The Twin Cities Rainbow Chaser

moving across the country…to discover what God has in store

Think Global, Act Local: Poverty

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Be aware: we’re about to get seriously philosphical (if I can spell that word)…philosophical…there we go.  I wanted to be independent and figure it out on my own; youshould be impressed with my epic spelling abiltiies…argh.  Abilities?  Yes.

Spelling…that is a global issue that affects me locally.  No…I mean yes.  It could be a global issue, but that’s not what’s on my mind on this snowy Minnesota day.

WEALTH.

photo Yes, wealth is on my mind.  I am currently reading a book called Crazy Love and I just read a chapter that made the hamster in my head start spinning on its wheel (His name is Winifred, by the way).  If I am to be perfectly honest, most of the chapters send Winifred into a frenzy, but this particular chapter connects to today’s prompt from The Daily Post.  It’s called “Serving Leftovers to a Holy God” (Chapter 5).  Chan, the author, counters the oft-seen idea that many Christians are lukewarm.  Instead, he says that being lukewarm means that someone is not a Christian.  That is a frightening thought for someone who has described herself as a lukewarm Christian (yes, I am referring to myself here…take a look at the original name of this blog!).  He highlights the problem of poverty in many places that make me, an AmeriCorps volunteer who receives a twice monthly living stipend, look rich.

(WOW!  I am in a coffee shop right now and it just got ridiculously loud…not cool, peoples.  Not cool.)

photo-1I have developed this tendency to look at the people around me, the people who have real jobs and receive a real salary, and I think about how wealthy they are.  A morning at a coffee shop isn’t a big deal for them.  Filling up their gas tank isn’t nearly as painful for them as it is for me.  And they can give to God without feeling it right in their gut.  Wow.  That last one really makes me think.  I’m going to be perfectly honest and lay some guilt right out there for you.  I feel like I’m giving my widow’s mite when I drop a check in the offering box on Sunday mornings.  Talk about a “holier than thou” attitude!

My coffee and cinnamon roll this morning would likely break the bank for half of the world’s population.  And I feel proud of myself for surviving on less than minimum wage for a year. So, how do I take the thoughts that Winifred has spun up for me and put them into action? At this point, changing my perspective will be the stepping stone, I think.  When I take myself off of the pedestal and realize that I am rich, I might have hope of action.

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Discovering the Valley

For a while now, I might have characterized my life as being in one of those valleys that Christians so often describe.  Most of the time people can pinpoint the beginning and end of the valley.  It is caused by some traumatic event in stark contrast to the rest of their “church-y” life.  And then it comes to an end when everything is straightened out.  Whenever I’ve heard people describe their valleys, they seem so sure about all of it…where they were and why they went there.

I feel like my valley is different.  This valley seems like a vast and open space, not necessarily just a location for torture.  Instead, it feels like I’ve been here for a while and God has allowed me to explore the valley.  There are streams and trees and rocks in this valley.  Although it was terrifying to be in here, I have learned to make the most of it.  There have been unexpected moments of terror.  There’s an intruder…I venture into a new area full of shadows…I climb too high on the rocks.  But for the most part, this valley has been my classroom.

And now…now it is time for me to climb out.  I have learned all of the lessons that are here and it is time for me to graduate to a new classroom.  This valley has been full of pain, but also discovery.  God has continually shown Himself to me in new ways through new materials.  Although there were times when I questioned His existence, His presence has always been in the valley.  More importantly, I know that His presence is carrying me out.

Sometime in the next few days, I will have the next year of my life sorted out (ha!).  I will have a new city and a new job (I’m using that term loosely).  In the meantime, I have to trust that God’s hand is still firmly clasped over my own.  He is leading me through the path to come out of this valley and stand on the top of a mountain.  I may have an intense decision to make, but I know that when all is said and done there will be a breathtaking view before my eyes.

 

*Photos were taken during a recent camping and climbing sojourn to Wyoming.

