On the Road to Anything

I believe the Holy Trinity is one of the most mysterious truths contained in the Bible.  It is difficult as a human to conceptualize a being that is simultaneously three in one.  However, there are moments when I catch glimpses of a whisper of understanding. Or at least purpose in the design of it all.

In John 14, during the discussion Jesus has with his disciples around the Passover table, he explains how he will be leaving them, but He will be sending a helper to all those who believe in Him.  It’s something I’ve known about/heard about since becoming a Christian:  the Holy Spirit, the third member of the Trinity.  This manifestation of the one true God has always been the hardest one for me to wrap my head around; mainly because He’s always been portrayed as the aspect of God I’m supposed to feel.  And if I’m completely honest, most days I don’t FEEL much God around at all.

This week as I was finishing the Bible Study Named by God by Kasey VanNorman she directed us to read a couple of places that spoke about the Holy Spirit.   John 14: 26 (ESV) reads “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to you remembrance all that I have said to you.”  Then, when you see Paul talking in Titus we see this:  “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and the renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:4-6 (ESV)).   We are renewed by the Holy Spirit, we remember the teachings of Christ through the Holy Spirit and we are taught things by the Holy Spirit.  These are aspects of the Holy Spirit that Kasey wanted us to see.

But what I saw was a reminder that God is Big and Mysterious and Multi-faceted.  We only have the Holy Spirit in the context of the Trinity, because the God of Abraham is but One Being.  Both of these verses refer to all three aspects of the Trinity.  And while I’m not exactly certain the significance of that yet, I feel that it’s important.

Because to a frazzled, working mom wearing many hats, that seems to be a comfort to me today.  The fact that God, who is all things at all times, has these aspects of himself that are manifested for specific purposes is soothing for a woman trying to juggle multiple roles in her life.  And all of the manifestations of the Trinity are important.  God the Father as pure and holy creator, loving us too much to let us go; Christ as relatable, redeeming Savior; and Holy Spirit as the present helper and teacher.   My different roles don’t make me fractured, and it’s okay to need to set aside one role on occasion to focus on another because that’s more important to the story right at the moment.

But I also see it as challenge.  Because, even when one aspect of God seems to be taking center stage at various times throughout the story, all of the aspects of God always work for one thing, with one goal in mind: For God’s Glory.  What would life look like if all of my personas were to be able to run after that same goal together?  That no matter whether I’m wearing my mom hat, my wife hat, my daughter hat, my sister hat, my employee hat, my co-worker hat, my friend hat, etc. my goal would be to glorify God?  It’s a challenge that Jennie Allen issues in her book Anything.  A challenge to lay down our lives, everything, and be willing to do anything to follow God and fulfill his purposes for our lives, the ultimate purpose of which is to glorify God.

I think at this point in my life I’m more like Jennie’s friend Karen who told her “Jennie, I can’t pray that [anything].  I can’t turn this life over to God.  I am scared of what may happen” (page 54 of the Kindle edition).  Jennie goes on to talk about how, especially in Karen’s situation where she had experienced tragedy, she can understand how her friend was torn.  Following completely abandoned after Jesus is costly.  For some, hugely costly.  To pray anything, to give everything, means God might just take that offering.  She goes on to make several more compelling and honest points and ask us to consider “what are you most afraid of?  What would be the worst thing that God may allow you to suffer?”

And if I’m absolutely honest, I’m still stuck in a huge place of fear.  When I consider those questions, some truly frightening possibilities come up, including ones that are likely (like the death of my parents or emergencies that cost a lot of money (home issues, car issues, health issues, accidents)) and other ones that are totally irrational (did you know that masked murderers come into my house every other Monday night when I’m home alone with Kate?  Or that any night we don’t hear a peep out of Kate the creaking of the crib indicating tossing and turning, she’s got to have stopped breathing?  At least that’s what my fear-riddled brain believes every time the house creaks when we’re home alone or my daughter has an awesome night of sleep!  Seriously, what kind of mother is more comforted by a restless child that is going to wake up cranky and tired than one who is sleeping so deeply she doesn’t move an inch?)

And, again, if I’m truly honest, I’m even scared to pray to God for help with this issue because I’m afraid of the form that “help” may take (after all we’ve all heard the anecdotal stories of those praying for patience only to be placed in stressful situations where they have to practice patience!)

