Thursday, October 10, 2013

Thursday Thought: Why I Don't Like Formulas...

Add maths

As a math major in college, I learned a lot about how formulas can model nature. And when it comes to modeling weather, plant growth, ocean currents, or the probability of certain events, I am fine with formulas. Formulas are created in such a way that they can take into account a certain number of variables and factors. So, even in the best models for weather, there are still an endless number of factors, so the formula can only be limited in its understanding of how weather works. But when it comes to trying to model God, formulas are impossible.

If weather has an endless number of factors to do considered, then consider the Holy Spirit. How many more factors need to be considered when God is involved? One of the largest reasons I have strong feelings towards people who try to make the Christian life until a list of formulas is that most of these "formulas" actually can't take into consideration the input of God. You see it all over the blogosphere (the next few examples are just simply titles I have made up on the spot... I am not actually specifically talking about certain posts on other blogs, just the type of post in general)... "5 steps to a better relationship with God", "10 ways to receive blessings from God", "8 essential steps to a better prayer life", etc. And in the world of single bloggers, "Five Steps to the Biblical dating/courting relationship". While these posts have merit to them, they offer encouragement and a call to action on the part of the reader, the scary thing about them is they set all the responsibility on us as people, and leaves little room for God to move.

In the human aspect, these formulas limit our liberty that we have in Christ. The very nature of our relationship with the Lord is that His Love breaks the bonds that we have to the Law and to sin. These formulas and steps just leads to a new law. This very process tells us that if we put in the work that we are told to, then we will get out of the process that we want. This makes our relationship with God much like losing weight. If we consume a certain number of calories (sermons, community, fellowship, etc.) and then we exercise (the spiritual disciplines) on a regular basis, then we will get the results that we want (i.e. the blessing that we are seeking from God). Don't misunderstand me, we will be blessed by those things, and we will grow in our relationship with God, but if we are using them in a way to try to get what we want from God, then our prospective of who God really is, is flawed.

This type of writing leaves much to be desired, since the Lord is not bound to those formulas. Just because someone writes it as a list of "to-do's" doesn't mean that Lord sit there a reads that post, and says to Himself, "OH, is that how I am supposed to be working among my people?". These lists and formulas to a better "whatever" leads to putting God in a box. It leads the people of God to want God to work like a formula, and do things that are expected. It can also cause us to view God as a dispenser of blessings and gifts, if we can carry out a certain number of steps, or a works based relationship with God. Yes, a relationship with God takes work, but the ultimate goal of working at our relationship with God is NOT to get what WE desire, but to be in communion with God. We work at our relationship with God not to try to receive His blessings (if this is your goal, then you will be disappointed), but to just be in relationship with the Lord.

I don't want my God to do the expected. I want my God to work in the exact opposite, the unexpected. I want Him to work in mysterious, glorious, and out of the box ways. I want Him to defy nature and formulas.
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Traveling Adventures: Summer 2013

For the last two years, I have posted about the traveling adventures with my friend, Kelly. Two years ago it was Germany, last year it was a cruise. This year we visited Los Angeles! But not only did I visit LA with Kelly, I also took a three week road trip with a teacher friend. We visited each major city from DC to Boston and ended the trip with a relaxing couple of days on Cape Cod, Mass. And yes, after 18 days on the road together, we are still friends. Even after that I spent another seven days with my family in Upstate New York.

Taking advantage of these kinds of trips is something that I didn't quite appreciate until this year. I mean, how many people that are married and/or with kids can just take off with two of their girlfriends and not come home for a totally of 40 days!? I am thankful that I have a job that allows me to have the summer off, and thankful to have this time to explore the world. Here below are just a few of the pictures that were taken on both the trip to LA and the road trip. Enjoy!


First Professional Baseball Game in California
First Time to In and Out
 
In the Amish Schoolhouse, this saying you have to pass on your way in

This is what you have under on your way out. I loved this :)

Amish Village: a family's set of clothing

Statue of Liberty

Today Show with Hoda
 
Cape Cod way our last adventure before I sent my friend home
and I went on to my family reunion

My family at our reunion
 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lessons Learned in the Classroom

School SuppliesAs the first year as a teacher comes to a close, I have looked back and there are a lot of things that I have learned, things I would do differently, and a few things that I want to work on for next year.
This year has been one of the most stressful, most difficult, most stretching years of my life, and also one of the most lonely. Whatever career you choose, the first year is probably the hardest, so I am so glad that is is almost over (4 DAYS!!).
I will probably write a few more times this summer about the lessons I learned this year, but there are a few themes that I want to share about this year.

