Friday, February 25, 2011


“Christ said it was difficult for ‘the rich’ to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, referring, no doubt, to ‘riches’ in the ordinary sense. But I think it really covers riches in every sense—good fortune, health, popularity and all the things one wants to have…All these things tend...To make you feel independent of God. “

--From “Answers to Questions on Christianity” in Timeless at Heart

I love this passage from C.S. Lewis, it challenges me so much. I’m asking myself, “what am I pursuing?” Is it contentment in this world that I seek after so much? Or is it Christ? Lewis says “God wants to give you a real and eternal happiness.” I have to consider the reality that our time here on earth is so brief. I find that I am always looking around, at other people’s lives, and wondering if they’ve got it better. If they are happier, stronger, healthier, more content than I am. You know, Paul said in Philippians (the letter he wrote from jail remember?) that he had learned the secret to being content. I don’t think Paul was implying that we should all chase after contentment. Remember what the secret was? “I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13. That is the secret…CHRIST! Don’t get me wrong, contentment is a beautiful character trait, and one worthy of developing. We should be satisfied with the Lord has given us. What I mean is that we have confused the word contentment with comfortable.

Like I hear people saying “I just don’t feel content in this job, neighborhood, etc.” As if a lack of contentment is an excuse to get out of something? Or, like I said before is contentment being confused with comfortable.

Here’s what I think I mean:

Being comfortable would make sense if this is all there is. If at the end of our lives, we die and it’s over, then of course we would seek after comfort, and happiness. However, I know that this is not the end. I know that at the end of this life I will spend eternity in heaven with God. This makes my life on earth a hotel, not a home. It’s a pit stop…or maybe even more accurately a training ground. What if life is really boot camp, or high school? You know when you’re in high school and you think “this sucks, I can’t wait to graduate and get to the real world?” Maybe heaven is the real world. Which makes our brief lives a little more tolerable…right?

From the same essay Lewis gives a great example:

“Imagine a set of people all living in the same building. Half of them think it is a hotel, the other half think it is a prison. Those who think it a hotel might regard it as quite intolerable, and those who thought it was a prison might decide that it was really surprisingly comfortable. “

So the question is not; “Am I comfortable?” It is; “Should I be?”

Friday, February 11, 2011

More from C.S.


“Some people when they say that a thing is meant “metaphorically” conclude from this that it is hardly meant at all. They rightly think that Christ spoke metaphorically when he told us to carry the cross: they wrongly conclude that carrying the cross means nothing more than leading a respectable life and subscribing moderately to charities.” –C.S. Lewis, Miracles, Chapter 10

Some of us living in Northern Virginia have believed that living life sacrificially means buying a used car instead of new, or shopping at the outlets instead of paying retail. Somewhere along the way we have convinced ourselves that we are poor, humble, and sacrificial. Or that service is, similar to worship, something we do once a week for about an hour. It’s simply something we check off a list of things we’re supposed to do on the weekend. Go to church, wash the car, and serve in the nursery. We believe that when Christ said take up your cross, somehow, these sacrifices fit the bill.

I call B.S.

Crucifixion was intended to provide a death that was particularly slow, painful (hence the term excruciating, literally "out of the cross"), gruesome, humiliating, and public. For Jesus this was the act of giving His life away, quite literally.

There is no true and lasting joy in “suburban sacrifices”. No wonder our faith doesn’t feel deep and rich and real; because we’re not actually LIVING LIKE JESUS. There is little that is life giving and meaningful about buying a used car. There is much that is life giving and meaningful about really serving others. Living life like Christ did, pouring out of yourself, your money, and your gifts, your passions, your pain and your joy. Forging relationships with those who are not like you, people who don’t know Jesus the way you do; that is stretching. Giving up your time…isn’t it funny how we think our time is our own? Giving up “your time” your precious Saturday mornings or Friday nights to spend ministering to the needs of the hurting, lost, or simply needy people around you; that’s where the joy of living a sacrificial life comes from.

Where you need God like you never have before… there is joy.

Where you connect with the pain of Jesus in a real tangible way… there is joy.

Where you experience the hurt and rejection of Jesus… there is joy.

