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Archive for November, 2009|Monthly archive page

thoughts on the future

In Uncategorized on November 30, 2009 at 9:17 pm

I’ve been thinking about the future a lot lately. My third semester of grad school is drawing to a close, which means my final semester is about to begin. The big topic, and sure to get bigger, amongst us students is where will be after graduation. I have big plans over Christmas break of doing some serious resume preparation and job searches. I have been praying about where I should be for a couple of months now. To be honest I have not done much listening but more supplications and general “Lord lead me to where I need to be” and “I trust you with the future”. Just this weekend though I was challenged by the question of whether I am really opening myself up to what God wants me to do.

Phillip and I have already been making plans you see. We have felt at peace about moving back towards the Chester area. Perhaps this is God’s plan. Perhaps God desires us to rent a home somewhere near our family and friends and for me to find a job in the area. Perhaps God intends for us to buy a second car. Perhaps God even intends for us to get a dog and quit living vicariously through our friends. Perhaps.

I began reading a book over the holiday that challenged how easily I have fallen into planning our life down in Chester. We spent the holiday in NC with my grandma and uncle and aunt. The day after Thanksgiving we drove to the nearest town to engage in some Barnes and Noble goodness. While there I picked up a copy of Richard Stearn’s book “the hole in our gospel” (or something close to that) and began reading it. I have had a lot of respect for Mr. Stearns ever since hearing him speak at a Sojourners conference last spring. In the first few chapters he shares his personal story of arriving at World Vision as the CEO. What struck me was when he began talking about how as Christians so often we do not fully yield complete control of our lives to Christ. We ask him/her to use us…but just so long as we can continue to live as comfortably as we do right now.

Chester is for the most part comfortable to me. What I am realizing is that I have no right to comfort. God has a plan and that may include sending my resume to the other side of the country. I had to repent this weekend of not even entertaining the idea before.

And so I am thinking of the future. Wherever it may lead, whether here, DC, San Francisco, LA…I know I can trust that it will be the right place. It will be the place where my life can give Christ the most glory. I’m still learning that it is not my life anyways.

two weekends ago

In Uncategorized on November 30, 2009 at 8:54 pm

I had a pretty great weekend:

– I came home to Phil on Friday night.

– We made our favorites…sauteed mushrooms in garlic and olive oil tossed over mushroom and provolone stuffed ravioli. We ate it in our bed and were so tired to honestly considered going to sleep for the night. It is 6:30 pm.

– We took turns playing our harmonica badly and laughing to inspire us to stay awake.

– We bought kombucha and the first two seasons (it was a box set for cheap!) of Alias so that I could introduce Phil to one of my favorite teen guilty pleasures. I think my friends and I even made a copy cat video in high school. Yes, we were that awesome.

– We slept in to around 10 am…a rarity. We hung around our home and enjoyed a breakfast of oatmeal with strawberries. I enjoyed another chapter of “the life you’ve always wanted”. I am working on getting better at meditating on the words of God. The book suggests having one passage that you recite to yourself throughout the day. So far I am better at picking out a passage then meditating on it all  day.

– Phil and I made a wonderful lunch. asparagus panninis and homemade fries. Once again we ate in bed, one of our classics, and I literally spilled my lunch all over myself. It was a mess. Once we got it all cleaned up Phil commented that at least I had yet to pour ketchup onto my plate. Finding thankfulness in the little things.

– I called Allison to see if she wanted to tackle homework together. We met at Crossroads, had some chai, and headed for the library. We spent half our time working and the other half talking. Thanks to budget cuts we discovered that our library now closes at 6pm on Saturdays. In the spirit of getting kicked out we decided to pretend like we did not have a couple more papers to write and instead get take-out and watch movies all night at her place. It was glorious. I never get to spend enough time with Allison, but I am thankful that whenever we do get together we have a great time of friendship.

– Phil was so enthralled by the cozy atmosphere when he arrived from hanging out with his friends that he decided to stay…we didn’t get home till after 1am. Sometimes I forget that I know how to stay up that late.

– Sunday morning we did something that we never do. We slept in and did not go to the morning church service. It was honestly great and needed. I feel that sometimes we get so stuck in our routines that we can lose sight of the Sabbath. I don’t think God ever intended this to happen. God created the Sabbath for us, not us for the Sabbath. Thanks Lord.

– During all our morning time Phil and I cleaned our home and made homemade cheddar and garlic rolls. I love the way baking makes my home smell. When it happens around the holidays it is even better.

