Legalistic Lettuce or Sanctification Salad?

May 13, 2010

My first instinct is to make a list. A list of things I can and cannot eat. A list of exercises and the number of days that I will complete them. I like lists. I like rules. The problem is that rules have never left a lasting impact on how healthy I am. Rules are stiff. They have no life. More than that, I cannot follow rules like I think I should. Rules are very good at pointing out failure, but they can’t change hearts. This truth flows down to my daily life.

I tend to be an all or nothing kind of girl. When I get the urge to clean the house, I have to keep going because I know I won’t muster up the motivation again for a while. If I’m interested in a topic, I pour over a three-foot tall stack of library books to learn all I can. This mentality is most evident in my eating habits and exercise routines. If I eat a slice of pizza, I decide that the whole day is a failure and eat half a package of mint Oreos and whatever else I can find.

Observe the crazy pendulum of my life. One day, I realize that I’m overweight and unhealthy. Then comes the fun part. I make a list of rules and goals (or steal someone else’s). Maybe I’ll only eat foods closest to their natural state. Maybe I’ll go with South Beach. My personal favorite: avoid anything and everything fried/high-fat/sweet/dessert like the plague. Plus, I’ll come up with an ideal goal weight and a week-by-week breakdown of the potential weight loss. Sometimes I’ll even get uber spiritual and hang an inspiring “eat and drink for the glory of God” on my fridge. The obsession of counting calories and avoiding certain foods lasts for a while. About 20lbs later, I get bored of the rules or get sidetracked by a trip, a project, or a bowl of ice cream. After a few months, the cycle begins again.

Underneath it all lies an intense insecurity and desire to be in control, as well as a knowledge that something is just not right in my life. My view of food has never been healthy. Only on rare occassions could my eating habits have been construed as God honoring.

As I read a few weight loss blogs, I was struck by the obsession over numbers: calories eaten/burned and weight/inches lost. Normally, they would have fueled my own obsessive tendencies. This time, however, I was saddened by the emptiness of it all. Some people do it to stay accountable and keep track of progress. Others need some major therapy.

I’ve decided that I’ve elevated food and weight control to a place it should never be. My self-worth is not determined by whether or not I eat that piece of cake. Losing weight is no longer my ultimate goal in my own little food world. Numbers no longer interest me. What does interest me is God’s glory. I want to be healthy, and I want to be a good steward (I’m not my own, but I’ve been purchased by the blood of Jesus).

I am not willing to count calories and weigh myself everyday for the rest of my life. I can’t even bring myself to get out of bed early to walk before work. On the other hand, I’m willing to give up my precious Family Feud time on Facebook so that I can do something besides sit all day. I’m willing to eat more vegetables and less chocolate. (Can you see the lists beginning to form in my head? Sheesh…)

I will resist the temptation to turn this post into a list/rule-making session. Instead, I will revel in God’s grace and mercy. Jesus died for my brokenness, and He is calling me to live like I believe He walked out of the grave. That’s all the motivation I need.

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Why I’m Going to The Philippines

February 7, 2010

I leave for the Philippines in exactly one month. Unlike the time I went in August, I am not worried about what to pack or what I will be doing while I’m there. I’m not even nervous about flying internationally by myself (maybe I should be). This time, I have a pure excitment. This trip will probably not resemble what Americans would consider a traditional missions trip. I don’t have a list of projects, and I don’t know exactly what I will do while I’m there. What really matters is why I’m going.

1. Friendship and Fellowship
Since August, I have learned what Paul meant when he wrote to the Philippians “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3). I can honestly tell my friends in the Philippines “I hold you in my heart” (Phil. 1:7). What a beautiful sign of the gospel that people from opposite sides of the world can have such sweet fellowship in Christ. It’s truly a preview of eternity. Just read Revelation 5, and you’ll know what I mean.

2. Mutual Discipleship
Not only do I get to work with people who have a passion for God’s glory, but I get to learn from them. I want to soak up every second that I spend with the pastors, with the youth, with my peers, with Titos and Titas, with Kuyas and Ates (terms of respect in the Philippines). I can continue to grow closer to Christ and more effective in my ministry by seeing Hope Christian Fellowship at work. I will also be working with my friend Nikka to lead training sessions for a team of youth. This team will be going to China this summer. We will be talking about intercultural ministry and teaching English, two topics close to my heart. In the midst of contextual and cultural differences, God may choose to speak through my gifts and experiences to help prepare others for ministry.

3. Dreaming
Do I know how God will work in me in these two and a half weeks? Absolutely not. What I do know is that I will keep my eyes and mind wide open. The vision of Hope Christian Fellowship has captured my heart. From seeing ways that I can support God’s work in the Philippines to envisioning minstry possibilities at home, I want to dream about how God’s name and renown can be spread throughout the world. Ultimately, that’s what everything is about: God’s glory.

Jesus Didn’t Have Kids, Either

October 18, 2009

One of the deepest desires of my heart is to be a mother. Recently, I’ve been reminded about this desire at almost every turn. From reading about adoption conferences to holding babies to plastering my facebook with pictures of my great nephew to researching foster care, I just can’t get away from it. Even in 1 Timothy, which we are reading through as a church, Paul talks about women being saved through childbearing (obviously, this is not justification, but sanctification as Pastor Mark Driscoll points out).

