Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Good Bye Peanut Butter Cookies!

I have never given up anything for Lent, but last year I actually tried. I had decided to give up ice cream for Lent, and it lasted about three days. I had always seen Lent as a time when you give up something in order to spend more time with God. For example, you give up TV so you can use that time normally spent watching TV doing something better or more spiritual. So, I decided that giving up ice cream wasn't really meeting this criteria. Later I realized that the sheer fact that I couldn't give it up probably means I have too much of a hold on ice cream.

I am a huge sweet tooth. The other day I decided I was going to give up sugar for the whole summer, starting when the summer staff arrive on June 1st. Partly because I've realized I have a bit of a self-control issue, as in, I could eat three bowls of ice cream and not think twice about it. (I don't do this, but the point is I could). Well, the other day Michael and I got to talking and decided, why wait until June 1st? Why not start now? So we started last Thursday not having desserts or sugary sweets. So far so good, though a few times it's been a little tough, like today. Today was taco salad and peanut butter cookie day for lunch, my FAVORITE lunch!!! It was hard to look at those cookies and not take one. But it's definitely getting easier.

I don't know how long this will last, but I am working on not being controlled by the little voice in my head that tells me I need dessert!!! :)

Monday, April 17, 2006

The Easter Bunny

So yesterday was Easter. We didn't have any big plans so it mostly felt like a normal Sunday. Except of course the fact that we actually got up for church before 7 am and were at church at 8 instead of 10. For most of the day I was kind of bummed, no Easter basket or Cadbury Eggs, no Starbust Jelly Beans, no deviled eggs or ham for dinner. (I realize this is not at all what Easter is about, but I still noticed the lack of them on Easter.) It was kind of weird.

We went out to lunch with Nick and Lindsey and then watched like eleven episodes of 24. We couldn't help it!! It was season 2 and it was intense! We just had to finish it. We are addicts, what can I say? At least season 2 took a whole week for us to finish. Season 1 took us 2 days and we stayed up until 3 in the morning to finish.

We did go play a few rounds of mini golf here at the camp. Michael was outside our apartment whittling our candles we made at Staff Family Fun Beach Day from last Thursday and he saw two rabbits. He came and got me and we watched them for a few minutes. We tried to take a picture but they hopped away. They came back again about twenty minutes later and we got some pics. They were so cute! I think we are going to adopt them because they live right in front of our apartment.

If nothing else, at least we saw the Easter bunny and its mate on Easter. :)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Would Christ be Pacifist?

I've had a few people comment on the name of my blog. I know that I am here writing for myself and not necessarily for other people, but I wanted to clarify just a little.

I don't mean to say that by following Christ certain issues become less certain. If anything, it's just the opposite. Christ is pretty clear on a lot of issues. At the time, of course, the things he stood for went against the culture and society in many ways. The black and white that I am referring to are the things most Evangelical Christians are associated with that I don't think are always 100% correct. For example, Christians are known for bashing homosexuals. I wouldn't argue against the fact that God hates homosexuality. I just think if Christ were on earth he may go about a few things differently. I think Christ would be the one hanging out with homosexuals instead of blasting them, judging them, and distancing himself from them, like so many Christians do. This is the grey I'm referring to, the areas where I think we as Christians still have some work to do to figure out how to approach some of these topics.

In Philip Yancey's "What's So Amazing About Grace?," he opens the first chapter with a story about a prostitute who had rented out her two-year-old daughter for sex to support her own drug habit. Yancey asks the woman if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. And she replied:

Church! Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They'd just make me feel worse.

To me this story speaks volumes of how much work the Church has to be what we idealize it to be. In the Bible, prostitutes like this usually flocked to Jesus and today they are running from the Church, scared of being judged. That is not the type of Church I want to belong to. We need to change that.

A lot of Christians are very patriotic and thus also supportive of war, or just actions by the government. Our country was founded on Christian values supposedly and therefore many Christians support much of what our country does. (I say supposedly because I've studied the Founding Fathers enough to know that a lot of Christians quote the parts of history they want to. Not to say that many of the Founding Fathers didn't believe in God, but there's much more to being a Christian than just believing in God. A LOT of people believe in God, that doesn't mean they are Christians.)

I grew up surrounded by family members that are or have been part of the military in some form. I always have seen it as a noble choice to enter the military. As a history major I studied many different wars and appreciated the times soldiers were called upon to fight for their country. I know many brave people have died serving my country.

