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Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

What Should I Be Doing Right Now?

In Uncategorized on February 27, 2009 at 8:28 am

I should be writing a paper. Obviously I am not doing that. I also should be sitting in class right now. I am not doing that either. Life is an interesting mess of “shoulds”. We all know that we should do this, and should do that. We have the shoulds that are truly beneficial. We should love each other. We should turn the other cheek. We should yield to pedestrians and bikers. We should eat healthy foods. We should exercise for health sake. We should take time for ourselves. We should spend time with our creator. The list could go on and on.

Unfortunately we also have a good amount of shoulds that are not beneficial at all. We should just look out for ourselves. We should be involved in everything at church. We should spend all of our time studying and ignore those around us. We should be better than what we are. We should spend the money, people will think we are cool. We should follow the crowd and not be left out. We should sacrifice ourselves continually for the benefit of others. We should do this or that so someone will love us. We should be perfect and never make mistakes. We should never admit to our mistakes.

Whether we realize it or not our lives are lived out of should statements. We more often than not do things because we know we should do them. This can be healthy. Our internal spirit may be healthy and in line with God so that we are speaking correct messages to ourselves about what we should do. I should give my first fruits to God. God deserves my best. So often though as the damaged human being we are, our internal spirit speaks incorrect messages to us. We all have hurts and insecurities that are constantly spoken over us in the form of shoulds. I should have done better. Perhaps my parents or spouse would be more proud of me if I had done better. I should sacrifice taking care of myself physically, emotionally, or spiritually because I do not matter as much as other people. I should be the only one who submits in my marriage because I am a woman. I should not have tried. I always fail anyways.

 Ohhh how broken we all are. We are quite similar to the porcelien dolls I used to play with. Some of the dolls bodies were made of cloth and unable to break. These parts were strong. Other parts though were made of porcelien. All it took was one drop on the driveway and emergency crazy glue surgery was needed. I remember not thinking some of the dolls were worth it. There were some that I threw away. There were others that I kept even though they were missing a hand. How often do we throw ourselves and others away because of our broken spots? How often do we stick around even though we are missing a hand?

This is why I love being a Christian. This is why I love the social work profession. God has a heart for this world of broken people. For you and for me. Right now I am learning skills to work with people who are broken. I am also experiencing some healing in my own life. God has called each of us to love one another. How hard, how beautiful, how true…We should love others. Christ loves us and has shown us what we should do.

I think I am going to practice some self love by taking myself to the front porch to experience my creator and the beautiful world he/she has created. This was good…

-joy

Our Week Thus Far

In Uncategorized on February 26, 2009 at 4:12 pm

It has been a pretty good week thus far. It started out with an unusual Sunday afternoon actually spent in the city. On most Sundays we stay in Chester all day for both church in the morning and Common Ground at night. We usually spend the time in between visiting family. It is nice really. At the same time though when we actually come home after church in the morning and do not go back to Chester for CG it always feels like a wonderful little vacation/date that Phil and I are taking together. I went to a school meeting (the whole reason we came back to begin with ) and then we drove to Short Pump with Phil’s brother Chris for a trip to Mecca, otherwise known as WholeFoods. Ahhh. It was awesome. The rest of our night was spent creating a great lentil soup from scratch and watching a ridiculous film called “Pineapple Express”- not my favorite film by a long shot, but some parts made us laugh really hard.

In other news of the week, Phil has been sick with a virus and out of work for two days. He went back today and I think he is feeling better. Thank God he did not get the flu. Everyone seems to be getting sick with it. I have been popping Vitamin C and Echinecea like there is no tomorrow. Even though he missed work I am glad Phil got to stay home. He rarely gets a substantial amount of time to rest since our weekends are usually full. I believe strongly in being alone for periods of time and I know that Phil needs this and so I was blessed to see him get rest. Selah’s will always be taken advantage of in our home. I pray.

Last night we had the opportunity to hang out with our dear friends Casey and Aubri Kluver from Montana. It has been a year and a half since Phil and I were last in Montana and we have been missing our friends there a lot. Though the reason they are on the East Coast is quite sad it was still a blessing to be able to meet up with them. They drove down from DC last night and we took them to Nile, an  amazing Ethiopian restaurant, for dinner. It is always great to share a meal with friends. There just is nothing quite like it. After dinner we drove to Chester with the intention of stopping by Pastor Shawn’s house to talk for awhile and then going to Wednesday night church. We never made it past Shawn’s house…and we kept him up a little late. Oops. I believe it was a much needed time though and it was a blessing to be there and here the discussion and love between everyone there. Phil and Casey fully enjoyed the chocolate chip cookies while I fully enjoyed the Franco’s chocolate lab. Casey and Aubri are both awesome individuals and an awesome couple. I am so thankful to God for all the incredible people he has put into Phil’s and my life. People we can laugh with, have great conversations with even when we have not seen one another for over a year, and pursue the kingdom of God with. Thanks for these people Lord. Watch over them and continue to lead them.

