He's Here!

I'm an auntie to the third power, y'all!

Raiden Alynn was born this morning while most of us slept; he was in a hurry to make his appearance, so he decided to show up before the doctor did. He was delivered by the OB nurse, and he's alive and well, despite arriving sporting an umbilical-cord necklace.

I'm so, SO excited for Chris and Sunny and the boys, and I can't wait to love on sweet baby Ray! [oh yeah, I just went there. We're Texans - we love our BBQ references!]

Raiden joins older brothers Damien, 9 [pictured here at Christmas with me. I was researching a role as a fat person. ;oD]

And Tyler, 5 [again at Christmas, with me and my method-actress fatness]

ChaCha loves you, bebes! ;o)


Help. He Needs Somebody.

I'm a softie.

Maybe that's hard for you to believe, since I'm known for my ability to pummel a guy twice my size with all the vigor of a boxer on a rampage and everything.

What, what?!

Really, I'm just emotional mush when it comes to a need.

Take, for instance, missionary services; I'm so there. Before the introductions and songs in the country's native language are through, I'm glued to the projector screen in anticipation of the slideshow that is sure to come.

Because it ain't a missionary service without a slide show, y'all. ;o)

I love, love, love hearing about amazing works that ordinary people are doing on behalf of an extraordinary God. The sacrifice, the passion, the dedication, the fervor - I'm on board. I'll take that pledge, please. One for me, thank you.

And yes, I do want the t-shirt, thank you kindly.

So when I stumble across blogs highlighting things like Gobena Coffee, [featured at Ragamuffin Soul] or LUO Ministries, [stumbled upon at Annie D's blog], my heart is happy. [What? In my heart, I'm still 12 years old, waiting for the missionary slideshow. So back off me. ;o)] Here are organizations formed and fueled by ordinary people who ignited into passionate blazes of inspiration for His glory.

And I can't thank them enough, because their dedication and perseverance inspire me to make a difference in the small ways that I can.

You can, too. It doesn't take a certain breed of Christian to impact the world; it takes an ordinary Christian, mixed with passion and a purpose, and the world is changed.

So what are you doing to impact your world?



On Rainbows and Puppies...

I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there's one other thing I remember,
and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:
that God's loyal love couldn't have run out,
His merciful love couldn't have dried up.
They're created new every morning.
How great is Your faithfulness!
(Lam. 3:19-24)

When it comes to the random, the oddball, and the useless, I have the memory of an elephant.

It's true, I think. [I've never asked an elephant, but I hear they're good at what they do. Well, not that thing. The other thing. ;o)]

So I'm good like that. I process and mentally categorize information that I'll never benefit from; things like the color of a cashier's nail polish, the vanity plate of the guy in the Mercedes who drives to work beside me every morning [I know this in the most non-stalker way possible, y'all.] and the shoes my friend wore last week.

Those are the foamy, frothy little memories, details that add or detract absolutely nothing from my life.

But then there are the cloudy memories. Try as I might, I can't ignore them. They're the ones that I try to sugarcoat. You want to hear my story? Ok, sure! We're going to gloss over the negatives with a coat of iridescent shine [lime green, please] and never focus on them long enough to see them for what they are, comprende?

It's just easier. Easier than stopping long enough to recognize that these snippets of my life force me to admit that those dark times were battering, that I was tossed like a ship in a storm and maybe even made silly, human mistakes as I tried to regain my balance.

I know the taste of ashes, the utter lostness, and the bitter poison. I know what it feels like to hit the bottom.

I love how real this passage is about the bad times we all face, though. No candy-colored glitter paint, no fake smile, no falsely positive disclaimers, just in-your-face honesty.

Israel had just endured a thrashing; taken captive, ripped from their homes, helpless to stop the enemy from destroying everything they owned, weary, and afraid, the entire nation was cast down and afraid. They'd just hit bottom.

Sugary-sweet, balloon-filled moments in the park? Not on your life.

But Jeremiah writes about clinging to hope. Hanging on to a thread of promise [sound familiar?] and believing in His merciful love.

It's easy to put on rose-colored glasses and pretend that the bad things never happened. It's not easy to overcome by the word of our testimony [which is completely Biblical, y'all] and admit that we struggled with the pain. The real testimony, though, isn't in pretending that it happened exactly according to plan. It's in turning a bottom-of-the-abyss situation into a song of praise for the One who promises us joy in the morning.


Impress Someone.

How holy are you?

Whatever your answer is, it's not enough unless you know how to use the word 'Deuterocanonical' in a sentence.

