Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tagging Game

I don't really know what the rules are, and I'm not sure anyone who tagged me knows what they are, either. I'm pretty sure that this tagging game involves listing 6 things about yourself. Hopefully there's something here you didn't know!

1. I have a passion for helping people. I will help with basically anything, and for nothing in return. I don't know why (spiritual gift, perhaps?), but I think it's more of the aspect of doing life with someone that I enjoy. I enjoy babysitting children for free so that parents can get away. I had a really good time helping VBS coordinators clean out the storage bins at the end of the week. Doing chores around the house or making a meal for someone else is definitely a priority on my list. I love it when people ask me for favors!

2. My childhood ambition was to be a hairdresser. Seriously. My aunt was a hairdresser. But I genuinely was just fascinated by hair and all of its endless possibilities. Cut, color, style, updo...whatever. Whenever I go to the salon to have my own hair updated I think of what it would be like to be one of those girls.

3. I am an aesthetics person. I care deeply about the appearance of things and how they match or coincide with their surroundings. I am inspired by things looking nice, whether it's a particular outfit or a scrapbook page; an element of nature or the way books are arranged on the shelf. This can be annoying to some people, and it's definitely something I have to be careful in being shallow about.

4. I am a stationery and invitation know-it-all. Many thanks to working at Papyrus in the early years of college. Before working there I could have cared less about where my counter cards came from, and I definitely used fill-in-the-blank invites. Now I do my best to write on only the finest of paper (Crane's) and do all of my own printing. I care about how an invitation is worded and can tell you how different wordings are supposed to convey different things. It's fascinating, really. My dad calls me a paper snob.

5. Mornings are my favorite. There's just something about waking up before the rest of the world, taking time to think and to read, meditate and pray with absolutely no distraction. Hot coffee and crisp air are worth getting up for!

6. I prefer to eat with plastic utensils. But the catch is that I don't like plastic knives. Just the plastic forks and spoons. There's just something about metal in my mouth that just gives me the heebie jeebies. Like nails on a chalkboard to some people. On top of all that, I have a preference in the plastic. I especially enjoy the clear plastic utensils. I only use metal if I absolutely have to. Weird, I know.

I tag:
Abby Shearer
Eric Margrave
Summer Martin
Heather Turek
Phil Anderson

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #25

25. I am thankful for David Crowder. I'd definitely have to describe him as the U2 of Christian music. Worship music. One of the greatest things I appreciate about Crowder is that he genuinely loves the Lord & that is clearly portrayed in the lyrics he writes and the genius of his music. If you could only buy 1 music album in your life, or if you had to purchase a Christian album, I would definitely recommend any of Crowder's albums. There's too many things I am thankful for about Crowder, but mainly, it's his passion for our God and his desire to lead worshippers in spirit and in truth through the medium of music. Here's a cool story about Crowder:

My friend Josh used to be in a band. His band had many Dove Award nominations over the years (the "Christian Grammy"). During this particular Dove Awards ceremony Josh made it priority to meet Crowder before he left. So Josh, afterwards, seeks Crowder out of the crowd to briefly introduce himself.
J: "Hey David. I'm Josh Zegan from Dizmas. I just wanted to introduce myself to you."
D: "I know. I know who you are. I listen to your music all the time. I think you're genius. I don't know why you don't sell more albums or why your music isn't as popular."

Whaaat? Who goes up to Crowder and his response is "I know who you are."????
Here's what's even cooler.

The next night Josh went to say goodbye to Crowder, and Crowder's wife happened to be there. She got to meet Josh and her reply in meeting him was, "Josh! So nice to meet you! David never comes home talking about work; he tries his best to keep work separate from home. But you must have made a huge impression on him the other night because he came home talking about you." I know, right..."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #24

24. I am thankful for babies. I met a new baby today, Blake. Blake is 3 months old and the most precious, mellow little one I've seen in a while. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a baby lover. I think babies are quite boring and much prefer being around active toddlers or energetic children. But no one can deny how precious the moment of staring into a baby's eyes. Or watching the little creature sleep. Or suckle. Or explore their toes. Or pick their mother's voice out of a crowd. I think that babies are a part of the natural revelation that God has given to us. One cannot deny the existence of a divine Creator when studying the intricacy of an infant. May we be amazed at God's creation even in our own flesh and blood.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #23

