Coral background

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Imaginitive Fear & Harry Caray

I am a worrier. That's why my friends call me whiskers. No? Anyone? If you've never seen this video, seriously watch it.

On a more serious note, because I am a worrier, I recently started reading Overcoming Fear, Worry, & Anxiety by Elyse Fitzpatrick. It's been wonderful so far and has been extremely revealing and convicting as I see how often I allow fear and anxiety to dominate my thoughts. So many times my imagination runs rampant, coming up with scenarios that are not only illogical but often impossible that I spend time and energy worrying about, despite their improbability. Elyse Fitzpatrick speaks directly to this idea of imaginative fear by saying,

"the problem with fears that exist only in our imagination is that, since they aren't real, we must face them alone... it's only in the real world that His power is effective to uphold us in trouble."

While we can't will our imaginations into submission by changing our own nature, we can rely on the Holy Spirit, because only true change in our hearts and minds comes from Him. 

Rest in this verse today: "You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You." -Isaiah 26:3

Monday, September 26, 2011

From Flannelgraphs to Gospel Facts

I grew up in a conservative home and an equally conservative Southern Baptist church. I was indoctrinated with Biblical principles from a very young age. I thank the Lord that he allowed me such an upbringing and love how my seemingly mundane testimony (grew up in the church, saved at an early age, baptized soon after, etc.) puts God's faithfulness on display. Like many of my friends, I learned oodles of Bible stories in church. If I was lucky, my Sunday School teacher would bring the aesthetically pleasing flannelgraph, circa 1994, to visually display such stories. The point of these stories was typically morality or, if the teacher was going super spiritual, to learn a specific facet of God's character. I knew that God sent Jesus to die for my sins on the cross and then Jesus rose on the 3rd day so that I could live with Jesus in heaven forever, but that was just another flannelgraph reserved for Easter, not a weekly concept that was visited. The Gospel provoked a one-time decision, not a lifestyle.

Enter how in the world this relates to anything...

Over the summer, I interned at the Summit with Route 56, a really unique transitional ministry for 5th and 6th graders. Fifth and sixth graders are probably the most awkward, most awesome, mature, yet simultaneously immature, group of people on the planet. I love them. I'll save why I chose to work with Route 56 for a later time, but will highlight an interesting dynamic I and the other R56 leaders have noticed.

Unlike how I and many other people my age grew up in the church, kids today, especially in Gospel-centered, urban churches like the one I go to are indoctrinated with the Gospel every time they walk through the doors. They can clearly articulate the Gospel. They know there is nothing they can do to earn salvation. They know that nothing they have done in the past and nothing they will do in the future can make God love them less or more. They know that the Gospel is the impetus behind good deeds. They know the Gospel brings them back into right relationship with God. And while it is awesome that they know the Gospel, it seems to be just head knowledge. It doesn't really change how they live. It's not heart knowledge.

I know that it's not my responsibility to make head knowledge of the Gospel seep into the precious hearts of 5th and 6th graders. That's the Holy Spirit's job, thank goodness, and something that even if I wanted to, I couldn't do. But it is my job to be a catalyst for the transition from head knowledge to heart knowledge.

Don't get me wrong, the Gospel is undoubtedly the most important thing we could ever teach or convey to younger children and students. If we expect students to simply retain the Gospel as a string of facts, we might as well use a flannelgraph. If we desire for facts to become the ultimate source of life and salvation, our lives must boast the Gospel as much as our mouths.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Practical Look at Finding Identity in Christ

Of late, I've been thinking a lot about what my beliefs about things, even things outside of my spiritual beliefs, mean practically in my everyday life. I feel like I'll constantly be trying to practically transform head knowledge into heart knowledge into reality for the rest of my life, for a variety of issues. Undoubtedly one of the biggest examples of this for me is finding my identity in Christ versus finding it in what I look like or my performance in school or the activities I'm involved in. 

I was totally struggling with this concept last night and this morning I checked out Mark Driscoll's new website and his wife, Grace, had some wonderful thoughts about this. Practical, challenging thoughts. Go check them out. 

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Burrito Bowls & How to Pick Avocados

Of late, I've had a crazy craving for Chipotle's burrito bowls. They're so delicious (and kind of nutritious). Ish. Anyways, I had rice and beans in my cabinet, so rather than eating out, I put them to good use to satiate my craving. 
It was super simple and was totally as delish as Chipotle. 
I made about a million and a half black beans, no lie. Apparently beans are kind of hard to cook. Hard as in they take for. ever. to cook. I had to soak them overnight then cook them for 3 hours, but in the end it was totally worth it (I think). On second thought, just buy a can of black beans.
I thinly sliced a whole green pepper and half an onion and sauteed them for a few minutes, making sure they were brown but not too tender. I did take one short cut after spending half my day cooking beans and made some instant rice while the peppers and onions cooked.
Once the peppers & onions were done, I threw some salsa, guacamole* and cheese on top and called it a meal. And the best part is I have leftovers! It's the little things in life...

