Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Just a good laugh

So, I was online and I came across this video on youtube tonight. I've seen it before, so you may have also. But, I thought it was a good one. Hope you enjoy it!


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

sometimes life isn't fun

OK, so since my last post my life has most definitely not been fun . . . my uncle died on Sunday night . . . much sooner than we expected or were prepared for (altho' I'm beginning to wonder if you can really ever be prepared for someone to die . . . but that's another rant). Really, that's been mostly what I've been thinking about since then.

This is really the first death of someone close to me and it's a lot harder to deal with than I thought or I think was even willing to admit at first. I mean I may not have been super close with my uncle, but he is family . . . and I was brought up with family being the most important thing in life (second only to God).

But . . . and here we are back to talking about community again . . . I have realized just what incredible friends I have through it all. I really wasn't looking forward to going to Alive on Monday night, but after being home alone all Monday afternoon I knew I needed to get out and see some people. I wasn't really myself and I kept crying just about every time someone talked to me that night. But, I realized how amazing my friends are. The hugs and prayers and everything just made me cry more at the time, but when I got home I realized how much I had needed that from my friends that night.

There again, in my life, was a picture of community in action. Thank you to all of you!

Anyways, I'm not entirely sure what I was writing this post about tonight or anything. I just needed to get some words down and this is where they ended up. Honestly, things aren't all looking good in my life right now . . . I'm still trying to make sense of why this all happened (with my uncle) . . . but I am getting through . . . with the encouragement and love of friends . . . and God.

Friday, November 16, 2007

more thinking about community

OK, so two posts in one night . . . after a while of not writing . . . oh well . . .

So, this past week hasn't been particularly easy for me . . . we knew the day was coming when we have to be ready to say good-bye to my uncle, but I don't think any of us were ready for just about being guaranteed that he wouldn't make til Christmas this past week. Needless to say, that has made for a difficult week.

But . . . I have totally seen the beauty of community at work in my own life in this past week as well. I've seen it through my roommates.

As I've tried to come to grips with all that is happening and needed a listening ear or a word of encouragement or someone to pray with me . . . they've done exactly that!

To me, that is a picture of what Christian community should be. A place where we can go with our struggles, our sadness, our joys, our trials, our triumphs and have people who will celebrate with us, grieve with us, and encourage us.

The ideal of Christian community is 100% possible. I have seen it and experienced it this week. It may take work to find it . . . but it does exist!

live every day like it's your last . . .

"Live every day like it's your last, because one day you'll be right."

To be honest, when I first heard/read (I can't remember) that a few years ago I thought it was kind of morbid. It's pointing to the fact that one day our life on this earth will be over.

But, in the past few days, I've been thinking about it in a different way . . . not so much as morbid, but in terms of how I would live if I knew that a particular day was going to be my last one. Some tough family circumstances have started me thinking this way.

I mean, I'm hearing about my uncle dying and he knows that it's happening and has some opportunity to say those things that he needs to say to people and reconcile those relationships that need reconciling. But, not everyone has that opportunity.

It has me thinking about how I would change some of the things I did or didn't do in a day if I knew that it was going to be my last day. The people who I would tell how much they meant to me . . . the people I would say I love you too that I usually don't say that too even tho' I think it . . . the realtionships that I would seek to reconcile . . . the people I would forgive . . . the people I would ask forgiveness from. But, the more I have thought about it, the more I have realized that those are things I should be doing anyways . . . and, yet, I don't. I don't even think about them until I'm in a situation where I am forced to face the reality of death - the death of a family member.

"Live every day like it's your last, beacuse one day you'll be right."

I need to stop putting off the things I need to say and do in my relationships with other people. I need to take advantage of opportunities to serve others. I need to make the best use that I can of everyday that I am granted on this earth, because they are all a gift.

Friday, November 9, 2007

thoughts on community

OK, so I just finished reading a book called "Everybody's Normal Till You Get to Know Them" (John Ortberg). The book was talking abou the importance of community. There was a lot of good stuff in there, but I'm not talking so much about the book tonight as a couple of thoughts that came to mind that are related to the book and to some of the questions I have gotten about how to actually go about putting into practice what I talked about in my last post.

Honestly, I think that the only way we can begin to remove that masks that we so often wear is to begin with small groups of people - whether this is a group of close friends, a Bible study group, an accountability group, or whatever. We need to have those groups of people in our lives who we can go to and be honest with . . . and who will be honest with us as well. Without these kind of people in our lives, what hope do we really have of moving beyond the "image management" that we have gotten caught up in? I honestly don't believe we have much . . . not that I want to be depressing, but I think it's true.

I know for myself, I've grown up in the church and I was raised that what other people think is important. So, we could fight all the way to the church, but the moment we turned into the parking lot . . . smiles on everyone's faces and the answer to how things were going was "great" . . . even if that wasn't the truth. Not exactly honest . . . but I've talked to others who had the same experience growing up.

But, I've also experienced the opposite . . . I had the privilege of living with some incredible girls for the two years that I was at Bible college. And I saw how . . . at least most of the time . . . to move beyond this "image management" metality. First of all, when you have 40 girls, two to a room, with one big bathroom at the end of the hall you see more and hear more about people just due to the living situation. But, I also never knew one of them to ask how you were doing and allow the answer to just be "fine" or "good" or "ok". The standard answers were not enough . . . and usually the questions asked were more specific than just asking "how's it going?" as you passed someone.

