Friday, November 30, 2012

Day 5!: Whom/what shall I fear?

Ok, so technically speaking, I have failed in writing a blog for Thursday because it is now 1:41 a.m. Friday (according to my roommate), but I strongly believe that a day does not end until one curls up in bed and falls asleep, and since I'm not sleep-typing, it is therefore not Friday.

My thoughts for tonight are short and brief. I'm pretty zonked. I've been thinking and reflecting a lot lately. Praying too.

I took courage, remembering a beloved Psalm I love. Psalm 27 can be summed up in this: Don't freak out; wait for God. I remember when I was going through some of the darkest days of feeling hopeless and discouraged, and making a decorative sign to put on my mirror of verses 13 and 14, my particular favorites: "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

Some days, that's all you can do. Emotions can be draining, your body can be sick, your future can be bleak, but God is good and will give good things to those who wait. This doesn't mean that God necessarily rewards those who wait (though he does), but that rather God has provided ahead of time and that we will receive those blessings in due time, and therefore, we must wait patiently for His timing.

In context, this passage is a song of David, a prayer and reflection to God. David of all men had the right to be impatient, angry, and just plain fed up with God. Why was he, the future anointed king of Israel, being pursued by a mad-man-of-a-king bent on killing him? How would his death bring about God's promise? "I will wait...and take heart..." David said.

Waiting on my Lord,

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Day 4!: Thoughts on Christmas Trees

I will have helped decorate about four Christmas trees within about two weeks, so Christmas trees have been on the mind. I didn't feel like I had much of a brain or a strong stance today to blog about, so, I'm going to talk about Christmas trees: their history, the types, and the personal experiences with Christmas trees.

Wikipedia, the source of all good knowledge, has this to say about the Christmas trees:

"The tree was traditionally decorated with edibles such as apples, nuts or dates. In the 18th century, it began to be illuminated by candles, which with electrification could also be replaced by Christmas lights. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional ornaments, such as garland, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star may be placed at the top of the tree, to represent the host of angels or the Star of Bethlehem from the Nativity.

The custom of the Christmas tree developed in early modern Germany with predecessors that can be traced to the 16th and possibly the 15th century. It acquired popularity beyond Germany during the second half of the 19th century.[1] The Christmas tree has also been known as the "Yule-tree", especially in discussions of its folkloristic origins.[2][3]"

I would like to know why anyone would place lit candles on a tree... I wonder how many houses burned down because of this festive decor. But, an interesting fact is that the tree "skirts" that go around the base of the tree were originally used to catch wax drippings from the candles.

Surprisingly, Christmas trees did not originate in Christian culture:

"It is frequently traced to the symbolism of evergreen trees in pre-Christian winter rites...

...The use of evergreen trees, wreaths, and garlands to symbolize eternal life was a custom of the ancient Egyptians, Chinese, and Hebrews. Tree worship was common among the pagan Europeans and survived their conversion to Christianity in the Scandinavian customs of decorating the house and barn with evergreens at the New Year to scare away the devil and of setting up a tree for the birds during Christmastime.[7]

Alternatively, it is identified with the 'tree of paradise' of medieval mystery plays that were given on 24 December, the commemoration and name day of Adam and Eve in various countries. In such plays, a tree decorated with apples (to represent the forbidden fruit) and wafers (to represent the Eucharist and redemption) was used as a setting for the play. ...the Paradise tree was later placed in homes. The apples were replaced by round objects such as shiny red balls.[3]"

Quite intriguing in my opinion. I find it humorous that Christmas trees were originally brought in and decorated December 24th, the day right before Christmas. I know my family has the tree up right after the Thanksgiving meal practically, if not a few days before. We've also hardly ever had a real Christmas tree. Falling pine needles, sticky sap, and allergies are enough to keep my family happy faux tree owners. You may be interested to know that "the first artificial Christmas trees were developed in Germany during the 19th century...These "trees" were made using goose feathers that were dyed green." Poor geese...