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Boredom…unacceptable

I have discovered the word that describes my feelings towards student teaching.  Yes, success shall surely be mine.  My hold on the English language has tightened so that my noose is wound around her neck…around that delicate muscle called…

BOREDOM.

Ahh!  Yes, there.  I said it.  I am bored.  I hate myself for admitting that.  I hate myself, even more, for falling into this pit of terror.  Argh.  Yes, that is a sound of pure frustration…with self.

Saint-Malo, France

About a month ago, I was sitting in a coffee shop with a friend of mine.  We do that quite often, actually…sit in coffee shops…and talk…for hours.  At our most recent rendez-vous, we discussed boredom.  Our conclusion was that boredom is a state of being in which one chooses to dwell.  For example, you discover that there is nothing good on television on a Friday night.  You say that you’re bored…and yet, sitting on your bed is The Complete Sherlock Holmes.  You choose to dwell in that state of boredom…but there are other options.

Swans

Now, I’m going to take this a step further.  God put us on this Earth with one task: glorify Him.  How in the world, in this mind-blowing, ever renewing, stunning piece of creation (I incorporated photos into this post to remind you of this fact) could we become bored?  And although we have only one task, that task can be completed in a new way, a new place everyday.  We choose to become bored with Christianity because we refuse to look beyond the simple screens (yeah, that was a reference to TV) in front of our eyes.

Tadpoles Playing Hide & Seek

There is a huge world out there that has the potential to drop us to our knees in wonder and lead us to a deeper sense of worship.  Don’t you want that?  Sure, my knees might get a bit beat up (not that it’s a big deal–it happens everytime I go climbing)…but in the long run, I will be stronger and surer of the power that pushes me forward (yeah–totally made some corny climbing references).

Are you ready to stop being bored?  Well then…get ready to fall, my friends.

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Telling Doubt to “Shut Up!”

Would you like to hear something very sad?  The pastor of the church I am currently attending is sick…well, recovering from an oober infection.  So, he has not been in church for the past several weeks.  This means that various members of the church have been presenting the “sermon” over the past several weeks.  Last week, the lead guy in the worship team presented a “sermon”/lesson/devotion…yeah.  He shared story of Jesus walking on water from Matthew 14.  He shared this story and then moved on to a few points.  But, there is one that kind of stuck with me.

When we let doubt slip into our mind, we have a tendency to start sinking.  I completely understand this concept.  I started classes last week…and I’ve still been putting in 20-30 hours at work per week…and I started working on the school paper…and I’m on leadership for this other organization…and…good grief, it never ends.  This would all be fine and dandy if everything could remain calm and organized.  Does anything ever stay calm and organized?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.  It defies the laws of nature…like Murphy’s…or something like that (if anything can go wrong, it will…right?).  Anyways, enough science mumbo jumbo (I love how, after one sentence, I’m just done with it…I tried to help my roommate with her physics homework tonight…it was better than my econ homework).  So…parentheses killed my train of thought.

Little things start to go wrong…either I forget to do a homework question, or I miss a quiz question, or I don’t get an e-mail that I’m waiting for.  Those little things have no right to mess up my life.  Unfortunately, those little things weasel their way into my brain and begin to eat away at my self-confidence, but more importantly, at my reliance on God.  I like to think that I am strong and independent.  But without God, I am nothing.

I must never doubt that, no matter what kinds of weasels are living in my brain, God IS in control.  I have to tell doubt to “shut up” and get out of my brain…no weasels for me.  I’m more of a cat person.

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God is Good…still

You know how easy it is to forget the stuff that you really want to remember?

Sometimes it is hard for me to remember how good God really is.  It is easy for me to get bogged down by all of the details of life…like tests and presentations and piano juries (which all went quite well, thank you very much).  Or, just the little things like fixing dinner and cleaning my room (if you could see my room, you might not consider this a “little” thing).  Life just has a way of overwhelming me.  It doesn’t happen that it doesn’t take much to send me running to hide in a corner away from sensory stimulation.  I like simple things.  I like small groups of people.  Big crowds make me uncomfortable.  Cluttered desks make me nervous.  And, dirty kitchen counters make me want to cry.  So, it’s easy for me to forget how good God is.

