protein diets, gluten-free, and serenity

Shoutout to my friend who reads my blog and is going on a protein diet.

She’s putting conscious effort into putting good food into her body so that she’ll have more energy.  Add to that the fact that my aunt who is visiting us (along with my 14-year-old cousin, Hannah) is intolerant to gluten, and I’m thinking about what I put into my body.  garbage in, garbage out, right?

Gluten-free cookies do not sound appetizing by any stretch of the imagination, but Brooke, Hannah, and I proved that idea wrong by making an absolutely delicious and gluten-free giant cookie to rival Toll House’s.  I keep hearing that the non-natural gluten isn’t good for you, along with a lot of other things that I tend to eat on a regular basis.

And, of course, as my train of thought chugs along, I’ve gone from thinking about what I put into my body to what I put into my mind.  Let’s face it, people don’t get salty by going along with the patterns of everyone else in this world.  We are transformed for a reason, to be different, salty, standing out in a world that “goes with the flow” and “doesn’t rock the boat.”

Well, let me tell you, some of these boats need rocking.

It’s story time again, which I’m sure you just love: Once upon a time, I had a serious addiction to Veronica Mara.  On one side it’s a quality detective show, on another, it contains a lot of elements that I don’t consider necessary.  But instead of deciding to pass on the show before I became numb to the questionable elements, I watched multiple episodes a day.  (granted, I was sick at the time that I started watching it, but not by the time the addiction became pronounced.)

It is rare that I feel severely convicted about something that isn’t directly listed in the Bible as a sin.  Let me clarify, I don’t often feel God saying specifically to me that what I am doing (something which is in the category of “non-existent in the Bible times”) is not a good activity for me and that He wants me to stop.

I know when it’s God telling me to say something, do something, or, in this case, give something up.  His message was clear: let it go.  You won’t miss it.  It’s not spiritually edifying, and I have better things for you.

Since then I have not watched a single episode, and by the grace of God, I don’t miss it or feel an emptiness in my life where it was.  (I know what you’re thinking: Ashley, it was a TV show about  high school girl who solved mysteries in her spare time successfully.  It’s not even realistic, why would you miss it? and you would be right.) But, in fact, there is something far better taking its place.

I have a blog.

And on this blog, I am able to record God’s faithfulness, His magnificent deeds, lessons I am learning about Him and the life He wants me to live, and some other random things that may or may not have relevancy.  I have an activity with purpose instead, and I can tell you that it fills my life far more than Veronica Mars ever did.

That is a very obvious conclusion, but I hold this truth to be self-evident: that God has to teach me obvious lessons because I have no insight or perspective or depth on my own.

I can honestly say that God has filled me with His presence and with a desire to know Him better and to know His will completely.  I believe this is because I was obedient and because there is one less distraction in my life.

Maybe you can relate.  Maybe you have those things that don’t fill you up, the activities that seem to be harmless but might be taking the time that you could be filling with God’s best for you.

Call me selfish, but I want God’s best for me.  I want the best thing He has to offer, and the beautiful, redemptive truth is that He offers it.

Salty salt, setbacks, and scrubbing

I can’t eat mashed potatoes without salting them first.  It’s the one food that I don’t even taste before I go for the salt shaker.

Salt and potatoes.  Mmmm, such a good combination – french fries? salty.  baked potato? salty. mashed potatoes? salted right after we thank God for them.

Jesus knew what He was saying when He called Christians the “salt of the world” in Matthew 5.  Salt is a preservative, salt adds flavor.  I’m just starting to understand how exactly that applies to us as Christians.

Funny, because I remember one school year where we had at least 4 chapel speakers from various churches and ministries that spoke about the same thing: being the salt and light of the world.  Count em, four times.

You’d think that would be enough to get it through my thick head what it means to make the earth salty and bright.  (honestly I was going to write, “salty and lighty”, but then I remembered English class.)

