The Lesson I Learned from a Long Drive and a Trip to the Beach.

 

This semester has been rough. That’s the nicest way I’ll put that. No one factor made it rough, but then again, when things are rough, it is rarely for just one reason. To sum it up, I took some difficult classes, held executive positions in both student government and a social club, was in a Makin’ Music cast, and served as a seamstress for said Makin’ Music cast. I had all sorts of crazy things going on in my family life, I was working part time, and I was struggling with the depression end of bipolar. By the end of the semester I was burned out, wound tighter than a compressed spring, and stuck in a cycle of anxiety that I coped with by sleeping, watching Netflix, and obsessively reblogging things on Tumblr.

 

I was a mess.

 

Then, finals were over. I finished packing up my car, and on Friday, May 16th, I hit the road. I was headed to the Carolinas to spend the summer with my grandmother again, and even though I know that is going to have a whole lot of stress that goes with it, as I got further from school, I started feeling better. It was me, my music, and the road. By the time I hit Atlanta, I was belting to music and just felt joyous. I was asking myself questions, and thinking “Oh, I should research that this summer,” or “Hmm, that’s an interesting thought, I’ll have to see what So-and-so thinks of it” and all kinds of things.

 

That drive allowed me to clear my head, and drop some of the baggage off on the side of the road. I’ve been thinking about baggage a lot recently. I helped with a Ladies’ Day in Hohenwald, TN in April, and we did a modified rendition of the Skit Guy’s video “Baggage.” I played the main character, the one who had all the baggage. It hit close to home, because I carry a LOT of baggage. I like to think I carry less than I used to, and I probably do, but I still have a lot of it, and I don’t know when I’m going to get rid of it all.

 

I left some of it on the road though.

 

I realized how therapeutic long drives are.

 

They aren’t that way for some people, and that’s okay. Driving isn’t the only thing I find therapeutic. I went to the ocean on Tuesday night, and I frolicked in the waves for a while like a 5 year old. I didn’t go out very far, (mostly because I’m afraid of being bitten by a shark, even though that isn’t very likely to happen) but I waded far enough to wave jump and swim around a little bit and get thoroughly soaked by the tide washing in. I felt free, like I did when I drove from school to my grandmother’s. I felt alive, and whole. I sang “Step By Step” and I talked to God, and showed Him the joy that I had again.

 

There isn’t a whole lot to be done about the past. It’s over and done with. Learn from past mistakes. Stepping out from your comfort zone and asking for help when you need it, saying no, and maintaining boundaries are all lessons I had pounded into me this semester. Those three things were more important than all the lessons I learned in my classes. And stepping away from that experience and doing some self-care has got me back to relatively normal.

 

Find the things that are therapeutic for you, and do those things from time to time. Do something to get yourself out of the rut. Work in the yard, read a book, do something spontaneous, take a drive. Do something that will relax you, something that is fulfilling. Sometimes you have to push through the bad times first, but once that time passes, do something you enjoy. God got you through the rough patch, do something to show Him your joy. Create something. Serve someone. Encourage others. Spend time doing something productive.

Whatever you find therapeutic.

 

That’s the lesson I learned from a long drive and a trip to the beach.

 

 -Jax

To My Future Wife

Brett E. Shoemaker

Photo on 3-11-12 at 9.36 PM #2 How’s it lookin, good-lookin?

I don’t know who you are yet.  I don’t know what you look like.  I don’t know the color of your eyes.  I don’t know the color of your skin.  I don’t know your name.  There are a lot of things that I don’t know about you, but there are a couple of things that I want you to know.

You’re Already Beautiful.  Congratulations, babe, you did it.  You are already beautiful.  Seriously.  If beauty is a game, you’re a pro.  You are perfect already.  You were beautifully and wonderfully made.  You have nothing to fix.  Let me say that again, you have nothing to fix.  God did not mess-up on you.  I know what society is telling you.  “You have to look like this, wear this, and have this in order to be beautiful.” Nope.  You’re already beautiful.  Beauty is more than what…

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Gelato induced deep thoughts

I’m sitting on my bed, listing to indie-esque music, eating straccitella gelato (what is straccitella anyway?) and dreaming of when I’m going to be in Europe in a few months. I’m so excited and yet so scared at the same time. I’ll be separated from everything I’m intimately acquainted to by thousands of miles and millions of gallons of water and it’s going to be full of things I’ve only seen in pictures and only dreamt of seeing.

