One-Sided Friendship

Hello Friends,

So, I just recently finished reading all of Dante’s Divine Comedy.  Yes, all three epic works.  And, I’m not going to lie, that was a lot of Dante.  I am very excited to be moving on to a new book.  But when we finished reading, we spent some time, in class, talking about friendship.  We compared and contrasted classical models of friendship to the Christian model presented by Dante.

One of the things my teacher pointed out was something that St. Augustine said.  This was something to the effective of: for Christians, friendship has to so with with a desire to see God in the other person.  The way my teacher explained this was that when you are friends with someone who knows that Lord, you see God in them, and when you are friends with someone who doesn’t know the Lord, you want to see God in them.

However, I think it goes beyond that.  I think when someone is a good friend, you are seeing God reflected in them, and that brings you joy.  However, when someone is a bad friend the Christian response should not be anger, but rather a longing for them to better reflect God, not because of the effect it has on you, but because of the effect that it will have on them.  Friendship is about wanting what is best for the other person.

However, that is easier said than done.  It is very hard to be in a one-sided friendship.  And it can be very draining.  But, I think, one of the best things to do when you find yourself drained from being in friendship where you are doing all the pursing, is remember how often God pursues us and we reject him.  God does not love us because He gets anything out of it.  He loves us because He is a gracious God, and part of being a Godly friend is reflecting that grace, even when it takes a toll on your emotions.

Thanks for Reading!

Until Next Time, Stay Out of Trouble.

 

Because of Grace

Hello Friends,

“As you get to know people more, you realize your need for grace.”  This was something one of my professors said in class this week that really stuck out to me.  The more you get to know someone the more you realize that they are a sinner.  But also, the more they get to know you, the more they realize that you are a sinner.

By rights, knowing this about one another, we should all despise each other.  Yet, God, in His grace, saw fit to give us a capacity to love.  And what a beautiful gift that it is.  It is because of grace that parents love their children, and children love their parents.  It is because of grace that husbands love their wives, and wives love their husbands.  And most important of all, it is because of grace that God loves us, and we love Him. 

boy carrying bear plush toy

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My own personal need for grace is never more apparent to me than when I have a friend who loves me well.  No one is perfect, and I am no exception.  There are times when I am sulky and rude and self-centered.  And more often than not, in those moments, I have friends who care enough about me to give me chocolate and coffee and the time of day.  Because they care for me, and they want to see me doing well.

It is so important to cherish loved ones and be kind to strangers, because every healthy human relationship is merely a result of God’s grace.  I’ll leave you with one last quote from another of my professors.

“It takes a lifetime to get how much people are worth.”

Thanks for Reading.

Until Next Time, Say Out if Trouble!

Going to Nineveh

Hello Friends,

Today, I have a question for you: what is your Nineveh?  This is something that has been on my mind this week, as all my plans for the summer seem to be falling through.  For me, I believe my Nineveh is the Unknown.

Over these past several months, I have been working desperately to find a Summer Internship, and things seemed to be going well.  I’ve had interview after interview, and I even got one job offer. But, these past two weeks have been silent, and every moment that my phone doesn’t ring is a moment I lose hope. The job I wanted the most is now out of my reach.  That was a really hard one for me.

Last week I heard a sermon in which the pastor said, “When you pray you should say, ‘God, I want this thing; I think you want this thing for me, but if you are not going to be with me in this thing, don’t send me.’”  I prayed that this week, and God answered.  He’s not sending me.

Going to NinevehI’d like to be able to smile and say, “this is exactly what I asked for.  God works all things together for the good of those that love Him.  It’s not what He wants for me.” You get it.  In my head, I can say those things, and I do believe them.  But that doesn’t change the fact that in my heart I feel lost and disappointed.

So, what can I do with those feelings?  Is it possible to praise God for answering my prayer and at the same time mourn over the way that He answered it? Can I trust God with my future and at the same time fear the uncertainty of it?  I think a lot of people would say, “no,” that fear and disappointment show lack of faith.

I think those people are wrong.

Before he was crucified, Jesus was afraid.  He asked God not to send Him to the cross (Luke 22:42), and I’d be willing to bet that when God’s answer to that prayer was to send Him to the cross anyways, He was disappointed. Yet, He went.  And that’s the kicker, isn’t it: He went to the cross with fear and disappointment, not in spite of His trust in the Father, but because of it.

Refusing to go where God sends us, like Jonah refusing to go to Nineveh, that is lack of faith.  Feeling afraid of the Unknown and disappointed when plans don’t pan out, that is natural.  The question of faith is not necessarily a question of how you feel about the events of life.  It is more often a question of, when you feel disappointed and afraid, will you go to Nineveh anyway.

