Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christmas Presents

For all of the fruitless time I've spent on Pinterest, I finally have something to show for it. I was inspired by all the cute pictures I saw of brown paper packages and decided to make my own. More pictures to follow!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Your Steadfast Love... great above the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the skies." - Psalm 108:4

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Free to Love

A discussion has been brewing on campus. A discussion of broken hearts, healed hearts, and redeemed hearts. Hearts that are not afraid to love. The wise words of C.S. Lewis have often been quoted, one of my favorite quotes of all time.

To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.

Monday, November 7, 2011

If You Love Me...

I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives this past weekend. The basic conclusion of the documentary is that animal foods are detrimental to the human body. My family is mostly vegetarian and I have read The China Study, so a lot of the information was familiar.

The data is solid and compelling. I believe it. So why did I enjoy chicken and sour cream along with my beans, salsa, rice and lettuce tonight? Why did I just eat a mini Hershey's bar?

Because I like the way chicken and sour cream taste. And yes, I even like milk chocolate.

You see, the crux of this issue isn't really about what I eat. It's about why I eat what I eat. And it's about my sin.

Yes, my sin.

You see, every time I've tried to change to a healthier diet, it's been for vain, selfish reasons. That's why it's never stuck. I've been trying to deny my flesh for fleshly motives, and a house divided cannot stand.

But the real reason I should eat healthy foods has to do with me. The real reason is that if I want to serve Jesus with my body, I need to take care of it. And if I really believe that a vegan diet is the healthiest diet, then I should be vegan.

Simple, right? Uh, no. I kinda drool at the thought of bacon, chicken tenders dipped in ranch dressing, and moose tracks ice cream. So I give in to the temptation on a regular basis.

"So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him that is sin." ~ James 4:17

Ouch. How long have I known the right thing to do but not done it? How incredibly pitiful is my self-control! But it gets worse.

"If you love me, you will keep my commandments." ~ John 14:15

I say I want to serve Christ wholeheartedly. But how can I expect to do great things for Him if I can't deny myself the ice cream cone, or the chicken tenders with ranch? How horribly selfish and shallow of me to place my own temporal pleasure over the importance of serving the One who ransomed me from the very pits of Hell.

[Edit] I am not trying to say it is sinful to eat an animal-based diet. Look at the last five words of James 4:17- "For him that is sin." If the Lord has not convicted you about your diet, then by all means exercise your sanctified common sense and Christian liberty. :)

Now I know Jesus never said, "Thou shalt not eat animals." In fact, Jesus Himself ate animals.

But that's not the point. The point is that in this day and age, the healthiest possible diet is animal-free, and very low in sugar, refined flours, and oil.

As a Christ-follower and as an athlete, don't I have a responsibility to eat healthy? Yes.  But I now realize I can't do this on my own.

My friend Sarah has agreed to be my accountability partner. Starting this Sunday she and I will eat completely vegan until Thanksgiving- that's 10 days. It's not yet set in stone that I'll stay vegan, but I think the best way to see if it is reasonable is to give it a try. By God's grace, we will not fail!

Sunday, October 30, 2011


Have you ever read something that perfectly expresses the jumbled thoughts and feelings that you haven’t been able to articulate?

I read a prayer in The Valley of Vision a few days ago that resonated so deeply it left me speechless, even thought-less for a few moments. 

Even as I read it now I am convicted and humbled. It exposes the sin in my heart that I hadn't seen. It reminds me of the beauty of grace and the solid hope of the Gospel.

I pray that God will use these mere human words to stir your soul.  

O Living God,
I  bless Thee
      that I see the worst of my heart as well as the best of it,
      that I can sorrow for those sins that carry me from Thee,
      that it is Thy deep and dear mercy to threaten punishment 
      so that I may return, pray, live.
My sin is to look on my faults and be discouraged,
   or to look on my good and be puffed up.
I fall short of thy glory every day by spending
     hours unprofitably,
   by thinking that the things I do are good,
     when they are not done to Thy end,
     nor spring from the rules of Thy Word.
My sin is to fear what never will be;
I forget to submit to Thy will, and fail to be quiet there.
But Scripture teaches me that Thy active will
   reveals a steadfast purpose on my behalf,
   and this quietens my soul,
   and makes me love Thee.
Keep me always in the understanding
   that saints mourn more for sin than other men,
   for when they see how great is Thy wrath against sin,
   and how Christ’s death alone pacifies that wrath,
   that makes them mourn the more.
Help me to see that although I am in the wilderness
   it is not all briars and barrenness.
I have bread from heaven, streams from the rock,
   light by day, fire by night,
   Thy dwelling place and Thy mercy seat.
I am sometimes discouraged by the way,
   but though winding and trying it is safe and short;
Death dismays me, but my great high priest
   stands in its waters,
   and will open me a passage,
   and beyond is a better country.
While I live let my life be exemplary,
When I die may my end be peace.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Vain Idols

Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love. -Jonah 2:8

This verse practically jumped off the page at me when I read it in church this morning.
This is me, I thought. Convicted, I made a list of the things in my life that I have set up as vain idols. I am ashamed by how many things cause me to forsake my hope of God's steadfast love.

I pondered how to best attack the vain idols and realized that the answer lies in the following verse of Jonah's prayer.

But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to You;
What I have vowed I will pay. Salvation belongs to the Lord!”

I pray that the Lord will give me the resolve to deny myself, to sacrifice my selfishness for His glory, and I pray for strength to depose the vain idols that keep me from His steadfast love.  

Friday, September 16, 2011

Guilty of... gtalking?

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. - Matthew 5:29 ESV

If your computer causes you to sin, don't bring it to class...


We all know the routine. On the first day of class, professors who allow laptops in class give their “don’t use the Internet” speech, and within five minutes half of the class is online. What motivates this gross disrespect of a professor’s request?

Last Spring I always sat in the back of Dr. Cox’s Theology class. Like many of the professors who allow laptops in class, Dr. Cox asks students to disable the wireless receivers on their laptops during his class. On any given day, six of the eight laptop users g-talked incessantly and surfed the web.

I once privately confronted Jacob (name changed), who surfed and g-talked during every class. He accepted my admonition with a polite smile and didn’t say much. The next class he was g-talking and surfing just as much as ever.

I recently gtalked Jacob to ask him about his disregard for professors’ no-Internet policies.

“Hang on one sec,” he said, “I have to run to class actually. Can we pick this up in 5 minutes?”

Jacob told me he feels that his violation of his professors’ Internet policies is justified because he mostly uses the Internet for class-related pursuits, such as collaborating with a friend via gtalk to assemble their dream Hollywood cast for an adaptation of “The Odyssey.”

He said he believes that a no-Internet policy is only intended to curb behavior such as watching movies on Netflix during class, so he feels comfortable checking his email and Facebook during class.

If I was specifically asked to not do so, I'd stop in a heartbeat,” he said.

Wait. There is little room for ambiguity in a professor’s “turn off your wireless in class” directive.

Melissa agrees that there is nothing ambiguous about a no internet policy.

There's really no good rationale for it, other than not wanting to have to pay attention for the whole class,” she said.

Melissa said she realizes that her Internet use is directly defiant of her professor’s policy, but she doesn’t feel a need to reform her ways.

“I guess I kind of view it as driving over the speed limit. Technically it's wrong, but not bad enough to outweigh the benefits,” she said.

I too, have been among the ranks of guilty g-talkers and selfish surfers. Even after the Lord convicted me of my sinful disrespect, I often lost my resolve, so I stopped bringing my computer to class.

When I discussed this with my friend Catherine, she agreed that the Internet can be a “huge temptation” during class, especially for instant messaging.

“Regardless of how incredible your professor is, there are always times when the class will feel boring, you will be tired, distracted, or otherwise disinterested,” she said.

Catherine said she finds it easy to rationalize her use of gtalk as a means of investing in her fellow believers.

“This is one reason I do not bring my computer to class,” she said. “I am a genius at rationalizing selfish, lazy, disrespectful, and altogether foolish behaviors. When I am in class, it is my duty to honor my professor, especially when it is difficult, because that is when my heart is really tested.”

Let’s face it. Whatever your excuse, whatever my excuse, deliberately disobeying your professor is wrong. Although students like Melissa dismiss their disregard of Internet use policies as minor infractions, the little things do matter. Christ told His disciples, “One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much,” (Luke 16:10-11) On a very basic level, failure to comply with a professor’s Internet-use policy is purely selfish. Even when a student uses the Internet is used for academic purposes during class, his disregard for professor’s policy implies that he considers his own desires superior to the professor’s wishes.

One student explained, “Surfing in class is the moral equivalent of looking at porn in your dorm room. Perhaps one is in fact more heinous than the other, but it’s not that one is a sin and one is a bad idea. They’re both sins. They’re both heinous in the sight of God.”