BUT, I’m doing it anyway.  Because I’m to the point where I think I want to see what life would look like if I wasn’t afraid to do everything and anything to Glorify God.  A life where I’m more concerned with what God thinks of me than what people think of me; where I’m more concerned about the eternal lives of those I love than their earthly ones; where I’m more concerned with being considerate rather than correct, compassionate rather than comfortable, joyful rather than jealous, and thankful rather than trendy; where I’m more concerned with relationships than to-do lists and eternity is a constant reality present on my mind rather than a fleeting idea that can wait until tomorrow.

What would that look like?  I’m not sure right now, but I’m kind of excited to find out.  So, while I may not be ready to pray anything, I’ll continue to pray that the Holy Spirit continually reminds me that God gave me a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7 ESV) and the words of Christ after he promises to send a helper (John 14:27 (ESV))

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

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Angry Conversations With God

One thing I can say about this chick’s blog?  I always want to read whatever book she’s reviewed.  She has a way of picking out excerpts and reviewing the work that makes me want to read more 🙂 

But when I saw the review of this Susan Issacs’ book?  I knew it was something I HAD to read.   Believing in a “God whom I loved, whom I could not escape, and with whom I was very, very pissed off”?  Wanting to take God to marriage counseling?  Yes Please. 

I doubt I’m going to read the book quickly.  I’m reading the new Tudor Era Phillipa Gregory novel, a Tudor Era non-fiction by Leanda de Lisle and the new Kerrelyn Sparks at the same time and I find too much “God” stuff exhausts me right now.  But I thought I’d blog as I read through it.  I’ve been putting off dealing much with God because it is exhausting right now and I just need to get through life at the moment.  But if Kari’s review is anywhere close to on track (as they normally are), this should have enough humor mixed in. 

So far I’ve only read the introduction, but I loved it.  I’m going to try to pull five things from each section I read, so:

Things I found particularly resonating in the introduction:

  1. Her “Martha.”  Who HASN’T met one of those women in their “church” experience?
  2. Her list of questions she might ask God in a counseling session.  (“So, Lord, is there in fact a ‘purpose-driven life’ a “secret”? A ‘best life now'”  Or are those just your latest marketing campaigns designed to get me to buy books and CDs and to tithe?”; “Did you ever speak to me?  Where you ever involved?”; “Your people love to quote Jeremiah 29:11: ‘I know the plans I have for you,… to prosper you and not to harm you.’  How come I never heard Jeremiah 20:7: ‘O, Lord, you deceived me, and I was deceived’?!”)
  3. Her authenticity in questioning a “middle-class religion” that she’s been a part of all of her life.
  4. Her knowledge that those outside her “middle-class religion” would find her insane and most Christian therapists wouldn’t “dare question the Almighty.”
  5. The fact that she’s sharing her story.  Despite the world seeing her as insane or the religious world seeing her as heretical. 

Finally slowing down enough to write

Well, I’ve been super busy since coming home from Colorado so I haven’t had much time to write.  I have a busy week the rest of the week at work, but not so much in the evenings… I may go visit with some friends in Chicago this weekend, we’ll see… but other than that… and small group on Thursday, my evenings (starting tonight) are pretty much my own right now. 

 

Barnes and Noble remains ever fun.  I really do love working there… If they paid more than minimum wage I might have even considered doing that as a career, although it’s not nearly as challenging as my job at ISPFCU is, and I do like having a challenging job…

 

On a totally different note, I keep getting creeped out as I write this.  I killed a rather large spidar (spider??) earlier tonight in the basement when I was doing laundry and know I keep thinking I’m seeing things move out of the corner of my eye!  Yikes…

 

In other news… I’m moving at the end of the month.  Hopefully to Monroe Gardens on Dirken.  We turned in our applications today so now we need to be approved and then they need to have space for us.  We’re also looking at possibly buying a livingroom set (if the lady from Chambana would ever call me back).  I’m not sure why she ONLY wants $150 for the set, but that’s better than anything we’ve come across so far…

 