Society often views Christians as stuffy and pious, not at all like the flavorful people we are intended to be.  Much of this is our fault for understanding our faith as “duty” rather than the vibrant lifestyle it is meant to be.  But if you have ever met a salty Christian, you know that all hope is not lost that people will see Christians as they are because those salty Christians shake grains of flavor into our lives.  And those grains inspire us to shake onto other people the flavor we’ve experienced by being in the presence of God and God-followers.

We’re meant to flavor the world!  Here’s a grain of kindness, an extra smile to light up your day.  Here’s a grain of compassion because I know the God who makes hard situations better.  Here’s a grain of patience because you probably struggle with things that I don’t even know about – which is why you just cut me off in traffic.  Here’s just a little bit of what I’ve been given in Christ, a grain of salt, a shake of flavor.

Have you heard the song, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke”?  I think we should change it to  “I’d like to give the world some salt.” If we truly lived the salty lives that we are called to, Jesus’ reputation here on earth would be much more accurate to who He is.  Plus then we could all raise our salt shakers while we sang it instead of a Coke bottle.  Far more creative and flavorful, like Jesus, don’t you think?

I’m going to be salty when I go to Target in a few minutes.

Confession: sometimes I get nervous going into Target because they don’t have self-checkouts.  Then I remember that I’m salt and that I can shake some salt onto my cashier, and that boosts my confidence, even if I am buying a random assortment of makeup, flowers, and hand soap.

The flowers and hand soap are in preparation for having guests at my house.  (the makeup is just for my face.)  In addition to making Target runs, I have been cleaning my room so that it’s presentable as a pseudo-guest room for my cousin to sleep in.  It is a hard task, let me tell you, because I’m an organized person, but I’m not very neat.

That probably confused you.

Let me explain: I know where most things are, and there is a distinct reason that it is there most times.  When I travel, I hyper-organize.  But in my room, you will find stacks of seemingly unrelated papers and calculators on my desk, there used to be a tangle of 8 different yarns on my floor, Piglet is facedown on the floor on the other side of my bed, and my closet can barely close because I just shoved my gym bag, a paper bag with clothes in it, and my sleeping bag into the already crammed interior.  But, I maintain that I am organized.

Either way, we’ll just say that I had my work cut out for me.

Today is one of those days where I have to trust God.  Oh, wait, I need to do that everyday!  I guess today gives me an explicit reason to do so.

As you already heard, I was at volleyball camp all of this week, trying not to overdo it with my achilles tendonitis, but still working and sweating hard.  Melissa, my physical therapist whom I adore, told me I overdid it.  (I don’t adore her for saying that, but more because she’s just really nice and funny and helpful.)

Thus, the setback.  I’ll be in therapy til the 30th instead of having my last appointment next Friday.  And volleyball starts on the 15th.  I’m a Senior.  I’m a captain.  And I might not be cleared for the first week of practice.

I’ve been through all the scenarios in my head, and few of them end up with me playing a successful season without missing anything or having another setback.  So, now I trust God that His plans for me are not what I would make for myself, but that they are BEST.  Even if they don’t include being completely healthy.  Even if they don’t include doing things the way I’d like to.  Even if it makes me want to cry to think that I might miss something I love.

His ways are higher than my salty ways.  And my setbacks are really His way of pushing me in the direction that He wants me to go.  And so I welcome this setback, more therapy with Melissa, whom I adore, and whatever God is going to bring my way because of it.

I think that makes me salty.


Laws, aches, and new perspectives

24+ hours spent in a hot gym this week, wearing spandex and a sweat-soaked shirt along with 149 other girls in the same boat.

And we did this by choice.

As enjoyable as it was to get on the court again, meet new people who play the same sport as me, and spend some time on the Bethel campus,being home where I can wear girly clothes and not sweat more than my body weight while enjoying the air-conditioning.  I’m also glad that when 8:00 rolls around tonight, I won’t be swatting a volleyball; I’ll be in bed.

I’ve been away from Blog Central (aka Macky, my sister’s laptop) for too long.