1. My personal shortcomings where compounded from the year first day of school to the last, and it made me feel like I was always running around to only catch up in enough time to fall behind in every area of my life. This included my social life, my walk with God, keeping healthy eating and exercise a priority, keeping up with household responsibilities, and keeping up with grading, lesson planning, and parent communication.

2. Student Teaching could never really prepare you well enough to handle first year teaching stress.

3. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness or inadequacy, but its a sign of maturity and willingness to learn and grow from the wisdom that is around you.

4. Summer vacation is a welcomed break, and a great opportunity for some extended Sabbath and travel opportunities. (Summer Reading list soon to come)

5. Community and fellowship is one of the most important things to help combat complacency and loneliness.

Continue to look back this summer at the Lessons Learned in the Classroom series! Each one of these five points will be expanded a little bit more!
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Saturday, February 2, 2013

Praying Through the Tears

1996 Jocassee Quiet Solitude
I *think* that I am not alone in this, and that everyone has that "thing". That one thing that they have been praying for years and they watch as other people receive the blessing that they themselves have been praying for. Its the thing that usually brings you to tears when you pray.
It might be getting into the college or university of your choice, the perfect job, a wonderful spouse, a long awaited child, a working car, a place to live, or a comfortable savings account.

It comes to no surprise to my regular readers that being single is that "thing" in my life. Its an area of my life that teaches me repeatedly about my need for dependency on God like nothing else in this season of life. It drives me to prayer, and it usually leaves me crying out to God. Marriage can easily become an idol in my life, and I frequently have to prostrate myself before the Throne to give it all up. The Lord is truly using this time of singleness as a time to bring me closer to Him. In the midst of thinking that I am completely alone, I remember that we have a savior that can sympathize with us. He prayed to the point he started to sweat blood! That is some intense praying. While I have some prayer sessions that have more tears than words, I have never prayed hard enough to draw blood.

Another point of encouragement is that I don't always understand what He is doing, but I do know who He is. He is faithful to complete what He has started.
"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."- Philippians 1:6
This might not include marriage in my life, but I know that whatever He has planned is going to bring Him glory. When I keep this in perspective, I can pray through the tears, still asking Him to bring marriage, and also relying on Him is stage of life. Whatever comes my way, He will be there asking me to rely on Him, and guiding me through.

Whatever your "thing" is, whatever brings you to tears and makes it hard for you to pray, please remember that the Lord is doing something with the pain, with the heartache, with the struggle. He is growing you, stretching you, teaching you in grace.
I am certain that I never did grow in grace one-half so much anywhere as I have upon the bed of pain.  ~ Charles Spurgeon

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Monday, January 7, 2013

How Married Women Can Help Their Single Sisters

Welcome to the 100th Post on He Will Be Faithful to Complete It!!
You might recognize it if you are a long time reader, this was a guest post on Her Noble Character a while ago, but the blog has since been removed, so I am reposting it here. :)

I sometimes think that I don't anything in common with married woman. Somehow in my mind, the wedding ceremony changes someone, and makes them into someone that I can't relate to. They are now a married woman, and there is no way that she can understand what I am going through in my extended period of singleness.

