Coral background

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

I Want to Marry a Woman

I'm currently reading Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot. Holy cow. So much goodness. In it, she talks about issues like biblical womanhood, marriage, submission, pride, and motherhood. If you're unfamiliar with the name, Elisabeth Elliot is the wife of late Jim Elliot, a missionary to the Waodani people of Ecuador who died trying to share the Gospel with them. She is a champ. Seriously. Let Me Be a Woman is one of the many books she has written (among hordes of other accomplishments), though I've not had a chance to read others yet.

Elliot wrote Let Me Be a Woman for her daughter, Valerie, while she was engaged and about to get married. Her writing style is fabulous - in my opinion, its very reminiscent of writers in the late 1800s and early 1900s, but in actuality, her book wasn't written that long ago. To say her values and beliefs are conservative and traditional would be an understatement. Even some of my most traditional friends have found excerpts from her books to be a bit extreme. She's a go-big-or-go-home kind of lady, which I appreciate.

She might sound stuffy, but she's really hilarious. I got super tickled reading the chapter "You Marry a Man." On the outside that seems rather obvious, but she showed me that I don't always think I'm going to marry a man. Sometimes, like many women, I want to marry a woman.

Take, for example, wedding planning. I have been dreaming about my wedding since I was a little girl. Literally. I have pictures from when I was 3 years old playing dress up in a wedding dress, complete with a veil and flowers. Miles, on the other hand, being a man, didn't play dress up in this manner as a child. He didn't wear a tuxedo and dream about seeing his future wife walking down the aisle or contemplate invitation fonts that would coordinate (not match) with a delicate, yet rustic wedding theme. But, alas, I sometimes treat him like he did day dream about such things. I get frustrated when he doesn't have an opinion on anything wedding related. I sometimes treat him like a woman, rather than treasuring the non-womanlike, very manly qualities about him.

Elliot says women often aren't looking for a man to marry, but other benefits of marriage like security, safety, and children. She hilariously discusses women's frustrations with men, such as their expanded surface area, which conveniently attracts loads more dirt than any woman is capable of, and their inability to fold towels in thirds in order to properly display the monogram.

Moral of the story: get Let Me Be a Woman and read it! God didn't create people in his own image. He created man and woman in his own image - equal, different, separate, and complementary in order to put His glory on display. Rather than nitpicking the differences between men and women, treasure the differences and complementarity of God's design! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

"Fringe" Issues

Right after the Psalm 100 debacle at UNC I was talking to my college pastor's wife (check out her blog!) about how Christians differ in their views on homosexuality and other "fringe" issues (homosexuality, abortion, birth control, females in ministry, etc.). She said something super insightful (that was actually something her husband had said) that has stuck with me ever since: "fringe" issues aren't really "fringe" issues because they reveal what we think about God and his Word - they're really more like core issues.

For the sake of this discussion, "fringe" issues should be thought of as intrinsically on the "fringe" of Christian doctrine. The issues themselves are not inherently problematic to doctrines such as salvation, and are therefore thought of as unimportant, treated with apathy, or brushed over in order to minimize differences in the church at large. 

In some ways, I think exchanging thoughts, ideas, and opinions with believers whose beliefs differ from yours on such issues is helpful and insightful. After all, God created each individual different, each in his image, each to express a different facet of his character in some way. I personally have benefited from friendships with believers who were on the opposite end of the theological spectrum on  a number of issues. And, to be perfectly honest, the definitive answer to fringe questions is often not clearly marked in the Bible. In such instances, believers ought to interpret the issue through the lens of the Gospel, scripture as a whole, and God's character.

In Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer said "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."

Just take that in for a minute. What you think about God is the most important thing about you. Why? Because how you think about God determines how you act towards and interact with God and others. In terms of "fringe" issues, Christians often deviate from a biblical, gospel-centered worldview (note: not a "Christian" or "right-winged" worldview) when they deviate from God's word and his character. Their thoughts about his character are severely skewed, thus mangling their opinion on issues that, in their minds, don't matter.

Don't get me wrong, your opinion on homosexuality isn't crucial to securing your salvation. By far the most important issue Christians need to have a strong, unwavering opinion on is the Gospel.

But when it comes to other issues, don't look to a political ideology or even another Christian's view on the subject, look to "core" things like scripture and God's character, and make a gospel-centered decision, giving grace to others who disagree with you.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day Date in Durham!

This semester, for the first time in my college career, I don't have Friday classes! Conveniently, neither does my sweet fiance. This past Friday we took advantage of this time off and had a day date in Durham. Day dates are the best because 1) things are cheaper (lunch time menus vs. dinner time, matinee prices, etc.) and 2) sunshine.