Processing thoughts on paper shouldn’t be my last resort when I don’t have Macky, (but the ease with which I can type out all the things I’ve been pondering and exploring in my cerebellum is enticing.)  but this week it was.  I pulled out my journal and wrote when I had brain function, and when I had none I just didn’t think much, didn’t make much sense when I talked, and basically wished that I had gotten more sleep the night before.

During a break where I was without my roommate, I went to the college’s café, bought a much-needed mocha, and settled into one of the comfy chairs.  In retrospect, I probably should have sat on the floor since I smelled so foully, but I enjoyed the comfort.  Feeling completely blissful at the thought of relaxation with my Bible and favorite beverage, I jammed my headphones into my ears and pulled at my ribbon bookmark to open my Bible to 1 Samuel 23, where David is hiding from Saul (from whom God’s presence has been taken away, making him sort of go off the deep end and want to kill David, his former soother) in the desert of Ziph.  As I was reading that, I was reminded of an idea that I had – likely not an original one – to read the Psalms in conjunction with David’s story, so as to gain more of an insight into what he was thinking while he was running away. So, I checked my handy-dandy cross-references for a Psalm (have I mentioned that I love my TNIV study Bible?) and found a connection to Psalm 54, and from there to Psalm 19, where David is exalting the Law.

Exalting the Law.

the LAW.

Do you catch the irony here?  Perhaps it’s because I live in a generation of people who think that rules and regulations are usually made by people who want to limit fun and don’t understand that we teenagers really know best, but isn’t it odd that David is waxing eloquent about something that can’t save?  Something that is a stumbling block to legalists and people who believe in salvation by works?

It’s pretty strange in today’s context.  Yes, we know that the Law of the Lord provides sure guidance, but following it can’t save us… and it IS a whole bunch of really complicated regulations for life.

David says in Psalm 19 that God’s law is more precious than gold to him, sweeter than honey.  Without the Law as a guide, it is difficult to know what God expects of us in conduct and thoughts and life in general, so (in case you couldn’t feel my surprise already) it startles me to see David extol it with such evident passion!

I was in a pickle for a bit, trying to figure out why exactly David was so taken with God’s laws, until I read something in the footnotes of my Bible that put it into a completely different perspective.

God’s laws “faithfully represent God’s will.”

To put myself in David’s place, without having Jesus (who showed that it is the Spirit of the law rather than legalistically following the letter of the Law that is important) as an example, I can see that it would be precious, the Law.  To have assurance of at least something when your life is uncertain for a good chunk of it would be a welcome contrast to confusion.  To have God’s will represented in something that had endured generation after generation would probably bring about peace, to the anxiety that adhering to rules usually has in our society.  That perspective makes me see the Law in a whole new way: it is a standard that I cannot live up to without Christ, but it provides insight and guidance for what I should do, think, and what God wants from me, which also reveals part of His character.

This is what I’m pondering as I sit, exhausted, on my bed, finally wearing something other than my sports attire and having taken a shower.

Man, I’m sore.

Extravagance, beautiful things, and loss of wealth

I stood and watched as the gas pump rapidly drained my checking account – re-filled only minutes before with my hard-earned babysitting money.  I gazed with sad eyes as one hour, two hours, three hours, more and more of my labor went right into my car.

Would you like to hear about my hard work?

Well, I’ll tell you!  I woke up at 5:30 this morning, an hour at which my eyes fight me when try to open them, my body feels so comfortable in bed and cringes at the idea of having to leave my safe haven of sleep, and my brain is confused about what day it is and why my alarm is going off so loudly.  The early wakeup was necessary in order to get to my place of employment at 6:30am.  Granted, my work isn’t difficult.  When the sleepy four-year-old came out of her room at 7:15 – clutching a giant dolphin – her hair fanning in three different directions, all I had to do was make crafts with her, assemble macaroni and cheese, pitch a spiderman baseball (from 5 feet away) to her yellow plastic bat, watch a sort of strange movie (anyone else confused about the messages being sent in Rango?), and hang up her artwork as she finished it.  Simple enough, but watching my wages being siphoned into Audrey’s tank was still a bit heart-wrenching.

