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Listening: ‘She is Love’ by Parachute

Reading: ‘Surprised By Hope’ by N. T. Wright

Feeling Guilty: For having a donut for lunch. Somehow I doubt that is on the list of good foods to eat.

Thinking: I will make my way back. Someday.

How to Annoy Me: Drive 10 miles under the speed limit, don’t pay attention at stop lights, and swerve all over the road while obviously looking for something in the passenger seat. Pull the SUV over and find whatever it is, DOCTOR, before I call the cops on your ass.

How to Charm Me: Call me and invite me to the state fair so we can finally indulge in our elephant ear craving.

Quote of the Day: What we say about death and resurrection gives shape and color to everything else. If we are not careful, we will offer merely a “hope” that is no longer a surprise, no longer able to transform lives and communitites in the present, no longer generated by the resurrection of Jesus himself and looking forward to the promised new heavens and new earth. – N. T. Wright

1000 Words: P1171584

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I am not perfect. Nowhere near it. But that is okay.

I make mistakes. I fall flat on my face. But that is okay.

I say the wrong thing. I make the wrong choice. But that is okay.

Because it isn’t the falling that matters. Everyone falls. Some people do it quietly so no one notices. Others set off a 21 gun salute so that the entire world sees their shame. Everyone lies. Everyone breaks promises. Everyone finds themselves doing things they swore they never would. Everyone hurts other people. That’s part of life and part of allowing other people to come into contact with you. Because we are all broken.

I am a glorious ruin, just like every other person who walks this planet. None of us is perfect. But at the end of the day, it is the people who get back up and try again who earn my respect. That is the type of person I want to be. Not the type of person who wallows in her guilt and continues to let others tell her what a screw up she is. But the type of person who stands back up and says “I messed up and for that I am deeply sorry. But now we have to keep on moving.”

I am not proud of decisions I made in the past. But I am proud of how I have handled myself since then. Making me feel guilty for things is not hard. There will always be something I could have done better and if any of those things is pointed out to me, I tend to beat myself up for them. But I have realized that that helps no one. I have realized that just because I am not groveling and whipping myself with chains that it doesn’t make my repentance and sorrow any less real. I don’t have to prove to people how sorry I am by completely putting my life on hold and staying in bed for weeks. In fact, I think that these things are merely putting on a show.

Repentance means doing what you can to ensure that the bad thing you did doesn’t happen again. And that is what I have been doing. I have been working to become the type of person that is strong enough not to let the wrong person near her. Who is strong enough to say “no” or “get the hell away from me”. Who is strong enough to risk hurting someone’s feelings or making them mad in order to do what is right. Who is strong enough not to allow alcohol to cloud her judgment. Who is strong enough to know when she is being lied to.

My identity is not in what I have done in the past. My identity is who I am – and am becoming – in Christ. I will not let past mistakes or labels define me. I will not let other people’s opinion of me become my reality. I *will* get back up and try again.

Why do we fall? In order to learn how to pick ourselves back up.

Listening: ‘July, July!’ by The Decemberists

Reading: ‘Revolution of Character’ by Dallas Willard and Don Simpson

Thinking: I have faith that, in the end, this will work out. Not because of the human beings involved but because God can and does work miracles.

How to Annoy Me: Go wandering off when I am getting ready to walk out the door so that I have to go hunting you down.

How to Charm Me: Fight for me.

Quote of the Day: The greatest friend of truth is time, her greatest enemy is prejudice, and her constant companion humility. – Chuck Colson

1000 Words: P1171581

Listening: ‘Mixed Bizness’ by Beck

Enjoying: Ro’s and my getaway car. 😉

Thinking: The world does not need me bearing children…

How to Annoy Me: Go out and buy expensive toys for yourself when your family is living off of food stamps. It is crap like this that makes me go “No, that’s okay. Singleness is fantastic!”

How to Charm Me: Dub me “tiny dancer”. 😀

Quote of the Day: I don’t think God will tell anyone they loved too much or judged too little. – Anne Marie Goodrich

1000 Words: daily-21

Watching: ‘Invisible Bridges’

Thinking: Yup, this is gonna suck.

How to Annoy Me: I’m not mad. But I could be.

How to Charm Me: When you wake up and find me holding you, get a huge grin on your face and start flirting with me.

Quote of the Day: Hells begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others…but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God “sending us” to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE hell unless it is nipped in the bud. – C. S. Lewis

Random Quirk: I hate talking on the phone. And I just had an epiphany as to why. My learning style is almost zero in the audio. I’m so kinetic and visual that only being able to hear something drives me absolutely batty.(But there are certain people I will make special exception for.)

Daily Photo: p1190465

Listening: ‘I Try’ by Macy Gray

Reading: “I believe in God, the God I have come to know as father, as Abba – Daddy.”

Thinking: It’s going to be a loooong semester.

How to Annoy Me: Pick a fight with me when we’re supposed to be enjoying each other’s company.

How to Charm Me: Help me get my homework done before midnight.

Quote of the Day: The road to the sacred leads through the secular. – Abraham Joshua Heschel

Random Quirk: When a towel is hanging over a bar, both sides of the towel have to hang even with each other.

Daily Photo: daily-13

What does it mean to love someone? I’m not talking about the mushy romantic love that Hollywood would have us believe is real life. Rather the day to day, through the drudge of life, “yes, you sometimes piss me off but I still choose to love you” kind of love. What does that look like? Are we capable of loving accurately, as God intended?

