Friday, December 30, 2011

Agree to disagree?

I know that God wants us to stick up for what we believe in, both in action and words, but it sometimes it's hard to know how to approach situations.

For one, I hate starting debates. I'm not good at debating, and I usually end up conceding points anyway. I think I usually end up doing more harm than good.

Second, many people think that when Christians stand up for things they believe in that it makes us bigots and hateful and people stop listening.

Third, I have sins in my life so I don't feel like I have a leg to stand on when it comes to pointing out the sins of others without being called a hypocrite.

We are expected to listen to people who have opposite views, but often when we openly speak about how we disagree they start calling names. They want us to listen to them but won't listen to us.

You can see this a lot now with the debates. Political conservatives get a lot of flack. More liberal people say that conservatives spit hate speech when all they are doing is standing up for what they believe in, because they have something other than "everything is good for me to do" to believe in.

I am proud when our politicians stand up for faith. I think it is wonderful when they can start healthy conversations and agree to disagree.

For instance, people post political views on Facebook and expect everyone to like them. However, I think that if I posted something contrary that people would virtually yell and scream and call me everything in the book - whether to my face or when talking to other people. That doesn't really seem to solve any problems but just create more barriers.

How do we share what we believe without creating enemies? We're supposed to share what we believe to reach people, not to put up walls.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

365 days of reading

A couple of years ago, I read through the entire Bible.

With my new iPhone, I was looking through some apps to download and decided I wanted to download a Bible so that I could read it wherever I was. The app I found has different reading plans to choose from, so I decided to do a chronological reading that lasts 365 days.

I hope that having the Bible with me all the time, I won't have the excuse of not reading something every day. Even if I didn't bring my Bible with, I at least have it on my phone so I will always be able to read it when I have a free moment.

Starting to read a few chapters though, I want to make sure that my reading doesn't end there. I think a lot of times I think that if I listen to Christian radio, write these blogs and read the Bible that means that God will be satisfied with my effort. I have to do more than that though. It's beyond just the surface things.

I need to make sure that I am learning as I am reading and even more, implementing what God wants me to do with these lessons.

I have to start somewhere, but I have to make sure I don't end there too.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Plan it out...sometimes

This one seems like a no-brainer to me, but as I think about it, maybe other people will be inspired.

I live off of writing things down - work, blogs, and especially lists. I don't know if I have a bad memory or am just too much of a worrier, I have to write everything down to make sure that I remember to do all that I want/need to do.

I have always been a planner, from deciding what I'm going to do this weekend ahead of time to make sure that I'm not left hanging to thinking ahead years in the future. It doesn't always work out as planned, but I like to at least have an idea of what I am going to do - even though sometimes God has different plans.

I thinking planning and staying organized with lists is important, because you won't forget to do what you need to do. You won't forget an important ingredient at the grocery store, and you won't forget to pay bills. I think planning is responsible.

However, I used to plan to the point that I didn't leave room for anything other than my plan. Recently, I didn't plan for my car to break down, and I didn't plan to miss my alarm and forget to get up on Christmas Eve for the drive home. However, I tried not to freak out when my plans went awry. Sometimes situations go wrong.

You have to leave room for God to make his moves. He doesn't always have the same plans that we do, and we have to accept that whether we want to or not.

Also, planning can sometimes make people stiff and unflexible. Spontaneity can definitely make days more fun, when we go on a random trip or take time out of our responsibilities to spend time with friends.

Be responsible with your time, but also leave room for God and for fun.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Stick to it

I've had a lot of convictions through the years.

I could probably count on one hand how many I have stuck to without questioning. I rarely stick to my guns.

For instance, my freshman year in college I decided I wanted to switch schools so I could be closer to Nate. After much thought I decided to stay at my school, but it was hard to stick with my original decision. My sophomore year in college, I started to question my relationship with Nate. After I started my job, I almost quit to take a job where I live now.

Those are just a few of the more recent large decisions that I have made and questioned.

It came up again when I looked for a new cell phone last week. I had an upgrade due and needed a new one, because mine was shutting off randomly and just having troubles in general. It was an LG Chocolate Touch and I haven't really liked it since I got it.

However, I didn't want to get a smartphone, because I didn't want to pay the extra data charges. Working from home, I have my computers in front of me most of the time and didn't think it worth it to pay more for data every month.