Yes, it was my turn to fill up the tank.  Yes, I drive the car and should have to pay for gas.  BUT it makes me sad.

It’s the simple truth of life that money isn’t stationary.  It comes and goes fairly quickly because  the world we live in takes cash, check, and Visa.  My friendly smile won’t get me much, and places of business rarely accept homemade goods as payment.  (otherwise I would pay everyone in cookies.)

Switching gears entirely (that was an unforeseen manual transmission word pun… if you don’t follow me, then you obviously don’t drive stick.) I have two songs that I am carrying with me today.  I also have a song that I have thrown away from me as much as I can.

I’ll start with the negative side: I don’t think that anyone should put the words “suitcases” into a song’s chorus.  At least not the way that it is in the song, “Suitcases.”  It just lacks flow and doesn’t even sound right at all.  Her message is clear though, and it’s valid: when you’ve got baggage, it’s difficult to get to where God wants you to be.

I have found that there are a lot of Christian artists who really aren’t artists at all; they are people who love God and want to do something that will make His name known… and music seems to give them a good way to do that.

These people don’t seem to have grasped the idea of choosing a path in life should be based on the gifts that God has given you, the talents that He’s placed in your life so that you can do something really well.  I don’t think that you have to do something that is explicitly Christian for it to glorify God.  Actually, because God is the Creator of all things and instilled in us certain gifts, I think it glorifies Him more to use the talents for His glory.

And now, Ashley steps off of her soapbox.

Now, for my new favorite song:

Talk about beautiful things.

Maybe it’s just my love for the combination of acoustic guitar and violin with percussion that sounds like a thunderstorm, but I love this.  I’m not going to oversimplify it by talking too much about it, so there it is.  Listen and love “Beautiful Things” by Gungor. I had never heard of Gungor before I heard “Beautiful Things”, but just by hearing this song I could tell I’d like them.  After reading this, I was even more convinced.  Read, listen, and decide that you agree with me.

There are songs that obviously stem from a “revelation” moment or a time of searching.  I particularly love the songs that make me realize something I have never even considered before.  One such song is “Your Love is Extravagant” by Casting Crowns, whose music, ironically, I don’t choose to listen to 98% of the time.  When I heard that song today, however, God’s extravagance hit me.

When I love somebody, extravagance is rarely a part of it.  Moderation is my mantra; not that I only love a little bit – I love a lot, lots of people and a lot of love – but that I exercise the love in moderation.

Just goes to show how I am not God.

That love that surpasses all understanding is a no-holds-barred, pull-out-all-the-stops, I’ll-have-my-Son-die-for-you kind of love.  Extravagant describes it perfectly.  Not only do we as Christians have eternal life, but we are blessed on top of it with God’s presence, with His Holy Spirit that guides us in our lives.  And on top of that, He’s planned out our lives in a way that gives us the most full life possible and invites us to be a part of it.  He wants us to talk to Him, wants us to cast our cares and rely on Him entirely.  He wants to take our junk and made beautiful things out of it for His glory.  All this extravagance, and all we have to do is surrender.  (surrender sounds simple, and it’s not, but it’s only one task.  Pretty good deal.  Pretty amazing deal.)

and my only response is humility and adoration.

and surrender.


happy mornings and clean teeth

Minnesota is no longer a rainforest, which means that we can now do things outside as well as give our air conditioners a break.  That darn, humid heat made it quite a bit more difficult to be pleasant, and, now that it’s gone, I can feel the weight lifted off of me. 

In addition to that, I just had the greatest time at the dentist. 

No, that was not sarcasm, but I know that’s not a common statement to be made seriously.  I got up this morning from my spot on the couch downstairs where it’s nice and cool (unlike my room upstairs-at least for the past few days), and I ate breakfast in my room with my Bible and Jim Cymbala book like I usually do.  I’ve found out in the past year that when I have non-verbal breakfast companions, it gives me a chance to become more awake and like my happy self.  Then, after dropping my dad off at the library, I went over to my dentist, feeling very excited to see those fabulous people.

