Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wanting to Matter.

Have you ever had those days where you've just sat back, and wondered if your life really matters, or if everything you're doing is in vain and will ultimately just be forgotten? I've been thinking about that a lot recently. For the past couple of years, I'm seen myself get caught in this pattern where I feel as though I'm being ministered to more than I am ministering to others. When this happens, I begin to feel like my life doesn't matter, and I'm not doing anything worthwhile.

I then have to stop and catch myself from this line of thinking, because it can be very dangerous. Who am I to say if something I do matters or not? I don't have to be like Mother Theresa, or even like anyone else on the earth.

This truth really sank into me last week during Moody's Mission Conference. The very first speaker did a wonderful job opening up the week by saying that our lives are not about how much we serve the Lord, but rather about our hearts for the Lord and how much we love Him. Let me explain.

In our American culture especially, I really believe that we get so caught up in the "go" aspect of our faith. We feel like we have to constantly be doing things to serve the Lord, and if we're going through a dry spot in our service to Him, then we've backslidden or we're more focused on ourselves and we're not doing enough. We compare ourselves to other people to gauge whether or not we're doing enough to serve Him. But honestly, have we really thought about whether or not that's the right attitude to take toward things?

I have done this more times than I can count. Especially at Moody, it is so easy to get caught up in comparing myself to other people. I know multiple people who are involved in several ministries besides their required PCM (Practical Christian Ministry), and here I am, only involved in my PCM, and that's it. And I hold babies for it. I mean, what kind of ministry is that? I'm not working with the homeless, I'm not teaching English to refugees, I'm not working with inner-city kids. I'm just holding babies at my church for an hour once a week. That can't possibly be enough.

But honestly... It really is. My heart's desire is that I would be more available to be involved in ministry, but sometimes life just doesn't work that way. I have a total of 20 credits that I'm taking this semester (including internship things), I have a job that I work at least 15 hours a week at (or more), I have a long-distance relationship to keep up with, and I now have a wedding to plan. That honestly doesn't leave a lot open for organized ministry, except on Sunday mornings.

God doesn't judge me based on how many hours I take for organized ministry during the week. Too often I make the mistake of thinking that's the case, but it's really not. What matters is my heart. What am I doing to care for it? Am I spending enough quiet time with Him that I'm able to hear His voice in my life, and I'm willing to follow Him? Am I really taking the time for "soul-care"? I think that's a really important question to ask.

Again, it's still not about how much you do. It's not as if God is going to be happier with me if I read the Bible for 20 minutes a day versus 10 minutes, or even if I spend an hour in specific prayer versus 15 minutes. What matters is my focus on Him. Do I keep Him at the forefront of my mind every day and talk to Him more than just when I close my eyes and fold my hands? Do I talk to Him when I'm doing well in a class just as much as when I'm praying for a really difficult exam to go well?

I think it's also the little things that we do in our lives that really matter to God. Organized ministry is not as big of a deal as we've made it out to be. What matters is how we are treating our peers and those who are in our sphere of influence every day. Though I can't be in more organized ministries this year, I've really become intentional in the relationships that I build with people, and I've been doing my best to meet with at least one person per week for coffee (it usually ends up being more, not to say at all that I'm some amazing Christian), and I do my best to encourage those that I bump up against every day.

I used to be a very self-involved person, and I only cared about my problems and how others could help me. But with God's grace, that's beginning to change, and I'm really wanting to learn more about others, their lives, and how God is working through them.

And what's great to know is that, though meeting with one person each week isn't much, I know that it's enough. God doesn't require me to do more for Him. He just requires that I love Him enough to actually do something, and not just do it as an obligation, but rather do it out of the overflow of my love for Him.

I'm definitely not perfect at it, or even great at it, but that's why we serve a gracious and merciful God. :)

So, that's it. I guess my ending question for you all is: What does your heart look like? Are you trying to do more for Christ, or are you trying to love Him more and take care of your soul?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Horrified, Appalled, and Angered.

Before you read any further - I want to make this truth very clear:


This isn't an anger that will pass on in a couple days and I will realize that it's stupid - this is an anger against those who take away the grace and mercy of the Gospel, and reshape it into something gruesome and terrible.

And again, before you read, I'd like you to watch this video. It is of Matt Chandler, speaking against a heresy that I unfortunately had to encounter his morning.

Matt Chandler accurately describes the emotions that I am experiencing right now. This morning, right here at the Moody Bible Institute during Missions Conference Week, I encountered this same rose illustration, even though it was used a bit differently.

The speaker (who shall remain nameless) had a bouquet of very expensive red roses. He took three out of the bunch and passed them around the room, telling everyone to take a petal until all the petals were gone. When there were still some left, he told the men to take one more.

He then walked up to the front of the room with the petal-less roses, and grabbed three other roses from the bunch and put them together. He then proceeded to walk up to a girl, and asked her which rose she wanted. She chose a big rose full of petals, and then he continued on to the next girl. She chose another one, and then another chose another rose, until he was left with only the roses that didn't have any petals. He turned to the room and said, "This is my point. We all gravitate toward things that are pure are whole and holy. We don't want something that isn't pure. We don't want a rose that has been picked on."

After already knowing the anger that Matt Chandler had felt about a rose illustration, I was hoping and praying to God that this wasn't what he was doing, but rather he would say that we need to help those roses that are broken and falling apart.

I was sorely disappointed.

He then continued to explain and asked the question, "Don't you want to be a whole rose for your spouse? Don't you want to be proud of your relationship if it ends and say to that person's future spouse that you didn't 'pick on' that person?"

And then, when I thought it couldn't get any worse, he said those words that still make me shudder.