Attending a Quaker school began to open my eyes to the ideas of Pacifism. I remember one specific class where a couple students did a presentation on why they were pacifist. It was the first time I really understood, and I felt very drawn to their reasons. One piece that has stuck with me is that it made me wonder whether Christ would condone war, REGARDLESS of what the issue was over. I used to argue with pacifists that there are times in history when war was inevitable. The point that was hard for me to hear was that the only reason war is often seen as inevitable is because we see it that way. If we were to not even consider war, it would cease to be an option. The entire world throughout history has simply assumed war is the best way of solving issues. What if, in an ideal world, no fighting took place? We wouldn't jump to the conclusion that war was the answer all the time.

My point is, I don't believe Christ would support war, regardless of the reasons. This is true even if it means war would stop other people from killing. How much better are we if we go kill people who are doing the killing? Looking through history, I don't have any easy answer for alternates, but it doesn't mean that because there's no easy answer war is the best answer. I don't know if I classify myself as a "pacifist," but I wonder if Christ would be??

This may or may not clarify what I meant by "fade to grey," but that's ok, because it makes sense to me!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Our new plan

Michael and I have been working on our budget. We decided to try a new system. Recently after our last payday we took out cash for each of our budgeted areas. Michael made labeled envelopes with each respective area, such as "groceries." We have been working hard not to use our debit card and just use our cash we budgeted.

So, tonight we went grocery shopping with an X amount of money we could and would spend. We are usually good about money but always find a few extra things that we end up buying. So tonight we had our list, and our X amount of money, and we bartered with each other and talked through what we thought were the most important items. We are also trying to eat healthier and were able to buy some organic and more natural products. When we got to the checkout, we had estimated only 1 or 2 dollars over, which we felt GREAT about. The total? We had one dollar in change!!! We were very proud of ourselves for being right on budget and for being healthy!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Today in staff devotions our director read the Bible passage about how God can do immeasurably more than we ever hope for. Then he asked us to share situations in our life that we think are too big for God to handle. This happens to touch on some things I've been working through lately.

Recently I was catching up with a good friend I had not seen in a while. I was sharing about my struggle with the tension between God's will and our free choice. I first grasped this concept during a theology class in college. My favorite passage growing up was Jeremiah 29:11 "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord." I believed whole heartedly in God's will for my life and had no question that God was "in control" of my life. So when I first understood what free will meant, I had a hard time really coming to terms with how God's will relates to my own free choice. I still go in circles at times. I get the basics but my struggle relates to trusting God to be bigger than our own mistakes. I know that God is able to heal any brokenness, regardless of the size, shape, or form. But what about when we are so stubborn that we refuse to listen? And how do you pray for someone when you know that their stubbornness and decisions to shut out God may never change? Again, I know God can change hearts, but he can't and won't force it. He WANTS us to choose him freely. So I just go around and around in circles with these questions, which are nowhere near black and white.

I know and trust that God CAN do more than I can even imagine. So, I guess at this point that's where I must put my hope because from my human point of view some things feel impossible, unrealistic, or just hopeless.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Fade to Grey

You may recognize "Fade to Grey." Yes, it's the title of a Jars of Clay song. I have been wanting to start a blog for a little while but wanted something catchy, but more importantly, something that would guide my thoughts as I blog. (Also, I tried not to make it cheesy, since a certain husband of mine warned me about cheesy-ness.) Today I was listening to this CD and the words described my spiritual life as of late, most significantly the last line of the song:

It's not hard to know what you're thinking
When you look down on me now
Your trance of love is seeking
To turn this world around
But in my state of blind confusion
No God can pull me out
I see your love is willing
To turn me inside out

And then I see you there
The lonely tears I cry
I wish they'd release me

It's in despair that I find faith
Summon the night to bow down to day
When ignorance is bliss
Save me from myself

And then I see You there
With Your arms open wide and You try to embrace me
These lonely tears I cry
They keep me in chains and I wish they'd release me
Cold is the night but
Colder still is the heart made of stone, turned from clay
And if you follow me
You'll see all the black, all the white fade to grey

I used to think spirituality, the Bible, God, and any other topic I learned in Sunday School were very black and white with no room for grey. I was raised mostly non-denominational and always thought I had it all figured out. Ever since I left for college I have been challenged repeatedly that there really is a lot of grey. I've come to the conclustion that the grey is ok, and healthy to explore. I want to use this blog to further that exploration. There are a lot of random thoughts and pieces of spiritual truths that I wrestle with constantly, and I am ready to do it here.