I really don’t enjoy getting my teeth scraped.  And the polishing doesn’t taste good.  The fluoride makes my hands sweat, and I’m always afraid that they’re going to realize that I only floss the week before I go to the dentist and scold me. 

I’ve been going to this dentist’s office since I was little, and for some reason, they all love me there.  (Not that I’m trying to boost my image here, but they do.  I have proof.) The receptionist usually makes some comment about how I look like Taylor Swift, and the other people in the waiting room agree with astonishment.  I try to act like it’s not something I hear multiple times a week and laugh with them about it.  Then the hygenist, who is usually someone who has had the pleasure of sticking their hands in my mouth before, calls my name, asks me how school and volleyball is going, and we head back to the room. 

This time, however, I got to see jsut about everyone employed at the office.  I didn’t just see my one hygenist.  Almost every hygenist I’ve ever had either greeted me like an old friend (which we really are) as I followed Jamie, a hygenist I’d never had before, down to the cleaning room, or they heard I was in and popped in to say hello. 

God is good.  Can I say that again?  God is really, really good.  The dental people always ask what you’ve been doing this summer, and I have great things to tell them about what I’ve been doing.  “I went on a mission trip to Panama in June.” One of the most awesome things about the trips isn’t just the impact that you are able to have while you’re there, but the fact that when you get back, you have a whole new method of telling people about the amazing things that God has done.  When asked about my summer by Jamie, I got to tell her, then I told my dentist when he came in, saying “Hey there, Trouble,” with his super white dentist’s smile, “How’s your summer been?” 

Later, Sue, a hygenist who has bought my jewelry from Art2Heart, came in to say how much she loved the pendants and that she was planning to buy another one.  Just after she left, another hygenist (whose name I cannot recall for the life of me) came in and asked me how I was doing and if I’d been on another mission trip recently.

I could keep going on about how my dentist told the surgeon who came in (oh, did I mention getting my wisdom teeth out soon?) that I was going to change the world someday, and I could give more examples of the opportunities God gave me to make His name and His deeds known, but I think that paints a pretty clear picture of what my morning was like. 

God is good.  I was thinking as I left that place that those dental people haven’t ever seen me snap at my sister or be crabby for no good reason.  Then I felt like I was deceiving them, that I’m not really the “sweetest person here” like my dentist said. 

I have to remember that I’m a work in progress, and that God isnt’ finished with me yet.  But I also need to remember that being a work in progress still requires me to be the person God wants me to be.  So, I guess you could say I left my dentist inspired to be the person I am there -with ease- in the places where I am tempted to be less than God wants me to be. 

 I wonder if other people get inspired at the dentist?

Starry-Eyed Lucille Ball, and the Real Deal

They say that you can’t really, truly star-gaze in the city (or the suburbs, for that matter), due to all the extra lights and smog, but I think I beg to differ.  Sure, it takes my eyes ages to adjust out here, but  I’ve already spotted the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia.

It’s beautiful.  Wondrous.  The constellations are easily seen, even by an untrained star aficionado like me, which makes me wonder why exactly God picked those shapes when he was setting them in place.  Why a ladle?  Why a “W”?  What’s up with Orion and his special belt?  Andromeda?

All I know is that out here, where the noise is limited to the distant traffic, the wind brushing up against the trees on its way to wherever it goes, and the occasional wind chime, peace overwhelms.  You know, the kind of peace that you can feel, as in physically?  Where the knots in your stomach unwind and your clenched teeth relax, and the hands that make fists at people during the day fold in your lap, at rest.

Maybe part of this is that I’m alone.  I am the only person out here.  There is no one to talk to, no on to laugh with, no one to tell how proud of myself I am that I found two whole constellations and remembered the names.And that is beautiful as well.