No, really. It's a proven fact. Your holy-meter is directly wired to your use of obscure Biblically-related terms. ;o)

Here's my sentence; "my sweet new Bible includes the Deuterocanonical sections left out of the Catholic Old and New Testament. I feel like they're overlooked too often, even though they were approved by theologians in 1548 at the Council of Trent!"

What, that doesn't make me holy? ;o)

So what's your favorite obscure, unrecognizable, and overtly useless word?



What Did You Say?

So I'd decided to hide the comment feature awhile back in an effort to clean up my [very busy] overall design. But I love hearing from you too much to keep it that way, I'm not gonna lie. So I put the comment section back in! ;o)

There. I did my trick.

Now you do yours, ok?

Sign the dotted line - and since the comments have been down for awhile, you've got some catching up to do! ;o)


More Than Words.

This will rock your world. I love the cardboard testimonies; they're poignant, visible statements, and they're all about transparency.

I hadn't found the right time to share the clip, but it fits so well with my thoughts, that today is the day. Watch it! It's well worth the 8 minutes you'll spend. ;o)


There Are No Words.

It's uncommon - startling, even, when a wordy person like me finds it difficult to express feelings with words. How can I unlock this invisible cage that has hidden away any words I might use to describe life today?

It's true. Sometimes, it feels like there are truly no words.

This blog is about my journey toward my dreams, toward greater heights and depths in my relationships with God and people.

It's like letters to you about me.

I love that you join me - that's why it's so easy to share the happy things; sharing positive emotions is my favorite. I'm pretty sure that if my skull were to be x-rayed, you would see this embedded into my hypothalamus;

'laugh, and the world laughs with you; cry, and the world wishes you would just stop, already.'

Yep, I'm definitely human, in case you were wondering. And it's human nature at it's most basic level that seeks to increase pleasure and reduce pain.

But the body of Christ isn't about human nature. It's not designed to function only in happy times; sometimes the healing and the blessing is in the tough times.

Sometimes, enduring an impossible situation simply by clinging to the last shred of faith you possess, struggling to breathe and hoping that you can dig in and survive just another moment is necessary for your greater good.

We all have those times; whether you just met Jesus or you've been holding His hand longer than you can even remember, you have days that you'd rather not re-live. I do. I have days that I don't even want to think about, and certainly don't want to be transparent about.

Those are the Romans 8:28 days.

They're the situations that are bigger than a broken fingernail or a bad hair day; these situations are a whirling maelstrom of vicious winds that batter and tug at my very soul, whispering accusations, voicing fears, and bringing memories and emotions that threaten to choke the life from me.

That's when I have to cling to that tiny shred of faith, that faded scrap of paper on which the words of Paul are faintly scribbled;

"..we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose. [Rom. 8:28, KJV]"

Maybe I haven't said it lately - but I'm very, very, very human. My life is blessed and my God is good, but my days are not a parade of 'Leave It To Beaver' perfection. I don't always have the answers like Gil Grissom [of Las Vegas CSI, because he's good like that] and I'm rarely camera-ready like Mariah Carey always seems to be.

I have Romans 8:28 days.

It would be nice to crawl back into bed and squeeze my eyes shut, blocking out the world, with it's difficulties and decisions and demands [Score! 300 points for the use of a triple, no?] clawing at me.

I could probably enjoy it, too - at least for the first few minutes. But there's a tiny ray of light at the end of the tunnel. There's a glimpse of hope in knowing Jesus loves me. He does, honest - He's reminded me countless times this week through the very same scripture; Jeremiah 31:3 [and once today through my dear friend Rachel - if you don't know her, you should change that. Fast.];

"...I have loved you with a love that lasts forever, and I have helped you come to Me with loving kindness. [Jer. 31:3 NLV]"

The decisions and the drama and the difficulties won't disappear simply because Jesus reminded me of His love. That's not the way trials make us stronger.

But I can be confident that there is hope greater than difficult days and painful memories and tough decisions. And when I'm through it all? I will be stronger, because I was immovable in my trust in Him.

You can be confident in that promise, too. My journey is just an echo of thousands of other people who have taken the road, step-by-step, to greatness - people like you. People like those who make up the body of Christ.

So today's word? Transparency. Being real.

I can be honest and say that I'm not always as real as I could be; I focus too much on the laughing-so-the-world-will-have-a-good-laugh,-too part of life and forget that my struggles might help you realize that you're not the only one with mountains to climb.

Hang in there. ;o) Trust me; when you make it to the top of the mountain, you'll realize exactly why you took the climb.


