Intentionality

Okay, guys. I know it’s been a while. I don’t really have a good reason, so I’m just going to jump right into my message today.
I’ll try to make this brief. It’s late and I don’t really have that much time before I need to go to bed. But I really wanted to talk about intentionality. I don’t really have any Bible verses because it’s been super busy and I didn’t really have a lot of time to prepare for this post, so you’ll have to bear with my personal thoughts and experiences and stuff I’ve learned. The person whose work with me the most on the idea of intentionality is definitely my dad. I’ve only really started consciously applying it to my life recently, and it I can see the difference it’s made. The biggest part of intentionality or the biggest way I personally apply it has been in my social life. I’m a bit of an introvert – not just a bit, a lot if I’m honest – so my dad’s really weird with me on intentionality in my relationships. And no, I’m not talking about relationships with a guy that romantic relationships. I’m just talking about everyday relationships with friends, with family, with the people around me. Something I started noticing fairly recently comma although before I started applying the idea of intentionality consciously to my life, is how my dad talks to people at church. I am definitely a daddy’s girl; I take after him a lot, particularly with my personality. Hey, like me, is more of an introvert. However, every Sunday at church I see him going around and greeting people with a smile, asking how they’re doing and what’s new in their life. I see him shaking little kid’s hands and making a connection- here’s the kicker – intentionally. Not just with the little kids, either. with everybody, including the teenagers. We just recently got a new pastor at our church, and I see him speaking with this pastors kids, asking their names, trying to remember their names – we both have really bad memory with names – and in general trying to make a connection. Since I’ve noted this – here it is again – intentionality – I’ve started to admire my dad a little more. As he makes the effort to get to know these people, you can see how much it means to them that he cares enough to ask how they’re doing regularly, etc. And I started to realize that I’d like to do that, be that person, one day myself. But when can you say is a good age to start that? This was particularly tough on me at the time because I was starting to at least try to apply the idea of not waiting to my life. Not to say not being patient. But the idea that I can’t wait until this that or the other happens to change my life or some such. Well, apparently my dad rubbed off on me more than I though. I can tell you right now four of the pastor’s children’s names. I’ve spoken with three of them. I’ve been making the (uncomfortable) effort to initiate conversations and get to know them. I’m applying that idea of intentionality, and I don’t even know when I started.
And of course, the idea of intentionality isn’t limited to relationships. There’s a certain popular refrain my dad uses when one of us kids says “I didn’t mean to.” Can you guess? Everytime he responds with, “But did you mean not to?” Again, it’s applying that idea of intentionality.
One more quick example. Back in the fall, when I first started going to the academy, obviously I didn’t have any friends. Nobody did. Well, I have one friend now, and I can honestly say with complete certainty that she would either not be my friend or not be anywhere near as good a friend as she is now if I had not applied intentionality to that relationship. In the beginning, I asked her out for coffee, I talked with her, I tried to make that connection. Later on, I made sure that I checked in with her when I knew she was having some health needs or when she look down. Now, I make a point of texting her every 4 to 5 days just to check in. We live several hours away from each other, but we have some fun conversations over text. Both of us, or maybe it would be better to say neither of us, are super good at replying to text which is why it’s only every few days, but again it’s that idea of intentionality. I intentionally check in with her to let her know that she is valued and that I am thinking about her.
All right. That’s it for tonight. If I can remember, I’ll try to post some Bible verses later. ‘Night all!

Advertisements

Hidden Gem

I get really frustrated with myself sometimes. I was supposed to post this Sunday, and I even knew what to post! Argghh! But it’s getting posted today. So.

How many of you have ever had a moment reading the Bible when you just stumble across a whole random section of it that you can’t remember EVER really reading before? Like, maybe never ever ever? And then it’s like, woah! And of those of you that have, who found a passage that was just a little gem with double the woah factor? Yeah, that was me Sunday. And I was pretty surprised. I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember (I was four when I became a Christian; I’m 16 now) and I’m a reader. I’m also smart. So between the reading, smarts, and lifetime of Bible, I’m usually sitting in class thinking I know this story, and I’ve heard these points before (Side Note: that’s pride, people. The “I know the Bible” thing, not the smarts. Stop pride before it starts). But then, I found this little nugget! And it has a name. It’s James. Yes, as in the book of James. (I’m going to smack myself for this, but James the Gem people. James the Gem. Okay, I’m gonna go sit in the corner now. Not really, ’cause I’m writing this.)