There are few times when I am totally alone, apart from people entirely.  I’ve forgotten how refreshing this is.  I’m sitting here, in my Lucille Ball pajamas (pink and white striped with a collar and button down… I’m not sure why my mom calls them Lucille Ball pajamas, but that’s what they are.) with the stars bright above me and my heart at rest.  Rest is hard to come by in a society like ours when so much is based on impressions, how one comes across.  If you don’t speak as eloquently as you could, people could get the idea that you’re simple, and of course, no one wants to be seen that way. If you don’t look quite put together, people wonder if you’ve even glanced in the mirror yet today.  Without charisma and likability, your social life will be limited to those who have the perspective and experience to know that presenting the person you really are to the world is a multi-faceted difficulty.  1) If you don’t know who you are, it’s highly unlikely that you can portray that to someone else. 2) If you’re not secure in who you are or think that the personality God gave you isn’t accepted in the people that you want to like you, you’ve got a problem.  and 3) consistency is just hard.  especially when you’re 17.

I know that I want to be the real deal.  really care.  Truly want to hear about the details of your week.  Honestly not carry judgment or superiority about you because I know what you’ve done, but I don’t know all that you struggle with.  Genuinely want people to feel valued and act on it.

As a Christian, I often feel like I get told the “should”s of my faith.   We should love everyone. We should tell everyone about our faith in God and how it’s changed our lives forever.  We should serve.

What good do these things do if they stem from a heart that is compulsively doing them?  Does anyone want someone to ask how their day was and listen to their problems just because they feel like they must?  And how do I stop myself from being a fake servant, friend, daughter, employee, student, athlete, conversationalist, blogger, activist, writer, artist, God-follower?

I was trying to think of the right way to say “ingenuine” or “ungenuine” or “not gennuine”.  Then I remembered: FAKE.

How will I ever be the kind of Christian that shows people who God really is and what He’s about if I’m not giving from my heart?  If I haven’t asked God to make me like Him for REAL and to make what flows from my heart be compassion and humility and love, then I am fake.  An imitation of what could be so much better.

It’s like those stars that you put on the ceiling that glow at night.  They’re fake.  Plastic.  An imitation of something that is so majestic and beautiful.  I wish I could get on my rooftop right now so that I could see more of the real deal.  And that’s what I want to be.  A Christian that compels others to want to see more of the real deal.  To want to see more of God.

My conclusions I have drawn from all this boil down to the simple fact that I need more time in the presence of God… and only Him so that what flows out of me is all that He is.

Having drawn these conclusions, I will now trade Macky for my Jonathan (my guitar).

Have I mentioned that it’s beautiful out here?

taken care of

How often do you perform a job, get paid, worry a little about lack of money, then get a call from the employer saying that you did a great job and they want to thank you again and pay you more because they didn’t feel like it was enough?  (Yes, I’m aware that was a run-on sentence.)

Answer: Never.  But that happened to me today.

Let’s have story time: Once upon a time, I watched an adorable baby girl during a funeral and drove an 85-year-old back to his nursing home afterwards.  It was an easy, enjoyable job, lasting about 5 hours and maybe a gallon of gas (only because Audrey is super efficient with the fossil fuels).  I was paid, and I went home.  I listened to the podcast called “Stuff You Missed in History Class” (which I highly recommend, by the way) and tried to find all the golden eggs in angry birds in my air-conditioned house because it is still crazy hot and rainforest humid outside – and inside. Before you think that I’m a hypocrite because I just blogged about spending my time better, remember, I was learning about history.  I wasn’t just sitting there with my Angry, Kamikaze Birds.

Then, my family sat down to dinner, and I offered to pray – But then, my phone rang.  (Ringtone: “My Future Decided”… which indicates that it’s not someone who calls often. ) It was *Tim* (whose name I have changed to protect his identity), saying thanks again for everything today; you did a great job.

It was no problem, I enjoyed myself.

I realized I didn’t pay you enough earlier.