Freely Given!

I am, as indicated by the Taco Bell love yesterday, a hardcore fan of free stuff. I just like it so much more when I don't have to pay for it, yo!

[This in no way indicates the presence of kleptomania within my heart, I just love when people share. You know, with permission and all that good, legal stuff.]

Here's something pretty sweet that has taken over the musical world lately; free music! Since I heart music and I love free stuff, this works out very well for me.

My tastes are very eclectic, but since I passed on free music from the likes of NIN and Coldplay, I was pretty pumped to find Downhere's album available for free download online, and as you're probably guessing, I had to jump in on that action, y'all.

So far, I'm thinking that I like it! It's amped, guitar-driven worship tunes, so if you're a Hymnal Hero or even Tomlin Curious, this ain't your cut, yo.

But I'm loving it! Downhere is officially going to go into my 'cool tunes' folder, right next to Kurt Carr and Dave Barnes.

Told you I was eclectic. ;o)

Enjoy the free tunes, y'all!



Free Freeze!

So if you like [almost] free, fruity stuff, head on over to Taco Bell's website, where you can print a coupon for a free Frutisia Freeze drink [and no, I know absolutely nothing about this drink. I plan to find out all about it, though, so I consider myself an expert-in-the-making.]

Here's the fine print: you have to use it by tomorrow. And you have to make a purchase, but with a value menu like nobody's momma's business, you're good to go with your fruity self and your $.79 frijoles e queso.

Shooooot. I'm all over this! Scrape up the change, momma, I'm going to Taco Bell! ;o)


Say What?

So I was in a line at the post office yesterday, waiting [im]patiently for the clerk to complete the transactions of the 10,999 people in front of me so that I could pick up my package.

I reached the window and smiled at the clerk as I've done multiple times in the past [no, really, multiple times. I practically LIVE at the post office some days]. This particular clerk thinks that I have the greatest accent ever, so he asks me to repeat everything I say twice; it's partially amusing, partially frustrating, but beyond that, we haven't ever had prolonged interactions.

Yesterday, though, he paid me a compliment.

'You go to that church, don't you?' he motioned in the vague direction of my church and asked.

'I do, actually!' I replied.

'I can tell. There's something different about you. The spirit of God is just all around you. You know what? You remind me of Proverbs 15'.

'Proverbs 15? I do?' I asked. [I'm not gonna lie - I was frantically searching my brain to remember which Proverb he was comparing me to. Apparently, I cannot summon the Proverbs to my rememberance like I thought I could.]

'You do. Look it up when you get home. Proverbs 15' he said with finality.

So I didn't. I got busy last night and never got a chance to dig around and see what he meant.

But I remembered today, and since he wasn't specific about which part applies to me, here's what Proverbs 15 (the Message) says in it's entirety:

1 A gentle response defuses anger, but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.

2 Knowledge flows like spring water from the wise;
fools are leaky faucets, dripping nonsense.

3 God doesn't miss a thing—
he's alert to good and evil alike.

4 Kind words heal and help;
cutting words wound and maim.

5 Moral dropouts won't listen to their elders;
welcoming correction is a mark of good sense.

6 The lives of God-loyal people flourish;
a misspent life is soon bankrupt.

7 Perceptive words spread knowledge;
fools are hollow—there's nothing to them.

8 God can't stand pious poses,
but he delights in genuine prayers.

9 A life frittered away disgusts God;
he loves those who run straight for the finish line.

10 It's a school of hard knocks for those who leave God's path,
a dead-end street for those who hate God's rules.

11 Even hell holds no secrets from God
do you think he can't read human hearts?
Life Ascends to the Heights
12 Know-it-alls don't like being told what to do;
they avoid the company of wise men and women.

