I moved!

Wow, guys, I moved in July to a new blog, and failed to let you readers know.

 

http://www.graphedin.wordpress.com

Sorry!!! I hope you enjoy the new blog :)

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“So how does it feel to be done?”

Everyone asks that since I’ve finished school.

Here’s what I’d like to say:

How does it feel?

Horrible.

It feels like someone ripped out my heart and stored it 1400 miles away, where I can’t get to it anymore.

I didn’t just go to school; I became family with those people. And you expect me to be happy to be done there?

I can’t be. I won’t be. I’m proud of earning my degree, most certainly; but school was about so much more than that where I went. School was about changing your life. School was about building community and building the kingdom of God.

Now I’ve been torn away from people who challenged me, who cheered me on, who knew me to my soul. Now I live with people who knew the me I was two years ago. I’m not the same person anymore. They may know that, but that means they don’t really even know me the same way anymore.

I feel like I have died. Like I am just existing. What is my goal now? My goal for 21 years had been to graduate college. So now what?

What am I supposed to do in my spare time? I have no friends here. I only lived in this city for 10 weeks last summer, and then I had no friends either because I was always working with kids and went to a church without good community. I’m so lonely I could make an invisible friend to talk to. Okay that was a horrible way of expressing it, but it hurts. Doing laundry hurts because I can’t walk down the hall to Melyssa’s room anymore and borrow quarters or laundry soap because I bought softener instead of detergent.

I can’t walk outside my room and find two or three people to talk to anymore. Everywhere I go I find the same thing: nothing. I find emptiness, and myself, and no one.

And I hate it.

So how does it feel to be done with college?

Lousy. Really, really lousy.

Women’s “Liberation”

So I started googling celebrities I used to like as a child.

And I’m appalled.

Miley Cyrus’s new video? Complete trash. It’s so defiant, so raunchy, and so twisted that it breaks your heart. She used to be such a beautiful young lady, and now? Now she looks like a boy with her butch cut hair, claiming she has found liberation and independence because she can dress how she wants and sleep with whomever she wants whenever she wants.

Wow. Congratulations…

And then there were the Jonas Brothers.

First of all, they’ve become proof that facial hair DOES NOT make men cuter. *shudder*

Second of all, their new single is completely degrading to women. I was disgusting by the lyrics and dances in the video.

Ladies, why is it desirable to be “wanted like a kid wants a milkshake”? (yeah, Jonas said that…that’s completely revolting.) Why is it desirable to be only valued for our bodies–bodies that WILL change and won’t look like they do now in 10 years.

Why is it that we decided happiness and freedom meant allowing ourselves to be whistled at, cat-called to, ogled after, and dehumanized? Explain to me how that’s happy or liberating in any way, shape, or form?

No. True happiness and freedom are Christ. Freedom includes respecting yourself. Freedom demands respect. Joy comes from serving Christ.

Our world is so twisted. It makes me sick.

I am more than a body. I am more than a face. I am a daughter of the King; the price He paid for my freedom is far too great for me to let it be taken away by the lies and bondage of sin’s deep etches in culture.

This is my declaration

I’m sitting here in my (warm) grandparents’ house in West Virginia, pondering life.

I’ve come to realize something: I’m deeply afraid of things I shouldn’t be afraid of.

In highschool, I came to believe that, essentially, femininity is bad.

If a man lusted after me, it was my fault, always. If I thought I was pretty, I was being vain. If my shorts came above my knee, I was being sleazy. Purity meant not thinking about or talking about sex, and anyone who did so outside of marriage was completely perverted. Men were powerful and scary.

(I understand that femininity is more than physical, but the way we think about our bodies affects a whole lot when it comes to being a woman.)

God has been showing me how completely wrong my thinking is. But as I’m learning these lessons, I’m realizing how deep those roots have wrapped around my heart, and how deep the scars it leaves truly are.

You see, I’m afraid. I’m afraid of being found beautiful, because I’m afraid of being raped or lusted after.

I’m afraid of being vulnerable, because I don’t want to be taken advantage of emotionally or physically.

I’m afraid of my own body. It hasn’t been until this past year that I have felt comfortable being cute or attractive. It’s been within the last year that I haven’t felt shameful or self-conscious when I know I look good in public.