That was a learning experience for me . . . but it was good!

I think we need to start having those people in our lives who will ask us how we are and want a real answer. I think we need to start having people in our lives who we give permission to for them to ask us the hard questions. I think we need to start having people in our lives who are not afraid to say something when we're headed for trouble.

And if this is going to happen, we have to be these kind of people for others in our lives as well. We need to be willing to speak up when we're concerned about a friend or ask the tough questions. This isn't a one way thing . . . it has to go both ways.

Right now, we each need to find people who we can be completely honest with in our lives.

Who is this in your life?

If there isn't anyone who you could trust in this way, what is the next thing you can do to move towards having these kind of people in your life?

I asked myself these questions recently. I count myself lucky to be able to say that I do have people who ask me the tough questions or speak up when I'm headed for trouble in my life now. But, I haven't always . . . because it takes a risk to do this . . . to trust some people enough to be this open and honest with them. But the rewards of doing so are huge . . . and far outwiegh the benefits.

So, I challenge you . . . find these people in your life and develop these kinds of relationships. They won't happen overnight . . . so get started! Or if you have these people in your life already . . . continue to develop those relationships.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

confessing our sin

I've been thinking a lot lately about how we handle our own sin in the church and how the Bible says that we should. In the church we so often hide our sin rather than allow anyone to know about it. I know I do it often.

But, Job 31:33-34 got me thinking about whether this is right when I read it earlier today. It says:
"if I have concealed my sin as men do, by hiding my guilt in my heart because I so feared the crowd . . ."
In this chapter, Job is talking about about things that he didn't do in his life. Job was saying that he didn't try to hide his sin . . . and that this is a good thing.

It is our natural tendency to hide our sin because we're worried what other people might think of us if they found out. But, maybe our - my own - tendency to try to hide my sin isn't good.

When sin is kept secret it retains its power over us. But, when sin is no longer a secret it loses much of its power over us. In James 5:16 we are told to confess our sins to one another. It is extolled as something good that we are supposed to do.

I think that most of the time this practice of confessing our sins to a trusted Christian brother or sister is something that is sorely missing in the church today. We have gotten so caught up in this idea of "image management" and worries about what others think of us that we don't want anyone else to know about struggles.

But the church wasn't meant to work this way! The church should be the one place where can and do safely share our struggles and confess our sins to break their power over us! But, sadly, it is often the last place that people want to admit any of their weaknesses, because of a fear of what other people will think of them.

I wonder what would happen if the church would finally move beyond this and begin to confess our sins, struggles, tempations, weaknesses to one another in safe non-judgmental environments. Obviously, we don't have to go into great detail, but so often just admitting that you're struggling with sin in an area of your life breaks so much of the power. Think of all the strangelholds of Satan that could be broken by bringing secrets out into the open. It would be pretty cool!

Sunday, November 4, 2007

moving . . . ugh! (but apparently some good lessons can come from it)

So, I'm sitting in my new apartment . . . I moved in yesterday, to live with three of my friends. I'm glad to be here. But, I definitely hate the whole process of moving . . . packing all your stuff in boxes, suitcases, etc only to drive to a new place and take it all out again. But, I'm not writing this complain about moving.

As I was sorting and packing my stuff, I got to thinking about what is most important in life. So often we put our value in what we own - our stuff - but is that really what is important in life? As I decided what to move and what to get rid of I began to realize that the most important things I had don't come from the actual stuff I have, the most important things were the friendships and life-changing events that some of those things represented.

The stuffed animals . . . I have a lot of them and I like them . . . but the ones that mean the most are the ones given to me by close friends or family . . . they represent a valued realtionship in my life. My Bible . . . I have more than one, but this particular one . . . the first (non-children's) one that I was given by my parents . . . it's been well used . . . three summers as camp staff, two years at Bible college, missions trips, youth events, and just the rest of life in-between . . . the Bible is pretty worn and the pages are falling out, but it has meaning because of the journey of my life that it has been a part of. My journals . . . the story of my life . . . my battles, my victories . . . really they're just notebooks that only have meaning because of what I have written on the pages. My saxophone . . . the first musical instrument that was ever my own . . . I honestly don't play it much anymore . . . but it means something because I know that my parents spent a long time searching for one that they could afford to get for me so I didn't have to borrow one from the school. Or my photo scrapbooks . . . pages of pictures and stories . . . I love looking at them . . . but not because of what they are actually are . . . because of the parts of my life that those pictures and stories represent. My golf clubs . . . I don't play as much as I wish I could . . . but they represent a special relationship with my grandparents . . . they taught me to golf and spent many hours every summer golfing with me . . . that time with them is invaluable . . . but my golf clubs represent that to me.

I would consider all of these things important to me. But, as I was packing them up to move them this last week, I realized that I didn't consider them important just because they were things I owned, but they were important because of what or who they represented in my life. While I most definitely wouldn't want to lose any of these things that I consider important . . . I think if I did someday, I would be OK as long as the people and life events they respresent to me were not lost.

I think that maybe I need to tell the people that these things are from how much they really mean to me more often than I do right now. So, if you are reading this, it's probably becsause I've passed the information on to you and I would consider you a friend. For starters, thank you to you for being a friend and being someone who I appreciate having in my life.