The rational part of me says that I’ll be fine, thousands have done it before me, hundreds through the program I’m going through, and I’ll be with people I know fairly well. (Not-so) Deep down, I’m terrified. Not that I’ll be kidnapped and sold into sex slavery or killed or something like that, but more like “Can I actually do this? Can I really go and experience these things and have fun? Can I afford to do this?” And all the “what ifs” come and start clawing at me. (What if I get stranded? What if I run out of money? What if I fall in love? What if my faith is weakened by this? What if… What if… What if?!) And I still want to go and have this grand adventure and really get to claim to have wanderlust and I can’t wait to board that plane and get out over the Atlantic, but at the same time, I want to back out, and just stay state-side where I’m comfortable.

And I have until 4:00 PM tomorrow to pull out.

But I’m not going to pull out.

Why?

Because this may just be the most exciting and exhilarating and growth-inducing thing I ever do.

And I don’t want to miss that.

 

And to think a pint of Haagen Dazs induced this…

The Lesson I Learned about Love and Tolerance

Source: http://phillipgonzales.com/2012/08/love-and-tolerance/

We live in a world that cries out for tolerance, but what it really needs is love.  Not tolerance that masquerades as love, but REAL LOVE.  The kind of love that calls others to become better people, but shows grace and mercy.  The kind of love that God so freely provides.  The world isn’t missing this love because there is no one to give it, it is missing this love because people do not want to receive it.  People are quick to cite Matthew 7:1, (Judge not, that you be not judged) and are quick to say “God loves everyone,” or “No one is perfect,” as a way to skirt confronting sin, especially when it is personal, or it makes us uncomfortable. These arguments do not excuse sin, and do not make us any less accountable for our own sin, and our responsibility to exhort others to repent.

When taken in context, Matthew 7:1-5 is not meant to prohibit evaluating another person and calling someone out on their sin.  It is meant to remind us to not judge others more harshly than ourselves out of pride and superiority (as the Pharisees are well known for doing). Note verse 2: “For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”  Make no mistake, we will all be judged by God’s standards on the Judgment Day (Mt 25:31-46), but if we consistently use harsher standards for others than we do for ourselves, those harsher standards will be applied to us. We are to approach each other with humility as fellow sinners, and with a heart to help our brothers and sisters, not to condemn them.  It is not our place to condemn someone to hell or admit them into heaven, but it is our job to help others reach salvation. (See the Great Commission, Mt 28:18-20, Mark 16:15,16, among other references.)

Christians are supposed to be Christ-like in our actions.  Jesus did not simply let sin slide.  When he confronted sin, he rebuked the sin, and told them to go, and sin no more.es (John 8:11).  Jesus does not shy away from sin, because he came here for sinners. (Mt 9:13) Remember, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), but “are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means!” (Romans 6:1,2) “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgement, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.” (Hebrews 10:26, 27).  Yes, we will stumble, and yes we will fall, but if we have been buried in Christ in baptism, then we can be forgiven, as long as we repent, and do everything we can to put away sin.  Will that always happen? No.  Should we tell ourselves “Well, I’m not perfect, so what does it matter if I commit this sin or that sin or all of these sins here because I’ve been baptized and can be forgiven?” Absolutely not!  Hebrews 10:26 clearly states that is not the attitude we should have!