Let’s see… I had a pretty rough day on Sunday… I think I keep things entirely too bottled up… I had a really hard time hearing that God is a Soverign God and knows best and has everything under control… I also was entirely too antsy to sit through church… I left towards the end of the sermon… But Beth, bless her, gout me out of my stupor later that day… she and Bethany and the Joshes and I ended up watching The Ghost and Mr. Chicken later that night and that was super fun…

 

other than that, my life has been pretty boring.  I don’t even have any fun andecdotes or articles to share with you as I’ve not had time to be surfing the net (for anything of any substance or interest to anyone but me… (I’m sure no one really cares about Bank Bribery Act or Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act)…  I did get a couple of magazines for writers that I’ve been eating up.  I’ll share some information if I find any of interest 🙂

 

Until later…

Into the Wild

“When you forgive, you love.  When you love, you let God’s light shine in your life.”—Into the Wild

 

Pretty certain I don’t really like this movie all too much.  Brian is telling us bits and pieces about the book as well, and it doesn’t sound much better.  I’m not sure what he did was really okay or worthy of being too remembered.  I like the anti-materialism aspect, but the idea that human relationships just weren’t important enough to keep him from being silly? 

 

Happiness is only real when shared… something he’s writing in a book towards the end of the movie.  I think he’s finally realized it too…

 

I don’t know.  I think the non-materialistic, etc. kind of thing made him feel unselfish, but I think the life he lived might have been the most selfish life I’ve ever witnessed.  He makes a comment right before the man who wanted to become his adopted grandfather (who became an alcoholic again after learning of Chris’ death) made the forgiveness quote about how human relationships are not the only way to see God in this world.  And while that is true, I think Chris missed the real truth in that statement:  that we DO see God in relationships.

When we started this movie, Brian warned me that Chris died but that he died doing what he wanted in the way he wanted… that’s a 15 year old boy for you… I don’t think Chris ever had any intention of dying in Alaska. 

Brian and I have decided that we’ll have to agree to disagree…  He thinks Chris is really cool and doesn’t see how Chris is selfish or why rules are good things or why some of the Chris did were really disrespectful.  He’s a very interesting boy.  We don’t agree on a lot, but he can really debate with you…  He’s going to be a great man when he grows up I think, if we can weed out this really selfish aspect of him…

Why I volunteer with Jr. High Ministry

Today I had lunch with Chris and Latif to discuss summer plans for West Side’s Jr. High Ministry.  In passing, CHris mentioned that he’d like to discuss what drew Latif and I to Jr. High Ministry.  My easy, first-come-to-mind-answer is always “VBS” (I’ll get to that in a minute).  As I contemplate that a little more, I think it’s probably deeper than that (most things are with contemplation).

When I first started volunteering with anything at West Side it was in the Children’t Ministry.  Erin, the Children’s Minister at the time, was one of the only people I knew, and at that time I was working as a pre-school teacher and had realized I really like kids and can relate to them.  I had done VBS the year before (with 1st graders) as a way to connect with Sarah Jumber (now Admire)(a friend and co-worker of mine from the Puppy who had just gotten baptized that summer).  It was something we could do together that was God-related and kid-related, a place where we could connect on multiple levels.

So that next year (2004 I think it was) we decided to do so again.  She was going to a small country church with her family, but it was doing the same VBS curriculum as West Side, only the week after.  We decided to do both VBSs (THAT was a crazy 2 weeks, let me tell you 🙂 ).  That year West Side needed help with the 5th graders.  I generally prefer (or so I had thought) to work with younger kids, but I’m also pretty laid back and like to help out where I’m needed, so we took the 5th graders.

And, boy, were they a challenge.  I don’t think I’ve ever been as frustrated with kids (or had as much fun) as I was/did with Evan and Shane that week!

But amazingly, I don’t think I’ve ever fallen in love with a group of kids as quickly either (and this coming from someone who really does enjoy being with kids).  While they were challenging, they were also soooo much fun!  And I could see so much potential in them.  They were right there on the verge of something and it was so fun to be there with them.  So I went to Chris to find out how I could continue to be a part of their lives at West Side when they moved to 6th grade.

That could be where the story stops… I followed a great group of kids into the ministry.

But I realized today that those kids are almost done with their freshman year of high school! (and are still some really great kids).  But I didn’t follow them to High School… So it had to be more than just that group of kids.

So why do I STILL do Jr. High ministry?