13 A cheerful heart brings a smile to your face;
a sad heart makes it hard to get through the day.

14 An intelligent person is always eager to take in more truth;
fools feed on fast-food fads and fancies.

15 A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.

16 A simple life in the Fear-of-God
is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches.

17 Better a bread crust shared in love
than a slab of prime rib served in hate.

18 Hot tempers start fights;
a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.

19 The path of lazy people is overgrown with briers;
the diligent walk down a smooth road.

20 Intelligent children make their parents proud;
lazy students embarrass their parents.

21 The empty-headed treat life as a plaything;
the perceptive grasp its meaning and make a go of it.

22 Refuse good advice and watch your plans fail;
take good counsel and watch them succeed.

23 Congenial conversation—what a pleasure!
The right word at the right time—beautiful!

24 Life ascends to the heights for the thoughtful—
it's a clean about-face from descent into hell.

25 God smashes the pretensions of the arrogant;
he stands with those who have no standing.

26 God can't stand evil scheming,
but he puts words of grace and beauty on display.

27 A greedy and grasping person destroys community;
those who refuse to exploit live and let live.

28 Prayerful answers come from God-loyal people;
the wicked are sewers of abuse.

29 God keeps his distance from the wicked;
he closely attends to the prayers of God-loyal people.

30 A twinkle in the eye means joy in the heart,
and good news makes you feel fit as a fiddle.

31 Listen to good advice if you want to live well,
an honored guest among wise men and women.

32 An undisciplined, self-willed life is puny;
an obedient, God-willed life is spacious.

33 Fear-of-God is a school in skilled living—
first you learn humility, then you experience glory.

I hope it's true, because if so, that means that someone saw Jesus in me - and that's an honor.

Here's what I get from Proverbs 15; a true Christian is kind and humble, committed to being REAL. A true Christian speaks carefully and prayerfully, building up instead of tearing down. A true Christian is God-loyal [I LOVE that term, thank you, Message!] and content in Him. A true Christian's personal, daily, real walk with God is evident to everyone that he or she meets.

It's not rocket science. It's not supposed to be about a Jesus fish or a scripture t-shirt or even a religious job or title. It's about what people are seeing in you, every day. If you're in the middle of a smashingly powerful worship service, you shine Jesus rays. If you're #11,000 in line and you have places to be, you still shine Jesus rays.

Maybe this only means something to me, since I happened to meet the stranger with the kind face who reminded me what kind of Christian I need to be; but whether or not you were complimented by a mail clerk yesterday, the message applies to you. Don't even lie. You know it's true! ;o)

It's about real Christianity. An everyday walk with purpose, passion, and proof. [Oh, yeah. I just went there with the triple Ps. Love me for it.]

Are you living it?



A Dying Diet.

So the whole New Year's resolution thing?

Over it.

I'm trying to justify my complete apathy about my weight-loss plan by pointing out that I held on to my 'resolution' more than some people do.

But that's just me being all defensive, y'all.

Really, I need to find my motivation and jump back into my diet. I'd been losing weight steadily since January, but in May, I burnt out.

I need a major kick in the tail to get started again, I think. I started out my diet with all the fervor of a PETA poodle, but it fizzled.

Still, I don't know if I'm brave enough to try anything as drastic and wacked out as the good old '80s era TWA Stewardess' Diet, which I'm pretty sure I'd be sick of by the end of breakfast on Day #1.

But I have made a commitment to jog with a friend each week - hopefully multiple times [assuming we can arrange our crazy schedules to allow it, that is..] to get my brain back on the weight-loss track.

After all, I've got a way to go before I'm surfboard ready. ;o)



S'News To Me.

[Why yes, yes I am particularly proud of that tagline. I slay me. *grin*]

So Someone [*evil glare*] captured a particularly scintillating moment in my life recently. Not mentioning names [I'm protecting the guilty by not even going there.. *grin*] but Jesus is watching you, even if I was not.

So this picture? Totally surreal to me. I've never seen myself sleeping [obviously] so it's a new angle.

[And if this is nothing new to you and you've already seen me sleep, I apologize. I was listening to you, really, I was!]

If this picture is surreal, 'Los at Ragamuffin Soul's sleeping video in time-lapsed splendor is downright haunting. I'd try it, myself, but nobody [especially a 'nobody' named ME] wants to see all that.

So how do you sleep?


If Wish Lists Were Horses..

I keep a list of things I'm working towards purchasing - things I wish I could afford now, but can't. I plan to have the things on my list at some point in the future, but this stuff doesn't cause me to lose sleep at night over lack of having it.

It'd just make life soooo much easier during my waking hours to have them.

I like to call them justifiable wants, because this stuff would be handy.

Like this beauty:At $3,702.00, I'm not shelling out for this sweet 17" Macbook Pro anytime in the near future. Because, you know, this baby can't be driven or lived in, and a girl's got to prioritize.

But seriously - how amazing would it be to do my graphics on my very own Macbook Pro with a 17" hi-def screen?!?

Oh, yeah. One of these days, baby. We're meant to be together.

Or these snazzy little jogging shoes [I'll be a copycat now, though, since Jenn is now the proud new owner of her own Shox *wink*]:..Nike Shox, which work with your iPod while you run, recording steps, distance, calories burned, the phone numbers of hot, single jogging guys you pass up on the trail..

As we say back in the clean south - surrrrously.