Love is not just tolerance.  A parent who loves does not tolerate that child doing whatever they want.  If a parent forbids a child to do something, it is usually for that child’s safety, but sometimes parents make mistakes.  God, who is the perfect father, does not make such mistakes.  If He tells us something is sin, or tells us not to do something, it is because he loves us and knows what is best for us, and doing otherwise would lead to us hurting ourselves.  Sometimes this harm is physical, but it is always spiritually harmful for us.  Why? Because sin separates us from God, and condemns not only our bodies, but our souls to death. (Gen 2:17, Rom 6:23, Rom 8:2, Eph 2:12-18, among others.)  He expects us to follow Christ as closely as we can, but knows that we can’t do it without Christ to pay the price for our failures.  That is what grace is, and that is how we are to look at ourselves and others.

So before you jump to point out another person’s sin, ask yourself these things:

1) Why am I saying this?

If you are saying this to tear someone else down, or make yourself look better, then you are not acting in a Christlike manner.

2) Am I pointing this sin out to someone to help them walk in a way more that is more worthy and pleasing to God?

If that isn’t the reason, and you aren’t willing to help them do so (whether it be offering accountability, or guiding them to someone who can help, or just being an encouragement) then you should talk to someone else about confronting this person.

3) Am I ignoring sin in my own life that makes me just as guilty as this person?

If so, then you need to re-evaluate your reason for talking about or to this person.  Perhaps instead of just pointing out their sin, you should take the time to confess your own, and both of you can work together and hold each other accountable in the future.

4) Am I confronting the person who is guilty of this sin?

If not, then you should only be mentioning this to someone who could help with the situation.  Otherwise, it’s gossip, and therefore a sin.

5) Am I speaking in a way that conveys love?

If not, then you should find a better way to say what you are trying to say.  Remember, you are a sinner too, and you should approach another about their sin the way you would want them to approach you.

If someone rebukes another for sin, it should not be because of hate.  It should be a sign of love and compassion, a reflection of Christ’s love for us.  I am not tolerant of sin in others, because I am not tolerant of sin in myself.  However, I know that I am not perfect, and I know that no one else is perfect, and because of that, I offer them the grace that I have accepted from God through Christ.  I need to work on my own walk, and therefore I know that others do as well.  I know I need someone to tell me what I am doing wrong sometimes, and I need their help in order to do better.  That is why I will call out sin in others, so that I can offer them help.  Not because I hate or fear them, but because I love them, and I want to build them up and help make them a better Christian.  The world does not need more tolerance of sin from Christians, it needs more Christians who are willing to extend Christ’s love.

As a final note, not everyone will open their heart to the message of Christ.  Not everyone will repent and be baptized.  Not everyone will accept that they need to be cleansed of their sins.  When you encounter such people, do not be discouraged.  Remember what Jesus said to the disciples in Matthew 10:11-15.

“And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it and stay there until you depart.  As you enter the house, greet it.  And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it, but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.  And if anyone will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet when you leave that house or town.  Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgement for that land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.”

When people harden their hearts, then there is little we can do but pray that God may soften it.  Perhaps what you have done is plant a seed that one day another will water, and God will grow. (1 Cor 3:6,7)

Grace and Peace,

Jackie

Sources:

All Scripture references are from the ESV translation, unless otherwise noted

Image: http://phillipgonzales.com/2012/08/love-and-tolerance/

How time flies…

I remember when I turned 10.  I thought I was going to be all that and a bag of chips.  I was important, I was making the double digits for crying out loud! I was going to be queen of the hill, ruler of my domain.  I was excited to be turning 10.  Now, I’m on the brink of 20 (18 days!) and I’m terrified. This past decade was not what I expected. I got kicked around, my family suffered terrible blows, I found God.  I have had to face massive amounts of insecurity and felt persecution, harsh judgement, and fear.  It certainly doesn’t feel like a decade has passed since that day.

I am more of a scared little girl now than I was ten years ago.  I am facing adulthood, and I am scared.  I feel alone a lot of the time.  The pressures of adulthood are pressing down all around me, and I feel like I can’t turn to anyone for help.  It’s me, myself, and God.  I struggle to remind myself daily that God will provide for my needs.  He will make sure I have what I need to survive, and will put people in my path to help me.  But when I lay in bed at night and wonder how I’m going to be able to afford the gas to get back to school in a couple of weeks, a knot of fear forms in my stomach, and I don’t know what to do.