My mom says it’s because you should never say never… when I was contemplating teaching as a career I always knew I could handle any age… any age, that is, except Jr. High.  I could NEVER handle Jr. High kids… and now look at me 🙂  maybe she’s right 🙂

But I think it probably has more to do with the fact that I remember being in Jr. High (yes it might have been awhile ago, but not THAT long ago).  I remember how lost and alone I felt and how much I would have loved having adults who weren’t my parents to hang out with, to accept me for who I was and to offer guidance and… presence… in a loving way.  I remember feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere, that I was in some kind of “lost” stage or “limbo” between childhood and being a young adult.

And I remember tht you probably would have NEVER known that about me.  I was friendly and outgoing.  I wasn’t popular, but I wasn’t the least popular kid in school.  I could meld well in several different social groups; I as totally boy-crazy and had several boyfriends; I got along well with teachers and, though I was only a C-student in Jr. High, was smart enough to get by without notice.

I didn’t have anyone close enough to me or willing enough to delve behind the mask, to see the girl who wrote morbid, dark poetry; who cried herself to sleep most nights; who was boy-crazy because she wanted the attention, not that she really liked the guy; who spent hours upon hours in her head making up a different life for herself to take herself away from actual life.

And that’s sad.

 

Most of the time Jr. High Ministry is a high energy, high fun, oft-times silly and/or gross experiment in living life.  But underneath that energy and the silliness and the craziness that is an adolescent; I know and understand the feeling of being in “limbo” or “lost” stage of life.  And I know that those same feelings can occur in any life stage, but I know that if I had a better view of myself, a better view of my value as a child of God (heck, knowing Jesus AT ALL would have helped), and a feeling that I was not alone when I was younger, the times as an adult when I feel like that would be fewer and further between.

I wouldn’t say my giftedness lies in being able to counsel anyone through that (far from it, it’s one of the biggest reasons I know that I couldn’t have pursued a psych. degree).  But I LOVE being present and available.  And I really love investing in others to help them learn to be present and available (yay for being able to invest a little bit more in other leaders as well as kids this year).

So I continue to do Jr. High ministry because I want them to know that God cares about them, and by extension, so do other people.  I want to be present and available.  Whther that be as a person to giggle about boys with, the person to referee a dodgeball game, the person to throw toilet paper at, or the person to talk to because things aren’t going great right now.  Because sometimes there just aren’t answers.  Most of the time life just happnes, and sometimes you just need someone there to help you know that you’re not alone, that you’re loved and valued for who you are, raging hormones, pungent BO, rebellious independece, goofy silliness and lingering childhood innocence included.

Today’s Bits and Pieces

I’ve decided to start a new Friday post:  Bits and Pieces… little tidbits of things that I’ve been contemplating through the week or that have caught my attention.  I hope you find them at least quasi-interesting. 

Bit #1 

I’ve become a news-junkie.  Not such a great thing when you are quite aware that journalism in this country is wrought with bias and politically and socially manipulative undertones.  Nonetheless, I check CNN on a daily basis.

And one thing I always enjoy reading is commentaries by Glenn Beck.  I don’t always agree with him.  I wouldn’t even hazard to say that the majority of the time I agree with him… but sometimes I do.  And I always enjoy reading what he has to say.  His straight-forward, tell-it-like-it-is commentary, usually showing hints or all out in-your-face sarcasm and dry wit almost always make me think.  If you haven’t ever read anything by him, try this out. 

(In other political news, here’s additional commmentary about the detriment Clinton and Obama are being for the Democratic Party… he, appropriately on the eve of St. Patrick’s day weekend,  uses a “Two Irish cats from Kilkenny” metaphor.  Seriously, I like him already.)

Bit #2

I know that we live in a messed up society when courts have to rule on the legality of incest, junk-food diets are the craze, and when people who have moved to the U.S. from overseas when they’re in their late teens or early twenties state that they can receive more information about sex in an hour of american television than in all the years of their life,

Piece #1 

We’re down to the Sweet 16 in Lost Madness… I’m not liking that Sawyer and Kate and Jack and Sayid are pitted against each other… There are some match ups that are just looking “duh” to me on who’s going to win.  But there are some that are really close…  I’m not sure I realized when I first saw this fun game that it was really just a popularity contest.  If I had, I might have considered a linked campaign for Sawyer.  (not really sure what this says about me, but I’m pretty sure my roommate commented on my choice of Sawyer over Hurley in round 1 with a “You would!”  Now I like Hurley, but I’m telling you… the swoony bad-boy will get me every time.  Every. Time.)