I went to a prayer meeting last Wednesday where pastors and ministry workers from all over the city gather together to pray and encourage one another. I prayed with an amazing man named Geoff. I asked for prayer for wisdom in how to love and heal certain relationships in my life. Geoff believes that we aren’t capable of loving accurately. We can’t. We might be able to come close. But to truly love another person, to be fully patient, kind, not easily angered, never giving up, we don’t have that in us. Only Christ can do that. Only Papa knows when to love someone by holding them and when to use “tough love”. Because we can’t see everything and we don’t know everything. There are multiple sides to every story, which is why I always hesitate to rush in and only believe one side.

In the Bible, we read of a woman who had committed many sexual sins with many different men. The Pharisees dragged her out in front of the crowd and the crowd was prepared to stone her. I always found it interesting that the man whom she must have been caught with was nowhere to be found. They didn’t care about her side. They only wanted to make an example of her, to cause Jesus to lose His good standing in the eyes of the people. Instead of rebuking her or stoning her or guilting her or demanding that she be punished more, Jesus simply said “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she replied. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I have been in many circles and many settings where people are ostracized for their mistakes. The second that someone doesn’t fit into the box that a group has created, the second they screw up, the second they show that they are human, they are kicked out. There is no forgiveness. No mercy. No second chance. No “Today, I start”. People make mistakes. It’s a part of life. Our job, as Christians, is to walk beside them the best we can. Christ calls us to first love God and then to love others as we love ourselves. But I know too many people who call themselves Christians who only love as long as the other person meets their needs or fits their profile. Christ also called us to forgive our enemies. “What gain is there in loving those who love you?” Loving people whom you get along with, who love you, who you agree with most of the time, that’s easy. Loving the people who drive you crazy? Loving the people who you wish weren’t part of your group/church? Loving the people who hurt you? That is hard. It’s as hard as forgiving those people for the wrongs they commit against you.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” – Gandhi

I would argue that the same can be said for love. Loving people is hard. It’s a choice. It takes courage and strength. It takes a willingness to be hurt. It takes patience. But can we really call ourselves Christians if we aren’t willing to do this? If there is a fault that I could live with having, I would want people to say “She loves too much.”

Loving someone doesn’t mean you have to hang out with them all the time. There is such a thing as a toxic relationship and I do believe that some people need to be kept separated. I don’t go looking to spend time with the man who abused me. But I forgive him. And I don’t wish him ill. I try to pray that God blesses his life. It’s hard and I don’t always succeed. But I try. Because otherwise I have no business saying “Forgive us our tresspasses as we also forgive those who tresspass against us.” Because being a Christian doesn’t just mean “Oh, I get to go to heaven when I die and screw the rest of you!” Being a Christian means you are an image-bearer of Christ. He was crucified on a cross because he loved people who spit on him and hated him and whipped him and called him names. In light of that, does loving your ex sound quite so hard? Does loving the person who doesn’t quite fit into the mold that your church/group has formed sound like the biggest challenge? It’s still hard. But we are not alone. If we believe the Bible, then the Holy Spirit is alive and at work in each of us and that means that we have His help. “Be holy as I am holy.” Love as He loves. Forgive as He forgives. Because nothing can separate us from the love of our Papa. And if we are His children, we should strive to imitate Him.

Listening: ‘Let It Be’ by The Beatles

Reading: ‘Superman as Jesus and other Christ figures in film’ (This is what I get for attending movies with Shane, Rich and Rob.)

Thinking: I cannot be held responsible for missing a day on the Daily How To when I’m house-sitting for someone with no internet! (Okay, so I can. But I rarely let reality mess with my delusions. 😉 )

How to Annoy Me: Have your iTunes set on shuffle so that the next song that pops up begins with a loud gunshot that scares me half to death.

How to Charm Me: Hug me tight because you know that I’m hurting.

Quote of the Day: In the center of your soul, the Shekhinah glory resides…the literal, real, overwhelming presence of God. – Larry Crabb

Daily Photo:

Listening: ‘Psalm 23 (The Lord is My Shepherd)’ by Sons of Korah

Reading: ‘The Jewish Roots of Christian Worship’ (George wrote a section of this!)

Thinking: I *really* hope I don’t get snowed in tonight.

How to Annoy Me: Cause me to have to slam on my brakes so that the open bag of pretzels goes flying across the car. (Teen drivers….)

How to Charm Me: Declare that the fact that your work is making you do a $1.50 deposit is “asinine”. 😀

Quote of the Day: I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the world seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses. – Taylor Caldwell

Daily Photo: p9110328

I’m not really one for making New Year’s resolutions. I used to be and like everyone else, I’d keep it up for a month….a week….a day. I’d be excited about it at first but eventually the excitement would wear off. To me, resolutions are kinda like praying the sinner’s prayer at a revival (or what have you). You do it because in that moment you know it’s the right thing to do and you’re excited and you’ve been pumped up for it! But then reality hits. This wasn’t just a one time thing.

If you truly want to follow through on that resolution to quit smoking, to go to the gym, the commitment to follow Christ, that means day after day, putting one foot in front of the other. Dragging yourself through when the excitement has worn off and your friends that were rallying around you at first have returned to their regularly scheduled programing. Picking yourself up and dusting yourself off when you stumble.

Now I’m not saying resolutions or revivals or the sinner’s prayer are bad. Not at all. They truly do work for some people. Some people make a resolution to lose 20 pounds and they do it! Some people never pick up a cigarette again. And some people are serious about their commitment that they make at revivals. But it doesn’t work for me. I can’t live from spiritual high to spiritual high. I can’t go from resolution to resolution. I can’t get swept up in the emotion of the crowd.

Following Jesus is hard. But it’s so worth it. Sticking to New Year’s resolutions is hard too. Which is why the only things I resolve anymore are this: love God and love others as myself. If I can be a blessing to those I touch, then my 24 years will have counted for something.

Flickr Photos

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