25 November, 2010

El Día de Gracias

Happy Thanksgiving!
Five things I am thankful for: (starting where we left off...)
1) Harry Potter.
It sounds trivial, but seriously though, there is nothing like getting lost in a good book-especially Harry Potter.  Entering into the fantasy world of wizards always seems to be my escape away from the chaos of this world. I could (and have) literally sit in my room for three days straight with no communication with the outside world and be totally fine if I had a HP book in front of me. J.K. Rowling writes in a way that makes you feel like you yourself are a student at Hogwarts.  I swear I would leave behind everything in my life now if I could actually transfer to Hogwarts. (I was gonna say just kidding after that, but honestly I'm not sure that I am.) Anyway, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1-amazing. Obviously not as good as the book, and they missed some great details that I was really looking forward to seeing, but I thought they did an incredible job at portraying the main scenes.
2) Family.
I am thankful that I have been raised with the freedom to make my own decisions in life.  I can't remember a time where I was forced to do something or told I wasn't allowed to do something.  I know for a fact that I wouldn't be the person I am today if I didn't have the chance to choose for myself what I wanted to do, and I have learned so much from each decision I have personally made.  Also, I am grateful for the humor of my family.  Each of them has such a unique sense of humor from most people I know, and I am just glad we can laugh at the most ridiculous things ever. (Although I seriously believe Joe may be borderline mentally insane with some of the things he does.) I am glad that I am able to take a joke and laugh at myself because of them.
3) Friends.
Each and every one of them. I am so incredibly thankful that I have people who genuinely care about me and love me. I am thankful that I have friends who listen to me and rejoice with me and who I can listen to and rejoice with as well.  And I am SO thankful that I have relationships where we share in each other's sufferings, because that is what is rare.  I don't think I would be able to think clearly if I didn't have people in my life to process things with.  It is so encouraging and comforting to be able to simply observe the lives of my friends and know that I am learning from their example.
"Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God. Whenever I pray, I make requests for all of you with joy, for you have been my partners in spreading the Good News about Christ from the time you first heard it until now. And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns."
-Philippians 1:3-6
4) My Teammates.
Yes, my teammates (Young Life team that is) are of course my friends too, but when you do ministry alongside of people, your relationships deepen tremendously.  They are the ones that know why your heart is so broken for that one kid.  They celebrate with you over the smallest victories that others can't understand.  And most importantly, they are the ones that have the same exact purpose and mission as you do, to go after lost kids no matter how hard it gets.  I am so fortunate to be on a team where grace and love flow abundantly and unconditionally.  My teammates know my heart better than anyone else does, and not only because we spend crazy amounts of time together, but because we take up our crosses together and encourage each other along the way.  It is so amazing to truly know someone's heart and to see how much each of them has to offer to God.  I am blessed to know someone with the most passion I've ever seen, someone so dedicated and giving, someone who lives expectantly and dreams big, and someone whose strength comes completely from the joy of the Lord.
Philippians 1:7-8 says, "So it is right that I should feel as I do about all of you, for you have a special place in my heart. You share with me the special favor of God, both in my imprisonment and in defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. God knows how much I love you and long for you with the tender compassion of Christ Jesus."
This perfectly reflects my heart for my team.
5) The Cross.
I am thankful (that is an understatement) that God our Father sent his son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for me and the rest of this world so that he could literally become our sin and so that we could live freely and innocently.  I am thankful that Jesus was obedient to his Father's will so that I could be forgiven of EVERYTHING and live in perfect relationship with my Lord.  I am thankful that we have the Bible to tell us all of this, and that we have the example of Jesus to follow.
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature, God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient to death, even death on a cross!"
-Philippians 2:5-8 (I am aware that everything in my blog posts is from Philippians-this is not intentional.)
I think this relates back to what I mentioned before about Simple Spirituality and the five simple stones of WMF. Those things are based on the example of Jesus and what lead him to carry the cross for us. At church a couple of weeks ago, the pastor said, "Be careful of a Christianity without a cross." Because that is what it all comes down to. And if I give thanks for anything at all, it is the cross. Because through it, I am cleansed and perfectly loved.

21 November, 2010

Simple Spirituality (conflicting with my newfound ownership of a Droid)