I have legally been an adult for almost two years, but I have been able to rely on being a teenager still.  I wasn’t really an adult, but once January 20th happens, I can’t use that excuse anymore.  I will be an adult with adult problems and worries and adult things to deal with.  Logically, I know that I’m not alone.  Logically, I know I can get help from my family if I need it.  The problem is that I know that they are dealing with a lot as it is, and they can’t afford to help me financially.

I guess part of my problem is not that I feel alone, it’s that I make myself alone.  I can’t help my family out financially.   I spurned the faiths of my parents, because I realized how wrong denominational Christianity is.  I decided to follow that faith and go to a school 700 miles away from home. I’m too far away to help take care of my brothers, or help them deal with life. The only thing I can really do is take care of myself as much as I can, and not ask them for help, even when I feel like I desperately need it. I forget that my parents love me and would do anything for me.  I tell myself I can’t rely on them, for a lot of  reasons.  I tell myself “If God blesses me with children, I will raise them to be confident in the Lord, and confident in me.  I will always provide for them in a manner worthy and pleasing to God.  I will not subject them to some of the things my parents have subjected me to.”

I’m realizing how vulnerable I am, and the only cure for vulnerability is reliance on God. He is constant, and He is loving. He will give me everything I need, and I need to have that confidence in him. These are some passages that come to mind.

“And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them.  Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?  Consider the lilies, how they grow, they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith!  And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried.  For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them.  Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things shall be added to you.”

-Luke 12:22-31, ESV

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on Him, because he cares for you.”

-1 Peter 5:6,7

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

-Matthew 5:9b-13

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread will gvie him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent?  If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

-Matthew 7:7-11

And while these passages are well and good and encouraging, it doesn’t mean that having complete faith is God and trust that He will provide is easy.  It takes diligence, it takes daily immersion and meditation on God’s Word, and prayer, a lot of prayer.  It takes courage humble yourself and say “I don’t know what I’m doing.  God, please, help me, show me what I need to do.  Help he have the strength of will and character to do it.  Help me have the humbleness to ask for help when I need it. I need You more than anything else in my life.  Your strength is made perfect in my weakness.  Strengthen me today so that I can make more right choices. I am weak, and I am sinful, but You are almighty and holy, and perfect in every way.  Help me follow your plan for salvation, and be a light for the rest of the world.”

So for the others out there who feel the same, I encourage and exhort you (and myself) to become more reliant on God this year, and let Him come in and be your strength, and have the courage to ask for the help you need.

The Lies that Society Tells Us

Here’s one geared to teenagers… because they don’t have enough body image issues.

It took me a while to decide where exactly to start with this, but I think this is probably the easiest place to start.  This will by no means be a complete list of lies that Society  (or the world, as the Bible often refers to it,) tells us.  And as I was coming up with that list, I came up with more and more things that Society tells us.  There may be another part to this later, but I haven’t decided.  Let’s dive in, shall we?

Lie #1: You don’t need religion

If you are reading this blog, you probably do not need me to refute this for you. (This is a blog for Christian ladies.  If you did not know that, you should now.  If you abhor the idea of Christianity or women, don’t leave me nasty comments.  I won’t allow them to be shown.  There is no need for that.  Just leave, and don’t read this blog again.  If you have no urge to leave nasty comments, please continue reading, and share this blog with people you think may be interested!)  I can personally attest that I need God.  I need the relationship found with him through the blood of Jesus Christ, and I can only have that relationship because I was washed in the blood (and water) for the remission of my sins.

And if we are all real with ourselves, we recognize that we need religion.  Some believe that they can find that in other religions, but I beg to differ.

Lie #2: You should not believe you are beautiful.

Ladies, don’t buy into those magazine titles that speak to the contrary.  I think it’s safe to say that nine times out of ten, they don’t actually say that you are beautiful.  They offer ways to make you look “more beautiful,” “sexy,” “hot,” “make x part of your body look so much better,” “dress for your body type,” and so on and so forth.