If we cannot be faithful to respect our professors, how can we be faithful to revere the Word of the Lord? How can we change the nation and shape the culture if we cannot submit to our professors? We must begin with our own hearts, with our attitudes towards our professors.

I think Catherine said it best, “When we are in the classroom, what we do on the computer shouldn't be about us.”

Friday, July 29, 2011

Post-Internship Dinner

I never intended for this to be a food blog, but I only have 10 more days of kitchen access. My family wasn't home when I got home from the internship [the last day- yippee!], so I went ahead and fixed myself a mini-meal.

I started out with about 1/4 cup of whole-wheat flour, and sprinkled in a little bit of baking powder. I then added some Italian herbs, water, and a teensy bit of minced garlic. I don't know the ratio of water to flour, but you're looking for a consistency similar to pancake batter.

Heat up the pan and lightly butter it before you pour in the flatbread batter. After you've flipped it, cover the top with fresh basil leaves.

I raided the fridge for some leftover grilled zucchini, and covered it with Trader Joe's spaghetti sauce and a touch of Parmesan. It was so good that I ended up making a second one :)

Hungry yet?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Run Of Your Life

It was miserable. Absolutely miserable. My head was pounding, my stomach was protesting a run too soon after eating, my eyes stung from my mascara and and the 93 degree heat was pressing in on all sides. Running is definitely not a glamorous endeavor.

Sometimes my runs are delightful. I talk to the Lord, pray for family and friends, or meditate on Scripture. But tonight the pain swamped my brain and I couldn’t even think. On my post-run cool-down, I was struck by the similarities between running and the Christian life. Sometimes sanctification is absolutely delightful. We can soak in the truth of God’s word, intercede boldly before the throne, and revel in the sweet presence of Jesus. There are other times when we are so overwhelmed by sin, the attacks of the Enemy, and the crushing weight of the world that we struggle to breathe, to pray, or to stay on course.

Four years ago, I would have given up on the run. Two years ago, I would have slid into the sloppy habits- hunched shoulders, flailing elbows, and feet kicking like a frog. But tonight all the hard work paid off. I ran tall. I kept my elbows in. My feet did not stray to the right or to the left. When I could not think, my body did what it had been trained to do.

This is why Paul exhorted Timothy, “train yourself for godliness.” When we are overwhelmed, we will default to our training. Are you training yourself in godliness or in worldliness? When you are overwhelmed do you default to despair, anger, and fear, or do you instinctively trust in the Lord’s promises and act on them?

When the run of life seems easy, push yourself to greater godliness. Pursue the fruits of the Spirit. Seek first the Kingdom and its righteousness, and hydrate yourself with the Living Water. Then, when the run becomes difficult, you will be prepared. Train yourself for godliness.

Even in the most difficult trials, there is victory through Christ. This is why Paul proclaimed, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;  persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-11)

When the trials come, do not lose heart! Your inner self is being renewed day by day, and the end result is so worth it. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

When I looked at my watch at the end of my run, the pain and misery were suddenly worth it. The hours of practicing good form over the past few years were worth it. Tonight I beat my previous 5-mile time by three and a half minutes.

As incredible as that felt, the result of training in godliness far surpasses the satisfaction of the best run here on earth. Paul told Timothy, “While bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.” (I Timothy 4:8).  

Remember the trials Paul described in 2 Corinthians 4:8-11? Just a few sentences later he encouraged the Corinthian church, saying, “this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Prepare yourself for the eternal weight of glory, and fix your eyes on the unseen as you run the race!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Cluttered Mind

My brain is cluttered. The thought struck me on my way home from work, and I think it is alarmingly true. Facts, ideas, and concepts sit helter-skelter on the shelves of my mind, and I when I think, it is more an avalanche of clutter, unconnected information than a systematic operation. (The exception would be if I am thinking about spreadsheets, math, science, soccer or some combination thereof). I generally do not think in an orderly fashion. In fact, I rarely actually think, because thinking requires my mind to “sit still,” something that is a great difficulty for me, both physically and mentally. But stillness is a spiritual discipline worth cultivating, so I have decided to pursue it with all of the energy that… prevents me from sitting still.

Anyway, this blog is my attempt to de-clutter my mind. Instead of allowing my mind to bounce down yet another rabbit trail to nowhere, I will attempt to pause and focus on a single idea, concept, or thought and develop it. I desire to glorify God with my thoughts, and it is my prayer that learning to think in an orderly way will do that!