The Other “Need vs. Want”

“I need to have those cute jeans.” This is the need/want debate people often talk about. They discuss how people behave with consumerism and what they buy. I’m NOT going to talk about that.

I don’t need a man in my life, but I WANT my hubby to be married to me until death do us part. I want his friendship. I don’t like TV couples that show a relationship where husbands and wives tolerate each other. It’s in this attitude that we realize we don’t need this and we throw it away. Well, I want my marriage and all the things that that entails.

People act sometimes like the relationships they have are a “should” or “have to”. So they act like it’s something they endure. They don’t own that it was at some point a “want”. The idea that you “have to love your spouse” is funny, because at some point you wanted to be married. We need to continue to want it.

I didn’t need kids, but I wanted them. That’s a hard one to write down. I have such an intense love of my boys, that it’s hard to believe they are not a need in my life. I wanted them. I chose to have them and care for them. I continue to want a relationship with them.

I’m talking about this, because it occurred to me that God is like this. He doesn’t need me. He doesn’t need you either. His perfect existence doesn’t need anything. But, boy oh boy, does He WANT us. He wants us to want Him too. We can’t just choose God and then act like it’s a chore. He doesn’t do that to us.

With God there is a deep want that is persistent. He continues to want a relationship with us. I think sometimes (I know this is true for me) we sometimes act like it’s gone from a want to a “you need to”.

So today, in your walk with God, ask yourself if you are treating God like a deep want that feels like a need (something so deep it’s like a craving) or if you are treating Him like a need that you never wanted in the first place (all expectation and rules).  Do something today that shows God you want to be in that relationship.

 

Note* I know this breaks down a bit.  Because now that I am following Jesus, I know I NEED God.

Loving me the way I am

When I was a teen I didn’t really like myself. I had so many lovely words for myself…obnoxious, loud, hyper, spaz. I didn’t want to be those things, so I decided I didn’t want to be me. I would have days where on the inside a was bubbling with sadness and I would be struggling to be someone else, anyone else. I would try to not talk for a day (except when addressed and only short answers.) I wanted so badly to be the quiet, mysterious girl (I know, crazy, right?). These feelings of insecurity followed me into early adulthood.

For years I thought I was broken. I couldn’t understand why I felt like I was caffeinated when I was around my friends. I didn’t like that I always wanted to share stories with people so badly. I hated walking into a room packed with people and feeling alone because I hadn’t talked to anyone yet (even if only a few minutes had gone by). I hated that I sometimes couldn’t control my excitement when seeing my friends. I saw these all as flaws.

My journey with God has been a journey of self discovery (as I assume it is for most people). Verses like 1 Corinthians 12:15-18 (NIV) Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be have changed the way I see myself. I was recently at a table and they wanted a “table leader” and someone said, “Stephanie has the biggest mouth. She should lead.” As a young person I would have gone home that night crying. Not anymore! Instead I grabbed the question sheet and started leading. The only reason it even registered as anything, was so that I could honor in my mind what God had taught me about myself.

I am loud. I am excitable. I’m a complete spaz. And I love myself this way. I am not going to do anything the way you do it. This “hyper” person grew up to love mentoring teens and hanging out at Youth events filled with energy. I love that I genuinely get excited about my friends and hanging out. Each friend means so much to me, it’s like they are all my favorites. This “obnoxious” person learned new words to replace the old ones more positively, so I grew up to be “dynamic” and “animated”.

It’s only when I stopped trying to be someone else and trying to replace my personality with another, that I embraced who I was and worked on honing the qualities I was given, by God. It always surprises me when people say, “I wish I was more like you”. When I was young I didn’t understand why anyone would want this personality and now I wonder why people don’t enjoy their own. Be you.

I’m the one Jesus loves

When reading through the Gospel of John (one of my favorite books in the Bible), l always laugh at John calling himself “the disciple whom Jesus loves”. My first reaction was to think he was sounding rather arrogant. I figured he was a young guy and a little self-centered (not that all young people are self-centered ~ but I certainly was). The statement sounds almost exclusive to him.

John 13:23 (NIV)
One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him.

John 19:26 (NIV)
When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,”

John 21:7 (NIV)
Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” As soon as Simon Peter heard him say, “It is the Lord,” he wrapped his outer garment around him (for he had taken it off) and jumped into the water.

John 21:20 (NIV)
Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them.

The more I thought about it, the more I realized I was looking at it the wrong way. I would like to postulate that maybe John understands God’s love better than anyone. Maybe, we all should be identifying ourselves as “The one Jesus loves”. I think that once you completely comprehend the love of Jesus, you should feel how individually you are loved and how you are all loved at a level that we can only be described as “the one Jesus loves”.

