Saturday, February 23, 2013

a prayer

Now I say to you in conclusion,
life is hard,
at times as hard as crucible steel. (Mmm)
It has its bleak and difficult moments.
Like the ever-flowing waters of the river,
life has its moments of drought and its moments of flood. (Yeah)
Like the ever-changing cycle of the seasons,
life has the soothing warmth of its summers
and the piercing chill of its winters. (Yeah)
But if one will hold on,
he will discover that God walks with him, (Yeah. Well)
and that God is able to lift you from the fatigue of despair
to the buoyancy of hope
and transform dark and desolate valleys
into sunlit paths of inner peace. (Mmm)

-Martin Luther King Jr.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Let's do Lent

Lent. It's not just for Catholics. Let's just say that Lent for the past, oh, 5 years has not been kind to us. God has used the season before Easter to scrape off layers of our mess until finally, last year, we had no choice but to face it. This year, we're looking forward to celebrating instead of mourning. We even decorated with a sweet Lenten calendar from Naptime Diaries!

Lent is simply the 40 day period before Easter, excluding Sundays. "Lent" is the Old English word for spring (yay!). Contrary to popular opinion, Lent is not a Catholic word for "hotbed of Protestant controversy" or "self-flagellation and forced repentance in order to earn righteousness."

If you celebrate Advent in preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus, consider participating in this season set aside for somber consideration of the death and, ultimately, resurrection of Jesus.

Church seasons aren't designed to make us feel inadequate or forced into practice. Rather, they help us rest, worship, and reset out priorities.

Lenten fasting, then, is not a masochistic way for us to pretend that we're suffereing like Christ suffered on the cross. But it can re-orient our hearts toward Jesus. I was so tempted to give up something that would benefit me physically, like banning sugar. But for me, that sounded more like a diet than a fast.  In the end, I had to ask myself: What do I turn to instead of God? What do I lean on in difficult times? What do I spend my free time thinking about?

When I wake up, do I open my laptop first, or my Bible? When I'm so tired and filled with worry, do I pour out my heart to the One who knows my innermost being, or do I try to fill the hole in my heart by filling my stomach with sweet treats? Perhaps, without these crutches, I will learn to lean on God more. I will turn to Him first.

My Lenten fast won't make me holier, but it will point me to the cross. My small sacrifice will whisper of a much larger sacrifice and a saving grace that I could never earn. And when and if I mess up, I can rejoice in the fact that I could not earn my salvation even if I had perfect willpower. The work is already done and there's nothing I can do to deserve that. That's why we celebrate Easter!

Giving something up in and of itself can't bridge the gap between you and God, but it can help us cast down our idols. Are you giving anything up this Lent?

Friday, February 1, 2013

Currently: February

February. Can you believe it?! I'm okay with it since the daylight hours are already growing longer and the temperatures, in theory, are creeping upward.

Eating: I'm trying to bake less, but I'm really tempted to bake with joy on Fridays and to bake out of anxiety on Sundays. I've been loving these brownies. I won't tell you how quickly Ross and I finished the first pan...

Reading: The Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers. It's historical fiction based in the early years of Christianity. So good.

Wanting: Clarity. Answers. A direction in life. Nothing new there.

Needing: Sunshine and warm air!

Loving: A more predictable schedule, even if it is a busy one.

Thinking: I need to take advantage of this schedule and get into a workout routine again. I love endorphins and working out once or twice a week isn't going to cut it.

Feeling: Very ready for our mini-vacation in Nebraska City this weekend. Wohoo!

Missing: Hawaii. How can it be that a full 365 days have gone by since we went?

Looking forward to: Being done with accutane. I'm on the downhill slope, but I think I'm going to need 20 weeks instead of 16 weeks like I was hoping.

What's new with you?