Anyways, I'm going to wrap up this oh so exciting blog post to go downstairs and help put up our own faux Christmas tree, that is thankfully not made out of goose feathers.

Christmas blessings,

Monday, November 26, 2012

Day 3!: Dispelling the Christian Litmus test of "Can we better serve God together?"

At my Christian college, I heard this question all the time. It was used to determine if said girl should enter a relationship with said guy, and was also used between said girlfriends to discuss if said girl should date said guy. Now, I don't think it's a ridiculous question all together. If, for example, your heart is for missions and his heart is for business in the U.S. and not leaving the country, you have a conflict of interests and callings. Also, the question is relevant if you're determining whether he has the spiritual attributes to guide you in a godly, marital covenant. These are all legitimate reasons to raise this over-used questions.

Here is where I have issues with it:
It's used to such a degree, that guys and girls are second guessing relationships and marriage all together (at least that's the way I interpreted the question). It puts so much stress on the individual, often coming with the second clause, "...versus alone." Very few people want to be alone. And very few people in this world are alone. Marriage is a trend. A God-instituted trend.

Which leads to my argument:
Why would God say in Genesis that it is not good for man to be alone, or say that creation was very good after he had created Eve for Adam if marriage was not in his design? I have news for you: God is pro-marriage. Don't get me wrong. It is better to remain single and glorify God in your singlehood than marry out of desperation. That being said, God desires a man and a woman to become one flesh together, leaving both of their parents and starting their own family. This is healthy and right, and it answers the initial question of "can we better serve God together." YES!!!! God would not have created marriage if it did not better both the individuals involved and glorify Him, for it reflects the unity and love of the Trinity and can be a wonderful testimony of Christ's sacrifice. Therefore, if you find yourself with the possibility of dating a godly and wonderful man or woman whose heart is for Christ, glorify the Lord in your relationship and matrimony.

Times when this question actually works:
1) He's a non-believer- of course you can't better glorify God!
2) You're called to different lifestyles (see above)

Those are the only two reasons that come to mind. So I beg of you, don't let this question scare you away from a magnificent marriage that reflects God's love and allows two individuals to serve sacrificially, and daily, alongside one another.


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Day 2!: The Unselfish Motives to Healthy Self-Indulgence

This post is not to say that one should love oneself first and foremost, or explain away unhealthy self absorption. Rather, I want to point out that having time to detox, think, and pamper oneself can also benefit others.


Proceed with reading now...

The following scenario I often find myself in leaves me exhausted physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally, which is neither good for me nor those around me: 7 hours of sleep, staying up too late, not being spiritually fed, not making time to talk to my heavenly Father, not prioritizing, etc. This makes me a grouch, and then I am short with others, and they become a grouch. It's a vicious cycle.

Therefore, I encourage some self pampering and time to self for your sake, and others (they will want to be around you more if you're pleasant):
1) Sleep 8+ hours a night
2) Spend time in communion with your heavenly Father
3) treat yourself to an occasional dessert or manicure/pedicure
4) make time for a weekly bath (I forgot how wonderful they are)

Your list may look different than mine, but as Christians, we often pride ourselves on "going" and uber selflessness, which really looks like running around helping everyone and their dog and not getting one single gasp for breath. That, is not godly. Even Jesus retreated from the crowd to pray and get away.

So, in light of the crazy holidays, and daily living, take some time for you. :)

Sincerely, Jane
PS: Thoughts or comments on how you think one should approach self-indulgence are encouraged.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Day 1!: YOGA... You Obtain Grueiling Abs

This is post 1 of hopefully 30 consecutive posts for the 30 day blogging challenge! Woot! So, the other day, my dear friend convinced me to go to a yoga class with her at 7am. Now, this sounds trivial, but those of you who know me know that a) I'm not athletic or "stretchy" any way you spin it and b) I'm not a morning person, and would prefer the world not wake up til at least 8 or 9. Additionally, I had never attempted yoga, mainly because of letter b, and because of the preconceived notions I had of it, which I will dispel.