Oh I really don’t-

No, I want to pay you more; I intended to but didn’t count right.

Well, who’s going to argue with someone who insists that they didn’t pay you enough?  I’m certainly not.  Especially since I know that it was a God-send.  It was a message saying, hey, remember.  You don’t have to worry about money.  It doesn’t even matter since I provide everything you need.  But, just so you know that I’m here and I’m looking out for you, take the bonus.

I’ve always wondered how satisfying a religion could be where you must offer cellophane-wrapped muffins to a statue of your god in order to think that you’ll get anything out of him.  (okay, maybe not everyone wraps muffins in cellophane for Buddha, but that’s what the ladies in the nail salons always do!)

I can’t imagine anything more gratitude-inducing than having someone take care of my needs without even uttering a cry for help.

And that’s what’s real.

Postscript: we have another subscriber now!  If you want to join the list of favorite people, just click that special button in the right sidebar.

I am now going to go make pillowcases with my sister.  Ciao.

hello, ridiculous

There are quite a few ridiculous things about today: (and they include pictures!)

  1. the heat.  It’s as humid as a rainforest (that is not hyperbole, that’s Sven Sundgaard’s meteorology truth.), and about 96 degrees.  The sun beats down on us without any mercy, and our only defense is to drink lemonade, stay inside with all the lights off and the blinds closed, blog, and drink lemonade.defense mechanisms: lemonade and Macky
  2. The amount of college mail that I have been receiving.  I think that colleges have this theory that the bigger the propaganda they send me, and the more frequently they send it, the more likely I am to go to their school.  Little do they know that I’ve already pretty much sealed the deal of where I want to go (minus the whole applying and getting accepted dealio).  I wish that I could just send out a mass letter to Iowa, Nebraska, and Texas colleges who send me copious amounts of mail saying that I don’t like their location, so there’s no chance that I’ll pick them.  We could BOTH win; you stop wasting paper and postage, I stop getting annoyed.  The picture below is just to show how big this letter I got including a booklet from the University of Chicago.  See that GINORMOUS study Bible next to it?  that’s for scale.  Now I feel like I have to look up their school.  Guilt trip.  Guilt mail, actually.  Majorly.  That’s just mean. 

3.  the condition of my room right now.  Now, I’ll be real with you: I love organization, and whenever I get the bug, I clean.  But, I don’t get the bug very often, and more often than not, my room is an obstacle course.  I have dreams of a room with clean floors and clear desktops and an organized bookshelf.

Now, for ridiculous thing number FOUR:

Last year of high school is coming up quickly, (and people tend to remind me of that daily, “Can you believe you’ll be a Senior??” ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yes, I can, thanks. I don’t mind the reminders – it’s actually nice that people realize that I’m about to enter a transitional and rather important period of my life – but I’m anxiety-ridden.) and there are a plethora of things I need to do and think about beforehand.

This is where I have to remind myself that I am not a worrywart.

(I actually am a worrywart by nature, but I have to tell myself that I’m not because I don’t need to be.)

To put it like Jesus did, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” (Luke 12:25)  And I have to remember that.  Actually, if I spend my time worrying instead of praying and taking action on what I need to do, I waste hours of my life.

Now, I’d like to put a list in here of all the things that I’m anxious about, but I don’t think that wordpress would let me do that.  I’ll save those for Jesus, because he wants them anyways.  To tell the truth, that puzzles me greatly.  Why would anyone want my problems and the things that make my stomach twist into knots and my brain move 10,000 mph?  And not only mine, but TONS of people’s?  Jesus, I don’t understand you, but I think that’s a good thing.  If I got how Jesus works, I don’t think I’d be as interested.  If the wonder and awe wasn’t there, there would be no reason to trust Him; if I could figure out how He does all the everything that He does, I would be far more tempted to take things into my own hands on a regular basis.

Instead, I have to sigh, sit in my messy room, and give up all the things that make me apprehensive and distressed and restless to the One who can handle them.

Should be easy, right?