 

PC: Marcelo Vaz

A 5 Haiku Time Block

Alarm going off,
time to get up, start the day.
When will you return?

Look at the planner.
Places to be, things to see.
Have a sec to talk?

Running here and there.
Checking phone, watch, calendar.
No time for talking.

9 to 5, long drive,
clubs and sports, late practice time.
Not in time to dine.

Clock in the tower,
on the wall, phone, digital
ticking life away.

PC: Jon Tyson via Unsplash

Family and Home

The floor boards groan under the weight of time,
and the walls whisper tales of days now past.
Porch-bells are heard, winds carrying their chime.
Wallpaper fades, but memory paint lasts.

Under this roof a family once slept.
Children once played in the grasses that grew,
at night, in their beds, they peacefully dreamt
of the love, the joy, they blissfully knew.

Now this house stands in a state of decay.
Its windows are cracked, its roof has a leak.
Parents aren’t sleeping, no children at play.
But if you listen you’ll hear the walls speak,

of the people who walked all through its halls,
and what changed when all of the kids grew tall.

PC: Clark Young via Unsplash

The Devil’s Bird

Hello Friends,

I would like to tell you all an important fact of life: chickens are the Devil’s bird.  Little known fact: when you read in the book of Job about Satan, “going to a fro about the earth,” if you read between the lines, you’ll see that it actually says he goes in the form of a chicken.

flock on chicken on road

Allow me to offer you some proof of the evil nature of chickens from my own personal background.  There was a time, a dark time, in my life, when my own family owned chickens.  We had one rooster and probably about 8 – 12 hens.

Now nobody else in the family had any trouble gathering eggs, but when I went to gather eggs, the chickens sensed my weak and gentle nature and they took advantage.  They would attack! And 9 times out of 10 my dad would have to come, pick me up, and carry me out of the chicken coup, because they were being very aggressive.

As the years passed, we sold all of our chickens.  And over time the scars they left faded.  As I looked back on those days, I thought, perhaps, I had judged too quickly.  Perhaps my fear of chickens was a mere dramatization from the mind of a child.  So when I went to college I decided to give chickens a second chance.

During homecoming week of my freshman year there was a mini-petting zoo on campus.  They had a small pen with baby ducks and baby chickens in it, and the person I was with reached her hand in to pet the baby duck

“It’s so soft,” she said, “you have to pet it.”

There was a baby chicken sitting on the other side of the pen, not even looking in my direction, but as I reached my hand in the pen to pet the duck, it turned.  It charged at me, beak drawn, but I pulled my hand away before it reached me.

“What was that for?” I said to the chicken, “I wasn’t even trying to pet you.”

Again the person I was with reached her hand in and petted the baby duck, with no qualms from the chicken.  So I thought the chicken was going to be reasonable.  I reached my hand in the pen and again the chicken charged me.

And it was then that I learned, never trust a chicken.  Take this with you as you go forth in the world and do good.

Thanks for Reading! Until Next Time, Stay Out of Trouble!

PC: Jason Leung via Unsplash

In the Kitchen

I remember the crowded space,

the clanging of trays and plates.

The people bustling by,

A case of serve or die.

I remember how the supply

Of soup containers dwindled,

And the box, sitting up high,

Holding the needed utensils.

I remember how I could not reach,

And tried to ask for help.

I remember I had to climb

High up on the self.

I remember stretching far,

And reaching to the sky.

I slowly slide the box toward me,

When suddenly,

I remember below my waist

I felt a tightening grip.

I remember my pounding heart,

As from my hands the box began to slip

I remember my sweating palms,

And my balance almost lost.

I remember the spinning room,

As I tried climbing down,

I remember turning swift,

To take a look around.

I remember the ally full,

With no one standing near.

But most of all what I remember,

Is the ever gnawing fear.

And now when I reach for boxes high,

Or climb up on a shelf,

I remember to watch for hands,

That grope about with stealth.

PC: Kenny Luo via unsplash

Does God Love the Human Body?

Hi friends,

So, we’re going to do something a little different this week. I have worked in customer service fore about 3 years now, and I thought it might be fun to share some of those stories with you from time to time.  This week is the tale of the Elderly man.