Because we really need “Goddess Hair”

If you really look at what those articles are saying, you should find that they telling you “You are not beautiful as you are, so you need to do X, Y, and Z in order to make yourself look more pretty.”

How can we compare to them? (that’s sarcasm)

In addition, just about every photograph of a woman shown has been edited.  You may have seen this video:

And this is not the only video of it’s kind.  It is so sad that women and young girls compare themselves to models who have been digitally altered to seem and say that they want to look like that.  And there may be some articles and publications that genuinely promote good self esteem and the idea that all women are beautiful, I haven’t found any of them.

Lie #3: You must use your body to get what you want.

Magazines are a huge perpetuator of that.  I’ve scattered some magazine covers throughout this post, and a lot of them include at least one article on how to snag a man, or get that promotion or whatever, and they all include the way you dress, and the way you talk and use body language, and usually they are the “feminine charm” type of things.  Don’t buy into that.  Yes, dress professionally and speak professionally during interviews or when interacting in a professional setting.  Do not wear revealing or suggestive clothing and act provocatively to get that “hot” guy to go out with you.  (If that’s what it takes to get a man, he’s probably not the right kind of man.)

Lie #4: You must always strive to have a bigger, better X, Y, or Z.

Be it a house that is huge and immaculate, a fancy new car, bigger breasts, new wardrobes, nicer furniture, fancy vacations, and any number of other material possessions.  Do you really need a huge house?  Do you need a brand new car every few years? Do you really need the seasons top trends?  What is wrong with your current home, your current car, or the clothes in your closet now?

Lie #5: You need to make more money.

Not necessarily true.  I’ve read blogs about people who live on less than $10,000 per year.  I’ve been told by numerous people not to become a teacher because I won’t make any money.  (In case you were wondering, national starting salary was an national average of $35,672, according to the NEA website. Another website shows median salaries of between $40,744 and $45,620 depending on the grade range and content area. Sources: <a href=”http://www.nea.org/home/2011-2012-average-starting-teacher-salary.html“>NEA</a> <a href=”http://www.payscale.com/research/US/All_K-12_Teachers/Salary“>Payscale</a>) And there are certainly some people who make minimum wage or a little better, and they need more money.  There is no shame in living paycheck to paycheck though.  And sometimes we have to give up things we want (smartphones… cable… exotic vacations…) in order to keep the things we need. (Transportation… water… electricity… food.)  A lot of people forget the resources they have though.  (I’ll probably talk about that later.  And there are a lot of blogs already talking about frugal living.)

“Astro Special” (Note: Astrology is not credible.)

Lie #6:  You don’t need morals.

Yes you do.  There are things that are right and wrong.  And if you follow the Bible, like I try to do, things like premarital sex, lying, swearing, abortion, are all things that society and Christianity tend to butt heads on.

Three words: Friendship. With. Benefits.

Ethics are important in the professional world, and if you follow Christian ethics, it seems to follow that you will be successful in all other areas of your life.  Following Christian ethics should lead to a respectable, honest, trustworthy, humble and gracious person.  (It doesn’t always work that way, but no one is perfect.)

Now, these are just 6 lies that Society tells.  There are many, many more.  And notice that some of these magazines do have articles about good things.  But also notice that they are usually not in the largest font on the page, and there’s rarely more than one or two per magazine.  Whether you buy these magazines or not, that is up to you.  But I suggest laying off them for a while.   See what it does to your self esteem and your focus.  Do you think as much about what you look like, or how to make yourself look better?  Do you feel as bad about your body or intelligence or your self perceived worth?

Just think about it.

Let’s talk about Confidence

When I went to Church Camp (NOCYC to be specific), we would sing a song in the girls’ village, especially at our nightly devos.  I think it’s called “I’ve Got Confidence.” It’s the first line of the song.  You may have heard it.  And it was fun, and we loved singing it, but I’ve noticed that confidence is something that is seriously lacking in women today.  They think they are too dumb, too ugly, not clever, not talented, no good for anything.  They feel unloved and moreover, they feel unlovable.  And to tell you the truth, I have struggled with it too.  And a lot of it has to do with media and with society.