The third wheel
Sometimes our relationship status can get in the way of us realizing that we need each other. We can see this in our churches were there are separate classes for married couples and single people, or when the Women's ministry events focus on how to be a better wife and mother, us single girls have a hard time sitting through them while we take haphazard notes for an uncertain future, while we watch the rest of the women furiously taking notes of things that they can use now. For the single girl, we might have all the friends in the world, and be able to do what we want when we want, but we can still be desperately lonely. Married girls can have the best husband and children in the world, but also still feel lonely. So we can feel the same emotions, but we can have a hard time understanding the why?
I want to encourage you, my married sisters, that you can help me, and I can help you.
  1. Pray for us. This is a duh!, but it needs to be said anyway. Pray specifically for us now, and not that the Lord will bring us a man soon. While we would like the prayers of our married friends to be how the Lord brings us a man, we are most likely praying for our husbands, and we forget to pray for our now. Covering us in prayer is the BEST thing for us.
  2. Hang out with us. I once was talking with a married friend who has moved away (with her husband, of course) to attend seminary. She told me that she was feeling incredibly lonely on campus because most of the women in her classes were single. It was like a wall between her and her classmates. She was introduced to some of them as, "the married one". Very infrequently did any one ask her to hang out. What a tragedy!  We can learn from each other, and we can give each other mutual encouragement and accountability in our walks with the LORD. So, hang out with us :)
  3. Show us what it looks like to use your home as a ministry. This includes inviting us over to your (chaotic) household. Trust me, we won't even notice all the kid toys! Its so important to us to see how you use your home as a ministry. Not for just the future, but to for the present. I think one the things that single women neglect is to use our homes as a ministry, assuming that this can only be done by married stay-at-home women. 
  4. Remember what it was like to be single. Was your time of singleness a struggle and a constant state of suffering? Did you experience contentment? Tell us about it. Tell us your story so that we might learn from your experiences. We might be reluctant to listen to you at first, but eventually we will see how you CAN relate to us. 
  5. Choose your words carefully. The words of a married friend can sometimes mean much more than you are aware. This is because as a married woman, you have walked through things in your journey that I can't even begin to imagine. While the Lord can mature different people in different ways, your life experience gives you a unique perspective, different than mine. So, your words mean the world, and they can encourage us, or dishearten us. Here are some examples of words that can damage us (some of these seem encouraging, but in context they can actually be rather hurtful) (And I am sure that there are plenty of things that can be discouraging to married women without even knowing it, and please let me know what those are so I can avoid them):
    1. Just don't think about marriage, and it will happen. 
    2. Of course you are going to get married, you are so beautiful.
    3. Because you desire to be married, then the Lord must have it for you in the future. 
    4. The Lord must be working on you and fixing you up before you get married. 
    5. What about becoming a missionary?
    6. Maybe you aren't trying hard enough.
    7. You are still so young. 
    8. Maybe if you lost some weight.
    9. What about (insert name here)? He's a nice guy.
    10. Maybe you're called to singleness.
  6. Encourage us to seek the Lord, serve Him, and life undivided. You don't have as much freedom in this area that we do. So, encourage us in these areas, to serve Him is ways that married people can't. Encourage us to use this time of singleness to be solely devoted to the Lord. If we come to you asking for advice, encourage us to follow after the Lord, and not after dreams that might not come true. 
  7. Let us babysit. I LOVE children. I WANT children of my own someday, but since I am not married, I will just have to "parent" my friends' children while I wait. :) Don't ask us every Friday night, but help us be the nurturing creatures that we are by babysitting your kids. 
  8. Allow us to serve you. This might include things like allowing us to take you out for lunch, or coming over and helping you with your household cleaning. Also, consider serving us in a similar way. 
I hope that you found this helpful and encouraging in how to relate with your single sisters better. Anything else that you can think of? 

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Eve

Reading (4/365)
I have been super busy this last week getting ready for Christmas and a friend's wedding (that was tonight), so I didn't have the chance to right a reflection on Eve and the Genesis 1-11. When I finish up that post, I will update this one and repost.

This weeks reading is as follows:

Sunday, December 30: Job 17-20
Monday, December 31: Job 21-23
Tuesday, January 1: Job 24-28
Wednesday, January 2: Job 29-31
Thursday, January 3: Job 32-34
Friday, January 4: Job 35-37
Saturday, January 5: Job 38-39


This week, there isn't a woman from the devotional to focus on that is connected to Job, so come back next week to read the reflection on Job.

Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Chronological Bible Reading Plan: Week #1

Reading (4/365)
Sunday, December 23: Genesis 1-3
Monday, December 24: Genesis 4-7
Tuesday, December 25: Genesis 8-11
Wednesday, December 26: Job 1-5
Thursday, December 27: Job 6-9
Friday, December 28: Job 10-13
Saturday, December 29: Job 14-16

This week's woman: Eve (at the end of the week, come back to read a reflection)


Are you new around here? Start here. You can also "Like" the Facebook Page and subscribe to He will be faithful to complete it... by Email. Both are a great way to stay connected and find out when new posts go live. Thanks again for stopping by and I hope that the Lord uses these words to bless you today. 
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