Let’s be real, sometimes I am still afraid of men. Right now, I can hear men talking somewhere down the street, and I’m terrified. They probably have no idea I exist, but I turned off the light and want to duck under the covers lest they see me in my short shorts and decide to break in.

The lies of shame have created in me a heart that fears both men and femininity.

And it’s ridiculous.

God does NOT want this for his children!!! He doesn’t want us to live in bondage or fear. He didn’t create woman to have her to look like, act like, think like, or feel like a man.

God gave women a beautiful gift in femininity. Ladies, it’s OKAY to see the beauty God put in us. It’s good, and healthy, and right to see ourselves as the spectacular creatures God created us to be.

There should be no shame in being a woman. That truth has implications that I am still learning. It shines lights on deep-seated lies that are comfortable and scary to get rid of. But I believe that in the end, it will be worth it. So this is my declaration:

There is no shame in being a woman.

I refuse to feel it any longer.

Be prepared

Stop it! Stop singing that song!

Be preparedOkay okay, go ahead, sing it, get it out of your head.

Done? Good. Now read this:

“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom:preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
–2 Timothy 4:1-2

I graduated college last Friday. Bible college. Yes, super exciting! But with that comes a lot of responsibility.

I am on vacation with my family, partly in celebration, but mostly because my school is 2/3 of the way from home to my grandparents’ house (1400/2000 miles). It just makes sense to visit them after picking me up from school.

My grandparents live in a little town and go to a little church. Tonight, whoever was in charge of the youth group called the pastor’s wife at 6:30 saying she wouldn’t be at the 7 o’clock service. The frazzled pastor’s wife came into the church and said: “Someone either needs to play piano or help with the teens!” So I piped up and offered to help her with the teens. I wasn’t particularly wanting to be there anyway (it’s been a long week), so being able to be of some use sounded like a great idea.

I figured she meant “Go sit with the teens while I do the music, and then I’ll come teach and you can be my assistant.”

Nope! She came in after about 15 minutes (The teens and I had a lovely time playing hangman–those kids are crazy!) and was like “So, do you have a lesson or something you can do with them?”

Uhh…I was blank. We ended up just playing games and hanging out, which was nice for the kids, but I got a healthy dose of conviction.

Granted, my mind is in children’s ministry, and I haven’t done youth ministry for two years…

But is that any reason for me to not be able to throw together a short devo on the spot?

Absolutely not. I realized in that moment that I haven’t been feeding myself and therefore cannot simply teach on the spot. I can’t give what I don’t have. I’ve been running on fumes with the stress of graduation and leaving school and have not taken time to just sit at the feet of Jesus.

I wasn’t ready. I missed an opportunity. I should have been able to feed them something–anything. But I couldn’t think of anything that wasn’t completely cliche, tired, or…frankly, insincere. I’m dry. I can’t pour out from dryness.

Please don’t think I’m writing this because I need affirmation or encouragement. I’m writing because I want you to avoid the same mistake I made. I can make excuses all day long, and to a certain point, they all hold water. But at the end of the day, my heart wasn’t ready, and that’s where the real problem lies.

Disciple, Christ-follower: Be ready. Be ready when you’re at your home church, when you’re on vacation, when you’re walking the halls of work or school. Be ready when you have a ministry and are expected to teach, be ready when ministry is the farthest thing from your mind.

Be prepared.

Love is…not power.

“Whoever loves the most in a relationship has the least power.” -Rory

We talked about submission this morning in Christian discipleship, and this quote really stood out to me…because it is so true. This is the reason the world is afraid to love–because they have loved before and been burned because the other person misused the power.

How do I know this is true? Because I’ve felt that. I completely closed off my heart–I was afraid to let anyone in. Loving a man meant getting hurt, so why even bother? God and I could handle things just fine. Which is completely true, but that is a horrible reason to stay in that state. Fear is never a good motivation for anything.

If you’ve ever watched Once Upon a Time, you know EXACTLY what this quote is talking about. If you haven’t, go watch it. The evil queen is so cold, so empty, so power-hungry that she destroys those who love her. She has all the power because she shares none of the love.