How is it that I remember partial biographies of jazz artists (I learned them earlier semester and then whipped one out at a wedding this weekend–Astrud Gilberto), several developmental theorists, and a handful of French tenses…but I forget how good God is.  Should that idea be ingrained in my memory by now?  That is how my life began…that is the opening line in the story of my life–no.  It’s the dedication!

It all makes sense now.  No one ever reads the dedication of a book.  Maybe I should think about this a little more.  I have this life story written in a book somewhere…by God.  Yes, he is the author (He has more experience than any of the authors being published today…and more copies sold!).  Chapter 1 began with the story of my parents…and somewhere along Chapter 6 I was baptized…and somewhere around Chapter 19 I almost gave up on God…now, we’re almost to Chapter 21 (yeah!).  But, let’s go back to the dedication.

………

I don’t really know what it says.  I don’t want to try to put words in God’s mouth. But maybe it goes something like this “To the world–may she be a shining example of my love.”  No, that’s too good for me.  “To the world–teach her so that she can teach others”–I like it, but still too good.

“To her–so that she my know I am here and I am Love.”

I think I like that one.

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Father/Daughter Discussion

I realize that I just put up the posting from my first attempt at leading a Bible Study, but here’s the next one.  And, it is closely following the actual physical gathering and study.  The other one, yeah, that actually took place a couple of weeks ago.

Anyways, moving on.

Take a moment to stop and think.  Reflect on your relationship with your mom/dad/aunt/uncle/grandfather/wolves that raised you.  Now, focus in and condense all of that reflecting into two adjectives: one good and one bad.

For some people, coming up with a bad adjective is hard but for most, I think that the good adjective is a bit more difficult.  It’s not that my relationship with my parents has been miserable, but…the bad moments tend to remain in my mind.  So, here are my adjectives: stressful and educational.  Want to guess which is which?  Yeah, stressful is bad.  One of the biggest problems that causes the stress between my parents and I is communication.  I, personally, suck at communication…and my parents aren’t really that great at it either.

To see a father/daughter communication fail, I suggest you check out Mo Willem’s Knuffle Bunny.  Yes, it’s a picture book.  I promise, though, you will enjoy it…you would probably enjoy it more if I actually read it to you, though…can’t happen, though.

Anyways, so, this book–epic communication fail.  Nearly any daughter (or son–sorry if you are a guy reading this…I did present this in a girls’ Bible study) can relate to little miss Trixie in the story.  We can compare events in the story to events in our own lives with our own parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents/wolves.

But…how does the Trixie/daddy relationship compare to the “You/God” relationship?  God is not going to misunderstand our requests and He is not going to drag us home when we pitch a fit…even when he knows what is best.  Here is where I might suggest that you pull out a Bible for visit http://www.biblegateway.com and look up Matthew 6:25-27.

Take a few moments and reflect on these verses…think about how they show up in your life.  Think about the times when you think you know where you’re supposed to be going, how your life should flow…and then BAM.  The “bam” isn’t necessarily a bad thing.  The “bam” is just God’s way of reminding you that you are merely human and your experience running a life is limited.  His experiences, though, are limitless (think every person on the earth now + all those that came before + all those that are still to come…yeah, there might be a limit but I’m not going to try to add those  massive numbers).

God, as our Father, knows our needs even when we suck at communicating our needs and when we want to ignore his attempts to communicate with us.  And, more importantly, he cares deeply about each and every need that we have…and he addresses them in the very best possible way.  We can trust him to have our back…and he will always find our lost bunny.