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Yes, the time has come for me to get on my soap box about media, society, and women’s self concept.

And here is why we have the issues with confidence that we have.  We are looking to the wrong places for affirmation, acceptance, attention and support in the wrong places.  We are looking for compliments for the wrong reasons.  And Satan knows that!  And destroying self-image is his specialty.  He is so good at it, that you might not even realize he is at work.  He uses media, other people, even our own thoughts to make us doubt in our abilities

It’s a cycle that we have to (and can) break.  Will it be easy? No, probably not.  Is it necessary? Absolutely.

We need to place our confidence in the Lord, ladies.  He had, has, and will always have our back.  He has, does, and will always love us unconditionally and over abundantly.  He knows we are beautiful, and if we have put on Christ, he calls us his Princesses.

There is no need to think that we can’t do something because we aren’t “enough.”  God has a calling for each of us, and if we are going to do that we need to let go of our insecurities and become confident in the Lord and know that his grace and strength is sufficient.

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Consider this an introduction.  This is a really big issue and I can’t cover all I want to cover in one post.  (And I wouldn’t want to read a wall of text like that.)  Look for the first part of my discussion on confidence on Tuesday! (If I don’t get it up then, it WILL be up Friday!)

I’ve got confidence (oh yeah)

My Lord is gonna see me through

No matter what the case may be,

My lord is gonna fix it for me.

Image sources:

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Kayaking- a trust building exercise.

Last Saturday a group at church was going kayaking.  I was going, and I was super excited.  I had never been kayaking, but I had been canoeing last August as a part of Interface (a program for new students at my university) and had a bunch of fun.  I’ve always loved the water, and I thought it would be a good way to fellowship with some of the other people at church, seeing as I had just joined.

Let me tell you, it was glorious.  I will definitely be going kayaking again.  I had so much fun, I’m probably going to buy my own kayak after I graduate college.  I had fun getting to know some other people, and learned quite a bit from the guides.  I even ate a piece of Cow Lilly root.  (The two male guys were very good looking too… which was nice. Anyway…)  I think the best part was when I was sort of separated from the group and just kind of drifting down the Waccamaw River.  I felt so close to God, and often would just say a little prayer and hum one of my favorite spiritual songs.  It was really just an amazing feeling.  (To be completely honest, those moments were my favorite during the trip, and why I want to do that again.)

The real reason I am writing about this though, is because I (as predicted) flipped my kayak.

I knew I would roll the kayak, and once I was in the kayak, I knew which side I would roll the kayak.  And because the guide said that coming out of your kayak was fine, just don’t flip the kayak over, I knew for certain that was what would happen.  I’m that talented, that I would do such a thing, and I would do it at the most awkward time possible.

So we start kayaking.  Everything is going fine and well, we’ve had cow lily root, saw some snakes, learned about black water systems.  The guide tells us to stop, because he’s going to show us something (probably another snake.)  I stop, and I’m right up alongside some other people, and then BAM! I’m in the water with a life jacket up about my nose, flip flops and all my other things floating in the water.  A few seconds of flailing and I’m upright in the water, trying to catch my breath and getting used to breathing while I’m treading water.  People gathered up my stuff, and moved away so the guide and I can work on getting me back in the kayak.

Now there are 2 methods of getting back into a kayak when you cannot touch the bottom of the river and there is no bank.  Put your head toward the back of the kayak, throw your right leg over the side and haul yourself over,  or, go to the back of the kayak, grab on to the back end and pull while simultaneously kicking as hard as you can to propel yourself back into the kayak.