Of course, spending $100 on a snazzy pair of jogging shoes that work directly with my iPod means that I'll need to buy an iPod for my tunes [and the reports from my shoes, which is a sentence I never thought I'd utter] and spend another $300 or so to do it.

Pretty ambitious for an on-again, off-again jogger like me, sportin' a load of extra poundage as clear evidence that I don't get out and run like I should.

Maybe it'd be incentive. Y'know, because those shoes don't lie - in fact, they broadcast the truth to the website Nike has set up for people to keep track of their stats.

Dirty little tellers. Maybe those can wait.

There are other things on my future list, like this:

Coming in at a nice $30,000, this sucker is a gas guzzler extraordinaire. [I'm pretty sure that's a word. If not, I'm pretty sure it should be.] But it's a pretty awesome one - seriously, it's got racks for my surfboards [you know, the ones languishing in a storage unit in Florida] when I go to the beach [you know, because there are so many beaches here in Ohio..] and stuff.

Fun fact about my vehicular choice: When I last car-shopped [I kept Phoebe, in case you were wondering, because I love her and she's GREAT on gas] I went directly to Nissan, where the salesman tried to convince me that I needed a luxurious vehicle, like the Murano.

Admittedly, it's an awesome ride.

But I told him I wanted the X-Terra.

'But it has no features! You can't get the sunroof! It's so plain! The seats are moved manually! It's meant for young, active guys who are just going to tear it up! You're more the luxury type! Why don't you just drive the Murano and see?'

Way to sell me on it, buddy. Thanks, now I'm definitely set in my decision.

Oh, and don't get me started on the house stuff I want. I have a whole list, complete with descriptions, colors, pricing, and order of importance.

But really, I'm not that crazy, right? It's about goals. Eventually. When I can afford it and my checkbook doesn't howl in pain every time I pull it out.

So what's on your list?



So I'm wearing my glasses today, y'all. They're spankin' adorable and somewhat dangerous.

Take, for instance, the drive to work this morning, when I constantly had to swivel my head while [weaving] navigating through traffic on the highway.

Yeah, that could be a problem at some speeds. [Note: if you are my dad, then 'some speeds' means 35 mph, ok?]

So there's that.

Plus, I've taken to scrunching my nose a lot. Apparently, that is my lazy bum way of pushing them back up my nose when they inevitably start sliding towards my upper lip.

So I look like I'm spastic and I'm dangerous on the roads.

But they're pretty sweet specs, yo! ;o)

[ETA: False. It is not an 'Armani' shirt. It is a busted old Army PT shirt, and it is comfy and therefore perfectly acceptable as an outer garment. At least when I'm sleeping, sheesh! *grin*]


What The Stink?!?

There are no words.

Unless ell-oh-ell is a word.

The message? Great, cool. I'm down with servanthood.

The method? Ell-oh-ell! Wow. Jt for JC - that's a new one. ;o)




Did You Know?

But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; He pulled me out of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning. They hit me when I was down, but God stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved! 2 Samuel 22:17-20 (The Message)

The depth of His mercy? Amazing. The fact that He is our Rescuer, our Redeemer? Wow. He never ceases to astonish with His unfailing grace.

But to be loved with the fervor of the Savior's love?

It's a surprise to be loved that much. Our minds can't grasp the depth of it; we're so accustomed to conditional love, we can barely understand how much He loves us.

But He loves us. No matter what. Did you know His love is surprising?



Here I Am.. To Listen!

So this here's our boy Passion. [I say this like he actually is my boy, which in fact, he is not. I don't know him from Adam. I'm pretty sure he doesn't know me from Eve, either, just so we're clear on that.]

Passion [I'm assuming his mother didn't name him this] is recorded live here - he's singing at the B.B. King Blues Club in Nashville, TN.

Yep, a blues club. And boo is havin' church up in there!

Suh-weet! I love this song! Plus, he's incredibly, incredibly talented. You're going to need to favorite this one. Really. This kid is that good. ;o)


How It Feels.

It's been the source of a raging debate in the blog world lately, and I haven't posted about it yet because I was attempting to avoid the argument over the one word that has set bloggers afire. Clearly, you can see where the debate begins here. ;o)

The Kinetic Church (I love that they've used 'kinetic' to describe their heartbeat) in Charlotte, NC suffered a major loss when a thief took off with their trailer, which contained most of their equipment. Pack-and-plays for the nursery, Bibles, AVL equipment - gone.

Here's how they responded. They wrote the thief a gutsy little letter - and paid to have it posted it on a billboard. They point the reader to their website, where this beautiful message of forgiveness awaits the perpetrator of this crime.

