April 28, 2013

24, Timelines, and Ecclesiastes

Yes, there are still 2 days left in April. No, I will not finish a book by then. Between birthday celebrations (mine included), summer job hunting, and house sitting, reading just didn't happen this month. Also, Lent ended, meaning I had a lot of TV shows to watch. Don't even get me started on Downton Abbey.

Anyway, let's talk about the fact that I'm now 24, find a new grey hair at least once a week, and have come to the realization that I am totally one of those people who have been basing their life's happiness on a timeline. I guess I should be thankful that most of what I wanted to happen by my 24th birthday didn't happen, or else, I would have never known I was even living in such a way. Now, by God's grace, I've been making a conscious effort to live without one, and slowly but surely, I've noticed a change in attitude and heart. It turns out, living life based on an unrealistic supposed order of events is quite depressing.

A lesson learned, and in my humanness, a lesson that will forever be a challenge to live out.

IMG_1198

This morning, my brother and I decided to have church at home. With our coffee and toast, we squeezed onto my tiny twin bed, and started a series on Ecclesiastes. I was killing two birds with one stone here, seeing as this is the same series we are discussing in the Bible study I attend. Considering the content of Ecclesiastes, Matt Chandler's sermon complimented my current "living without a timeline" mentality quite nicely.

A few valuable thoughts I took away:

1. When you come to the same conclusion as the author (everything under the sun is meaningless), you will develop the sixth sense: FAITH.

2. Faith has the power to take us BEYOND the sun.

3. "Sin is building your self-worth on anything other than God." -Søren Kierkegaard

4: When you take a good thing and make it an ultimate thing, you have ensured that that thing will drive you to the ground.

5. God is not the enemy of good things. He brings meaning to the good things.

4 and 5 are INCREDIBLY important ideas for me to grasp, and I've always struggled to do so. My "timeline" is a perfect example. All it entails is good, but I bring tension to the good things when I make those good things idols. However, when I become aware of these idols (a step in the right direction), I also begin to have a skewed perception of who God is and believe the lie that God doesn't want me to partake in His goodness. I punish myself, instead of learning from God's loving and perfectly implemented discipline.

All that being said, I am thankful for a loving, patient, and gracious God who doesn't need me, but continues to show more of Himself everyday He gives me breath.

Here's to 24.

Soli Deo gloria,

Elise

April 3, 2013

"Cold Tangerines" Review

Being a lover of harmony, all the debate amongst Christians these days makes me want to set up camp in the woods and become friends with the squirrels. Although I am thankful to have people close to me with differing opinions and perspectives on hot topics, I often feel like we are all playing a game of tug-o-war, and I'm the rope. But by God's grace, slowly but surely, I am learning to recognize and trust 
Him even in the midst of this burdensome tension.
 cold_tangerines_cover_op_388x600
That being said, my reading for March was a nice mental break from all the banter and commotion. "Cold Tangerines" by Shauna Niequist was truly a breath of fresh air.
" Because we are made for motion, for arching up toward God with all the energy and passion of a thunderstorm, lightning slicing through a sleepy world to remind us that we serve a fast-dancing God, a God who set this world whirling and crashing through space so that we could live from our toes and drum out the pulse of a billion veins carrying lifeblood to a billion hearts, temples to a God that got his hands dirty making us from dust. Let's get dirty, in his name. Let's sizzle and pop in his name. Let's dance and shimmer and scrawl out our stories across the sky like he taught us to. Let's echo his words, and let our lives speak those words: It is good."
Niequist writes with wit and charm, imagery and voice, vulnerability and empathy. You can't help but feel like you are having a conversation with your best friend from page 1 to 252. Each chapter is a scene from her life, recognizing the beauty of God in all circumstances. As she gracefully divulges her struggles, you begin to feel not so crazy, not so alone.
Basically, if you are looking for an easy, refreshing, joy inspiring read, free up an afternoon, grab a copy, and take a bite (or two) out of "Cold Tangerines."
And as always, happy reading!
<3 Elise