Really, you should just go read James for yourself. The whole thing is amazing. But let me highlight a few things that popped out at me.

  • Favoritism is a Sin – Yep. James 2 starts out with calling favoritism a sin. It uses the example of showing favoritism to a rich man over a beggar, but it applies everywhere. Christ’s love does not show favoritism. Neither should we.
  • Warning Against the Tongue – Not as new, sure, but still a valuable piece of advice. Even when it feels like you’re about to explode and you can’t help but think how unfair it is  (especially if they’re being mean to you), hold your tongue. It doesn’t matter who it is, do NOT let something unkind and/or venomous come out of your mouth.
  • Submit Yourselves to God – Seems obvious, but I realized I’ve been kinda prideful lately…instead of submitting. I did a post about rebellion a while ago. That and this are cousins or siblings, who knows. They’re related. I found verses 11 and 12 especially interesting. I’ll give you verse 12: “There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you – who are you to judge your neighbor?”
  • Warning to Rich Oppressors – Yep, this is in here too. God doesn’t ignore those who are suffering under others. He tells them to bear with it. He tells their oppressors, Watch out. Your judgement is coming. Verse 3: “Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire.”
  • Other Notes – I was not kidding when I said you should read this book yourselves. It’s extremely powerful. I just wanted to point out a couple other things that popped out to me but didn’t have a whole section. I’m just going to type the verses, since they speak for themselves.
    • James 2:26 – “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”
    • James 1:26-27 – “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
    • James 2:8 – “If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right.”
    • James 4: 5 – “Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?”
    • James 5:12 – “Above all, my brothers, do not swear – not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.”
    • James 5:20 – “remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.”

Aaarghh! There were so many more good verses! Seriously, read this book. I love it. Anyways. One of my favorite verses in this book is James 2:26. I have this sneaking suspicion that my spiritual gift is serving – I love being able to help people, especially elderly people and anything to do with children or (ohh, yes) babies (don’t get me started on those cute little bundles). However, there is a problem with that: I am very, very, VERY socially challenged. I’m shy. I’m an introvert. I’m socially awkward. The worst thing in the world for me is having to start a conversation (I can order for myself at a restaurant now without too much discomfort, and just last month I called several places to get myself an internship for school, so I’m slowly improving!). Getting involved with peopleInitiating that? Umm…no. Oh, wait. James 2:6. Wow, okay, I just got sucker punched. There’s also a verse in James that says something along the lines of, If anyone knows what he’s supposed to do and doesn’t do it, he’s gonna get judged. I am caught between a rock and a hard place. But really…there’s also a verse in the Bible that basically says If you have not received, it is because you have not asked! (John 16:24 might be it, I don’t quite remember). Not too long ago I was thinking about how I would definitely join a club that would provide me with the opportunities to help people, that’d be great! Guess what happened. Yep, such a club appeared! (Side Note: While I encourage you to do it, I’m always terrified to offer myself to God to use because I know he’ll challenge me and say, are you really willing? And that usually involves social interaction. He knows where to hit *gulps*. He will absolutely put me between a million different rocks and hard places, and it’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO uncomfortable. But I know it’s good for me so I do it anyway. Every once in a while (I should do it everyday. If you need something to pray for, pray that I gain the strength to do that)). So yeah, now I need to follow up on that club. But the thing is, God provides. If you want a service opportunity, ask him. If you want personal growth in Him, ask him (But be prepared to work yourself. He changes willing hearts, but your heart should be willing first). Ask, and you shall receive. Even when it’s uncomfortable and feels like a slow, torturous death, God will help you complete his commands. I know I’m supposed to be serving. I also know I’m not going to lack service opportunities anytime soon.

Anyway! Thanks for putting up with my rambling. Read James for yourself. Let God speak to you. It’s so much more effective than when I do it. Ciao!

You Learn It

Wow, okay, I am officially really bad at updating this on time. Anyway. Brief little post to get us through to next Sunday.