I’ve had a few awkward experiences with grandpa-aged men.  Now, you might think that when these men reach grandpa-age, life would have taught them something about wisdom and discretion, but that is not always the case.  Sometimes senility starts to set in and they forget everything they’ve ever learned about talking to people, particularly young ladies. person wearing floral shirt painting

I work as a hostess, so you might think that not much can happen in the short walk from the lobby to the table.  Again, I’m here to say, that’s not always the case.  I have had several old men pinch my cheeks, like I’m their granddaughter, or take hold of my arm as I walk them to the table, and other such things that cause mild discomfort, especially since I am someone that does not like to be touched.  But sometimes the things that these men say, are so much worse than them touching me.  There is one particular instance I will never forget.

There was a party of four, two couples, all grandparent-aged people. And as I walked them back to the table one of the men kept making uncomfortable comments about how small my waist was.  I merely ignored it, and tried to get them to their table as quickly as possible (which was difficult since they walked rather slowly).  Nonetheless, I finally got them to their table, when, as I am setting the menus down, this man turns to a woman, who I assume was his wife, and says to her, “Remember when you were as small as that?”  Regardless of whether or not this woman was his wife, what a terrible thing to say to her?!

People are so much more than the shape of their bodies.  Everyone is made differently, and everybody is made to look different (men and women a like).  God designed each human form uniquely, so that every person on this planet can reflect Him in a special way.  His desire is not to to have a world of tiny women, and buff men.  His desire is to have a world of healthy people, of all shapes and sizes, who steward their bodies well.  I believe we ought to encourage one another to care for our bodies well: to sleep enough and to eat our fruits and vegetables.

So I have a proposition: together, let’s practice viewing ourselves and all the people around as as beautiful parts of God’s creation, and in that let’s remember the call to be good stewards.

Thanks for Reading! Until Next Time, Stay Out of Trouble.

 

Photo by Jean-Pierre Brungs on Unsplash

 

Providence and Purple Pens

Hello Friends,

So I have a secret to share with you: I have a pretty serious obsession with office supplies.  This is something I got from my mother, who is an enabler.  Last year for Christmas she got me the greatest set of pens, the no-bleed sharpie pens.  This year for Christmas she got me a post-it note dispenser and 2 6-packs of post-it notes.  The list could go on, but the point is I LOVE office-supplies.

On my desk I have a bin for regular post-it notes and a post-it note dispenser, 3 buckets of multi-colored pens, mechanical pencils, paper clips, et cetera.  Now, you might think this is a problem and that I should get professional help, and that is where you would be wrong.  This week I was furthered enabled in my obsession, and I think it is a sign from God.silver iPhone 5s near Field Notes book

I never, ever go anywhere without my tool-kit: at least two writing utensils and a notepad.  But this week, somehow I left my pencil-case at home.  I found myself in class, with no writing utensil.  Thankfully a friend of mine loaned me a pen, but I realized later, there was a purple pen sitting on the table next to me the whole time.

At first I thought this belonged to my friend, so I told her not to forget it.  But the pen wasn’t hers, it had been abandoned.  So, I decided to rescue it, and now, it is my new favorite pen.  I truly do believe that this whole instance was providential.  Purple is my favorite color, I needed a writing utensil, and God so happened to leave a purple pen, on my desk, in my time of need.

The point of this little tale is, if you have a deep and abiding love of office-supplies, feed it.  And if you are the person from whom I stole this pen, you have great taste in office supplies.

Thanks for Reading! Until Next Time, Stay Out of Trouble.

Photo By: Kari Shea on Unsplash

An Introvert’s Winter

Hello Friends,

With this week being the coldest Pennsylvania has seen so far this winter I, gratefully, chose to stay inside.  Unfortunately, that means there was not much for me to see except the dirty white walls of my toasty dorm room.  And the lovely face of my green-haired roommate.  I did however see a few indistinguishable turtles walking around campus, bundled up in their winter shells to keep from freezing on their walks to the library or dining hall.

It was rather unnerving to pass these faceless eyes as the strode past, raising a gloved hand in friendly greeting. Personally I was afraid to wave back, and I am certain I said, “hi,” to several people I don’t actually know.  Hopefully my fellow introverts can relate, but I think there is something to be said for the social anxiety of waving in general.  Now, add the pressure of waving when you don’t know who your waving to.

We’ve all been there.  You see someone you only vaguely know, and there is a glancing eye contact.  Their hand goes up, and a smile spreads across their face.  Then as you raise your hand, surprised by the eagerness of this greeting, you realize, they weren’t waving at you.  And in that moment a small piece of you dies.  You stop believing in love and you start questioning the fidelity of all of your relationships.  But when the faces of passersby are covered with scarves, the stakes are even higher.

And so friends, unable to handle the intense pressure of simple social norms I chose the safety of my room this week.  I hope you found safety and comfort to, wherever you were and whatever the temperature.  Hopefully next well be more exciting.

Until next time, stay out of trouble.