*Confession: my guacamole was horrible. It was kind of like cole slaw. Gross, I know. Apparently, there's a right and wrong way to pick an avocado. The right way is to pick them when they're almost purple and softer, but not too soft to where they yield to gentle pressure. The wrong way is to pick pretty green ones. They're are not ripe. They're hard. In fact, you'll probably gash open your hand while cutting them with your cute little Pampered Chef knife that your mom bought you because they're so firm and you'll end up with cole slaw looking guacamole, for example (hypothetically, of course).

Monday, September 12, 2011

Headboard Making 101

This summer I had multiple projects going for my impending move to an apartment. I painted 7 (yes, 7) pieces of furniture and made some pretty adorable canvases for the living room. One of the many projects was a fabric covered headboard. It was overall pretty simple (especially since my craft wizard of a mother had already made one) and only took a few hours once we got all the supplies we needed. 

You'll need 
  • Fabric (I got 3 yards, enough for the headboard, plus some to tie the fabric in elsewhere in the room) 
  • Plywood
  • Craft paper
  • Skil saw
  • Sandpaper 
  • Batting
  • Staple gun
I picked out this kelly green, fleur-de-lis fabric. If you're interested in making a headboard, definitely go with a larger print. 
We measured the width of my bed (about 54 inches) and cut the fabric accordingly, leaving about 6 inches on either side for ample fabric to staple to the headboard. 
Next, we measured craft paper the size we wanted the headboard to be and cut it. 
Watch out, this step is super precise and scientific... err, except not. After we cut the craft paper, we took the rug from our foyer and used it as a template for the curvature of the headboard.
We traced the shape of the rug...
Then, I free-handed what I wanted the edges of the headboard to look like.
We found the center of the craft paper and folded the paper in half. 
With the paper folded, we cut along our outline, making a craft paper version of what became the headboard.
We taped it to a piece of plywood and made sure it was level and even and whatnot. Then, we traced the outline onto the plywood.
Using a Skil saw, we cut the headboard out of plywood.
Here it is! Just a little rough around the edges.
Hence, the sanding.
Next, we took sheets of batting and wrapped them around the plywood, one at a time.
We used this type of batting. One sheet of it was big enough to go over the entire piece of plywood. 
After stapling a lot of batting around the headboard, we stapled our fabric to it, making sure it was pulled tight.
And here's the finished product! I really love the pattern and shape - its not too busy, but not too plain, its just right.
The great thing about fabric headboards is you can hang them as high or as low above the bed as you'd like, making it the focal point of the room or leaving space for artwork. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Jesus: The Bright (and Early) Morning Star

Random fact about Jesus: He was an early bird. While on earth, Jesus was all the time getting up early and spending time with his Father. Mark 1:35 speaks directly to this: "Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed."

Even if He wasn't waking up at the crack of dawn to spend time directly communing with God the Father, He was up and about. When the Sanhedrin wanted to crucify Jesus, they made their decision then "they bound Jesus, led him away and handed him over to Pilate" (Mark 15:1). The Sanhedrin didn't have to go wake Jesus up, they found him awake, early in the morning. Chances are he was probably spending some QT with the Father. And a few days later, where was Jesus? He was risen and (drum roll) awake early in the morning! The women who went to anoint Jesus' body a few days after the crucifixion got up early in the morning and went to Jesus' tomb - only to find that he wasn't there. He was already up and about, just doing the usual, defeating death and whatnot. After his resurrection, Jesus went to reveal himself to his disciples, showing up early in the morning to do so.

Since school started, I've been trying to model Jesus' example in getting up early in the morning to spend time with my Father. Growing up, my Sunday School teachers always said to spend time in the Word everyday, whether that was in the morning or at night. And let's be real - no way were a bunch of 7th graders going to get up at 5:00 a.m. to read their Teen Adventure "Study" Bible. But, now, after years of trying to get in the Word at night, I know why I always felt like a quiet time wasn't really anything special. I was missing out on a super sweet time with Jesus because I was spending 10 obligatory minutes right before I went to bed when I was exhausted and had my to-do list for the next day heavily weighing on my mind. Spending time with Jesus in the morning really does make all the difference. If Jesus thought spending time with the Father at night was best he would have chugged a Monster, ordered Gumby's and settled in for the long haul. But he didn't. He rose early in the mornings at a intimate, quiet time to be renewed by the Spirit and commune with the Father before beginning ministry for that day. If waking up early and getting in the Word is good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me (and you).

*Check out Clayton King's ministry secrets for more on this topic.