I will never be able to have biological children. Praise God for the blessings of foster parenting and adoption. However, I’m not in a place where I can do either at this point in my life. So, where does that leave me? Well, my Savior understands. He never had children (no matter what you read in The Da Vinci Code). More importantly, God will bring me children when, if, and how He sees fit. I love Hannah’s prayer after the Lord gave her Samuel in 1 Samuel 2. Basically, she says God can do whatever He wants, whether it makes sense to the world or not. He answered Hannah’s prayer by giving her a son, but He would still have been a holy, wonderful God if He answered no. Not my will, but Yours, Lord.

A Charge to the Radical

July 24, 2009

Here’s a video for the Christ followers who don’t want their lives to make sense to the world. May we live in total abandon to Jesus, even when people think we’re crazy.

Helpless

July 6, 2009

Recently, I have been overwhelmed by a sense of helplessness. I drove by a Pinery Park and saw 50 guys playing basketball last night. First, I thought that several of them probably need to hear the gospel. My next thought was that I couldn’t be the one the bring the message. How would I begin to approach them? Why would they listen to me? I couldn’t just go ask to join their game (imagine an uncoordinated chubby white girl coming up to a bunch of ballers and asking to play).

I’ve had several situations like this where I feel like it would be ridiculous or stupid to do something myself. I tend to respond by wishing that I had a husband who could do ministry with me. While this would be nice, it’s not close to a reality at the moment. I guess this is why I have a community of believers at my church to do mission. They may not be ballers, but at least I’m not alone.

My Favorite Thing About Living in the United States

July 5, 2009

I know I tend to be a party pooper when it comes to patriotism. The United States, in the end, isn’t always the “land that I love.” I wouldn’t die for my country (even though I appreciate those who have). I even tend to enjoy the Independence Day celebrations of other countries over the 4th of July. However, as I watched the fireworks in downtown Grand Rapids, I was reminded of a beautiful thing about the good ole’ US of A: it is filled withe people from a myriad of races, nationalities, and languages. I love celebrating Independence Day surrounded by people speaking Vietnamese, Spanish, and Arabic. All I have to do is look out my window to see people who come from a background very different from my own. With all of these cultures meeting in one place, it makes me glad that God placed me here. Isn’t God amazing?

“Just Don’t Turn Away”

June 21, 2009

I’m finally back from my long absence from wordpress. Or, you could say, my long absence from the world. My student teaching was literally the most will-crushing, heart-wrenching, depression-inducing experience of my life. Let me give you a quick glimpse into a day in the life of this student teacher. Here’s something I wrote on March 15. “I have nothing left. Nothing. I can’t give anything more.” I can’t. I’m exhausted and drained. I have no energy left. I have no more ideas. I have no more strength to go on…How will I go on? Lord, You have to do it.” I had tried everything I could think of, and it still wasn’t good enough. Instead, I stopped trying. The only reason I graduated was because God did it for me. All the grades and scholarships and awards in the world couldn’t get me through this. All the friends and family couldn’t convince me to finish. Only the God of the Universe could pick me up and carry me to the end.

In the middle of this despair (you might think I’m being slightly dramatic, but it was truly despair), I felt the presence of God more clearly than ever before. Sure, I cried every day, but the only thing that got me out of bed was the fact that I knew that He was with me. A song that I heard over and over during that time said “Why are you crying? Let me lift up your face. Just don’t turn away.” Whatever you go through, please don’t turn away from Jesus. He’s the only thing that matters. I was in a fiery furnace. Whether I survived that time or not, I knew that Jesus Christ was with me in the furnace. Look straight into His eyes and He will comfort you and transform you during the most challenging times.

Be All There

February 16, 2009

“Wherever you are, be all there. Live to the hilt every situation that you believe to be the will of God.” ~ Jim Elliot

Today, I had a run-in with my cooperating teacher at my student teaching assignment. It caused me to question if pushing through these last two and a half months is worth all the stress. After hours of emotional turmoil and a few discussions with reasonable people, I regained my sanity. I also remembered all of the amazing ways that God has provided so that I can finish school. It would be foolish to squander my student teaching experience by not giving it my best effort. With that in mind, I think I’m going to follow Mr. Elliot’s advice and be fully present. In fact, this will probably be my last visit to wordpress until May. There are just too many distractions for me to be an effective teacher. T minus 2.5 months and counting (then I can finally move on in life).

Another Calling…

January 26, 2009

…(aka Jesus and Dave Drake Ruined My Life)

I have always known exactly what I wanted to do with my life. From astronaunt to veteranarian to journalist, I have had a very specific dream that I just knew would come true. Most recently, I wanted to be a PE teacher. I’ve been going to school for it for 6 years, in fact. Little did I know that God had something else in mind for me. For the past few months, I have felt a pull toward ministry. First, I thought I might teach English in the Middle East. And then I read Light Force by Brother Andrew and realized that they probably don’t need me. So I continued doing local ministry and thinking that I was still going to be a teacher. However, as I began my student teaching, I realized that I had no passion for teaching physical education anymore. To be honest, I hate it. My passion is doing ministry. Just to be clear, my passion is not the ministry. I don’t want to be a pastor. My calling is not to equip people for ministry but to actually do ministry on the front lines (and grab the hands of a few others and pull them along with me). Recently, I had a meeting with two of my pastors about starting Young Life in my neighborhood. I have never been so excited about something. I love Jesus, I love CrossWinds, I love Godwin Heights, and I love youth ministry. I don’t know what’s coming next, but I know God is calling me to something that’s better than any of my own miniscule dreams.

Blog Title Suggestions??

January 8, 2009

I just realized that I have until May to come up with another blog title, because I will no longer be a “Redeemed College Student” (graduation, not losing my salvation). Any ideas?