23. I am thankful for hard times. James writes,
"Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have a perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
Hard times seem to be surrounding me right now. There are hard times with our youth in the church. There are hard times with situations my work. My roommate is having hard times with her work, too. My sister is having hard relational/friendship times. Some of my students are enduring hard times with divorce or persecution. The American economy is having "hard times." The list continues.

comments on the above verses (James 1:2-4): "The natural human response to trials is not to rejoice; therefore the believer must make a conscious commitment to face them with joy." Amen! Though times are hard or difficult or challenging, we have reason to rejoice. The battle belongs to the Lord. He has already conquered the grave and sin and eternal death. Therefore, rejoice! Rejoice that trials are in our life to grow us ever so close to our Creator and Savior. Hard times bring people together, as we suffer with one another in genuine fellowship. May God receive the glory He is due for bringing us through trials and hard times.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #22

22. I am thankful for books. I grew up in a home where reading was a priority. Our TV went on "vacation" whenever we did. Literally, we unplugged the television set & drew a picture of it surfing in Hawaii during Summer break. So to pass the time we (my sisters & I) would ride our bikes down to the library (a 3.6 mile journey), check out a whole backpack of books, and ride back home. We did this 2 or 3 times a week. Most people think that I have read many books when they see my full bookshelf, but what they don't realize is that I probably read the least out of everyone in my family. Some families collect sports memorabilia, others collect antiques. Well, mine collects books. The people at the used book store know us by name. There's nothing quite as sweet as curling up in the winter or laying out in the summer with a novel. I am thankful in particular for the classic Christian books: Pilgrim's Progress, The Gospel Primer, or The Divine Conspiracy. Currently I'm reading Age of Opportunity, Ishmael & The Puritan Dilemma. Books have taught me so much, and continue to teach me. May we all learn from the words of the wise (and not-so-wise) men and women who have taken the time to put their thoughts into words and endure all the hard work that it takes to publish books!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #21

21. I am thankful for flexible time. Sometimes we just run across those days where time has little to no bind on us. Saturdays might be such a day. They're Fridays for me. Once I'm done with work on Fridays, I usually only have a couple of things on my agenda that I can get done whenever. For instance, the only things on my agenda this afternoon were to run up to church and then go running at the gym. Because my time was flexible, I was able to stay at church longer than I had expected, and I had the freedom to have a 45-minute conversation with someone there. It was profitable and encouraging, I hope to us both. As I was leaving church I thought a lot about how I was thankful for days like today, where I can just go about my responsibilities and leave room for significant conversations and moments like that.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #19 & #20

Sorry for the delay again. Yesterday was crazy crazy!

18. I am thankful for Abigail. As stated in previous posts, she is the youngest of the family I nanny for. Lately we have been able to spend many hours together, and yesterday the Lord was kind enough to reveal some fruits of my labor with her. Abigail is a good listener, even at age 5 and shows remorse for her sin. She is sorry for mistakes that she makes and lets me know. We're working on turning the sorrow into true repentance. Abby is an excellent helper. She learned yesterday how to put pillowcases on pillows and was eager to help with the chore. But most of all, Abby has an extremely good memory, and she consistently asks questions about God based on previous conversations I've had with her. Praise be to Him! My prayer is that she continues to ask questions and seek truth for the rest of her life, and that the truth does not lead her astray.

19. I am thankful for washing machines. This thankfulness idea is a little less sentimental, but I truly am thankful for clothing washers and dryers. They rock! They make laundry a light task (in perspective) and cause clean clothes to always be at hand! It is good to be reminded of the luxuries we have and to be thankful for them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #18

18. I am thankful for my roommates! There is a unique story behind how each of us ended up rooming here and together. I love coming home to Christians and having meaningful conversations with them. I love that we pray for one another. I love that we're at different churches and in different ministries. Sad will be the day that we no longer room together! Thanks, girls!
Brynne, Kate & me
May 2008

Summer (before we were roommates)
February 2008

Monday, November 17, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #14-#17

I have a lot of catching up to do. My lack of posting has no reflection of my mindset of practicing thankfulness. On the contrary, this posting series has been very convicting as I am forced to think each and every day about what I can practically and thoughtfully be thankful to the Lord for. Sorry, Eric, if this post is too long for your Google reader. :)