I have many different thoughts running through my head right now, so I'm just gonna write. I don't even know if I'll post this, but we shall see! I like the idea of writing stuff down that others could potentially read, and seeing what things/thoughts I find to be important in my life currently and also seeing what things I am keeping to myself or between God and I. I feel like a lot has been happening, but then again, not so much is actually happening (and that may only make sense to me...)
Well for one, I am home! Currently residing in Secane, Pennsylvania.  It has been an eventful past two days. And by eventful, I mean I just bought a lot of stuff and spent money on things I don't get a chance to do at school.  On Thursday night, actually at 3 AM on Friday morning after HP7, (we'll get there later) a friend asked me what the first thing I was gonna do when I got home was.  I said I was gonna hang out with my dog, but little did I know the first thing she was gonna do when I got home was bite me! Not a very pleasant greeting from Tippy, but she has always liked me the least. Anyway, back to the eventfulness of being home: I went shopping with my mom at Target yesterday, and today I got a Droid! Buy one get one free deal. Who knew that my mom dropping her phone in coffee would benefit me? :) Today I also had the chance to hang with my dear friend and one of my favorite people, Joy.  We got our nails done, which is probably the last thing you would expect the two of us to do together?  It was weird...However, it was great to catch up and just hear how exciting her past couple of months have been.  The Lord has been so faithful to her after some long, hard times, and I was so encouraged to see verse Philippians 1:6 come to life before me. "...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion to the day of Christ Jesus." That is something I will never stop praying: for friends from home, friends from JMU, friends at TA, family, myself... It's a promise, and I don't think I'd be able to do the things I do if it weren't true.  That sounds vague, but actually, I don't think I'd be able to get through each day without trusting fully in that promise.  Since this rambling seems to have brought us to this point, I guess I will share some things I am learning.
I have recently picked up the book "Simple Spirituality." Before I went to Peru with my bFf Rebecca, her sister Nina, and our YL leader, we read this. Underneath the title it says, "Learning to see God in a broken world" and it is "A book for people who are ready to see."  We traveled to Lima, Peru to see what the life of a WMF (Word Made Flesh) missionary is like.  At that point in our lives, the three of us girls (though fairly new to it all) were SO curious and so ready to see God in a broken world.  It was life-changing, and looking back and re-reading this book, I just think the WMF ministry is so right.  They have nine core values, and five simple stones that are central to WMF. They are:
Humility to slay the giant of pride and arrogance
Community to slay the giant of individualism and independence
Simplicity to slay the giant of intemperance and excess
Submission to slay the giant of power and control
Brokenness to slay the giant of triumphalism, defiance, and resistance
The other day I went through my bible and journal to look for Scripture that supports each of these simple stones.  It was really cool to see how quickly I was able to call to mind verses that have been revealed to me since being at college and to realize that those are the foundations I want to/try to live my life by.  I don't really know if I'm being clear, but it was just cool to see what Scripture I associate each of these five words with and to see what God has been teaching me with them.  I am no where near understanding or representing these things, but I am learning.
This turned into a much longer post than I had anticipated.  I know I said I would get to talking about HP7 later, but I think I'll save it for a Thanksgiving post when I share what I am thankful for.  Last week at d-hall lunch, Anthony suggested the idea that we go around the table and all say what we're thankful for. I said Harry Potter.  Most friends did not respond positively, but it's the truth!  And somehow, I have a feeling that the mention of Harry Potter in some form will make it into the majority of my posts.

Disclaimer: The title of this post is not supposed to be a joke. It's just to point out that my life is a learning process, and I've got a long way to go!

Just bringin' back some Peru memz! :) Isa and Natalia are THE BEST.
(Reb and Nina: you're okay too...)

12 November, 2010

Skeptics and Believers

During my Biological Anthropology class we watched a movie on the discovery of hobbits (I didn't know they were real either...or am I the only one who didn't know that?) I don't usually pay too much attention in this class, (aka I never really go to this class on Fridays) but I went and maybe it was only because they had mentioned elves and showed Dobby from Harry Potter that I started paying attention, but it was actually a pretty interesting film.  At some point, referring to archaeologists and the discoveries they were making, they mentioned "skeptics and believers having to work alongside of each other." This got me thinking. I think we hear the phrase "skeptics and believers" quite a bit, but it has never really meant anything to me.  Immediately the image of the "Coexist" bumper stickers popped into my head. I've never really liked those, which I think has something to do with the way I've had the philosophy presented to me in the past or just from reading others' posts about it kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but I get it now.  The definition of coexist:
to live in peace with another or others despite differences, especially as a matter of policy.
Why shouldn't we coexist? I'm not saying that I don't believe in an absolute truth, because by all means I know there is only one way; I'm just saying that I think the image of "skeptics and believers having to work alongside of each other" is a beautiful one.  And I know we've all heard this type of stuff before-about "acceptance" or "not judging" or "living in peace."  But if we're all honest with ourselves, actually living these things out is very rare, myself included.  When I think of skeptics and believers working alongside of each other, there are a few of my close friends who come to mind.  I absolutely love watching these friends or hearing stories about them working alongside of other friends who are so different than they are. It is inspiring.

I am not trying to offend anyone, but I think that I have become more closed-minded and more of a conformist since coming to school in Virginia (which might actually sound closed-minded haha).  I don't think this is anyone's fault but my own, but I guess it has just made me come to the realization of how much I really appreciate diversity.  [To further explore lack of diversity, please refer to Beth Jasper's recent blog post regarding "the trendy race (being indie)"-http://jasperle.blogspot.com/2010/11/diy-do-it-yourself-memoir-on-trendy.html?spref=fb] I feel like at home I just see and experience so much more of people with different beliefs, values, and backgrounds existing together.  I know I have chosen my own path here at school, and it has been absolutely amazing to live in a community of "believers," but for some reason, in this moment right now, I am having the overwhelming feeling that this is not how life is supposed to be.  This could just be a phase I'm going through (as are many things in my life), or this could be for a number of reasons. 1) I haven't been home since August. I MISS THE CITY!!! Everything about it: the noise, the people watching, the food, etc. 2) I'm kind of over having conservative takes on things just because I think I should. As a Global Justice Studies major (oh yeah mom, I changed my major), I'm thinkin I have some pretty liberal views. and 3) I heard a lecture on empowerment last night from this little Northern firecracker lady, and I feel empowered to speak up! But anyway, moral of the story: let's coexist. And I know that the skeptics will learn from the believers and the believers will learn from the skeptics.  Oh and another moral of the story: ONLY ONE WEEK until I'm home for 9 days getting to celebrate the holidays in the city=my favorite thing ever!

Biological Anthropology Hobbits

Ring Hobbits

Dobby! (Sorry, couldn't contain myself)

Also, I lied earlier. My favorite thing ever is definitely mythical creatures.

P.S. Meghan Geiser: Thanks for being my biggest (only) fan and source of support for this so far! Literally CANNOT wait to watch Christmas movies, drink hot chocolate, eat cookie dough, and snuggle with the Geiser girlz!!! (you, Melizza, Ava, and Roxy)