In His Image?

If you've been watching the news, you might have seen that there is a current trend for "Am I Ugly?" videos on YouTube. I watched some today, and it just broke my heart. These teenage girls take videos of themselves talking about how people tell them that they're ugly, and how they agree. Worse than that are the hateful, spiteful, sinister comments that people post in response. I wanted to go find every single one of those girls and give them a huge hug and tell them how beautiful they are, because of the One who created them, the Master Artist.

I think I'll do a post later on the influence of the media into any and all areas of our lives, and this is just an example:

 And this one is sweet.


Chipmunks, Abba, and Weeds.

Well, since I was fortunate enough to have President's Day off, I've come to two conclusions. First, I've decided that I'd like to do some research on Abraham Lincoln. I mean, I'm definitely not a history buff. It's actually my least favorite subject. And I feel like he's extremely emphasized in like elementary school and stuff. Oh, maybe there's a reason for that! [cue lightbulb] I was informed today by my mother that Mr. Abe over here has had more books written about him than any other human being, with the exception of Jesus Christ. And he was honest, and he was a Christian, and he saved America... all that good stuff. So that's my first conclusion.

The second one is a little more involved on how I came to it... Let me start with this morning. Around 9:30, I made a CD to play while my mom, AnnaBeth and I cleaned the house for Community Group tomorrow. As an incentive, Mommy and Daddy were going to take us to the State Fair, because they had a Military discount thing in honor of President's Day. Well, my dad went to look up the policy online and discovered that actually, the whole free admission thing didn't start until 4 PM, and that in fact, it wasn't for Military personnel at all, but for everybody. That left me out of the picture because I had a dentist appointment at 1, and my mom didn't really want to be out that late anyways. So, we decided to watch Mamma Mia! instead. Anyways, so I went to my dentist appointment... It's only reinforcing my disdain for those people that stick metal and lasers in my mouth. Not cool. And come to find out, you have to get numbed for a filling. I had forgotten about that, because fortunately, I don't make a habit of getting cavities. So, that brings me to where I am right now: sitting on the couch, feeling like half of my face is either falling off or the size of a tennis ball (I can't decide which), listening to all the Abba music that is currently stuck in my head, drinking a milkshake (and wondering if maybe I should go get a bib), and contemplating my discussion with my parents last night.

Well, after 4 hours, this is what I think I look like:

And this is the song that has been playing on repeat in my head for those 4 hours:

The circumstances which initiated the conversation were not so great. They involved me losing my wallet somewhere in St. Petersburg, and me quitting my job three weeks ago and neglecting to tell them. I wouldn't recommend either. Well. Through this little chat, we discovered that these two mishaps, among several others within the past couple of weeks, are rooted in character-based problems that I struggled with and supposedly conquered years ago. In 2008-2009, I was doing many things the wrong way, one of them being not talking to my parents about really anything. It didn't matter if I needed advice, if something was bothering me, if I needed encouragement, a hug, forgiveness... I just didn't want them to be involved in my life like that. I think it's a typical thing that many teenagers go through: wanting to be independent. The sadly un-typical part of my situation was how involved and persistent my parents were (and still are). After over a year of being shut out, they never gave up on trying to get me to open up. They never threw up their hands and said, "okay, I'm done." They never passively waited for me to "come around:" they actively waited. And, I eventually did. So, when I decided to quit my job, I had very good reasons and had thought it through well, but I had made the decision on my own, because I knew they probably wouldn't like it (which is what drove almost all of my withdrawn behaviors 3 years ago). So I was sitting there and talking with the three people that love me the most, and it struck me as concerning that I seem to be regressing in a way. "I can't bear to see the man I've been rising up in me again."[a] I was reminded of a prayer I prayed a few days ago... not the conscious, on-your-knees kind... more of like a passing thought. It's encouraging that God hears those too. I was thinking about how I only have a few more months before life as I know it is going to be completely transformed (more on that later,) and how there is so much I would have done differently if I could have. Then, I realized, even though I can't change the past, it's not too late to start anew. Actually, it's a perfect time to start anew. I asked God if he would reveal things about myself to me that I had maybe forgotten about, or was ignoring, or were just unnoticed. Well He answered that one, alright. It's like He took a giant highlighter and just started marking up my life right and left. These signs of the "old me" are God's way of weeding out the qualities that I have in me that are not of Him. I thought I had fixed these things, but maybe I only thought I did. Maybe I just got better at covering them up. He's showing me how well He knows me, and He's helping me to change, just like I asked. These next five months are going to be messy, I know that for sure... but I have no doubt that they will be rewarding. God is shaping me into the woman that He wants me to be, and therefore that I want to be. 