14. I am thankful for medical care. I had quite a surprise this week as I discovered that I have a little parasite living in me. As I was waiting in urgent care on Thursday evening and enduring all the "sample" tests for parasites (trust me, you don't want to know...), I was thankful that I have a trained team of doctors and specialists who know what they're talking about and who genuinely care for my well-being as a human. I am thankful that they took the time and energy and effort to go through medical school. I understand that is not an easy task. I am thankful that they decide to come to work each day and listen to our problems, doing their best to find a solution. I think it's easy to become frustrated with the medical system, and I am definitely known to be short with doctors when they don't know what's going on or making me jump through hoops. May my response to such situations be full of thankfulness in the future.

15. I am thankful for the United States of America. We took some of our youth down to Mexico on Friday and Saturday this weekend. We take them every year to partner with Spectrum Ministries, which is a ministry based in San Diego. Spectrum's main ministry is to take care of some of the physical needs of local, impoverished Mexicans, that they might display the work of Christ and be a living testimony to those who may not believe. We spent Saturday morning and afternoon bathing local children, giving them a new outfit to have (our own hand-me-downs) and trimming and brushing their hair. Spectrum serves many different areas of northern Mexico, and this time we went a little further south to an area in the dusty hills. Apparently Spectrum staff gets to this location about once a month, so some of the children we were bathing and taking care of literally hadn't bathed in a month. As we crossed the border back into the United States on Saturday evening I couldn't help but have the stereotypical yet appropriate attitude of thankfulness for the provisions we have in the United States. I am thankful that God had be born in this country and can (I think) genuinely appreciate it.

16. I am thankful for safety. Some of you are aware that my city/area, Santa Clarita, is on fire...again. And those of you who have lived here longer than me know that it happens around this time every year. Again, it's one of those "out of sight, out of mind" things where it's very stressful when the fires are happening, but I don't do very many practical things to be more prepared when there are no fires. Yesterday in 2nd service at church Brian prayed and thanked God for the safety that He has provided us with: the safety from fires for some, the safety that the firemen provide for us all, but ultimately, the safety that we have in knowing that God is in control and has planned every detail of our lives from eternity past. It was a very thought-provoking prayer to listen to, and has caused me to be thankful in particular for our safety.

17. I am thankful for Whole Foods Market. As a part of my job I am required to make weekly rounds at Whole Foods. As shallow as it sounds, I have come to have a bond with this supermarket. Let's just face the facts: it's a cool place. I know a few of the employees at the Valencia store by name, and it's fun to catch up with them, hoping in the midst of it to be some sort of light and encouragement. As I was having casual conversation with Danny, the butcher, this morning, I caught myself in a moment of thankfulness for the store. I am thankful that, though I'm sure much of it's marketing hype and "go green" strategy, they employ local farmers and growers by buying produce from them. Danny was telling me that he has worked 6 days in a row now (much due to the Thanksgiving prep), and we talked about how good it is to have a job right now. There's another Italian man, Ande, who frequently bags my groceries. Though he did not today, it was fun to wave to him from across 3 lanes and yell, "Hey Ande!" and hear, "Hello, miss!" There's just something really meaningful about someone insignificant knowing your name, for you to have an identity with them. I am thankful for the market and the relationships God has allowed me to build there.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #13

13. I am thankful for the mornings. I was thinking on Monday morning as I was sitting downstairs on the couch reading my Bible what a blessed time the early mornings can be: a quiet house, the sun just beginning to rise, and yesterday's worries somehow scaled down to almost nothing. It's amazing how the morning times can be such a blessing to the rest of the day, if they're used rightly. There are other morning (today) that I didn't wake until just enough time to get ready before work. When I start my day unfocused, it remains unfocused. But when I start my morning at the feet of Christ and seeking the presence of God, the rest of the day falls into place with a focused mindset and attitude. Praise God for the mornings!
Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