If I understand the love of Jesus as described in the Bible, then the number one descriptor I should use about myself is “I’m the one Jesus loves”…we all should. I know it’s tempting to say “We are the ones Jesus loves”, but I think Jesus loves us each so deeply at an individual level, that we each do stand out in His eyes, so we shouldn’t water it down. Another step in getting to know who I am in Christ.

Love,

The Blogger Whom Jesus Loves

Church hunting…sort of

This post is very personal, and more about a process I’m going through right now. It may not be that interesting to everyone, but I needed to put it out there. I needed to make a public statement (this will make sense if you do read the whole thing)

Our church has been going through a lot of change. The church I have been going to since 1999 has been dying a slow death, and now a larger, more successful church (that is busting at the seams) has come along and partnered with our church to merge.

“Merge” sounds like a sweet word, but the truth is, it has been hard. I have this piece of paper in my office at home that says I’m a member of SHCC. It is no longer valid. I can’t just walk into the new church and swap it for a new membership to Westgate Church. I am now taking a class to get to know my “new” church. I am becoming a member of a new church.

In this process, I started to think about whether I would choose this church if I had just moved to town. I felt like maybe this is how I should be approaching this. I didn’t choose this church and I felt like it was choosing me. I felt I didn’t have control of my path (it’s always fun when you try to take control…it’s almost like you can hear God laughing).

The hubby, the youngest son and I decided to visit some different places to see what was out there. We visited a few very different churches that all had beautiful music, great sermons, and wonderfully welcoming people. Some fit us better than others. One really felt like “home” for me. This only made the struggle to choose worse.

At the same time, with all the changes, I was feeling disconnected and useless in my “new” church. Youth small groups were put on hold to give people time to adjust, and even though I needed the adjustment time, it made it hard to feel useful. I went to the youth pastor and his wife (two people I trust deeply) with my heart in my hands.They asked people in our youth staff to pray for me.

In the following week I was showered with love from all sides by people from my “old/new” church. People I have volunteered with for years came forward and were connecting intentionally with me and making sure I was being cared for and prayed for. It was a hurricane of love.

Even though it has been a tough choice, I am choosing this new Westgate Church. I want to be with the family I have been with for 15 years. I want to worship next to my son, who wants to choose Westgate as well. I want to continue to work with one of the best youth staff I have ever met. I want to hang out with some of the coolest teen girls I have had the privilege to mentor. I want the hubs and I to sit together on Sunday and know we are in family unity and that we will worship together as a family.

What if God Doesn’t Exist?

God exists.  I believe He does.  But my son recently asked me, that if God didn’t exist, would I want to know (I think Nick was collecting info for a project at his Bible College).  My answer was yes.  I never explained myself and he never asked for clarification, but I’ve been pondering this for a few weeks.

Some people describe Christianity (or a belief in any religion) as a crutch.  They say it’s to pacify some kind of fear of death.  If my belief was for that purpose, then I would be getting Christianity ALL wrong.  As much as I don’t fear death (I didn’t when I was an atheist either), I think belief in Jesus makes my life much harder.  I would want to know if God doesn’t exist, because I could really cut back on some hard things I now choose to do in my life that are based on my belief.  First and foremost, I could spend every weekend free of commitment to my church family…sleep in, watch football.

I could stop giving large chunks of our money to causes to help others.  I could stop letting others use our stuff (like our home or our cars).  Because of God, I share more than is sometimes comfortable, because I believe He owns my money and my things. I pray, and I feel God dictates that I use the things He’s given me to help others.  Not only does He ask me to share, He wants me to do it joyfully.  It’s hard giving up what you work for and sharing your space with others with a giving spirit.  I’m learning to do this.

I could hold a grudge and get revenge.  I know that getting back at someone can sometimes give you satisfaction.  Letting things go is not easy.  When someone hurts you, you feel in your heart that getting back at them will give you some kind of justice.  Trusting God with that justice, and learning to love when you are hurting is a HUGE challenge for me.  As a believer, I have had to pray through many hurts and learn to forgive.  I’ve had to give up on opportunities to “get them back” for what they did, and just let things go.  Years can go by, and I have to let go all over again.  It’s really not easy to live in forgiveness.

I could hate, swear, get drunk, eat like a glutton, be sardonic, exclude people, mock weakness in others, gossip…all without guilt.  I know some of you are thinking that I’m not the type to do these things, but I think I am very capable of all of it.  Sometimes, deep in my heart, I think it would be easier not to use kindness.  It would be easier to yell at people (like in traffic).  I would probably find humor in making fun of others.  I wouldn’t have to dig deep to find extra grace for people who rub me the wrong way.  As I follow Jesus, I find myself challenged to often bite my tongue.

