior, my God, my Spirit - yes, the Three in One.

I don't know how you feel about this issue of TOTAL depravity or if you even have the slightest clue what I'm talking about. Some people do ... most people don't. It's worth looking into if you haven't. It can lead into crazy controversies involving the names John Calvin and John Wesley and all that they believed about God and His relationship with/to us. I'm not gonna get into all of that ... although, I am fascinated by these ideas. I'm not gonna go labeling myself a Calvinist or an Arminianist ... I don't much care about names. But! One thing I will not budge on is this idea of total depravity. Total depravity is this ... that we are totally and completely sinful (remember those ugly words from before? - corrupt, wicked, perverted? Yep, we're ALL of those), that we can do NOTHING good in our own strength - ONLY through God's working in our lives can we do, say, or think anything good at all (also known as giving us His GRACE - what we DON'T deserve).

And THAT is what I've been thinking about lately. People may argue this point, but for me, it's as easy as looking at my OWN life. Every SINGLE day ... and usually, several times a day ... I fall into sin after sin. A LOT of things qualify as sin. Sin, in itself, is "missing the mark." The "mark" is perfection (also known, and only known, as JESUS) ... and so if our hearts and minds are exuding anything but perfection, we are sinning. Whoa! Now, there's another blog post. Whew! Thank you, Jesus, for your grace! So when I think about sin that way, I KNOW I'm totally depraved! Man, oh man.

... Okay. Back to the point. Today, I was in a funk about something meaningless ... I was claiming my "rights" about something - ha, like I have any of those. And it made feel frustrated and irritable. It made me prideful and ungrateful and just mean in my heart. Otherwise known as ... I was wallowing in sin. And I got to thinking, and I voiced this to my mom ... I screw up all the time. I am totally corrupt and wicked and perverted, and I'm always going to be. Sure, God enables me to be pure and sanctified and holy, but in my depravity, 9 times out of 10, I chose to walk in the flesh instead of in the Spirit. I asked my mom, "So if God made us for His glory, and we screw up all the time, what's the point?" This question came from conviction. I was convicted because I was not only making excuses about my rights, being prideful, and ungrateful ... I was also being impatient and unkind about some demanding customers. And God was convicting me about all of these MANY sinful attitudes. So I was discouraged with myself. I told mom, "I'm so glad God is gracious 'cause if I were God, I woulda zapped all of us by at least the 3rd time ... heck, I wouldn't have created us at all!"
And when you think about this ... when you think about my question to my mom "If God made us for His GLORY, and we constantly SIN, then what's the point?", we get into some pretty convicting stuff.

So what is the point?
Galatians 5:16-26 and Romans 6 come to mind. Hold on. I'll be back in a bit. I need to go read these again ... hey, why don't you join me, and we'll meet back here for some more deep thoughts in, let's say, a half an hour? Just let me know if you need more time. ;)

BRB ...

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 8

Day 8 - A picture that makes you laugh

This picture is my profile picture - I know, I know. But I can't help but laugh hysterically every time I see it. That's WHY it's my profile picture! :D ... You had to be there when this picture was taken ... or rather, you had to be there when Emily and I were looking through our pictures of the day we had just spent together. We had gone to Gabby's (a yummy burger place) for lunch (where this picture was taken), walked at the park, done a little shopping ... fun day. And we finished our day with one of the weirdest movies ever, Jane Eyre. It really is an odd and almost creepy movie. (I was a bit weirded out then, but now, I love it!) We were so confused for most of it, making fun of it, and having a great time cracking each other up. And then we started looking at these pictures, once the movie was over. ... So we're already beyond gitty, and I see this picture of myself. And I just lose it, which makes Emily lose it. So now, I probably laugh more at that moment (ha! Try 10 minutes!) of my gitty laughter than the picture itself. But anyways ... long story short - you had to be there. But it's a funny picture either way. :D

Thursday, November 3, 2011

30-Day Photo Challenge Day 7

Day 7: A picture of your most cherished item

Yep. It's definitely my blanket. You may not be able to see this blanket well in the picture, but my closest friends can attest to the fact that this blanket is the most pathetic looking blanket ... maybe ever. I still remember taking this blanket to our Bogalusa mission trip 2 summers ago, and Pastor Mike asked me ... "So you're still carryin' around that blanket, huh?" Hahahaha! Hilarious! It's true. I can't go on any trip, sleep in any hotel, sleep AT ALL without this raddy old thing. It may be old and ugly to anyone else, but to me, it's my security blanket - I will never throw it away. It is most assuredly my most treasured material possession. :D