God would have to take art away…

People think it would be nice if God would come down and remove all pain. That he would fix famine, remove natural disasters, take away bad guys…People will ask, “Why did You let that happen God? Why didn’t You make it right?” I always picture God saying to me,” Why didn’t YOU make it right? Why didn’t YOU do something?”

God created us in his image as an opportunity to represent Him and be able to bring Heaven here on Earth. Are we doing our job?

If God did it all for us, then we wouldn’t need the ability to create…we could get rid of our abilities for architecture, poetry, music, cooking, gardening, math, medicine, art, photography, dance…LOVE? What would be the point? As we would be creating some beautiful piece of music, God could step in and say, “Wait, I do this best. I’ll create something that pleases everyone. Sit back and let me do it.”

So when there is a homeless man, or someone who is struggling in their marriage, or a friend who is plagued with anxiety or depression…, why do we hope so much for God to just fix it? What if we are the ones who have the opportunity to make a difference? What if using our skills to love and create are there so we can make a change and then step back and say, “God made me like this, so I could make a difference there.”

So as you pray, maybe the question is not “God can You?” but it should be “God, what can I?”  Think about it.

Blogs, Blogs, Blogs

I think I have writer’s block. I just haven’t felt like writing lately. I can’t even think of a good topic, so today I want you to tell me about your blog. If you have a blog, post in the comments a little summary about what you like to share and how to find you and I will go check it out.

Another request, is what are your favorite blogs to follow? I love following a few blogs. My favorites are”The Art of Manliness” (not that I read every article, but they do post some amazing stuff) and “New Dress a Day” (not that I ever sew clothes, but maybe someday).  I also follow a lot of political cartoons on a daily basis (as well as Dilbert and Luann).

I have at least 20 friends that write blogs on occasion whom I like to track as well.  Let me add you to my list.  This is your chance to put yourself out there.  Where can I find you???

Thanksgiving Rant/Beg

Please do not shop on Thanksgiving. The people that are opening their stores on this holiday should be boycotted for the holiday season. It’s a terrible thing. Are we so obsessed with money and things that we force others to work and leave their families on a holiday about being thankful, just to buy more crap????

This blog is just a plea to stay home and be thankful for what you already have. Spend time with friends and family. If you don’t have someone, then invite a friend who might also be alone.

That’s it. Rant over.

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.