- Lamentations 2:22-23

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #12

12. I am thankful for my mom. If I ever had to get up in front of a crowd and thank people (such as at the Emmy's, Grammy's, etc.), I would start with, "I'd like to thank my mom...for having me..." haha I know I already posted about how thankful I am for my parents and their faithfulness in my and my sisters' lives. But today especially I am thankful for my mom. There are many reasons for which I am thankful for her, but the one that really hit me today was that she is so concerned for her children and cares deeply for them in practical ways. She's called me 4 times already and my sister texted me that mom called her too, out of concern for me. I call her crying sometimes because I know she will emphathize with me and offer gentle ways to think through and improve whatever situation. Mom is sensitive to the Spirit and what is going on in the lives around her. She does not take lightly the wounds we endure from this wicked world. All of her patients love her (she's an RN), and we're always hearing ways of how she impacts the lives of her patients and co-workers. Her faith is great--she continually reminds us that God is in control and we are responsible to trust Him. May the Lord grow me to be like my mom.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #11

11. I am thankful for my high school students. I've been serving on youth staff at church for over 3 years now and as the time goes on, I fall more in love with these students God has so intricately placed in our church's youth group! I'm up late tonight working on a little something for our girls going to Mexico this weekend. I love the ways that God reveals their hearts to us as leaders, and how He allows us to minister to and shepherd them by His grace. It is easy to become discouraged in this ministry (or any ministry, I suppose), when all we can see is sin and disobedience. And many people find it crazy that I even hang out with high schoolers. But it's more than hanging out. It's investing in lives for eternity, as people in the past have done with me. Praise God for His faithfulness in all of our lives!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #10

10. I am thankful for the leadership in my life. A few of the direct leaders who hold me accountable & who I answer to:

- dad
- Pastor Bob
- Tim Roney (high school director I serve under)
- Pastor Roger
- Jason Beals (missions director)
- Eric Margrave (Bible study leader)

I am continully thankful for these men in my life and the unique ways they have invested not only in my life, but in the lives that surround them. I told Jason a couple of weeks ago how, though it may be a weakness at times, I fully and confidently trust both his leadership in my life as well as the others listed above. I literally trust my life to them. Thank you, all, for your godly example and ministering to my life!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #8 & 9

8. I am thankful for hymns. There's nothing that ministers more to my soul than singing a hymn. I find myself singing hymns most when in the midst of persecution or a downcast spirit. Not that I am anywhere near what the African American slaves in the United States endured, but I have been told that the old Spirituals they wrote and sang came about because singing was one thing that could not be physically taken from them. Music is a gift, and sometimes I find no more joy than to sing good theology and thanksgiving back to my heavenly Father. The hymn that I have been revisiting this week goes,
Turn your eyes upon Jesus
Look full on His wonderful face
And the things of this world will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

9. I am thankful for friendship. Sometimes I am overwhelmed with all the people in my life and the responsibility to keep up with them. In taking a step backwards I can only respond in thankfulness to God for blessing me with so many loved ones in my life. I am thankful for their investment and encouragement. I pray that my life is a mere tool for growth in theirs as well. "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Proverbs 27:17).

Friday, November 7, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #7

7. I am thankful for life. As much as I complain about life here on earth or selfishly wish to be in heaven, I am thankful for this mortal life. Today I found myself talking to the cashier at Sport Chalet. He had just gotten into a car wreck the night before; he was with a friend doing 70mph down Boquet Canyon, plumeted off the road and missed two trees by mere inches before being stuck in the creek. The employee seemed rather sober about the whole deal, and as I left I prayed that his soul might turn to Christ in the coming days. Death is one of those "out of sight, out of mind" concepts for me. Yes, it's a reality for every human, but I think it's easy to forget about dying until you have a brush with it. I am thankful that God has chosen to bless my earthly, mortal life, and I am even more thankful that I have the assurance of eternal heavenly life as well. Praise be to God!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #6

6. I am thankful for my parents. My dad called me last night just because he was concerned for my state of well-being. He still calls me his "little girl." I still feel like his little girl, too (in a good, warm way). The more I experience children and have a taste of their fallen nature, the more I am thankful for my own parents' rendering of my sisters and me. I am thankful that they spanked me in times of need and they held me in times of need. I am thankful for the Lord's provision of such attentive parents. I am thankful that they raised me in the church and taught me to make good decisions. I am thankful for their home training. Many times throughout the week I find myself commenting to others, "oh, my mom taught me that..." or, "I'll have to ask my dad how to..." The more I am away from home, the more I miss them. I am thankful for my dad and mom!