That’s scary. We’re afraid to love because loving someone (romantically or not) means that we are becoming incredibly vulnerable to them. They have the power to hurt us or help us, to build us or destroy us. Chances are, you’ve felt both in your lifetime. If you haven’t yet, you will. People are flawed, we’re going to hurt each other. But that doesn’t mean we get to give up on each other, or give up on loving people altogether.

Sometimes we can take this broken view of loving people to God. We’re afraid that if we love God whole-heartedly, He’ll burn us. I can promise you that isn’t true–God loves us so selflessly, so beautifully. God’s love is the thread that holds the Bible together, it’s the very reason for the cross and my existence. If everyone could love like God, no one would ever get burned.

“Love is always harder than power. It’s also more rewarding, fulfilling, and satisfying.”

So what do you want? Love or power? Which do you show in your life?

*I’m starting to write posts in advance and have them publish on Fridays, to keep my blog from being inundated when I have the time to write. This was actually written Wednesday, 4/3. We’ll see how this goes :)

As a new goal…

After graduation, I intend to update this blog every Friday, at the very least, just so you lovely readers know :) I’d love to commit to being a regular blogger sooner, but I need to focus on my last stretch here at school.

So be looking forward to regular updates commencing sometime in June! :)

The Body of Christ

The human body is really an amazing thing, if you think about it.

I thought about it a lot today. Why, do you ask?

Well, because I woke up this morning and was in so much pain I could hardly move. My lower back kind of had me debilitated for the better part of the day.

And as I was laying on my floor, heating my back and trying to stretch it out, I started to think about how amazing it was that I could put the force on my arms that I usually put on my lower back to bend and get stuff and still function. It was horribly inefficient, but I could still get the job done.

Then I started thinking about the church.

As Christians, we are all part of the body of Christ (Romans 12:4-5, 1 Corinthians 12:12). We serve different functions (1 Corinthians 12:14ff), but we’re all important and necessary.

So what happens when one part of the body hurts? The whole body hurts with it. Today, it wasn’t just my lower back that was suffering. The whole rest of me felt the pain of it too. That pain has spread and affected other areas also. So it is in the church. When one member is hurting, that hurt is felt by those around. Empathy, sympathy, and working to heal the hurting one. This is the acceptable form of pain in the church–when we feel the pain of others because they are hurting.

But what happens when a part of the body straight up just doesn’t pull its own weight? What if there is no legitimate reason for that part to be out of commission, but it just…is? I mean, the rest of my body could have gotten really ticked off at my back for not doing what it’s supposed to do, hypothetically. I was amazed at how my body could compensate for my back, for a while. It still hurt, and every time I tried to do something I knew something in my body wasn’t right, but I could manage to get the necessities done. But it wasn’t quite right, and eventually started hurting in other places as I tried to keep doing stuff with a non-participating member.

Isn’t that how it is in the church? When someone in the church doesn’t pull his weight, doesn’t do what God put him in the church to do, the rest of the church can compensate–for a little while. And when the church tries to function but vital pieces are missing, it might get the absolute necessities done, but it’s so much less efficient than how it was designed to work…and I don’t think it can last very long that way. God gives people abilities to be used in His kingdom for His purposes and His glory.

If I don’t use what God has given me everywhere I go, I’m hurting the body. I’m slacking off. I’m making some poor arms support the body as it bends instead of being the strong lower back to hold it all together.

What about you? Are you making others pick up the slack for you, or are you doing your part in the body of Christ?

Pornography hurts me.

It hurts you, too. It hurts every girl (and guy) out there (to admittedly different degrees).

[Before I go any farther–my goal is NOT to belittle the legitimate and horrifying suffering pornography causes women who are involved in human trafficking or even voluntarily involved in the sex industry. My aim is to bring the issue of pornography and objectification of women home to people–I find that when things are in our own backyards, we tend to do and care more about them.]

Feminism. Women’s liberation movement. All these may sound wonderful, but in reality they are enslaving women and making life far, far more difficult.

I am in the minority. I grew up loved by my father. I wasn’t sexually abused. I haven’t been in a physically or sexually abusive relationship. No one close to me uses or has used porn to my knowledge. I am the minority.

And yet? The tentacles of pornography have even reached my safe, secluded life.

Our culture worships sex. Women have been degraded to objects. Everything revolves around how sexy a girl is–our value, our identity depends on our sex appeal. The only way we will find men and happiness is by being sexy and promiscuous, culture screams.