[a] "East to West," Casting Crowns.



You know, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the ways we should differ from the rest of the world. Not to be cliché, but… “In it, not of it.” Well. The more you try to do that, the more you realize that it is a lot easier said than done – essentially, because we simply cannot do anything on our own. But even the act of admitting that truth – that we are incapable – is something that requires an amount of humility, which we also (surprise, surprise) do not have on our own accord: we need God to step in and strip away everything else that “defines” us, and show us what is really inside… And we should actively seek this! We need the humility to ask for the humility that we don’t have. Ugh… that’s dizzying, isn’t it? Oh man… I’m going to move on before my brain implodes.

Well, before I got hung up on that, I was thinking about how living separately really rests on one fundamental truth that we have to strive to carry with us through every task, whether significant or menial. Rather, to ask God to impress on our hearts… We must not lose sight of eternity. That’s it. We must keep our eyes set on what is to come. For that is what our faith rests upon: the knowledge that this life is not, in fact, all that there is, and that we’ve horribly messed up since the beginning of our existence. We’re running in one direction, and in the midst of running, we look around and realize that oh, by the way, we’re actually going the wrong way, and we have been for a while (forever, actually) and we’ve been completely indifferent the entire time. We need a Savior! But even this is not something we are remotely capable of acknowledging on our own. Still, God, in His great mercy, reveals to us our own hearts, and gently picks us up and sets us apart; and that’s where we start living differently. We set our eyes on what is to come, unlike the rest of the world’s philosophy to “live in the moment.” Yes, we should indeed be aware and conscious of what is around us, ready and watching for opportunities to learn, and to teach. We are to be focused, but not oblivious.

If we simply look towards eternity, we are able to see everything else much more clearly. Paul describes it as running a race (1 Corinthians 9:24-27). We run in such a way as to get the prize. We keep our eyes set ahead, and suddenly everything else falls into place. The hurdles that seemed impossible now, suddenly, seem insignificant. The tasks that we are to accomplish, things in ourselves that we are to change, everything that once seemed so hard and painful… it seems such a small price to pay, because there is so much more! Wow, that’s an understatement.

Because I have been rescued from certain death, I can now look forward to eternity. I can anticipate with joy the life that awaits me. And because I can look forward to that, my simple worries of now, today, this year don’t matter nearly as much as I make them seem like they do. Because they don’t matter (rather, won’t matter), I can surrender them to Someone who can handle them much better than I could anyways. Yes... it's hard. Life gets in the way a lot of the time. Sometimes, I look around and find myself fighting back. But the wonder of it all is that my Redeemer looks at me with the same patience and love that He did four years ago when he first captured my heart. His unconditional love is just that... unconditional, unwavering, beautiful, patient, merciful, unfathomable. 



Yeah. It's been too long. I guess so much has happened that I just don't know what to write about... but also I feel like I've been lacking inspiration lately. Well actually, I think I've been lacking originality, which I confuse with inspiration. If that makes any sense at all.

I'm taking World Literature this semester, and I'm really excited about that. Partly, because in each unit there's something from the Bible that we study, so it's like "...opportunity!!" but also partly because there's so much to uncover in literary works and poetry. It's an area I enjoy, but need to exercise a little more. I get a window to the inspiration of others, separated by hundreds of years. I think that's pretty cool... plus, with me being a math/science-y type person I don't get too much of it, at least in this sense.

Science is sort of the same way though. The people who research and seek knowledge about whatever subject it is certainly have inspiration. I love it, because I can see connections all around me... I like to ask why.

And... I'm still not really sure where this entry is heading.

Well, hopefully I've broken the ice enough to where I can start writing again. Regularly, I mean. But for now, I need to finish breakfast and go to the beach before work. Time outside is good for the soul. :) I'm so excited! I went home and packed myself a little picnic lunch, and I've got a few books to read, music to listen to, my Bible, and some thank-you cards to write. I don't think I have enough time to do all that, but that's okay. I'll just do it again tomorrow!

Goodness and mercy.