They're being alternately praised and criticized, particularly for their use of the term "ballsy". It's true - the word is impolite, at best. It would make me uncomfortable to use it in my personal vernacular.

But it's this kind of in-your-face message that catches the attention of a person willing to steal equipment from God's house. This church stepped completely out of the box to go beyond compassion and reach out to the person that has caused them so much grief.

I'm humbled. This is kinetic Christianity; it's characterized by the movement of Jesus, compelling them to compassion.



It's All You, Baby.

Post #50! Yesssss! I feel like I should be taking a knee in the endzone! Half of a hundred posts of complete rambling since April. This is a pretty special moment; if I could, I'd pass out cake and noisemakers to everyone who didn't shut me off by post #2.

Thanks for reading, y'all. ;o)

So here's the inspirational gem that has me tickin' today:

"God doesn't have any grandchildren. There is no such thing as a second-generation Christian. The battle of faith must be fought alone, again and again, each time as if it were the first." - Michael Pearl

This is one of those so-simple-it-should-be-painfully-obvious things. I know, I know - you probably already get this. Maybe today's post is just for me. But still, this simple little truth hits home today.

I'm grateful for rich, established heritages. I'm happy for those precious Christians who can point to great-great-great-great grandparents who raised their families to love Jesus and follow His word; I don't say this deceptively, with malice hidden in my heart. Truly, it's wonderful!

But that's not my story.

My parents came to love Jesus on their own. Not because their families walked in the truth, but because they were seeking something more. They raised their family in the truth, set apart from loved ones who didn't see eye-to-eye with their new viewpoint.

It's new for our family. We're doing this because we're seeking truth daily; it wasn't a way of life throughout our bloodline.

I've been blessed to meet some of these super-celebrity Christians, and as kind and selfless as many of them may be, it's still easy to feel inferior because I don't have a famous, super-holy surname.

For real - who doesn't love having a backstage pass to Christianity?!

Clearly, these Christian versions of the Rockefellers and Hiltons have trials. It wouldn't be life without a few crazy things thrown into the mix. That doesn't change because they have celebrity, best-friend-to-the-big-G status.

But they're also reaping the blessings of godly great-great-great-grandparents who prayed anointing and blessings over their families.

Good news for the rest of us, though; that's not getting anyone a golden ticket into the pearly gates.

We start out in this on the same level. We're newbies. We all get one life, a full energy bar, and ample opportunities to pick up spotted mushrooms with truth and knowledge bundled inside.

Or maybe that's how Super Mario works. Whatever - there's surely a deep parallel here. Just flow with me. ;o)

Here's what the Bible says about my responsibility to pursue my own salvation, regardless of my granddaddy's choices;

"...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God who worketh in you, both to will and to do of His good pleasure." Phil. 2:12b-13

He's working in me, on a personal, individual level. Not because He just happens to be in the neighborhood visiting my momma, not because my mawmaw prayed that He's stop by and drop a little blessing on me, but because He is calling me.

"But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God's instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted." 1 Peter 2:9-10

Whether you're steeped in heritage or you're seeking truth on your own, you are called to Him. You're marked as His child, you're showered in His love, and you can hold your head up in the presence of the most pedigreed Christians in the world.

Keep walkin'. Your destiny is just as important to Jesus as that of any other Christian, and future generations will reap blessings because you're sowing them.

[as inappropriate as this may seem, I really, REALLY want to bust out into 'a-walk it out, walk it out' a la Jesse McCartney. Therefore, I will stop now. Because you really don't want to see me bustin' that move, trust me.]

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for seeking truth.



Stand By Me..

This video was aired on CNN and other news stations yesterday in an attempt to track down the person who rammed into 78-year-old Angel Torres [yes, he was a jaywalker, and no, that is not a valid reason to run into someone] and fled the scene. [BTW, if you're in the Hartford area and you recognize the perpetrator, please contact Crime Scene Division (CSD) Detective Michael Chauvin at 860-757-4229 or CSD Commander Sergeant Jason Thody at 860-757-4225.]

The clip runs a little over a minute and a half; dozens of pedestrians wander past the prone man, cars drive past him, and a motorcyclist circles around him before driving away. No one rushes to his aid. [although 4 people had enough time to dial 911 and request that someone else help the man.]

This is a prime example of what's known as 'the bystander effect' in psychology; more bystanders mean less chance of someone offering aid. Psychologist theorize that people tend to think that 'someone else will take care of it' and be less inclined to get involved.