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On Being Spit

If you are familiar with the Bible, then you’ve probably heard the verse about lukewarm water being an abomination to God..and, thus, you know where the title of this blog comes from.  But, you may not know why exactly.

Actually, it should be pretty clear.  I am a lukewarm Christian.  There was a point, this past summer, when I completely admitted to myself and to God that I doubted his existence.  It was one of those painfully brutal moments…I was sitting in the prayer chapel of a church in France.  There were three other people down there.  Two were noisy, obnoxious tourists and one was down there trying to enjoy some quiet.  And, then there was me.  The chairs were wooden and the floors were concrete.  It was cold and damp.  I just looked up at the names engraved in the ceiling and wondered where God really was…where He would be.

I let my mind run its course and it finally led me to the conclusion that “God might not exist.”  I sat in that basement just letting that thought roll around in my head…like a piece of hard candy.  Only this piece of candy lasted for a while.  It was still there when I sat in a pew at my home church next to my parents.  By the time I returned to school this fall though, it was a very tiny piece of candy.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure that I will ever be free from this piece of sugary torture.  I am a logical person and God is not completely logical…ever.  I look at my life and I feel as though he has been there.  There are particular moments when I know that he was there…but then there are moments when I can’t help but wonder: Why?  How?

What the hell is going on with this world that we live in?  I feel like the my life, that the whole world, is spinning out of control and absolutely nothing, short of an incredibly large meteorite, is going to stop it.  Moments in my life my heart is so on fire for God that I can barely stand it.  Then, though, there are the moments when my heart is so cold that it feels like it might burn my soul.  So cold that it’s hot.

Yet I’m still a lukewarm Christian.  An abomination to God.

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Thanks, but no thanks.

I am currently living in an awkward situation…and, I enter into this awkward situation every time I return home and attend church.  You see, I go to Sunday School.  And, I have this teacher in my Sunday School class.  Who is this teacher?  None other than my father.  He’s a fabulous man.  I love him and I enjoy spending time with him.  But…there’s this problem.  He is conservative.  Some would say “stuck in the mud” conservative.  OH!…wait.  I say that.  Having grown up in the same house with this man, I know most of his opinions.  I don’t relish the thought of sitting in a room with him for an hour…an hour that is his…where he can speak as he pleases.  This man is not shy about sharing how he feels about anything from homosexuality to tattoos to jihad.  He is entitled to his own opinion.  It’s not as though I want to deny him the right to his own opinion.  But, I feel as though my right to an opinion is being denied.

Because I know exactly how my father stands on many of these hot button issues, I feel that my opinion doesn’t matter.  In some ways, I guess it matters.  It matters that my opinion is exactly the same as his.  But…I don’t think that means that I get to have my own important opinion.

This is not to say that I feel incredibly different from my father.  I believe that God designed a man to be with a woman.  Just look at the anatomy.  And, I think that jihad, a type of war, is bad in most circumstances.  But, what if Christians were to say that they were in a “spiritual war”?  How is that different from Muslims feeling that their religion is being attacked?  That they are at war?  I’m not saying that I want to convert to Islam…but, I think that each person on this earth is entitled to believe however he or she chooses to believe.  I see no reason to push my views on the world.

Why?  Because each person deserves to have their own opinion.  Unfortunately, many people in the world do not feel this way.  And, a lot of the time, I think that my father is one of those people.  All I want to do is figure out what I believe.  I already know what he believes.  Believe you me…I know all too well.

I want to be able to ask questions and not have HIS answers shoved down my throat.  He nearly jumped down my throat a couple of weeks ago when I made a comment about conservatism in the South.  “Well, what’s wrong with that?”  I kind-of skipped past that answer and on to a different lunch time discussion topic.  Maybe going to a liberal arts school has fried my brain.  But, I really think that going to a “religious” school would have done the same thing to me.  I have questions.  Can’t anyone let me find the answers on my own?

(This is as close to I get to “free writing”…I didn’t even reread the whole thing.  Sorry for any massive typos.)

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