– After the biscuits were done we headed to our first of two potlucks for the day. The first one was with all of Phil’s family. The food was good. We were blessed with wonderful in-laws that are very accommodating to our vegetarian lifestyle.

– Quickly after the potluck I fell asleep for an hour. There is nothing like Sunday afternoon naps, except for Sunday afternoon naps when you do not have homework to do.

– Around four, Phil and I met Alex to get ready for our last small group for the semester. It was both a great ending and a beginning. It was wonderful to hear people share ways God has changed their hearts about race and racism. I have learned so much more than I expected over the past few months in this group. I am so excited to see how God will continue to work in all of us at Cornerstone in terms of racial reconciliation. We spent time in prayer for how God might be leading each of us to step out in the church. All around the room I heard people dreaming of ways to spread the conversation with the rest of our Cornerstone family. We decided to keep meeting next semester to focus on praying for racial reconciliation. We ended with communion, toasting together with God his/her great work that is being done and that we have the honor of participating in.

– Our night ended with a Love Feast at Common Ground. It was a great time of celebrating Jesus and what he/she is doing in our lives. We took time to laugh, confide, and encourage each other. It did not hurt that the food was great either.

I am so thankful for all the wonderful family God has put into Phil and I’s life. I would never know God and grow in knowing him/her if it were not for these people. At the same time if it were not for God my relationships would never be this sweet. Living under the mercy and love. There is nothing like it.

In Uncategorized on November 17, 2009 at 5:30 pm

you know you are in grad school when taking a shower is always on the bottom of your to-do list…until due to that position it has to be moved to the top of the list.

who are we serving…? for there can only be one.

In Uncategorized on November 11, 2009 at 10:23 pm

I struggle with Veteran’s Day. My heart and my mind go in so many directions with it. My biggest problem is the way I see people idolize the men and women who wear the uniform. We worship these people. We highlight all their sacrifices and overlook the other side of those sacrifices throughout the world…countries destroyed, millions of deaths, street violence, violence against women, nuclear bombs, starvation, poverty, the list goes on. As a Christian I feel that it is truly wrong to worship anyone or anything except for God. Even if it was not, do we truly think that God would want us to worship those who make war? Some would call it making the peace and to them I would reply that the Prince of peace has already shown us how to do that…and it involves putting down your sword and accepting the cross. In idolizing our military we idolize its mission and this nation. Neither of which deserve any great praise. Prayer would be much more in order. My understanding of the military through family and friends who have served has led me to believe that serving in the military and serving Christ are often incongruent. I know this is a statement that will upset many people; after all I know plenty of Christians in the military. However I do not believe that one can be a Christian and follow the commands of the military that will order you to do things that go against the word of God. When you are handed a gun and told to fire on the enemy how do you reconcile that with Jesus telling us we are to love our enemies? How can we drop bombs on a people who the Bible tells us is part of God’s family? How can we refuse to show grace to those terrorists or nations who have done us wrong when we, like Judas, have all betrayed Jesus at some point or another and have yet been forgiven? At its most basic level joining the military means pledging your allegiance to America. Once again the topic of idolatry comes up. We only have one king and he/she is the only one I feel Christians can pledge their allegiance to. Perhaps one day in heaven Jesus will show me that I was wrong about this…but so far the spirit has not thus borne witness within me.

So this is what Veteran’s Day is about to me,

it is a day of prayer for our brokenness and awareness for our world.  I do believe that many men and women who join the military do so with good hearts hoping to do something noble. I also know that many people join because they are poor, and after being specifically targeted by military recruiters they join out of economic need and a desire to make it to college some day. I also know that military culture is often very lacking in grace and that in and of itself hurts many people. Women, people who are gay, and faith minorities are often discrimated against or worse. Tragically these wars that are profiting a small group of people are doing huge harm to thousands upon thousands of precious Americans. Soldiers are coming home with physical and more so psychological scars that will follow them for decades. As PTSD increases so does substance abuse and suicide. Veterans are killing their wives as their minds break down. Huge numbers of families are falling apart as husbands or wives face one deployment after another and consequently divorce. And I am not sure that this even does justice to the true reality of what people are facing.

When I think about these things I am filled with  anger towards those who deceived us into these wars that are hurting so many. More of my anger is directed towards Satan who I know rejoices in this deceit that reigns down destruction on God’s beloved creation, us. In the midst of these emotions though I try to always  remember Jesus’ message as the government was executing him…”forgive them Father for they do not know what they do”. And so I try to make my prayer similar.