Lets see what else? Well in little news I have two papers due tomorrow that I really should be writing right. I should also probably go for a run since it is beautiful outside. I hope to run over to the Commons tonight because they are hosting a GoGreen Bike event with giveaways. Who does not love a good giveaway?!

I pray wherever you are and whoever you are, that you have a week filled with hope, people you love, and a race that is worth running.

May we all finish together!

Lentil Soup

Lentil Soup

Lentils, carrots, onion, and tofu= delicious!

Lentils, carrots, onion, and tofu= delicious!

Sick Phil naps in the beautiful afternoon

Sick Phil naps in the beautiful afternoon

As the day winds down

As the day winds down

Homework and laundry

Homework and laundry

On Honor Killings & Hypocrisy

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2009 at 1:42 pm

I was recently saddened to hear about the murder of a Muslim woman here in the US that was supposedly committed by her husband. It seems likely he did it, she had filed for divorce that day…but he has yet to go to court or anything of that nature that will declare him guilty. For now this man is simply the suspected and accused. The couple were reportedly having problems that had lead to the divorce filing. Divorce is always a pretty heartbreaking thing. The murder of this women is an outrage and cry for how our world needs to be transformed.

Very quickly I began hearing comments about this murder. The usual Facebook postings that are derogatory towards Muslims popped up. The news began talking of honor killings. And once again Muslim representatives were having to speak loudly about how this is not a part of their culture.

Was this woman’s murder an honor killing? It seems likely, though I do not know for sure. Is it an outrage? Yes. Are honor killings a part of Arab culture? Yes. Does this in any way mean that Arabs and Muslims are bad people? No. So very often I hear talk about the violence of Muslims and Arabs. Honor killings. Terrorists. While these aspects are within the Arab and Muslim cultures, too often they are pointed to by Westerners as reasons that we should fear these people. They are talked about in a way that simply implies that these people are not as good as we Americans and Westerners are. This is outrageous to me. How prideful, arrogant, and misguided we all are. I know this because I used to be one of those persons who looked down on Arabs and Muslims. I saw them as dangerous and less than. I continue to repent for this because I was so wrong.

In truth we are all dangerous. We are all capable of doing great harm to our brothers and sisters. We do such harm regularly. It is especially painful to me to hear Americans make derogatory remarks about Muslims. Who are we to say such things? I mean really. If honor killings and terrorist attacks are enough for a group of people to be deemed dangerous and less than, then Americans in comparison should all probably go to hell.

Our country began with a genocide of the Native Americans. We lived for years with slavery. We did not value the lives of slaves. They were killed, raped, and tortured at will. We have a history of believing it is okay to kill a person who is black for really no reason at all. We beat our wives too. Women here are raped every single day. Furthermore, they may not be covered up from head to toe, but they are certainly flaunted all over our culture in nothing.  We abuse our children, both sexually and physically, at an alarming rate. We think it is okay during wartime to kill hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians and still claim moral superiority. We have done this for years and years.  We believe it is okay to abort unborn children. We promote the right to bear arms like it is going out of style. We sell weapons all across the world, greatly exacerbating conflicts worldwide. We, as Americans, do all of this, yet we feel that we can point at other people and say that they are dangerous and less than us. What a great Christian nation we are! May God forgive us all for the ethnocentrism, racism, pride, ignorance, and hatred that we have displayed.

All of these forms of violence and hatred are wrong whether they are committed by Muslims or Christians. By non-believing Arabs, atheists, Hindu’s, Buddhists, Sikhs, agnostics, any of us in this world. Every society is broken. Every society is in need of a Savior. None of us have the ability to say that we have it down. Obviously Democracy does not save us from being murderous jerks. Only Jesus does this. He is our hope, our example, our redeemer.

James 3:17-18 “But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace”.

Amen. Help us Lord.

– Joy

Christians Can Be Cool Too!!!