Wow. As a [perpetual] student of psychology, I've studied cases like this before - in exhausting detail - but every time I see another example, I'm still floored by humanity's apathy.

How broken is the heart of God when one of His creations is wounded and the others refuse to lend a hand?

We all know about being a good Samaritan. We all know the extra mile concept.

We know this.

But do we follow it? When a life hangs in the balance, how do we truly react?

I'm checking myself for bystander mentality today. I want to be sensitive to the needs in people I see daily, whether they be cashier, homeless woman on the street, mail clerk, or Taco Bell employee. [Back off me - beans are fiber. *grin*]

Am I ignoring their needs because 'someone else will help' them?

How broken is the heart of God?



The Power Of One..

Because people [*ahem*] are curious about how I happened to be thinking about Helen Keller's high quotable-ness earlier, I must share this awesome blog, where talented artist Brad Ruggles shares a desktop 'wallaper' [which I'm pretty sure is a lot cooler than plain wallpaper! *grin*] he created.

Go there - you know you want to. You'll be glad you did!


The Pot Calling..

I've been all-consumingly fascinated by the principle of the Potter's wheel lately. The allegory is timeless; if you've been in a Christian setting for any length of time, you're probably familiar with it.

But the Potter and the vessel have kept me on a constant search through scriptures and references lately. There are so many facets to this brilliant gem that my feeble brain is popping wheelies trying to get around the relationship of the clay and the vessel to our walks as Christians.

It seems simple - hard times are used by God to shape us into better Christians. We deal with it. We have joy in our trials, because they're for our good. What's not to understand?

A lot. There's so much more here than a simple "learn to accept pain as gain" concept. Just ask my crazy analytical brain. I'm coming up with so many answers and applications that I'm left completely in awe of Jesus once again. He can take one tiny, simple story, and it blankets the entire human race in application and relevance.

Yeah, He's good like that.

God gave Jeremiah this allegory in Jeremiah 19:1-10. So says the prophet [and the chu'ch says AMEN, y'all!];

"God told me, "Up on your feet! Go to the potter's house. When you get there, I'll tell you what I have to say."

So I went to the potter's house, and sure enough, the potter was there, working away at his wheel. Whenever the pot the potter was working on turned out badly, as sometimes happens when you are working with clay, the potter would simply start over and use the same clay to make another pot.

Then God's Message came to me: "Can't I do just as this potter does, people of Israel?" God's Decree! "Watch this potter. In the same way that this potter works his clay, I work on you, people of Israel."

And we receive revelation. He's working on us, daily changing and molding us into better Christians, drawing us closer to Him, pouring precious oils of anointing into us.

Here is where the church usually says AMEN. We're good with understanding that He has a plan for us.

But inquiring minds want to know more.

What about hardened clay? The Bible is clear about our hearts being in constant need of softening. [See Ps. 51:10 for David's earnest supplication for a pure heart and the parable of the rich, soft soil in Matt. 13]

What about becoming vessels of honor? We're His pride and joy. He glories in our accomplishments, just like the doting Father that He is, and He specified [in Romans 13] to honor leaders when honor is due.

What about the flow of anointing into and out of the vessel? We're commanded to pour into the lives of others as Jesus pours His love into us. [Prov. 1:23 and Is. 44:3 speak of Jesus pouring out, and David pours out his soul in the Psalms many times {Ps. 42:4, for example}]

What about the mending of a broken vessel? God promises to be our Comforter at all times, the Mender of our brokenness. [John 14:26 tells us that the Holy Ghost is our Comforter; to read an incredible story of His healing touch, see this beautiful story..]

What about the purpose of the breaking? A cracked pot is different than a vessel completely shattered. [Job 16:12 speaks of being broken asunder, and we all know how Job's tragedy turned into triumph.]

I will never know the ways of Jesus; they're far too perfect for my human understanding to grasp.

But I'm straining to know, peering through a dark, smoky glass, reaching for the revelation that awaits on the other side.

So how is the Potter working in you?


Where We Do This..

I know that you're all dying to know how I spend my days, right? No? Oh, well, then, pretend to be interested. Yep. Just like that.

So I work for a church currently in a building project, which leaves us cramped into dark, narrow offices at the historic [and totally awesome, if you don't have to deal with it every day] building the church currently uses until our project is complete [some time in early fall].

So what's a girl to do with all that free time in a creativity-fostering environment such as the brown paneled room I live in? [Oh, yes. I said 'live'. Check out this little gem. The biggest slice of my pie is gobbled up by work, and apparently it's a trend. Who knew?!?]