We started out the morning by having breakfast at the Mad Hatter. Seriously so delicious. The only problem was it was too early to eat sweets from their bakery :(
Next we went to Duke Gardens. I love Duke Gardens. We spread out a blanket, got in the Word, read, and talked. It was so fantastic and much needed. We went to the gardens multiple times throughout the summer with The City Project so it holds a special place in our hearts :)
To wrap up our date, we went to Bull City Burger and Brewery. Oh man. It was burger-juice-running-down-my-hand good. They have delicious burgers and really fun fountain drinks, plus a nice patio in the back. The building itself makes the food taste better - I mean seriously check out those ads on the side - too cool!
We're really excited to live in Durham come December and explore this fun, eclectic city more!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Half Marathoning

Bright & early, ready to run!

Evidence of the early morning start time.

Me struggling, Emilie encouraging - pretty much what happened the whole race!

Probably talking about cramping up during the race...

The best roomie bonding experience ever - training for & running a half marathon!

My sweet fiance got up super early to come to the race :)

Post-race stretching....

and eating pizza (pretty sure I was probably talking about how disgusting eating pizza after running 13.1 miles is)

My fam came too! They got a hotel, came to Saturday night church, then got up early to watch me race!

Boom. Done.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


What if you could pray and God would instantly answer your prayer? Let's be real, that'd be pretty awesome. It either sounds like a bad infomercial or a Genie-your-wish-is-my-command scene from Aladdin, complete with a stellar soundtrack. It kinda sounds like its too good to be true.

But the crazy thing is is that God does this. In a way it is too good to be true, but God graciously answers prayers in divine timing that brings him glory. Sure, God chooses to answer some prayers after years of faithful petition before his throne, but God seriously answers some prayers instantaneously. Just last night I had a significant chunk of one-on-one time with a classmate. We had to listen to a guest lecturer off campus, then I was going to take her back to her dorm. During the lecture, I prayed for an opportunity to share the Gospel/invite her to church/talk about God. Y'all - all of those things happened in some fashion just minutes after I prayed for them! God is seriously awesome. And this isn't the first time this prayer for opportunity to share has been answered with lightening speed. 

So why does God seem to answer this prayer so quickly? It's because he's the best daddy imaginable. He desires ALL people to be saved and he wants to mercifully draw his children to himself!

Pray with boldness that, because of what Jesus did on the cross, God the Father would draw his children to himself through the Holy Spirit speaking through you, and that all would come to have a relationship with the Lord. And when you pray said prayer, don't be shocked when God faithfully answers, all in divine timing.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Courtship "Defined"

Since Miles & I started "courting" (as opposed to dating), I've gotten lots of questions about what courtship is exactly. Defining courtship is inherently problematic because every person (whether they decide to court or not) has a different opinion or definition about courtship, and to be honest, there isn't even a conclusive and widely accepted definition among courters. One sweet lady asked me to define courtship for her because the only thing she knew about courting was from the Duggar family (check out the cheesy, but not all too far off video). Besides the Duggar family, most people think about Josh Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Both of these courtship-endorsing entities are significantly conservative and to many seem outlandish and old-fashioned. 

For us, courtship is above all else intentional. When Miles first came to me to tell me how he felt about me, he didn't say "I've really enjoyed spending time with you this summer and would love to hang out and spend more time together." Thank goodness, because, really, what does that even mean?! That hypothetical statement reveals nothing about his intentions, and would have deeply hurt me and left me playing he-likes-me-he-likes-me-not games with myself. Instead of being vague, he protected both of our hearts by saying "I've really enjoyed spending time with you this summer, and after prayer and council, believe you are the perfect woman for me. I want you to be my wife." BOOM. You can't really get more clear than that, people. We had discussed when we would get married, how many kids we wanted, our testimonies and our views on tons of theological issues all before we went on our first real date.

I realize to the majority of people this sounds super crazy. And honestly, it kinda is. But, you know what else is super crazy? The Gospel. The whole reason Miles chose to court me rather than date me was because of the Gospel and how it was modeled through courtship.

Jesus didn't come to earth to get to know us and "date" us, then decide if he would die for our sins in love. Instead, when the fullness of time had come, Jesus wholeheartedly came down to earth to pursue the church, love her, and sacrificially die for her. In the same way, in courtship a man pursues the Lord, gets to know a godly woman in community, then sacrificially pursues her for marriage with love. There's no guesswork, no "getting to know each other" to determine if they're "the one," no waiting for a post-date call - really, in that manner, courtship is quite fantastic.

Many people dream about modeling the Gospel in marriage, but completely forsake the Gospel in the stages leading up to marriage, relying instead on social constructs with often heart-breaking consequences. 