How many times do we get stressed out over little stuff? How many times do we let little things that go wrong get to us? I see it a lot on Facebook. “Today was so rough” or “Everything went wrong today”. It’s so easy to just let the little things pick at us. But forget, for a moment, all the standard things people tell you and let me tell you a story.

My family teases each other. All. The. Time. If we aren’t teasing each other, that’s when you know that something’s wrong. So, as a little girl, my whole family would tease me. Constantly. And I would get so annoyed! I was little; I couldn’t come up with these fabulous comebacks! And if, perchance, I did get one in, someone else had a better one to shoot me down. Oh, I got so frustrated. I cried sometimes. I threw fits. I got furious. It irritated me. Anyone wanna guess what I do today? I deal with it. Sometime between now and then, I learned that it wasn’t going to stop and I got tired of getting frustrated. The best way to deal with it (and get teased less, “coincidentally”) was to just smile, nod, and walk away. Let the have the victory and get them back later (may I just say that particular revenge is so, so sweet). But also? My family will congratulate me when I nail a particularly good comeback or insult (yeah, it’s that kind of teasing a lot of the time). And I know that if anything big happens, the jokes will disappear (or maybe not) and they will have my back like no one else. So the jokes. Let them roll off my back. It’s best for everyone.

Aaaaand let me tell you another story. I walked into the student center on the college campus. Down the stairs, straight ahead, and there’s Starbucks to the right. I get in line and order my drinks. I pay, then go to the end and wait. But when my drinks come…one of them is wrong. I tell the barista and she apologizes. You know what I tell her? (I bet you don’t). “It’s okay, I won’t die.” Wait, what? I see her startled glance at me, and then she chuckles and hands me my correct drink. “Sorry again” she says, and I shrug and walk away. It’s become my refrain of late. “I won’t die”. Getting frustrated isn’t going to change anything. And it’s a good habit to look on the bright side of things. I remember one rainy day recently when my friend who had hip surgery, I, and one other girl was waiting for her mom to pull the car up. I said: “I’d say look on the bright side, it could be raining, but…it is.” Sure enough, she cracked a smile.

The point of all these tales? Just slow down. You won’t die, whatever happens. Stressing solves nothing. The best course of action is to just take care of the problem and move on. And tease people constantly (but only if you’re willing to be teased in turn. And only if you’re not really hurting them. And…nah, just kidding). It makes life a lot more fun. And of course, if you do start getting frustrated, God’s there.

CHALLENGE TIME!!! I CHALLENGE YOU….to thank God for something different every time you get frustrated, worn out, or angry. And don’t just say the words, conjure up the feelings in your heart. Just for a minute.

Big Bang Theory

Hey! Another post so soon, yay! (Or so I’m sure you’re all saying). Well, guess where I was this morning? That’s right, Physics class! We had a Fun Physics Thursday (usually we have fun Physics Fridays every other week or so, where all we do is watch Bill Nye videos) and we watched a video (not Bill Nye) about the Magnetic field surrounding the Earth.

The first thing that caught my attention was when they described the magnetic field, how it comes out from the South pole, surrounds the earth (blocking solar winds from the sun) before going into the North Pole. Then, as the video continued, they started digging deeper. They described how clay has magnetic particles that hold magnetic fields pointed all different directions, but when fired, the magnetic fields are erased by the heat and when it’s taken out they attain new magnetic fields that align with the direction of the Earth’s magnetic field and record the intensity of said field. They described how lava does the same thing when it cools, recording magnetic information from the Earth. They described how scientists learned that the magnetic field has switched directions many times in the past, and how it might again very soon. They described how dangerous solar winds could/can be. They spoke about how part of what is generating the magnetic field (they think)) is an amazing cycle of electricity through the earth’s core, that produces the field, which produces more electricity, and so on so forth in an endless cycle. They went into all of this detail, and all I could think was, How amazing is our God.