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2009 at 10:29 pm

Joy and I just read an article on NPR about the budding Christian movie industry. An industry based on faith. It sounds good in principle, but I think maybe the point has been missed. Hollywood is definitely over sexualized, and I wish that violence wasnt rampant in movies, and though I usually enjoy a well-placed curse word it gets pretty ridiculous in main-stream movies. But I digress. Is the bigger issue at hand that we should spend 200 million dollars on a blockbuster about being a good person? A better citizen? Should we be making high budget movies to promote the values of conservative suburban culture? I just dont think that big budget movie making really fits in to the culture of the Kingdom. Its not that I think that filmmaking is irrelevant to the cause of Christ, because God gives different gifts to different people. What I’m saying is while we have people aspiring to spend an ungodly amount of money on “Christian” movies, we have teenagers who wont care either way, because they have no clear purpose in life. When their church actively promotes this new wholesome movie that everyone should go see, it only feeds into the idea that the most important things in life is getting entertained. The Way is degenerated from taking up your cross to spending 9 dollars on a Christian movie friday night.  It may seem that I am overreacting, but I get upset about this.  I think that it would be much more productive to stop complaining about movies that offend us and start loving people. Lets look at the deeper issues.

I finally blogged. Its not perfect, but I’m going to let it go and hit publish. It needs to happen…

“…I think St. Peter and the twelve apostles would have been rather surprised at the concept that Christ had been scourged and beaten by soldiers, cursed and crowned with thorns and subjected to unutterable contempt and finally nailed to a cross and left to bleed to death in order that we might all become gentlemen” – Thomas Merton

– Phillip

So…

In Uncategorized on February 22, 2009 at 7:47 am

It is a few minutes after midnight. As I lay in bed I’m watching candles flicker all around me. The light is dancing against the walls in beautiful lines. The soft sounds of the Album Leaf playing seem to dance with the flickers of light. I am filled at present with more questions than answers. Just tonight I had a friend share that she is struggling with her faith. As I listened to her and watched emotions play across her face I could tell that she was being very honest and going through something difficult. What happens when your faith has been the core of who you are and suddenly you feel it begin to dry up? I was not sure what to tell her. She was reluctant to share freely because she said she did not want to confuse any other Christians. What good am I though if I cannot stand with someone and allow them to share and possibly shake me? If all of this is true, and I believe it is, then it will not fall away.

I feel safe here in my room. Safe in the soft light and sweet music. Outside though are many people who do not feel the same  sense of safety. People who are questioning their beliefs and scared. People who do not even dream of questioning. People who have given up on the questions. My heart goes out to all these people who have no candles flickering in their lives. What is the light that will give them hope? What is the music that will make their heart sing?

Lovely

In Uncategorized on February 19, 2009 at 8:15 am

My Human Behavior in the Social Environment class was cancelled today, which makes me slightly sad to miss out on the material, but also glad for the following reasons:

– I now have the opportunity to go get free opera tickets if I want. Opera? Why not if it is free!

– I was woefully unprepared for a meeting I was supposed to have after the class on a group presentation three of us are doing.

– I now have some time to research eating disorders and their affects on the family unit so next time I will be prepared for the group.

– I can now let my hair air dry most of the way.

– I can linger over my green tea and do some devotions.

– I have some extra time to blog 🙂

I pray you have a lovely day filled with appreciation for all the things we have no control over, whether bad or good, each one is a lesson.

I pray for peace in the Holy Land. May it start in our hearts.

Making God or Anything Else a Science?

In Uncategorized on February 18, 2009 at 6:32 pm

Awhile back Phil and I had a discussion about theology and one of my recent class discussions. In my research class my professor made the comment that “science proves nothing” and in many ways I agree. My professor made the argument that science allows us to narrow down certain ideas or theories, but that they are never proven to be right…they are just shown to not be wrong in all the circumstances considered. The alphabet was given as an example. We cannot prove that “x” is “x”. All we can do is determine that it is not a,b,c,d,e,f,g,h,i,j,k,l,m,n,o,p,q,r,s,t,u,v,w,y, or z, but we cannot prove that it is “x”. X’s definition is not based on what it is but instead on what it is not.

As Phil and I continued our discussion this I told him about the four paradigms that social scientists work out of. The paradigms range from believing all truth is objective to believing that all truth is subjective. As I often do in my studies, I tried to relate this idea to God. Surely there are big objective truths about God. God is God is an example. However, there are also lots of subjective truths about God that are personally revealed to us through our relationship with him. As I sat in class I thought with appreciation that of how God does not allow himself to be labeled, explained, and understood fully by the science he created. God is far beyond science. He is far beyond anything we will ever know until later on…and even then we are at the mercy of what he chooses to share.

I say all of this because this mindset of science proves nothing matters a great deal to me. It tells me that my study of theology is never more important than my relationship with God. Moreover, it reminds me that what I think I know I may not. It makes me hesitant to claim to know objective truth. It makes me mindful of how easy it is to take subjective truths and claim their objectivity. Hopefully it will make me ever more slow to speak and quick to listen.

