Monday, January 26, 2009

Without God ...

I'm a mess. I had a great conversation with a friend the other night about the desperate need our country has for God. America has told God to leave the country, and He's not one to force Himself where He's not wanted. We talked about how the concept of encouraging greatness - not just success or wealth, but encouraging someone's capacity to really be great - has fallen by the wayside, about how it's rare to see people that are passionate about what they do. The very presence of God is encouraging, and inspires people to do more, to be more, than they otherwise would. Because with God, we're part of His plan, part of something bigger. It's not just about working this job to get enough money to buy nice things and impress all our neighbors. It's about living passionately in the joy of Christ. Think about that for a minute. Living in joy.

I'm reading a book right now called Desiring God, by John Piper. It's all about what he calls Christian Hedonism - living and displaying the joy of God, which can be found no where else and which is utterly life changing. Because unlike everything else in our world, the joy that's found in God is unconditional. 

My life often fails to live up to this. I make a concentrated effort to spend time with God every day. After all, if it's the most important relationship I have, shouldn't I be nurturing it? I go out of my way to encourage my relationships with my siblings, with my parents, with my friends. But for whatever reason, sometimes my efforts in my relationship with God seem to slide. And even though I can see it happening, most of the time I don't do anything about it right away. Maybe one night I'm up really late so my quiet time doesn't get done. It's not a humongous deal. But then the next night something happens, and it doesn't get done again. My mornings may get rushed and then my Scripture memorization time slides. And this will go on for a week before I stop and say, Wait a minute. I don't like who I am when I'm not abiding in God. I'm jealous and petty and unforgiving. I become less responsible. I become insecure and irritable and self-involved. 

After a week or so, I look at myself and I have to bonk myself on the head, because I did it again. I've done this so many times; don't you think I'd learn? God changes me. When I'm dwelling in and on His love instead of on all the frustrating and irritating things that happen during my day-to-day life, I'm happy, and I'm content, and I'm able to focus on others and on loving on and encouraging them. And that's how I want to be. Getting by is not good enough. Just like our country has done, when I ignore God, I start to lose my desire for greatness, my passion for life and for the things I love doing. I can get so wrapped up in what I'm doing that I totally forget that there are bigger things, that I'm part of a bigger plan - His plan. I want my life to be great. Not that I need success or wealth or to be famous or anything like that, because you can be great without any of those things. I want my life to be great in the way it honors God and brings glory to His Name.

I want to stand on the rooftops and persuade passers-by that God is the answer to their problems. He gives us hope. He loves us unconditionally. He delights in us. As the song goes, "I know I am loved by the King." Those are small sentences, but huge concepts. They're things that have changed my life, that have changed me, from the inside out. When I look at who I'd be without Him, who I am when I haven't been spending any time with Him, I'm reminded of just how important it is for God to be my everything. The pleasure and joy I gain in spending time with Him outweighs any excuse I have to spend that time any other way.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Feel free to ignore.

My, this blog feels very serious. So, to lighten the mood, I thought maybe we should get to know one another a little better. This is my story. 

My favorite food is cheesecake. I'm also addicted to goldfish, Carmex, and hanging out with people, be it in person or online. I love to read. Playing with little kids is one of my favorite things to do ever. I believe puns are the highest form of humor out there. I desperately and intensely want to go to Central Asia for two years after I graduate. My dream is to eventually get married and have lots of kids. Maybe six or so, if I can. I'd like to adopt, too, I think. We'll see. 

I love Scrabble and play online with multiple friends and family members. I'm 22 years old and already turning into my mother, and that makes me happy, because I love my mom and turning out like her wouldn't be so bad, you know? I love UNC basketball. It's very, very upsetting when we lose. I never have enough friends. 

God has blessed my life in major, major ways. Me without God = not a pretty picture. I like to journal, but I'm very inconsistent. My favorite restaurant is Taco Bell. I could eat there every day. I have claustrophobic toes, so I wear flipflops as much as possible. Sometimes this gets me in trouble. 

I love children's movies. Also, at one point I had all of The Lorax memorized, though now I think I could only get 3/4 of the way through without prompts. Belle is my favorite Disney princess. I love to dance. Ballet I think will always be my favorite, but any kind of dance. Recently I've been doing more ballroom and enjoying it. I also love to sing, but I'm not very good at it. 

I'm extremely competitive, which is usually one of my flaws, but can also make for fun times. I hate being tickled. Seriously. Don't ever tickle me. But I do like to laugh. Much and often. Just not the two at the same time. Or the former ever, really. I once dislocated my patella doing the worm (go ahead, laugh at me). It hurt. I love peanut butter. I tend to eat it by the spoonful. 

I have many nicknames. Bec(k), Bex, Rhae Rhae, and Rhaebies being the four most commonly used probably. I don't really like stupid movies, in general. They're fun to quote with people, but I don't actually enjoy watching them. I'd rather watch good movies like the Princess Bride or the Count of Monte Cristo. 

I absolutely adore Les Miserables. I read it (the 1500-page original) in English, and I really want to read it in French, but I don't think my French is quite that good still. I get together with friends regularly to play card games, notably Egyptian Ratscrew and Munchkin, both good games. I like people. I'm not shy, but sometimes I don't have anything exciting to say. I love to perform. 

I'm outgoing, but I hold back a lot. It takes a long time before I can really open up to people. I love the cheese danish sold at Bonson's in Eagle River, WI. I tend to have one or two really really close friends instead of lots and lots and lots of friends. I used to have really really long hair, but I cut it short now. Everyone is still commenting 3 months later. 

Right now, I'm sleepy. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New blog!

Welcome one and all to my brand-spanking new blog! As a second-semester senior in college, I'm hoping to embark on some fun adventures once I graduate. I was going to make this blog once I knew where I was going and what I'll be doing, but that could be a while yet, and I felt like making it now, so here I am.

Brief update on my life: -

-I'm about to graduate, as of May '09, from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Go Heels!) with a degree in International Studies and minors in French and Linguistics.

-I want to go abroad for a few years after I graduate, preferably to Central Asia, though there are other options afloat as well.

-I have no idea what I want to do with the rest of my life. Hopefully in the next two years God will just drop something in my lap and be like BAM. There you go. And then I'll live happily ever after.

This blog will probably be for serious things and for silly things and for lots of things in between. I haven't decided yet if there will be pictures. Let me know if there are any topics you're just burning for me to tackle!