How amazing that he would come up with such a system to protect us. How amazing that he could and would create something with so much power like our sun, or like stars exploding millions of light years away. How amazing that he would create so small a detail like magnetic fields in clay for us to discover later. People occasionally talk about how amazing He is for creating the plants and animals, but let’s think bigger…and smaller. There are 950,000 known species of bugs, 7.77 million known species of animals, 298,000 known species of plants, and 3 VERY basic types of rocks. In all of those, there are a shocking amount of cells, and each particle of cell is made up of innumerable atoms, which contains even smaller particles like electrons…and for all we know, THOSE could be made up of a huge number of smaller particles. All of these exist on one planet out of nine in our solar system, which exists on just one little branch of a galaxy we call the milky way. This galaxy contains between 200 to 400 billion stars and 100 billion planets. Scientists can only estimate that there are over 100 billion galaxies…and that just by counting galaxies in a particular region and multiplying that by an estimated number of regions. And we can measure atoms, we can see galaxies. And ONE GOD not only created all of this, but gave us the ability to (eventually) see these things ourselves. And who knows what we’ll discover in the future? The world is only about 6,000 years old. Let me say it again.

HOW AMAZING IS OUR GOD!!??

One more thing (about the title of this blog post). The most popular theory about the creation of the universe is the Big Bang Theory. How do you think the universe would react when God commanded it to be? And if anyone asks? Yeah, I believe in the Big Bang Theory. God spoke and bang! it happened. Anyways, have fun chewing over all that! Ciao!

Stop Sign

Okay, no this doesn’t have any symbolic meaning or whatever (the title, that is). This is just because I’m doing a brief thing since I’ve forgotten to post for like 3 Sundays in a row.
Something I just figured out today (dunno why it took me so long, apparently I can be pretty dense) is about love/romance/that stuff. For those of you that have read my previous posts, you know what I struggle with. And it gets worse when I’ve been reading/hearing/watching anything romancy. Unfortunately, I have to conclude that this is because that is something I lack. To put it plainly: I really really really want someone to love, who will love me back, and with whom I can share the rest of my life in a godly fashion. However, I am quite possibly one of the least romantically involved people in current US culture (FYI, I’m 16, and yes I realize love should not be one of my current concerns). But my realization of 10 minutes ago is this: God won’t give me someone to love until God is the King of my Heart. Which actually made me pretty depressed, since I struggle enough with just keeping my relationship with him more than half-alive. It seems SOOOOOOOO impossible. And maybe it is. But that’s my revelation of the night, so make of it what you will. Ciao!

Jamie Grace

Hey y’all! Okay, no, I’m not country. But I do use y’all upon occasion. This week I wanted to talk about Jamie Grace.

I’ll say this upfront: I really like Jamie Grace. I like her music, and I like the way she’s crazy and real and has no problem sharing that with her fans. Okay, onward.

Have any of you stopped to listen to her lyrics? Let me put a few of them below:

Little girl dreams

Are bigger than they seem

I’m thinkin’ ’bout the future in my daily routine

Here’s from a different song:

I get to know you more and more

And make every single day about you

I wanna live like I can’t afford

To spend another second without you

Something from the first song struck me: am I thinking about the future daily? Am I thinking about what I want to be able to tell my husband, my kids, and anyone else? My thoughts about the second song run along those lines too. I’m not living my life right now like that verse described.

For those of you that have read one of my first posts (I forget which one), you know that I struggle with masturbation. Those first lyrics are from a song called White Boots, and it basically talks about abstinence and uses as an analogy about white boots and a white dress. And not abstaining from sexual intercourse is getting them dirty. I can’t help but think that my boots are already dirty from masturbation and quite honestly, I regret that. I really wish I’d be able to go into marriage with white boots.

Of course, something else that I like about Jamie Grace is that she’s single and really wants to be married but is (seemingly, anyway) so so good about waiting on the Lord. Whenever she does marry, the Christian single community will lose a valuable ally. But I also can’t help but think that she took that desire to be married and let it pull her closer to God. She freely admits that she longs to be married, and a good majority of her songs are about it, but it isn’t an unhealthy obsession. In fact, it really seems to be healthy. A line from another one of her songs describes it well: “I don’t mind saying how I feel/As long as I stay true and keep it real”. And she does. She keeps it real, and she doesn’t blow it up into something it’s not.

Of course, for all my praise, she’s not perfect. I may not see them, but she has imperfections. I think it’s important to not be delusional about that. But I also think that we can learn a lot from her.

