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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OR7VOKQ0xJY.

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 http://gungormusic.com/pages/whoweare.html, 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.



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