I started looking for a phone with a Qwerty keyboard, a phone that I could get for free. My last phone is the only phone I've ever paid for, and I didn't like it so I didn't want to waste money on a phone again.

I looked at the very limited variety of basic phones my wireless company provides, and it was select. The only phone I liked - had a keyboard, video and a decent camera - was $100. I didn't want to pay that! So I decided to wait and see if they got new phones.

However, my new puppy decided to grab my phone from my pocket and gnaw on it. She did very little damage and I didn't notice anything wrong until a few hours later I tried to use my phone and the touch screen wasn't working. Apparently her sharp little teeth made an indentation on the touch sensor so the phone couldn't tell I was trying to use the touch screen.

Well, it was time for a new phone.

Nate said I should get an iPhone, but I was determined not to waste his money on extra data charges.

A few minutes into looking at the phone store, I was paying for a new iPhone.

"I don't stick to anything."

"No, you don't."

"Is that bad?"

"Yes. Sometimes you need to."

I started thinking about my lack of willpower. I really need to start sticking to my guns. And maybe I need to stop relying on myself about sticking to my guns. I need to rely on God's power and stick to it with his help.

I think that's my new year's resolution.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Life's stories

When I go through the obituaries for a paper I write for, they seem so short.

In fact, we have some death notices that are no longer than the date a person died, where they died, the time of their funeral and the place of their burial.

It makes life seem like it was insignificant. Those names mean nothing to me, and nothing to many of the people who flip through the pages of the paper. However, to some people that name means everything and it digs a dagger into their heart just seeing their life narrowed down to such a small piece.

I think everyone has a story, and obituaries simply don't tell them. Many people don't tell their stories, because they think they're insignificant. However, the fact that everyone has lived and learned means that they have something important to pass on to someone else.

Don't minimize people around you just because it seems like they have nothing to offer. Just because they're life might fit on a few lines in an obituary doesn't mean that's all there was to them. Get to know people before you don't have a chance.

Since Christmas is tomorrow, maybe I should make a tie in with Christmas.

Sometimes when we look at Jesus, we see his obituary. We see his death on the cross and think about the great sacrifice that he gave. His death is super important, paired with the fact that he beat death and came back to life three days later, but we can't discount the fact that he lived as well.

On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Christ - the start of his life. Jesus did a lot in the 33 years that he lived. He touched people; he healed; he taught. As we come to this season, let's start visiting all the important things that Jesus did in his life and learn from him, just the way that we should learn from each others' lives as well.

So remember once more, Jesus is the reason for the season.

Happy birthday Lord. Thank you for coming.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Held responsible

When I first got my puppy, I didn't get mad when she pottied on the floor or barked for attention. She was new to the world and didn't know that what she was doing was wrong.

When she did something wrong I would tell her "No," and then would show her a right way to act. If she pottied on the floor, I would stop her and take her outside and tell her that was the right place to go.

The longer she has been here, the more I can tell that she is learning right from wrong. She still messes up, and I don't get too upset unless she does something that I know she knows is wrong. I'm sure the older she gets, the more I will get mad if she deliberately disobeys me.

The more she knows what is right and wrong, the more she will be responsible for her actions and will get punished when she doesn't do what is right.

Thinking about that, I thought about the way that God views us. For those who aren't Christians, I'm sure he is upset that they make choices contrary to what he wants for their lives. However, if they don't know what they are doing is wrong, I don't think he gets quite as angry.

I think what really must upset God is when his children, especially those who have known him for quite a while, do something wrong. He has to hold us responsible and punish us, because we are deliberately disobeying his orders.

However, I'm so appreciative for love and grace. When my puppy messes up, but then she cuddles up to me with those big black eyes to give me a little lick and tell me she loves me, the anger always floats out of my heart. I'm thankful that although God is so much bigger than me, he still will forgive me and give me another chance just because I'm his daughter and he loves me.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

In vain

Psalm 2:1 says, "Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?"

People want independence so much that nations are forever raging and people are forever fighting to gain it. Whether it's from foreign leaders like Americans did during the Revolutionary War or teenagers from parents, we are always trying to get out from under the control of others.

The Psalm continues, "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying 'Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us."

I think this Psalm is really important today. Groups of people are banding together to try and get rid of every hint of religion, especially Christianity, from this country. Students can't write about their faith in papers or pray in class. The military can't put up a cross for a memorial. People don't even want to say "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance.