Sweat, scary folders, and enrichment

I don’t know anyone who enjoys being sticky, smelly, and shiny all over.  Sweat can be, however, a sign of a good thing (note: I didn’t say it was a good thing… it’s just a sign of a good thing.).  It means you’ve either been working hard, or you’re enjoying something out in the heat too much to go inside and miss it.  Regardless of the cause, it calls for a shower and change of clothes… and a night in the air-conditioning.

Since I am a woman, my train of thoughts runs on one track.  There is no track-hopping, so I apologize in advance if you aren’t following my travels here, but I PROMISE that it all goes together somehow.

I was reading last night in my Jim Cymbala book that I’ve mentioned before (after a day at an amusement park in the heat… sweating – and seeing Winnie-the-Pooh, which was very good, by the way), and, as usual, I only read abut 2 pages of it.  Dense books like that require me to read them in tiny chunks; otherwise I forget parts of the amazingly wise things I have read and can’t apply it.  And tell me: what is the point of reading something if it has no bearing on my life and makes no impact in how I live?

Funny, that was kind of what I was reading.

Jim (yes, we’re on a first-name basis) was saying that the way we spend our time should enrich our spiritual life.  I kind of figured that one was a no-brainer, but it really does make a marked difference in the things I choose to do.

It’s confession time: I have an app folder on my ipod that is entitled: “My Time-Wasting Addictions”.

Should that be a sign to me that I have some issues?  yes.  Have I deleted said folder yet?  no.

(In case you’re wondering, the contents of that folder at Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja- in which I have astonishing high scores, and words with friends…  not that you need a way to waste your time.)

When you get to the point where you KNOW that it’s wasting your time, yet you do it anyway, I think that means that you have some priority problems.  And by “you”, I mean “me”.  I need to either rarely open that scary folder, or delete it’s contents. I’m thinking I need to delete some of those.

Back to Jim: Not only did he mean that what we do shouldn’t harm or hinder our connection to God, but it should distinctly enrich it.

I had to stop and think about that for a while, think about how I spend my time and if it enriches my spiritual life.  Then I had to think of the reasons I thought they all did enrich my spiritual walk and try to figure out which reasons weren’t reasons at all but instead ridiculous rationalizations.  I came to the conclusion that there are some things I definitely can’t justify: for example, playing angry birds to use up my energy before bed when I know I really need to just talk to God for awhile… then God gets my leftovers, which ends up being not much.  But I also came to the conclusion that not everything seems from the outside to enrich, but once you have participated in it, you realize that God used it to teach you something or speak to you.

God doesn’t just speak at church or when you’re reading your Bible or talking about Him.  When you’re in a right relationship with Him (and even sometimes when you’re not, think Paul on the road to Damascus), He uses even the strangest of situations to give you a message.

Anecdote: I went to a Twins’ game about a month ago, and I think we can all agree that this is not an outwardly Christian activity.  (In fact, it could be seen as the opposite, I suppose.)  I was seated at the end of our group of people, and next to a bunch of Padres fans with whom I struck up a conversation (what can I say?  I’m friendly.) about the game, where they were from, and, eventually, the fact that the woman I was sitting next to had two nieces who went to the same 1800 undergrad university that I have been thinking is right for me for a while, and they both loved it.  Dude.  That was a divine appointment.  I left that game feeling so enriched, feeling that God had given me more confirmation of where he wants me.

This leaves me fairly certain that God can use anything to speak to me, but I get the feeling that it’s less likely to happen when I’m glued to my ipod, trying to win at hangman or trying to kill little green pigs with kamikaze birds – and far more likely to happen in interactions with people and with my Savior.

This calls for some adjustments.

minor freakout

I’m going to graduate. and turn 18. turn 18 then graduate high school.

for some reason, seeing my graduation year in connection with the upcoming school year caused me to stop breathing.
but, then I remembered that it’s normal to not stay 17 forever. That’s the way God wanted it to be.

whew. good thing that’s all taken care of. I can go to sleep now.