27 May 2010

grad parties and what is needed

Have you ever been to a high school graduation party? If so, have you ever noticed how certain groups of people congregate together? You have your family group, your coworkers, your friends from that one class that you invited but really didn't think would show up, your band/sports/art/newspaper/specific activity friends, your friends that graduated before you that don't know many of your friends now, and your friend friends - the ones that you have the most memories with. Now the way most parties that I've gone to go is this: you get to the location where the party is, go in and try to find either the graduate or other people that you know, talk with the group that you know for a little while, and then leave and go to the next party, all while not really talking to people that you don't know. Why is it that most people don't go out of their comfort zone and talk with other people at these parties? Is it because meeting somebody new requires vulnerability? Is it because you have to put yourself out there for the other person to "judge?" Or is it because, in our culture, we have gotten really good at compartmentalizing our lives so much to that point that we put our friends into boxes or lists? That's how we keep our busy lives organized; its the way we are able to do so much more than we did 25 or 30 years ago.

I have several friends who are very organized. They have their planner with them at all times and have every task that needs to be done written down on a list. Now I'm not trying to bash on planning and making to-do lists, my life would be so much more crazy and hectic (in a not so good way) if I didn't use my calendar and to-do lists. The problem that I see with planners and lists is when our lives are so planned out and we are so boxed in that we don't know how to survive without it. It reminds me of Luke 10:38-42, when Jesus comes and visits two sisters, Martha and Mary. Now Martha, I see her as the biblical version of the modern "superwoman" or "supermom," the one who does amazing amounts of tasks each day. I would bet that a modern day Martha would be the one with multiple planners, several to-do lists, and basically lives on caffeine. Yet, Jesus tells her, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed." As much as I love being organized and being able to acomplish a lot in a little amount of time, I think this is a lesson that I need to remember. The only thing that is needed is to spend time with my number one, Jesus.

Jesus, help me to remember that you are the only thing that is needed and nothing else that I do matters if you are not.

18 May 2010

a tribute to one of my best friends

My little sister graduates from high school tomorrow. I can't believe that she's done with high school and is going to be leaving for college in just a few short months. Now normally I have a format for each post but this one is going to be different. This one is a tribute to my beautiful little sister.

BJ, I don't really remember when you were born, most of my memories of when you were really young are from pictures. You were without a doubt one of the most rollypolly babies I've ever seen. Even when you were four and five, you still had a lot of baby fat. In my little seven year old brain, I was positive  that you were going to be rolly polly BJ for the rest of your life. I couldn't have been more wrong. :)

Some of my greatest memories growing up are playing with you - although there are a good number of memories when you were just the annoying little one. Things like playing barbies until way past our bedtime and making giant Lego houses that took up five of the large Lego boards. Or working on our "river" by the swing, making it a little better each summer. Staying up all night just talking about life and boys and how tired we were.
I've seen you transform from when you were the shy, quiet girl that started your first day ever of school outside of homeschooling to the confident, silly, accomplished young woman that you are today. When everyone else saw the "invisible" girl mask that you wore, I got to see glimpses of the silliness that was hidden inside. The last four years have been an amazing journey with you. I'm so proud of you and I brag about you all the time - you can ask any one of my friends. Your talent with writing and ceramics makes me speechless and I can't wait to see what you do in college. One of the greatest things is seeing your relationship with Jesus grow. It is such a blessing to be here to encourage you, keep you accountable, and completely love you as not only a blood sister but an eternal sister. Remember BJ, you are the daughter of The King, which makes you a princess forever. You no longer have to dream about it, you are a true princess with a beauty that is not just an outside beauty but an inner beauty as well.  Jesus is the one who you can depend on always, he will never let you fall. Pour your heart out to him, give him your all, little one, and he will use you to do great things. I can't wait to see where he takes you on this journey of life.

Your hard work and dedication have paid off, little sister. You graduate tomorrow as the outstanding senior in the Art Department, a valedictorian with a GPA above 4.0, and several really great scholarships to the school of your dreams. I want you to know that no matter what you do or don't do in college, I will always love you and be here for you. Even when distance separates us, I am only a phone call away.

"The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."
                                                        ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-5

Jesus, I lift up my little sister to you; use her for your glory. I pray that she will learn what it means to completely surrender everything to you; to depend on you always, not just when its easy but each and every day. Help her to be a reflection of you, give her the love to treat everyone with love.

14 May 2010

nutrition, fable, and choices

On Monday, I started the first of three summer classes that I'm taking this summer. This one is nutrition. One of the first things my professor said was, "you are what you eat." If you eat a bunch of foods that aren't that good for you, your body won't be able to function as well as if you ate foods that are good for you. She used the example of Twinkies. Lets say you eat 3 or 4 Twinkies every day. At first, you probably won't notice anything different. But at some point, that will change. The instant in time where you realize you somehow gained enough weight that your favorite pair of jeans no longer fit. The process is a long term process. Isn't that so much like our Christian walk? I heard a song on Pandora Radio recently. It was talking about how what we do and what we hear and what we see all have a impact on our lives. It may not be immediate. But it will play a part in what we are like. What we put in - whether it be Twinkies or TV shows or books or blueberries - will affect us. It's like the video game, Fable. In the game, you are a Hero in a village and what tasks you do affects your reputation and even more what you look like. If you do mainly bad deeds, then you look evil (more like a devil_ and the villagers are scared of you. And if you do mainly good deeds, then you look good (more like an angel) and villagers love you. Isn't that so much like life? Every. Single. Little. Choice has an impact. A few weeks ago, I talked about how life is not a to do list with certain choices but an infinite number of choices that we make. I guess you could say this has been on my heart a lot lately. The only conclusion I've come to, is that we need to be aware of the choices that we are making. In the end, I keep coming back to one verse.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life."
                                           ~ Proverbs 4:23

Jesus, help me to be conscious of what I am putting in, into my body and into my heart. Guide me in knowing what kind of affect my choices are having on my life. Give me the strength to avoid the temptations that are all around me. I choose you.

02 May 2010

swing dancing and relationships

I started swing dancing this year. I've always wanted to learn how, I just hadn't had the guts to go...well that is until now. The more I dance, the more I see similarities between swing dancing and our relationship with Jesus. Here are some of those similarities.

The first way is probably somewhat obvious, at least if you're familiar with dance. In dancing, there are two people - a leader and a follower. Just as I have to learn how to follow in dancing, I am learning how to follow in the dance of life. There are times that I try to take over and lead but my partner always gently reminds me that he is the leader. That reminds me so much of how Jesus will gently take the lead even when we have memory lapses and forget who is the leader. As a follower, I don't know exactly what step we are going to do next; I admit it, I can't read my partner's mind to figure out what step he's thinking of next. However, as I dance more with my partner, I start to recognize the little queues that he does to indicate which step we're doing next - the slight pressure on my back or the change in hand grip or even how his body is angled. Isn't that so much like our relationship with Jesus? When Jesus and I first started dancing in the dance of life, I didn't know know him; I knew about him, I had seen him dancing with others and knew that he was a good dancer but I didn't know him myself. As I continue to dance with him, I get to know his little queues at what is coming in the future. If you aren't already, I encourage you to dance with Him; it is a whirlwind dance full of unexpected turns and spins but it is so worth it! Just as dancing is exponentially better when I am dancing with a partner that knows how to lead, life can be so much better with Jesus leading. He is the ultimate dance partner.

Jesus, thank you for being the excellent dance partner that you are. Teach me how to follow better and become more in tune with your queues. I want us to be the dance couple that people look to as an example.

Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity.
                                                                ~ 1 Timothy 4:12, The Message