Red Letter

Hey guys. This won’t really be a run-of-the-mill post, exactly. This is going to be a letter to a friend I have now, and friends I may have in the future. It expresses some of my thoughts, as me, and might give you guys some insight into stuff too.

Let me explain the original situation first. Flowers were donated to my school today. I got two bouquets and managed to get one for a friend who was away today due to health issues (I basically go to a boarding school. See my page for more info). She came back this evening, and I gave her her bouquet and let her pick some flowers from my two – since I had two. She knocked the flowers out of the cup, we went to the bathroom to take care of the mess. While coming back, to warn her about my flowers sitting in the entryway to her room, I said “Watch out for the pretty ones.” Now my letter will explain the rest.

Friend,

I’m sorry. I realize how that sounded, but I didn’t really mean my flowers were prettier. I was trying to come up with something witty, something better or more intelligent than “watch out for those”. Mine were blooming since they’d been in water longer, so prettier just popped out. I got nervous, a little. I don’t think you understand. I know how awkward, crazy, and/or insensitive I sometimes sound. But I don’t know what else to do. Really I just want to make sure you’re still my friend. I’m so so so socially awkward. You say you are too, but let’s compare for a minute. We are both in our junior year of high school, our first year at this accelerated school. We live in the same wing of the same floor. I am healthy, you have a host of health problems. As we walk around, a host of people come up to us. Any given moment, any given place, it’s plausible for someone to come up and say “Hey, how’s it goin’?”. You say you don’t like to talk to people, but you go around and you know so many people. You know what’s going on in their lives, you say hello, you’re so involved. Maybe you don’t like talking to them all the time, but you still don’t understand. Because as you say hi, I don’t even know them, nor do they know me…and we live in the same building and have all school year. You talk to people and ask them for help and anything else. You hang out with them, and not only with them but with college students too. You have so many friends, and how many guys have/had crushes on you?

I have two people I basically ever talk to, and that’s you and my roommate. How do I tell you you’re the only one who ever invites me anywhere? I’m not dumb. I value my personal relationships so so dearly. I know more pros and cons than you do, I know the power of those skills, I know the technique behind them. I just can’t do them. It’s so natural for you. You build a relationship with ease in 5 seconds that I can’t build with all the effort in the world in 6 months. I know, I know, you don’t like talking to people, you prefer to be alone…you still don’t understand.

Did you know that without you, I would never leave my room except for classes, meals, and, when spring comes, volleyball all alone on the outside court? Even when I’m so bored I could scream, so tired of my room, it’s better to be there and on a screen than out watching everybody having fun with a friend and not approaching me, or worse…scaring away someone who does approach me. Even volleyball. I can play volleyball outside for hours with people passing and not have one person approach me, but the instant you come out six people ask if they can play too. You don’t understand.

I get it. I know my limitations. Most of the time I remain completely level-headed. But occasionally I don’t. I get nervous that my odd humour will make you think I’m too weird, that my tendency to laugh to much might make you think I’m trying to hard – or an idiot – or that I might laugh at something you don’t think is funny and you end it. I know it’s unreasonable. But what if you did? What if our relationship just slowly faded. I can’t laugh over Starbucks with God, much as He’s my Savior whom I love. If we stopped hanging out, I’d be stuck in my room, asking myself what I could have done better. Wondering if I’ll ever get another friend. I’ve made four close friends my whole life, and you’re one of them. .

I didn’t mean that my flowers were prettier. It was that tiny, tiny niggle of fear. I’m not desperate. I’ll restrain myself and avoid torturing myself too much. But it does scare me. I can see myself all too easily having no friends as I grow older. Or having the one best friend, who’s so close I call her my sister, but being far away and so we can only call, and I’m stuck at work or my house all day. I can operate in society now. It used to be much worse. But there are times when I just can’t quell the panic at the idea that I might be stuck alone. I’m independant. I’m an expert actress. You’ll never see any hint at this in my face. But being alone? You have no idea. Wondering if you’re just staying with me out of pity or compassion? Yeah, that happens. You say you’re an introvert who likes being alone. And I’m telling you, you have no idea.