It's called "multi-tasking". This morning, while I was "multi-tasking" at my desk, I found this genius little time waster where one can view hundreds of office spaces completely alike or vastly different to one's own... If one wishes.

I didn't post my workspace there because of severe Mac envy and serious lack of anything cool and exciting parked on my desk, but I can't not share, so in the spirit of multi-tasking, here it is!

Please note the to-do stack chillin' beside my phone. It currently measures at 6" tall and growing. I'm going to get to it.. Soon!



Ancient Days

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to give yourself an interview at different ages and stages of your life? I have. I love reading old journal entries - not because they're a scintillating read, but because they reveal [in their extreme wordiness, because some things never seem to change] things about my character that have changed.

Then there's the whole wordy, long-winded habit, which I'm pretty sure isn't going anywhere.

I found a few old journal entries recently, languishing on a data CD labeled as my 'stuff'. Classy, yes? They threw me into a time warp for a brief second, and I imagined I was 14 again, earnestly seeking out truth to apply directly to my own life, completely oblivious to the events that would shape now me into the person I've become.

I'm thankful for the growth and experiences and laughter and tears and life that have shaped that 14-year-old into the now me, but I'm not gonna lie - I'm pretty proud of some of the literary accomplishments of 14-year-old me. She might not have published books, but she had some good points, that one. ;o)

Since I can't really give 14-year-old me an interview [shocker, I know!] I can tell you what that girl learned, thanks to random journals and files 14-year-old me filled with thoughts and ideas.

Here's an excerpt from an article that 14-year-old me wrote about the great quest for romance:

Matthew 6:33
"Seek ye first the
kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you."

God has been running the world on His perfect timing since before time began.. Timing which happens to not run on our schedule. Until you begin to seek His face wholeheartedly - until you've spent some time loving and being loved by Him - chances are you're not ready to meet Mr. or Miss Right. How can you truly know how to love until you've experienced His perfect love? It is only after you've bonded with Him that He sends along the gorgeous guy/gal you've waited your entire life to meet- that's classified under ‘all these things.’ (can you believe that God really, really, really wants to get to know you without interferences from a significant other? He does.)

I'm pretty sure that I could have written a similar paragraph today if you'd asked me what I thought about finding my true love, but 14-year-old me agreed a lot more with the Ludys and Joshua Harris than the now me does.

How the clock has turned!

But moving along.

14-year-old me had a lot to say about modesty, too. Here's an excerpt from an article I wrote about modesty:

And sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. James 1:15b KJV

Holiness is a powerful shield against the effects of sinful living. The glitter of
Hollywood seems warm and inviting; forsaking holiness for easier options seems to be the easiest choice. But living without the protective barrier of holiness and consecration to God will rob you of everything good, leaving you scarred, wounded, and lonely, with a void in your heart that only Jesus can fill.

Jesus gave us the command to be holy to protect us, not to stop us from having fun. It’s simple; hold the truth in your heart, heed God’s word, and walk in holiness, and you'll never have to taste the bitterness of death that sin brings forth. Death isn't always physical and literal - it can be the loss of something you've always held close to your heart - but God’s word is never mocked; sin will take it's toll.

Living for God is something like being in a boat on a stormy sea. You may be uncomfortable at times, but it's a lot safer than jumping overboard. Stay in the sheltering, loving arms of Jesus, living life in the beauty of His holiness, and He'll take care of the rest.

For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth. Dueteronomy 14:2 KJV

Nothing we can say or do will make us holy. We can walk 15 miles on our head while reciting the Lord's prayer during a thunderstorm, but we cannot make ourselves holy by being good. We're human - we all make mistakes. But we have a holy God! By receiving Him into our hearts, the change begins. Jesus' presence there begins to create a desire for holiness, which works it's way outward.

To people who don't understand, holiness seems pointless and even legalistic. Living holy means that we keep our hearts focused on pleasing Jesus, though; this ‘standard’ we measure ourselves by is to honor Him alone.

Ye shall be holy; for I the Lord your God am holy. Leviticus 19:2

No one forces another to make the choice to consecrate himself to Him; the choice to seek holiness is a highly personal commitment. Only you can purpose to passionately seek the calling to holiness. Living a holy life isn't a shame; rather it is the mark of a child of God, of one chosen by Him to be His bride. A person committed to holiness can shed glimpses of His glory to the world, simply because it is a reflection of who He is.

I agree with me. My name is Rachel, and I approve this message. [good job, 14-year-old me!]

So what about you? What do your journals have to say about a younger you?

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