People are constantly banding together against God and against his Anointed, Jesus. However, the first part of this Psalm is most important - "Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain?" It's all in vain.

Any kind of struggle against God is in vain. People have a choice not to accept Christ, and they might think they have won on Earth. However, the moment they die they will see that their struggle against the one who created the heavens and the earth was in vain. They will receive their punishment eventually.

Even the Devil's ruses are in vain. He might have some temporary victories in life, but his struggles against God will eventually lead him to a lake of fire. God will win.

If you're struggling against God right now, realize that it's in vain. It's a lot of work for no gain.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Seeing God at work

It’s so wonderful to see God’s blessings in others’ lives.

Last night I had the wonderful opportunity to catch up with one of my best friends from college.

She came to town to celebrate Christmas with her husband’s family and had a free night to spend with me. It was wonderful, because we haven’t seen each other since June and haven’t had a chance to talk for probably more than a month.

The best part of the conversation was seeing what exciting new opportunities God has brought into her life, opportunities that could only have happened thanks to an Almighty being looking over her.

First, I’ve prayed for her job situation as she has had a rough past year and a half in a terrible work environment. However, recently a new job popped up that worked out great with her personality, was a in great location and had the perfect pay and schedule.

In order to accept that new job, she and her husband had to make a move. However, they found a place that was in a great location and worked out well with their timeline.

She also decided that she wanted to get further education in Christian studies to enhance her knowledge of her faith - which I’m sure pleased God even more. At a preview day, which she didn’t initially feel was any benefit to her, she opened up a door prize of a mug to find a $1,000 scholarship.

Only God.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Every opportunity

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity."

I read this verse in Colossians last night, and I both liked and didn't like it. It's a great reminder of how we are supposed to act all the time. We are supposed to make the most of every opportunity.

This can mean that we need to always act like Christians, because we should be taking every chance that we get to reach people for Christ.

However, I also think it means that we are supposed to make the most of this one life that we are given. This is one opportunity that we are given on life.

I like the good reminders, but I also didn't like this verse, because I don't think I do that. I don't think I take advantage of every opportunity to reach people for God, and I don't know that I'm really making the most of this life that I'm given. I like TV and sleep a little too much, that I'm not sure I am making the most of all that I am given.

Maybe we should think about that a little bit more - making the most of every opportunity and those opportunities will mean that we are making the most of the lives that we are given.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Well, she's pooped five times today, pottied inside once, stands on me while I'm trying to type on the computer, barks when she doesn't get what she wants and bit a hole in my shirt.

Yet, when she's nervous she comes and huddles at my feet. She cuddles up when she's sleepy. Her ears perk up when she hears my voice.

Puppies are a lot of responsibility, and I know that what she does wrong she doesn't do on purpose. She's just little and hasn't learned everything yet. The love that this little girl gives me is worth all the trouble that she causes.

I have always been a fan of dogs. We got my families dog when I was only 10 years old, and I've missed her so much since I went to college and moved out on my own. I was so excited when my landlord agreed to let me purchase a dog, and the moment I saw this little one I knew that she was the one for me.

I really don't like cats, because they are too independent. They don't like to cuddle; they don't know their places. Dogs can be trained, and best of all they love people. They like to play and cuddle and sniff and walk and go on rides with you.

When thinking about getting a dog, I thought about if I wanted to take on the responsibility of having this little animal depending on me. However, I think it's good to have responsibility. It's gotten me up in the morning and made me care about something other than what I want and my own schedule.

I already love this little puppy, and I'm so glad I took on this responsibility.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A letter from a friend

My children,

Many years ago, in your timeline, I came to Earth on what you call Christmas Day.

Like you, my mom gave birth to me, and my first breaths were taken in a stable with the smell of hay and animals filling my small nose. Right away, some people knew who I was and came to bow at my feet, but also right away, some people didn’t like me.

I always knew who I was. Even when I was a youngster, I wanted to teach people all that I knew about the other part of me, my father.

Thankfully, some of you still remember me on my birthday. On the calendar in the United States, you mark lots of significant birthdays — Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington. On my day, it says Christmas, but not everyone realizes that it’s my day.

A lot of people think that the day is all about presents. I got presents when I was born, and I think it’s great that you want to honor each other with gifts like that. However, it hurts when people don’t notice the little nativity scene remembering me in the background.