I'm not saying courtship is for everyone. I haven't always been a hard-core courter at heart. Both Miles and I had dated multiple people before meeting each other and beginning our courtship. I think there is a godly way to date, but I think courtship eliminates so much of the awkwardness and heartache that often accompanies dating. 

Regardless of whether you date or court, seek to demonstrate the Gospel in word and deed while seeking a spouse. Both dating and courtship look differently for everyone. Prayerfully consider which is best for you and don't compromise. 

Courtship isn't defined by ankle length jean skirts and Sketchers, but instead the sacrificial pursuit laid out by the Gospel.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Do Jews and Christians Worship the Same God?

**Disclaimer: I feel like this is an appetizer platter of an answer to this question. There is lots more to it, and I am by no means an expert!**
I've heard people, people of various religious affiliations, inquire about if Muslims & Christians worship the same God before. To me, that's not really a big question that fills my mind with crazy thoughts - Allah's character is altogether different from God's character. Boom. Done.

Since my freshman year of college, however, I've been thinking about the more puzzling question of whether Jews and Christians worship the same God. It all started when I heard a Christian woman talking about "a nice Jewish lady she worked with." According to this Christian, herself and her nice lady co-worker definitely, hands-down worshipped the same God. I wasn't so sure though. I mean where did the Trinity come in? What about Jesus?!

This concept popped up in my small group last night and got me, once again, thinking about it. Since my fiance is super smart and has, like, 18 books on systematic theology, I asked him what he thought. I think he came up with a pretty good analogy (which, like all analogies will break down at some point, but I think it still helps!). And since I'm pretty much the best artist ever (of stick figures that is), I've illustrated it for you :)

A Jew telling a Christian that they worship the same God is kind of like two guys who have the "same car." Guy 1 (the metaphorical Jew in this situation) pulls up to Guy 2 (the Christian) and says, "Hey man, we have the same car! Cool!" Guy 2: "Uhh, no we don't. Your car is just a shell of my car. It's not going to get you very far because it doesn't even have an engine or wheels or lights."
 (Obvi Guy 2 is headed down the right path because he's jamming out to Carrie Underwood.)
Okay, cheesy, I know. But to an extent it totally works. While Jews recognize the God of the Old Testament, they vehemently neglect Jesus. Because the Trinity is God in three persons, but wholly one, they are in essence rejecting God.

In Romans, Paul talks about the "remnant" of Israel that will come to salvation. In order to come to this salvation, they must ultimately accept Jesus as their Messiah, Savior, and Lord. As Gentiles, we're grafted into God's family if we accept Jesus' sacrifice and triumph over sin and death. Romans 11 says that Jews too can remain on this metaphorical tree of salvation if they accept Jesus or, if they reject Jesus then can turn from their sin and accept him and be grafted back in. 

The question of Jews & Christians worshipping the same God ultimately boils down to salvation and thoughts about the Trinity. Jesus said he was the only way, the only truth, and the only life, and that no one can come to the Father except through him (John 14:6)! While God's covenant with the Jews is still in tact, and he desires all peoples, especially his chosen people, to come to salvific knowledge of him, Jews must ultimately accept Jesus to receive salvation. God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and God the Son are a one-package-deal. Rejection of one means rejection of all.

Recipe Review: Homemade Coffee Creamer

I've loved coffee since I was six years old. Maybe that explains why I'm 5'1". I'd probably be in the WNBA if it weren't for my young-aged coffee addiction. You win some, you lose some.

I digress...

My hatred for flavored creamers is almost as strong as my love for the deliciously caffeinated drink. I mean flavored creamer lasts for an ungodly amount of time. There's no telling the amount of preservatives in any given bottle. I recently tried out a flavored cream that was natural (no preservatives or weird, unpronounceable ingredients) - Coffee Mate Natural Bliss in Sweet Cream. It is delicious - so delicious it doesn't take me long to go through a bottle. So, thanks to Pinterest, I can now make my own creamer in less than 10 minutes and use as much as I want! Or as much as I feel like I can without my hips doubling sizes.
I modified this recipe from Deliciously Organic:
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 4 tsp. maple syrup
  • Some cinnamon, for kicks & giggles
Heat this mixture (sans vanilla) in a saucepan over medium heat until it steams. Remove from heat & stir in vanilla. Allow the liquid to cool for about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a pourable bottle (I just used the empty container from my store bought creamer).

The website says it lasts up to 10 days in the refrigerator, which is way less scary than 10 months!

Verdict: not bad. It didn't quite match my preferred ratio of cream to sugar, so I'd definitely add more maple syrup next time (maybe 5-6 teaspoons).

You could make lots of flavored creamers with this recipe, so don't be afraid to get creative!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A House Divided

In honor of March Madness, ridiculously beautiful weather, and having only six more weeks left in my last spring semester at UNC...