Bringing science into the mix is messy as well because it does not fit with faith. Science tries to prove things so that it is believable. Faith believes things in the absence of proof. I am not trying to bash science. It is good in so many ways. It can be the result of the discipline of our faith. It can be the result of the passions God puts on our hearts. Yet in the end it will prove nothing. God spoke…God is still speaking. Our job is to believe. I believe that we are to hold our beliefs not tightly but loosely with our hands facing upward; so that if God were to send a wind of revelation that which we think we know would be blown away. Whenever our beliefs are held too tightly they often become something we have to prove…they become science. I have a lot of beliefs that I am passionate about…I’m just trying to not let my passion turn into science. I am not the one who proves anything. I will leave that up to God. If I am right…well that is cool. If I am wrong…I’m sure the wind will blow in some repentance. Whatever happens I know that I do not control the wind.

Grace Given In Parking Lots

In Uncategorized on February 11, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Phil and I have been married for four months today. When did I realize this? You know…only when Phil showed up at my work with flowers, a card, and chocolate. Meanwhile I had nothing. In my mind I remembered thinking this past weekend “You’re four month anniversary is coming up. Don’t forget it!!!”. Yet, I did forget it and I felt pretty crappy about it. While Phil and I are not big into celebrating every anniversary or anything it would have still been nice to remember and acknowledge it. I am very thankful for a husband that did exactly that today; I just wish I had done it myself.

Life in general, including marriage, I have learned involves a lot of falling on ones face. I can push myself up and commit to doing better next time. Often though I dwell on my mistakes and apologize for them repeatedly. At one point tonight Phil stopped me and said “Joy, just accept the grace”. Moments like those remind me that God truly does work through marriage to show us what relationship between God and people is to look like. We are a bunch of people screwing up a really important relationship. Yet when we begin to beat ourselves up about it…we have a God that says “accept the grace”.  It is humbling and beautiful and so very needed. It pushes us to die to ourselves more, to give expecting nothing in return…it helps us pursue loving others the way we hope to be loved.  

Phil, you are loved and appreciated…not simply for your grace, but for who you are as a person, son, friend, teacher, and husband. It has been a wonderful four months my dear.

– joy

Run like you mean it

In Uncategorized on February 10, 2009 at 10:40 pm
Where we run.

Where we run.

So I have shared about how we are training for the 10k. Well we are sticking to it still…unlike last year…and so far we are up to three miles. Last Saturday was the first time we ran the three miles and I do not think I have ever felt worse in my life. Tonight however, was a completely different story.  We began running and I simply felt good. The weather was beautiful, probably in the low 60’s, and there was a wonderful breeze. We ran and ran and ran. We passed a lot of really beautiful and cute dogs along the way. It was all good and we are half way there!

Small and Tall

In Uncategorized on February 9, 2009 at 8:28 am

God has been himself/herself lately. In other words, God has been very faithful in my life. I recently receivedword about an answer to prayer and am overwhelmed with thankfulness to my God for it. I cannot go into all of the details but I will say it involved a family member who was really struggling in life. The past couple of months have been very hard for this person, leaving them confused and wanting to give up on life. It has also been hard on the rest of my family. The stress has affected almost all of us. It led to many nights of me laying in bed crying in the midst of my helplessness. Poor Phillip- one week into a marriage and he had to deal with a crying wife and family crisis.

I did not know what to do.  I was not sure what God’s will was for the situation. God would put certain things on Phil and I’s heart and we would try to be obedient in them…butstill nothing was changing. It came to a head about one month ago. Things had gone from bad to worse for my family member. I had one of those moments of going before God where I was pressed as to whether or not I really trusted God to take care of the situation. Was I willing to completely give up my family member to God and trust in the face of horrible circumstances that God would take care of things? I chose to let go and trust. It is always hard, but it is also always the only real choice.

It was probably only three days later that my family member called me to share their good news. Good news!!! I wish I could share the full testimony because truly it is amazing what God did. However the story is complicated and I am not sure that it is my right to share the personal details of another human beings life. All I can say that it is amazing.

God is good and faithful. Sometimes we trust God and it takes longer than we had anticipated for him/her to act. Sometimes we do not recognize God’s actions at all. Sometimes God acts quickly when we trust. Sometime when we trust God our mothers die…and we realize that trusting is something we do no matter the consequences. What do we really know about what the right solution is anyways? I had so many ideas for my family member and none of them are what God chose to do for them.

I am little and God is tall. It is quite okay though…things go better when I remember I am small.

I pray that we all learn to trust more. That we let go and breathe deep breaths of faith and surrender. May we learn how to be sheep who follow the voice of their shepherd. Amen.