Even on Facebook, you’re reminded of each others’ birthdays. You might feel bad when you don’t get a text message or a call from a friend to say ‘Happy Birthday,’ because that means that they forgot about you on the one day a year you are honored.

I want you to honor me every day of the year. However, I really want you to remember me on one of the days that was created just for me.

I don’t need an invitation to the parties that you are having, and I don’t need a Christmas gift with my name on it under the tree. I don’t need you to write out a place card and put out a table setting for me at the dinner table.

I am already there at all those times.

However, as I stand by and watch you celebrate and have fun on a day off of work and school, please don’t ignore me. Please don’t banish me to the corner or banish me to a church. Invite me in, into your hearts and your minds. Tell me ‘Happy Birthday.’

I’m always here for you. Remember me.


Friday, December 9, 2011

What's important?

At dance, my class of first graders is sometimes a little out of control.

I tried to control them by yelling over them at the beginning of the year, but the dance studio owner didn't like that, so I have tried to keep them under control in other ways. I don't think I'm very skilled at it though, and I don't know if I am teaching them all they should be learning because I don't get as good of use out of the time we have.

However, the other night, I thought about how I was dealing with the situation. Am I there just to teach them dance or to teach them life skills or to show them love through my actions.

Last night, I prayed when I got there and felt myself getting frustrated that God show me how to deal with them. I don't know if it made any visible difference last night, but I need to keep that on the forefront, that I use that time how God would want me to use it. Although dance is important and is the reason that these parents brought their children to class, I don't think it's ultimately the most important thing.

Colossians 3:22-25 says, "Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism" (New International Version).

We may not be technical "slaves" anymore, but I still think we have to keep that in mind - that whatever our work is, it's not for human masters. We can do our everyday jobs for God.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Remembering Pearl Harbor

As we remember the catastrophe at Pearl Harbor, take a few minutes and listen to this Adventures in Odyssey story about the day!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Counting my blessings

Whew, what a day I had yesterday!

On my way to work, I was talking to my dad and pulling off the highway to a town when my car suddenly stopped and steam started pouring out from under the hood.

I glanced at my gauges and saw the needle on the temperature gauge was off the charts.

In my cream-colored coat and cream dress pants, I grabbed my tools and tried to open my hood - which was stuck - so I could try to add antifreeze to my car. Someone stopped and helped me open my hood and drove me to a nearby coop repair station, and they towed my car in.

Long story short, I had a four-hour break from work as I tried to figure out what to do with my car, and finally got a ride home from Nate while my car stayed there. I'm still waiting on a friend's brother to check it over and either decide to fix it or just tow it home and try to sell it as a parts car or major fixer-upper.

However crazy the day was, and however crazy life will be coming up as we try to figure out what to do for a new car, the day made me thankful for a lot of things. It makes hard situations better when you think of all the good things instead of all the bad.

1. I was thankful I could talk to my dad, who is great with cars, to figure out how to go about fixing the car and what decisions to make regarding whether to fix it or give up on it since I've had it since I was 16.
2. I was thankful for the opposite schedules that Nate and I have so that he could come get me and since he wasn't at work.
3. I was thankful for flexible work that I didn't have to worry about not making my weekly meeting and taking a few hours in the middle of the day.
4. I was thankful I didn't have to spend 600-700 to fix the car immediately because I am blessed enough that purchasing a car in the nearby future is an OK option.
5. I was thankful Nate has a car that I could borrow to finish up work last night after I got home, that we can share in the immediate future.
6. I was thankful for a friend I could call who has a brother that could check over my car and tow it for less than other companies.

I used to freak out in situations like this, but I'm thankful that I can see God working and that I have realized that I can't control everything. I think I'm going to have to start initiating this counting my blessings in every situation!

Friday, December 2, 2011

His and Her Brains

I heard the first part of this Christian comedians talk on the difference between men and women's brains on the radio yesterday, and it cracked me up.

Nate and I have talked about many of these differences before, especially the fact that men have the ability to think about absolutely nothing.

My mom and I don't understand when we ask Nate or my dad, "What are you thinking?"

"Nothing," they say.

"There's no possible way you can think about nothing. You have to be thinking about something."

Well, according to the study cited in the first segment, men can actually think about nothing. Women can't comprehend this; our brains are always moving.

What can differences can you relate to?

I haven't had a chance to listen yet, but I hope the second segment is as good as the first!