Where you walk along side someone through the pain of life… there is joy.

Where you witness a life changed for eternity… there is joy.

Where you put others needs before your own… there is joy.

I think there is joy in these sacrifices because we get a better picture of who God is. Isn’t that what Jesus came for, to reveal the truth of who God is? God is a sacrificing, ever-loving, holy and terrifying god that deserves a response.
How are you giving your life away for the sake of the Kingdom and its King?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

C.S. Lewis

I'm working my way through a great book: C.S. Lewis Readings for Meditation and Reflection

Thought it might be neat to blog about it as I go...would LOVE your thoughts and comments!

The Intolerable Compliment

“When we want to be something other than the thing God wants us to be, we must be wanting what, in fact, will not make us happy. Those Divine demands which sound to our natural ears most like those of a despot and least like those of a love, in fact marshall us where we should want to go if we knew what we wanted.“ --The Problem of Pain, Chapter 3, C.S. Lewis

There are a lot of things that I have begged God for that He has not given me. I desperately wanted to marry my college sweetheart; even before we dated I wanted to marry him. I wanted my son to sleep all night those first few months he was around. I can remember standing over his crib while he cried; begging God to just let him sleep…which I knew even then was really asking God to just let ME sleep. I thought—why? Why wouldn’t the Lord want us to sleep? I cried out for the healing of many people that died. I remember distinctly my cousin’s wife who was in a coma just three months after her twin boys were born. I prayed fervently and believing that her healing would come. I just KNEW that she would be okay, that their family would be okay. She died about 9 months after the coma began, just around her twins first birthday.

That’s the one that changed the way I prayed. I don’t know if I’ve ever prayed believing that way since K died. I wasn’t close with her, I’m not even close with my cousin her husband. Not the way I am with other family and friends. But for some reason I was sure that she would be healed. I was confident, maybe even to the point of arrogant, in my God. I had it figured out, she would be healed and all in my family must acknowledge God’s hand in our lives. Why wouldn’t he want that for us, for her, for my cousin and their boys.

I’m learning, not I have learned but am learning, to ask of God again. It’s not that I stopped praying that day, I just started praying for easy things. And always praying for God’s will…”Thy will be done” “align my will with yours” The underlying tone being, align my will with yours so I won’t be disappointed. C.S. Lewis’ incredible examination of what it means to be disappointed reminds me. Aligning our will with God’s is not about avoiding pain or disappointment. It is about acknowledging the Rightness of the one True and Holy God. That God is God, and we are not. That just as our parents begged us to believe that they knew what was best for us…yet…God does not beg us to believe Him. He does in fact know better than me.

“He demands our worship, our obedience, our prostration. Do we suppose that they can do Him any good, or fear like the chorus in Milton, that human irreverence can bring about ‘His glory’s diminution’? A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word “darkness” on the wall of his cell…Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want. Once more, we are embarrassed by the intolerable compliment, by too much love, not too little.” --The Problem of Pain, Chapter 3, C.S. Lewis

I’m glad that I didn’t marry my college sweetheart. My husband is much more than I ever could ask for. I’m glad (believe it or not) that I spent so many sleepless nights with my son. I even find myself missing them…sometimes. I am not glad that my friends and family were not healed. But, I think that’s okay. Because I am learning to pray again, and to trust Him and His will. Asking for big things in spite of the unknown result is about being in relationship with the God of the universe. Letting Him in to the longings of my heart and being honest with Him (and myself) lays the groundwork for a deeper commitment and understanding of how He loves….and how I want to trust.

What I’m Reading Right Now

Reshaping It All

Candace Cameron Bure’s book is not changing my life, but it is pretty good. (Yes, that Candace Cameron…DJ from Full House). She has a little bit of that perfect-mom-persona going on that is one part admirable and one part annoying. What I do love about this book is her very real reliance on the Lord for her success in life, specifically in weight loss. She really does submit to the Holy Spirit her desires for food. Her advice is a combination of Beck’s behavioral therapy (see The Beck Diet Solution) and a healthy dose of the Holy Spirit, which Beck’s plan clearly lacked. Candace is really challenging me to remember the spiritual side of every problem and struggle.
I desire to be a good steward of every gift the Lord has given me. Whether that’s money, talent, time, or my body. I am being encouraged by the following verses specifically in this area of self control and health:
“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” I Corinthians 9:27 ESV
“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.” I Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV

What verses do you look to for encouragement with being healthy?