It is in the middle of this culture that the church finds itself today. It is in the middle of this screaming that I have found myself, falling to the ground in confusion, fear, and hopelessness, voices screaming at me the most insidious, heinous lies.

I have been told that I am not pretty enough. I have been told that if I gain weight or become less attractive, the man I love will leave me. I have been told that I am in competition with every single female out there to be the best to win the attention of a man. I have been told that if I am not sufficient, I deserve to be left alone.

This is the culture pornography has created. These are the lies that tear at the heart of women.

I cannot tell you how many times I have compared myself to other women. Countless times have I had anxiety over not being attractive enough to find or keep a man. Numerous whispers of hopelessness and inability to ever measure up to what men are being told to expect from culture and pornography have echoed in my head.

Pornography hurts me, and I am the least of its victims.

But somewhere, as I buckle under the weight of the lies, the pressure, the fear…I find the safest place to fall is also the most natural when one is under a burden he cannot bear–my knees.

I pour out my heart to my Father, begging for His eyes for myself and my sick culture. I pray for strength for the men and women of the church. I pray for the protection of our minds and the purity of our hearts.

Somewhere in all that weakness I find great strength at the feet of Christ.

I am the minority. Pornography hurts me. Christ frees me.

Do I still hear the lies? Do I still believe them sometimes? Sadly, yes. Some things are deeply ingrained and have been ingested for so long that the poisons take time to work themselves out. But I believe in redemption. I believe in the power of the Cross. I believe in forgiveness. I believe God is making all things new when we give them to Him.

I am tired of lies. I am tired of fear. I am tired of the world’s voices. This is my prayer:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” -Romans 12:1-2

Oh God, great and beautiful Creator of the universe. Sustainer of my life, guardian of my heart, holder of hope and salvation. To your powerful hands I commit my mind. To your voice only train my heart. To your voice only tune my ears. Transform my feeble mind to be strong in You and to believe only Truth. Forgive me for believing lies in ignorance; forgive me for believing lies I knew were false. Transform your weak daughter into a warrior who believes and speaks Your truth in a dark, dismal world.

Under a spell

Swan-Princess-swan-princess-2933336-608-336Odette: “You know I”m under a spell!”

Jean-Bob: “But my kiss will break the spell!!”

Odette: “I can only kiss the man of love, and then he–”

Jean-Bob: “…must make a vow of everlasting love, I know!”

Odette: “And prove it to the world!”

–The Swan Princess

The Swan Princess is one of my favorite princess movies, simply because I love the story. This is one fairytale that has it all–they knew each other very well, Derek is a fully-developed character, and he has to fight for Odette.

Anyway…

Melyssa and I watched this movie tonight, and that dialogue just stuck with me. I love it that, even though to Jean-Bob a kiss was nothing to fret over, Odette knew there was something more important in that. She understood that she needed to save that for the man she loves, who would promise to love her forever–and mean it.

I’m a sucker for that mentality. I don’t think there’s anything more romantic or just plain cool than waiting for the right guy and the right time for stuff. I dunno, this isn’t making a lot of sense, I just really loved that dialogue. I know, I don’t turn into a swan when the sun comes up. But I like to think of it in the same terms…like I’m under a spell. Like I need to wait for the “man I love” to “make an everlasting vow and prove it to the world.” Suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper cheesy, I know. But isn’t it so much more fun that way?

I’m totally okay being the damsel in distress. I realize that idea is frowned down upon by many in our society, and I feel the same way when chivalry becomes just another way to hit on a woman–beLIEVE me, I get that. But I’m a huge fan of being rescued, defended, and fought for.

Example: There was a kid at school sending me text messages that weren’t really creepy per say, but were WAY over the line. I took it to a trusted prof, who addressed the issue, and I haven’t heard from the kid since. It was great. I loved it. I loved it that Mr. W would stand up and say “Dude. Knock it off.” for me, so that I didn’t have to get in over my head in any weird situation.

There’s just something about being protected. I don’t know what it is, but I like it! haha.

Anyway, I probably should have written this in the morning when I’m more coherent, but…whatever! I’ll leave you with my favorite song from The Swan Princess :)