Forgive them Father, help me forgive them. Help the soldiers to forgive them. Help us all forgive our enemies. O Lord help the people of Iraq and Afghanistan forgive us. Show me how I can share your love with those in the military. Show me how I can spread your love. Make your people aware of the toll these wars are taking on these precious men and women. Please make ways for soldiers to get the mental health help that they need. Please make more ways for soldiers to refuse combat and multiple deployments. Stop these soldiers from ending up living in the alleys of our towns, in the woods, and in the other invisible places. They are not invisible to you…may those in need not be invisible to us either. Truly we look forward to the day when nations will not raise up sword against nation. May we learn to farm together instead and worship you. For you Lord are the only one worthy of our worship and allegiance. May your kingdom come Lord and may it come quickly.

good news

In Uncategorized on November 8, 2009 at 10:02 am

Good news in my life lately:

1. I am not dying…I just have an illness that takes a long time to go away.

2. I am loved and chosen by God…and he/she intends to rescue me from myself. Sanctification, thank God for it. Literally.

3. I actually did homework on a Saturday. I went to the library and made significant progress on one of the three papers I have to write this weekend.

4. I have a husband who loves me.

5. My husband, who loves me, is teaching our Sunday school class without me so that I can sit in Starbucks and continue typing away.

6. No matter how poor we become God always finds amazing and interesting ways of providing. Whether it is a gift card in the mail or running into a family member who at the end of dinner apologizes for not attending your wedding and hands you fifty dollars; it is always there. Thanks yet again Lord.

7. Whether or not I have more papers or projects than I want to even consider…my semester is almost over. That means only one semester left!

8. I have an amazing supervisor at work. She calls me when I am sick and tells me to take as much time off as needed. She buys me dinner and coffee. She doesn’t have to do this. When all of us have had a rough day she hands us interns $20 and tells us to go buy a drink. Every week she teaches me more about being the kind of social worker that truly organizes for change and empowers others. She can cuss like a sailor. I love it.

9. I have good friends…and most of them seem to be doing pretty okay.

10. I’m making some new friends. It is always a blessing to meet people with whom you can connect with on a deeper level.

11. A healthcare bill passed the house last night. It did not have provisions for federally funded abortions.

12. In about a month I will be a quarter century old. I’m pretty excited. I love getting older. I love learning to love all the gray hairs I already have. I am thankful for having a better sense of myself…and I look forward to this growing over time as God reveals it to me slowly but surely  with each passing year.

13. At the beginning of the day, throughout it, at the end of it…wherever I or you am at, there is always hope. I can feel it, and it keeps me going.

sigh

In Uncategorized on November 4, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Lately every time I go to write something on here….perhaps share something that has been on my heart, or a wonderful God-given experience I have had, I think about all the school work that I need to be doing. There is the paper I need to write tonight so that I can write another paper tomorrow night so that I will be free to write a third paper Friday night; so that I will have my weekend free to spend time with my family, correct my papers, and do a couple hundred pages of reading.

blah.

one of those months

In Uncategorized on November 1, 2009 at 10:37 pm

So I have not been the best blogger as of late. It has been a busy/wonderful/stressful/sickly month. I know I blogged earlier this month about being sick…well it came back- in the form of bronchitis no less. I have completed a ten-day prescription but still do not feel completely well…and tonight we missed Common Ground yet again because now Phil is starting to feel sick. It has been a hard time. Whenever I get sick, and it sticks around, I can get freaked out by it. Me freaking out multiplies when it involves my lungs. I suppose it is more psychological involving my mom dying from lung cancer but either way I do not like having anything wrong with them. Of course during this month-long bronchitis battle I am surrounded by the news talking about how swine flu is everywhere (and it certainly is in Richmond) and how it affects high risk groups (me) by going after the lungs. I have been really struggling with fear because of this over the last week and a half. I hate the way fear gets into us and makes us both think and act irrationally. I would appreciate prayers for both the sick Brock household and the fearful me. I can hear God speaking to me telling me not to be afraid, but there is always another voice saying the opposite to me. It is amazing though how God does reach out to us in so many ways. For instance today in church my pastor spoke on Jesus the healer. He talked about how healing has nothing to do with my faith, which admittedly is struggling throughout this month-ordeal, and more to do with being Jesus centered and trusting in who Jesus says he is.  So here is to trust. My prayer is that we can all grow in it together.