"Nobody wants a rose that's been picked on."

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I will fully echo Matt Chandler's sentiments and say, "JESUS WANTS THE ROSE! THAT'S THE BEAUTY OF THE GOSPEL!!"

Just because we may have made mistakes with our sexuality in the past, or may have been sexually abused, that does NOT make us any less valuable or "damaged goods." God does not discriminate against those who have sinned in these areas - why should we?! What right do we have to love these people any less because of what they've done than Jesus does? If Jesus, a perfect, sinless being can love these people even though they've sinned, what right do we, equal sinners with these people at the foot of the cross, have to judge and condemn them?

I have a past.

I have made mistakes.

Are you telling me that I'm not good enough and I am unlovable because of that? Maybe I should be, but are you telling me that you're better than me and you're more worthy of others' and Christ's love than I am because you haven't done those things?


I will end with the main verse that Matt Chandler uses in his video:

Romans 5:8

...but God shows His love for us in that while we were STILL SINNERS, CHRIST DIED FOR US.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

This is Bliss.

On June 11th, 2011....

I will marry my best friend.

To have and to hold....

From this day forward....

'Til death do us part.

To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. - Jude 25

Sunday, October 10, 2010


So, apparently many people want to hear the story of how Eric and I got engaged yesterday, on October 9th. :) Well, here you go. :)

So, through a series of unfortunate events, I basically knew that Eric was going to propose sometime this weekend, but that was all I knew. I had no idea as to when he was going to show up and what was going to happen. It's a lot harder to figure that out since we're a long-distance couple. ANYWAY. So here's what happened.

My friend Heather (who I lived with this summer and who is also good friends with Eric) asked me out to breakfast a few days ago, and she wanted to go out to eat on Saturday morning. We had to make it a really early breakfast because I was supposed to work 10-noon that morning, which ended up being perfect timing. Heather met me at my apartment a few minutes after eight, and unbeknownst (sp?) to me, she had JUST finished meeting with Eric to get instructions on what she was supposed to do. I had a small inkling that maybe it was a set-up because one of my roommates had asked if it could be, but I quickly pushed that aside and just decided to spend time with Heather and enjoy it instead of worrying about engagement things.

We went to a breakfast place really close to campus, and we had a really great time just catching up on life and having fun, and then when breakfast was nearing its end, I asked her what her plans for the day were. She said she had some homework to do, and then she said, "Oh, and I'm supposed to give you this." She pulled out a manila envelope from her purse, and I shrieked as I realized that it was from Eric, and I was about to get myself ENGAGED! I opened the envelope, and here's what it said:

Attached to the letter was $30 to pay for breakfast, and he secretly had someone take my work hours for me! I was so incredibly joyful at this point, and I didn't know what to do with myself. Thankfully, part of Eric's instructions to Heather were that she needed to stay with me up until a certain point during the scavenger hunt, and then she could leave. He wanted me to have someone to enjoy the time with and freak out with, which I was VERY grateful for, because that's exactly what I needed!

When I got to my apartment, I found a rose and another envelope on the table, and after I had changed, I read the riddle inside which was in the form of a poem, and it led me to the campus post office. I walked down there with Heather, only to find another rose and envelope taped above my mailbox. When I opened that one, the riddle led me to the place on campus where Eric first told me he loved me, the next one led me to my car in the parking garage, when finally that one led me to the beach, where Eric had asked me to be his girlfriend.

Heather and I had to walk quite a ways to get to the point where Eric wanted us to be, but when we got there, we couldn't find anything. We searched as much as we could, when I finally saw a lone rose out in the sand in the distance. I pointed it out to Heather, and when I did, she quickly said, "Alright, gotta go! See ya later!" And she promptly walked off. My heart began racing at this point when I realized that this was the moment that I had been waiting for. I walked over to the rose and picked it up, but I was completely clueless as to what I should do next. I looked back at Heather and she was just shooing me away, and when I looked forward again, I was still confused.

Then I saw a woman running on the beach with her dogs, and I realized she was yelling at me saying, "There's more!! Keep going! Keep going!" As I looked further down the beach, I saw that there was a whole line of roses leading down to the shore. I followed them and picked them up, only to find the last one at the shore, and Eric was not there. However, another envelope was there, which I promptly opened and found this:

I was going crazy, but I closed my eyes. Then I heard Eric behind me and he said,


I turned around to find him in a tuxedo, kneeling on the ground, ring in hand, and looking so amazing. My eyes welled up as he smiled at me and gave me the most beautiful speech I have ever heard which included him saying if he ever let me go he would regret it for the rest of his life, and then he asked me to marry him. I couldn't stop smiling when I nodded my head quickly and said "YES!"

Now, I KNOW that I really want to marry HIM, because when he got up to hug and kiss me, I didn't care about the ring at all. He had to ask me if I wanted to see it and put it on! :) The ring is SO beautiful, and he did an amazing job picking it out. I couldn't imagine a more beautiful ring.

Friends, I'm going to die to myself and marry my best friend on June 11th, 2011. I couldn't be happier. Eric is by far the best man I have ever known. He is Godly, loving, caring, sensitive, funny, absolutely adorable, and the one person I can never live without. Thank you so much for all of your prayers throughout our relationship. I am so grateful to our wonderful God for granting our prayers and giving us to each other!

Yesterday afternoon we also had our engagement pictures taken, so be on the lookout for those as well. I have a great feeling that they're going to turn out BEAUTIFUL, and I'm really excited about them! Eric also had the same photographer secretly photograph the proposal, so I will definitely be showing those off as well.

Thanks so much again for all your support and for loving Eric and I through this! We love you all, and we're so elated that we get to spend the rest of our lives together. :)