Dairy Free Dilemma

One of the most depressing days of my life was when I finally discovered that I was lactose intolerant. But even worse was when I learned that lactase enzymes do NOT work for me. For a few weeks after finally putting a finger on my symptoms and calling it lactose intolerance I was content to keep eating my pizza and just pop a pill at the beginning of the meal. Unfortunately--it didn't work. In fact most days the medicine just made me feel even worse, sending me to bed with horrible cramps for an hour. (sorry, TMI?)

Anyway, it finally occured to me, my body does not want dairy. DUH! Why am I trying to force it? So has begun my journey with a food allergy. It's not as bad as I thought it would be. Back in the day my roommate Sarah and I would play the classic conversation starting game "Would you rather". One of our favorite questions was; Would you rather from this day on never have sex, or never eat cheese? We usually agreed we'd rather give up sex than cheese, in theory anyway. Well...looks like I'm giving up cheese.

Things I'm learning along the way:

1. I can go without things I love, like cheese, cream in my coffee, pizza, and ice cream. Maybe this means I could make it without other unhealthy things that I think I'd die with out, ie. tortilla chips, candy, and Diet Coke.
2. Soy milk after a while really starts to taste just like soy. Not a fan of crushed edamame over your breakfast cereal? I'm partial to almond milk lately. It tastes like almond a little, but I'd rather have almonds with my cereal than soybeans any day.
3. Starbucks caramel topping, that they use to top off their delicious Caramel Macchiatto and yummy Creme Brulee Lattes (which are both good with soy btw), is made with milk.
4. I'd rather skip the dairy and feel great, than enjoy the 30 minutes of cheese and feel like junk for the rest of the day.
5. I am way more sensitive to other people's dietary needs and preferences than I used to be. How hard is it really to accomodate gluten free or dairy free, or vegan. Hmmm well all three and we're running out of food, but you get the idea.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Full Time Ministry Mom

So I’ve been obsessed with this blog lately called Money Saving Mom. She has great deals, and ways to save money. She loves Jesus and she’s making it work. Something that I’ve been noticing out in the blogosphere is that moms tend to fall into one of the following categories:

Stay-at-home Mom: She stays at home with her kids. Maybe she home schools, and she definitely keeps the house in order. Her role is primarily to be with her kids, nurture their development and keep the family fed, clean, and loved, in the most efficient manner possible.

Work-at-home Mom: This mom looks a lot like the stay at home mom, but she also throws some money making work in the mix. She maybe sets aside time to blog, or bill, or whatever she does for income during naps, or after the kids head to bed.

Work-outside-the-home Mom: This mom works a 9-5 job outside of the home. She is juggling the regular mom duties (cooking, cleaning, and loving) along with getting the kids to and from daycare or school so she can work. Evenings are pretty routine since work ends at 5 or 6pm so a meal plan and weekly schedule work for her.

I don’t seem to find myself in any of these categories. I work full time, in Youth Ministry, for a non-denominational organization called Young Life. I work strange hours. I work a 12-14 hour day on Mondays. Thursdays start with a bible study I lead at 7am and I’m done usually around 5pm. Fridays I usually spend a good amount of time hanging out with B (our 2 year old) and running errands. Saturdays I teach a leadership class for high school kids from 8-10am. Then every Sunday night we have either a team meeting or an area wide leadership meeting so that takes up every Sunday. Once soccer season starts in a few weeks (I coach the JV Girls Soccer team at the school I work with) add practice 3 days a week and 2 games a week.
I am out with high school kids at least 3 nights a week. My husband works a job that has him out about 8 evenings a month. I find that I am craving a schedule and some organization in our lives. But I have yet to figure that out. Being out every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday night and having meetings every Sunday night is proving to leave little time for family, and being a good home-maker.

I’m working it out…but would love to hear what you all think about trying to balance family and work with an odd hours job.