Dad (not Jesus) holding Sarah (3 yrs) & me (6ish months)

Mom with me, Tamsen & Megan last Christmas

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #5

5. I am thankful for rest. Today I took a 1-hour nap, which I practically never do. I am thankful that God created us to rest, that He created us with a dependence on Him to rest. For when we rest, we are trusting Him in His sovereignty, that His perfect will is still being accomplished. I am thankful that rest is good. I am thankful that God set the example for us to rest by resting Himself on Day 7 of the Creation account (Genesis 1 & 2).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #4

4. Today I am particularly thankful for a newer friend, Tonde (pronounced, Taun-dee) Razooly. Tonde's son, Griffin, is Abigail's best friend. Tonde is a fellow NorCal-er (Humboldt). For some reason she and I have connected in a different way than other parents of the kids' friends. She has a sweet personality and reminds me of my sister in many ways. This morning as we were walking out from dropping our respective children off at preschool, she asked me how I was doing. She told me that she noticed that my demeaner had changed and was concerned for me. Tonde does not know Christ as her Savior, and I pray that one day her soul might find rest in Him. Regardless, I am especially thankful this morning for God's kindness and concern for me through other people. Tonde & I talked for about 10 minutes, and it was genuinely encouraging that someone noticed and cared that I was quite discouraged. Thank you, Tonde!

On another note, I have 2 birthday shout outs:

Happy Birthday Jessica Brown! We were best friends starting in 4th grade and mostly through high school. She recently graduated from Chico State and opted to stay in Chico. Love ya, girl!

Happy Birthday Lawrence Daniels! Lawrence is the Jr. High intern at church. He's fun to serve alongside!

Hope the Lord provides a grand birthday for you both!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #3

3. I am thankful for the cool weather. Since moving to SoCal, I have learned that I much prefer the cooler weather over the heat. Go figure. It remindes me of home, of baking with mom and having picnics in the living room while it was raining outside. As little ones we were allowed to go on "rain walks" down to the end of the street, all decked out in rain coats, golashes and a few umbrellas. I loved watching the creek across the street rise to threatening levels (threatening to a 7-year-old, at least). Long sleves and beanies are my preference! I woke up early Saturday morning to the clapping of thunder and brightness of lightening. I thought of how majestic God is in creating the weather and how His power and might is displayed in such huge ways.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Practicing Thankfulness #1 & 2

Most of us relate the month of November with the holiday of Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving allows for such an appropriate atmosphere of expressing our thanks; thanks for family, friends, homes, a free country, and for some, salvation. The title, "Practicing Thankfulness" comes from our pastor. He has been preaching through Colossians for a while now and last month spent a hefty amount of time expositing Colossians 3:12-17. Many times in that passage alone Paul writes how a Christian should naturally be a person characterized by thankfulness. Pastor Bob remarked at the end of a recent sermon how salvation and a relationship with Christ should pour out thankfulness in our hearts. We are to be a people of practicing thankfulness.

I have decided to [try to] post at least one thing I'm thankful for each day leading up to this national holiday. This is my form of practicing thankfulness for now. Since I'm already behind, I'm posting to make up for yesterday, too. :)

1. I am thankful for salvation. Seriously. Being thankful for salvation sometimes seems cliche or the "easy" answer. But Christ sacrificed staying in heaven, humbled himself to become man & dwell among us, lived a perfect life in the midst of trial and temptation, then died a horrible death on the cross and rose from the dead on the 3rd day, all to bridge the chasm between us and the Father. Is there anything more valuable? For this, I am eternally thankful.

2. I am thankful for my church. My sister thinks that it's just pride, but seriously, my church is the most biblical, New Testamental church I have ever experienced. I know that it's not perfect, and I'm sure that there are additional solid and legit churches out there. The more I become involved in the different ministries or meet people of our congregation, the more I am driven to thankfulness for such an institution. I am thankful that God has brought me to this church, for the people He has brought me into relationship there, for the ways that He has used the pastors and teachers to preach truth into my life, and for using the congregation to encourage me toward more holy living.