I could spend more time at my leisure.  For 12 years I have been working with teens because God called me to do so.  I go once a week for Bible study (which takes me 1-3 hours to prepare for), twice a month for large group gatherings, once a month for Youth Staff meetings, countless Starbucks dates with teens wanting to share their heart, and much time in prayer. I have to show love, even when a student is making bad choices and breaking my heart.  All of this is a challenge and it would be easier to stay home and hang out with my friends at my convenience.  God calls me to care for His teens.

So, yes, if God doesn’t exist, I would want to know.  Then again, all these things have blessed my life on a deep level.  The crazy thing is, I don’t know if I would understand the blessings of grace, giving, and caring if I didn’t know God.  It is through the way He challenges me to do these things that I have learned the joy in them.  It is through the challenge to be more like Jesus that I find joy in things I probably wouldn’t care about if there were no God.

 

Resolution Check In ~ Oct 2014

The year is coming to a close and my New Year’s resolutions are close to complete (if not complete already).  Some, like most people are just not happening as planned.

  • I will complete 2 quilts

I started working full time for the first time in 18 years (M-F, 9-5) and I have less time for these fun projects.  I still want to finish at least one of my quilts.  Let’s see if I can do it by Christmas.

  • I will finish my read through the Bible that I started in 2013

As I said last post, I’ve achieved this goal and now I’m planning on reading through the New Testament in French.  I’m slowly making my way through Matthew right now (It’s wonderful).

  • I will exercise at least 5 days a week (unless I’m sick)

OK, so new plan.  I started running over a month ago.  I mostly do interval running (spaced out with short walks in between).  I won’t be working out 5 days a week, but I’m running 4 days a week.  It fits in with my work schedule and I love it.  I feel that I can choose not to be too legalistic with my resolution and realize that what I’m doing achieves the idea behind my original goal.  In fact, I would say I’m healthier with my exercise than I thought I’d be, so I feel this one I can check off.

  • I will lose 50 lbs.

I have lost 59 lbs.  I can definitely check this one off!  My real goal though is 70 lbs.  11 more to go.  In 2 more lbs. I’ll reach my healthy BMI and no longer be over weight, which, given I started as an obese person, is pretty great.  AND I’m feeling pretty great.

  • I will post a non “picture blog” at least once a week.

I think I’ve only missed a few days this year.  This goal has been a blessing in disguise.  I love to write, but have a bit of the procrastination bug.  By having this deadline, it forces me to be accountable to myself.

  • If I reach 100 followers, I’ll try to figure out some kind of giveaway.

Oh my goodness gracious me!  I have over 100 followers.  I will come up with some kind of mini giveaway before my next check-in for my loyal followers.  Stay Tuned and Thanks everyone!!!

Happy October! I better start praying about next year’s resolutions.

Sign That Again

My youngest son has started college. As a homeschool mom, you worry that because you keep your kids out of a classroom for 12 years, they might not adjust to college very well. In my case, they never attended any kind of school outside the home. Other than 2-3 families hanging at our house for things like a biology dissection, we really did it all at home…alone.

So imagine my surprise as I watch my youngest adapt beautifully to his new environment. He has friends in all his classes (yes, even though he’s only 16 in college). He’s currently ranked 3rd in his Calculus class and excelling in both his speech class and his Sign Language class (ok, I’m done bragging).

image

This last Friday he came home from college and announced he must attend a deaf event for his Sign Language class (a class he’s been taking for 4 weeks). He said he was going to a Starbucks 30 minutes away, from 8pm until whenever (it ends at midnight, but you can leave when you like), to a deaf discussion group. I had been learning sign for two days online in my free time. I knew maybe 20 signs (I wanted to be able to communicate with him this way). Together we agreed I could join him if I promised not to crowd him, so off we went.

It was such a great experience. We mingled and signed with strangers that were so kind about teaching us new words. Jared met some of his classmates and they seemed to hit it off immediately. He found the other three 16 year-olds in his class and they quickly exchanged phone info and chatted as a group all night (both in English and in sign). I met another mom who had come with her daughter, because her 16 year old still only had her driver’s permit (they were also homeschoolers). We also hit it off.

The kids did great approaching strangers at the event. They admitted later they didn’t always understand what the people were saying, but they made a big effort and learned a lot. One girl had a sign very wrong, and instead of saying, “I’m 16 years old” she managed to say “I’m 16 lesbians” all night. They all laughed about their errors and we ended up staying until 11pm. I thought we’d last an hour ~ I was wrong.