What follows is my first attempt at yoga:

My friend and I got up at 6am, after only 6 hours of sleep (ouch...). We basically rolled out of bed and jumped in her car. I was feeling optimistic because I had just purchased my first pair of legit yoga pants that fit in all the right places, and I was feeling rather good about myself. I credit these pants in making the experience a better one overall.

We arrive at the quaint gym, and I've been rambling in the car up to this point because apparently that's what sleep deprivation does to me. We walk in the class, and I'm feeling extra good because it wasn't going to be just me and my friend (there was a mini crowd, as in, half a dozen others) and everyone was older than me. "I've got this" I thought. I picked up my yoga mat, which I would become dear friends with over the next hour. I started stretching, both to look "cool" and un-novice, and because I felt it might make the whole experience be less painful.

Once the yoga instructor walked in, all notions of looking "in the know" and un-novice flew out the window as I practically blurted out to her "this is my first yoga class!" My motives for that, I think, were to temper any feelings she may have during the class bordering on pity at my expertise, or lack there of, and because I felt rather excited that it was my first yoga class. I had been avoiding them for years, which I will explain in the following.

Yoga, based on my limited knowledge of it, is based on Eastern religion and meditation. Hence, to a Christian girl who had grown up in a strict Christian household, yoga's definition to me was something like praying to buddha and emptying your brain of all logic. Now, certain yoga classes may be more like this, but, I am happy to say that my yoga experience was nothing like this. She used soothing music that was well-known (ex: Coldplay). I even started singing along as I attempted to balance. The only thing "eastern" about it was her final greeting of "namaste" as she dismissed the class. According to Wikipedia, "namaste" is a "common spoken valediction or salutation originating from the Indian subcontinent. It is a customary greeting when individuals meet, and a valediction upon their parting." Pretty cool.

So back to my experience... The principle of yoga is not difficult. In fact, most people make it look easy. In actuality, they have probably been doing yoga for months, years, or since birth. Most of the positions required balance, stability, and concentration. Holding certain positions for minutes (or years) at a time created much muscle soreness, and my abs were killing me by the time class was over. Further, my legs felt they had turned to jelly, and I could hardly walk up or down stairs. Phew.

Golly, this post is so long. But, it was something I wanted to write on both as a personal account of a new experience and to dispel the notion that yoga is "sinful" or that Christians should avoid it like the plague. I would admonish believers to use caution and perhaps ask about how an instructor runs her class before attending, but not run from the experience all together just because it is called "yoga." Honestly, if I had a gym to go to regularly, I would do yoga a couple of times a week because I could easily see it's benefits in core strengthening and muscle building right off the bat.

In conclusion, I enjoyed my first taste of yoga, and I encourage you to try it out for yourself and create your own ideas and thoughts on it.


Friday, November 23, 2012

I propose, a challenge!

I made a recent acquaintance, who was definitely more of a blogger than I was, who had embraced a 30-day blogging challenge in which an individual follows the given prompt for the day and writes on it for thirty days. Excited, I asked her to send me the list of prompts. Not surprisingly (and I was warned), the prompts were not easy to write about, or, they were too personal or boring in my estimation. I therefore propose that I will in the near future begin a blog-a-day for 30 days using my own prompts, thoughts, and rantings. Feel free to read them at your leisure, or not. I feel that I will enjoy this more than you, my reader, but if you enjoy it, then the more the merrier ;)

A girl who's missing writing regularly,

Monday, November 19, 2012

Houston, do you copy?

Oh, hello! This blog is still living after all! I have not abandoned it, but rather have been inspired to take new initiative in posting regularly and making it a more interesting place to peruse overall. You may have noticed the title change; I like it much better. Not that you care. But, please check back more regularly, as I intend to become a habitual blogger. :)

Yours truly,