Piece #2

Speaking of my roommate: she and her fiance bought a house last night!  Yay for them!  (brings into stark reality my need for a new roommate and some sort of “plan” though… boo…)

The League of Extraordinary Gentleman

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I was flipping through channels last night to find something to put on in the background as I got some things ready for the retreat this weekend and (hopefully) take a nap when I came across The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.  I had seen this movie once before.  Anything with Sean Connery is worth at least one viewing in my opinion and this was right around the time when I was excited about comic book adaptations (such as X-Men or Spiderman). 

 I ended up watching the show in its entirety.  It’s amazing to me the things that strike you at different times in your life.  I’m sure I must have noticed the use of characters (what self-respecting English major wouldn’t have).  But I don’t think it struck me as quite so… ingenious… as it did last night.  Creating a fictional world in which fictional characters (from other fictional works) come together to form a “superhero” team?  Quite thought-provoking.  Alan Moore, the author of the series, once stated: “The planet of the imagination is as old as we are. It has been humanity’s constant companion with all of its fictional locations, like Mount Olympus and the gods, and since we first came down from the trees, basically. It seems very important, otherwise, we wouldn’t have it.” 

Moore doesn’t endorse adaptations of his work (he also authors V for Vendetta… another quite thought-provoking series.  Seriously, people, if you don’t know something about the comic book or graphic novel scene, you’re missing out on some pretty philosophical stuff).  Despite that, the movie adaptation is fascination.  Just look at the heroes they choose to use.  Alan Quatermain:  Okay, I get him… he’s an adventurer and the type of person one might actually see as a hero…  Mina Harker… vampiress and ex-wife to the infamous Jonathan Harker who, along with Van Helsing, fought the evils of one, Dracula.  But her hero-strength is the part of her that is vampire… the very thing that was the evil in her own world.  Then you have Dr. Jekyll… and his counterpart, Mr. Hyde.  Again, the hero-strength comes in the form of the evil of his world.

 

The most fascinating “hero” or “villain” character to me, however, was Dorian Gray, who’s “strength” comes in his invincibility… the invincibility afforded to him because the ramifications and consequences of any of his actions take effect on his portrait, not his person.  Though he turns out to be one of the villains, rather than a hero, his evilness manifests itself for reasons we can easily relate to.  That portrait, his Achilles heal, was at stake.  He chose to save himself, over the good of man-kind.  And completely stayed within character.

 

And it is this distinction that sets apart our other heroes.  Though their strengths might be provided to them by their evil natures or a result of malicious things in the world, they all choose to save man-kind… from them.  They chose to fight to take down the man who wanted to create more of them.  They could have thought, “hey, here’s my chance”.  If others were like them they would no longer be alienated, no longer be “freaks of nature (or science).”  But they recognized that their uniqueness was, in-it-self, a strength, and recognized that these manifestations of evil they used as their “strengths” should not be wished on anyone else, for any reason.  They banded together and effectively prevented the villain(s) from creating any more of them.

 

Superheroes are a funny lot.  In a book I just read, The Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult, one of the main characters, a comic book writer, indicated that creating villains was more fun because heroes had to fit a pre-defined mold.  And you can see that… Batman, Superman, Spiderman (any guy that ends in man J), the various X-Men… they may have their differences and their own character flaws, but they mainly fit a pre-defined formula.

 

Alan Moore, the author of the League, breaks that mold.  Though he uses some more formulaic heroes (such as Quatermain) he takes the characters who are fringe characters, or characters who are stamped with evil and turn them into heroes.  Makes you sit back and contemplated what true heroism is.  What if heroism doesn’t really have anything to do with the outside world?  What if heroism is the ability to recognize the evil nature in ourselves (that nature which we all have within ourselves to be bad) and choosing keep that nature from surfacing?  What if the only thing from which the world needs saved is… ourselves?

 

(note:  the above commentary does not necessarily reflect the beliefs of the commentator.  They are rather “thought” questions to be used to spark conversation 🙂 )