We tried the first one a couple of times, but I felt a muscle start pulling, so I said no. (This was also after I whipped the life jacket off because I couldn’t move my arms or see.)  then we tried the other way a few times, and there was no way that was working.  Finally the guide said my best bet was going to be the first method.  We had be at this for about 5 minutes at this point, and I was ready to say “Listen, just let me swim this one.  I can handle it.  I grew up on Lake Erie, and I swam in a pond at my grandparents house all summer since I was knee high to a grasshopper!”  But, I trusted the guide, and managed to get back into the kayak.  (I used my noodle and planted my foot on a foot pedal, instead of just throwing it in there all willy nilly and expecting it to work.)

And as I was kayaking away from that event, I got to thinking.  That was a trust building exercise, and it’s kind of like our relationship with God.  He helps us into the kayak, he shows us how to use the paddle, and he tells us not to flip our kayak.  He warns us of the dangers that are ahead, but assures us that we’ll be okay if we trust them.  And when we flip out of our kayak, he helps us get back in, but we have to  trust that he knows what is best for us and will get us back into that kayak.  So many of us, however, give up, and won’t trust that God will get us back on track that we say “Forget it, I’ll swim” and shut him out.  And then we put ourselves at the mercy of all sorts of things. Exhaustion, alligators, drowning, and probably a host of other things I didn’t consider at the time.

I have found a love of kayaking, but I know that I need a guide if I don’t want to get lost or die or something like that, just like I know that I need God in my life because otherwise, I would fall victim to all sorts of sin, and I would be ensnared by them for ever.

I got back into the kayak.  Will you?

101 Secrets…

Paul Angone has really made a splash with his book, “101 Secrets for Your 20s,” or at least he has in my opinion.  I’ve been following his blog All Groan Up (www.allgroanup.com) and I have been privileged to read the book for myself.  (At this point, I’m going to apologize to Paul, because I was supposed to have this up quite a while ago, but life got in the way.)  Anyway, this book has been a serious life changer for me.  I’m on the cusp of 20-somethingness, but that didn’t make this book any less applicable to how I feel sometimes, and how I’m sure you feel at times too.

Paul has put himself out there to say what most people feel, but no one talks about.  He talks about how alone and lost and scared we are as we are starting out into this brave new world we’ve landed in, and tells us two things.  One, it’s okay that we feel this way, but we aren’t as alone as we feel, and two, how to feel less alone.  Whether its humorously telling us we may (or may not) be as adult as we think we are, or seriously telling us to seek the help of a therapist (or psychologist, or trusted mentor) for the help we need, or semi-seriously teaching us Wineology so we are never cast out to the kiddie table again, Paul manages to help us feel at ease and feel like we are talking to someone our age, who totally gets it.  And he gets it because he’s gone through it, and to some extent probably is, right Paul?

And that probably teaches us another good lesson.  That as much as we think the only ones who understand us are our peers, but that older people– coworkers, parents, aunts/uncles/grandparents, neighbors, elders, etc. went through these things and do know how we are feeling, and want to help. We just have to ask.

Paul wanted to help, and that is why he wrote “101 Secrets for Your 20s.”  And that’s why I’m telling you to get this book.  Paul will challenge you to change your way of thinking so you can pursue those dreams that you have rattling around in your head, because he wants you to succeed and he wants you to live awesomely.  Even if you don’t totally agree with everything he has to say, or believes, or some of these “Secrets” aren’t really applicable, the amount of them that are, is so worth the price.  You won’t find something cheaper that will be this immediately applicable to your life.  You’ll come back to this book again and again, looking for the solace in its pages.

You’ll have to buy the book and see for yourself, or convince someone else to buy it for you.

This one is probably my favorite.

The Lesson I learned about Satan….

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One of the women I will always look to as a role model is a woman named Cindy.  I sort of adopted her (and her family) when I first became a Christian as a major part of my spiritual family.  Granted, Cindy’s daughter was the one who invited me to church, and they were the ones I went to church with for quite a while, but regardless, I still adopted them, and at one time spent more time with them than with my own family.  I vividly remember a conversation I had with Cindy and her daughter one evening.  We were talking about Satan, and she said “Satan is the most beautiful thing you could ever see.  That is why he is so tempting. You wouldn’t follow someone who was red, had horns and a tail, and carried a pitchfork.”  Now that isn’t a verbatim quote, because this was several years ago,  but I had never heard it articulated that way.

And Cindy is absolutely right.  We have such a skewed view of Satan nowadays.  One of my facebook friends posted to facebook a couple of weeks ago: “If sinners go to hell to be punished by the devil then why isn’t the devil praised?
Also why would he even punish you if he was evil? Wouldn’t he be happy?
Checkmate [******].”  And that got me thinking of what Cindy had said, and to a class I took during my first semester of college.  Satan is not who we like to think he is.  We like to trivialize Satan, and make him into a cheesy caricature of what he really is.

This is what we often think of when people say “Satan.” A cheesy caricature of the Prince of Lies.

Now let’s be real… what threat does this guy pose?  Who would take him seriously?  Who would even seriously considered listening to the things this guy says and think, “Hm, this sounds like a good idea.  I think I’m going to do it.  What is the harm?”  Very few people.  You certainly wouldn’t, would you?

However, if Satan chose to wrap himself up in say… this wrapper:

ryan gosling

Or this one:

Jake Gyllenhaal

Or maybe even this:

hey-girl-meme-generator-hey-girl-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-you-d13dae

Wouldn’t you at least pause to listen?  Now I’m not saying that Ryan Gosling, Jake Gyllenhaal, John Bennett or any of the other men who feature in the “Hey Girl….” internet memes are Satan in disguise.  These were just some of the more provocative and forward iterations that I found in my search.

Satan is beguiling.  He makes himself SEEM attractive.  Then, once you have done his bidding, he leaves you high and dry and kicking yourself because you’ve sinned again.  But, if you’ve accepted Christ into your life, or accept him for the first time, then He will pick you up, dust you off, dry your tears, and tell you that he forgives you.

And since we are talking about Satan and Jesus… another thing I’ve noticed is that people put them on a level playing field, like Satan ACTUALLY has a chance.  Let me tell you, he doesn’t.  He has already been defeated!  He was defeated on the Cross at Calvary, when Jesus took man’s sin on himself, and then rose again.  And Satan was never going to win.  From the beginning he was a lesser being.  Nothing and no one comes close to God’s power and glory.  Take a look at Job!  Satan tries to beat God and win Job for himself, and he has to ASK GOD for PERMISSION to torment him.  And when Satan takes away his children and his possessions, Job doesn’t turn away.  So Satan asks to do more, and God allows it, to prove his own glory and power.  And it doesn’t work.  Satan takes Job’s health, and still he does not turn from God.  Then, Satan uses Job’s wife and three friends to tempt him away, but Job stands firm.  God rewards Job, offers forgiveness to his three friends, and not only restores Job’s riches and power, but doubles it!  Satan made himself as tempting as he could.  He used Job’s friends to make it seem like cursing God and turning away from him would be a good thing!  But Job stands firm because he knows that God is almighty and powerful, and nothing is done without his permission.

Satan never had any real power.  He only has power over us if we give it to him.  But we don’t have to let Satan have power, and when he doesn’t have power, he can’t do a thing.  His fate is sealed.  He will not be lord over Hell and torture sinners for all eternity.  He will be right next to them, suffering with them. (Rev. 20:10,  20:15)

So to recap:

Satan is a master of disguise and lies.

Satan only has power he has been given.

Satan uses disguise, lies, and misdirection to get us to do his will (power).

God has the victory over evil.

Satan’s fate is sealed.

And that is the lesson I learned about Satan.

PS: This is my favorite of the “Hey Girl” Memes that I found:

Pride and Prejudiced!

PPS-  I’ve found a lot more Pride and Prejudice Hey Girl memes… They amuse me.

Image sources:

http://hypervocal.com/news/2012/25-ryan-gosling-memes-ranked-from-best-to-worst/

http://www.udesfoodforthought.com/2012/03/hey-girl-you-are-better-than-big-tax.html

http://diylol.com/meme-generator/hey-girl–14/memes/hey-girl-all-i-want-for-christmas-is-you