Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beating an (almost) dead horse, Pt. 1

I'm not sure if this is because I just got married and that changes everything, or if it's because I just graduated from college and that changes everything, or if it's because I just moved across the country and that changes everything, or if it's because I'm in seminary and that changes everything...but...

Everything has changed.

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed and lost and unsure of where I am, who I am, whether I'm important or significant or valued or loved, and whether I have anything worth contributing to this new life. It has been somewhat disorienting but incredibly refreshing because it has reminded me of something.

My feelings of worth and significance can't come from what people around me think. Their estimation of me doesn't equal my actual value. I got so cozy in Princeton because I made lasting friendships with people and felt truly loved and respected and valued- but it allowed me to forget that it's NOT their love, respect, or value that actually informs who I am. In other words, how I feel about myself can't be based on what people think of me.

I know, I know...this topic is such a dead horse for some of the people who've been forced to keep up with my thoughts for the last seven years. BUT for me the horse is not dead. I have to keep beating the stinkin thing until I finally kill it!!! (Isn't it funny how people often "preach" the message they themselves need to hear the most?)

This is a poem I wrote my freshman year of college:

i just want You to tell me who i am

so i can be assured
...and i can be secure
that You love me not because
of what i do
or what i try to prove
but because you think that i'm
perfect for You
and You're proud of the way i am
..that all this is just a part of Your plan

(I thought it was cool not to capitalize words, apparently.) So, yea, this is a recurring theme in my life. And God is so faithful in continuing to teach me SO patiently (I'd certainly be fed up by now if I were God) that seeking others' approval will always be in vain. It doesn't matter what people in Dallas (or anywhere!) think of me, whether they think I'm a fun person or a valuable "team member" or a gifted evangelist or a good singer or a creative wife...b/c I had a group of people in Princeton who thought I was great and now I'm not in Princeton anymore and I'm feeling insecure. Hmm.

God you are good to remind me that when I put my confidence in man (ie. what people think of me) I will always be insecure.

Jeremiah 17:5-8

Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man

and makes flesh his strength,

whose heart turns away from the Lord.

He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.

He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,

in an uninhabited salt land.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.

He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,

and does not fear when heat comes,

for its leaves remain green,

and is not anxious in the year of drought,

for it does not cease to bear fruit."


Monday, October 25, 2010

Reasons Redeemer Seminary is Awesome

I would just like to take a moment to share a few of the many reasons I so thoroughly enjoy my every moment here at Redeemer Seminary, and why you would too.

When you open the fridge, you will find an assortment of lunches to choose from:



And you might just find that someone left an economy size bucket of cheese-balls for everyone to enjoy:



You'd get to hang out with Dr. Clair Davis and other theological superstars on a daily basis:



You'd get to see my adorable husband every time you "needed" to walk through the library for work (which is usually about every 15 minutes for my job)



And you just might get to work in a sweet corner office like mine, right next to this:


Beautiful, isn't it? Well that's all for now. I hope you enjoyed my tiny virtual tour of some of the awesome things about Redeemer.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Please please please

So I support this adorable, amazing Bangladeshi family who are "native missionaries" to their country, meaning they came to faith in Christ and now they giving their lives to share the message of God's love with their people. They are in pretty critical need of support (did you know that almost all native missionaries from countries in Asia still have to get their support from the US? That means they're trained to contact strangers and ask them for support...how many Christians-- with money-- would you know if you were born and raised in a Muslim country that persecuted Christians?) So if you're praying about or open to giving to them, PLEASE DO. Or maybe you don't feel that you have money to give right now but are open to ways you can still serve the global church with what you DO have. You could just write a letter of encouragement to them, and that would still be an AMAZING gift to this precious family who is laboring for the Gospel with hardly any network of support and encouragement. This would take probably 15 minutes and it would dramatically impact people you might be spending eternity with!!

"Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all- especially to those who are part of the family of believers" Galatians 6:10

Here is an excerpt from one of their most recent letters to me:

"Sister & Brother, Bangladesh as a Muslim country we do not make our website (about Ministry detail) for our security. Also we can not express our thought & ministry news nicely as we are so poor in English. That why people some time do not like our note / message.


But Sister , God knows, how difficulties we have to face here, I am not talking about just financially. Persecution is always here. Threaten is daily matter for our staffs. Also monthly 1 / 2 news have come that some of our staff have been persecuted by People.

I am writing this. So that when you share about us to other, you can express our thought & problem"

If you want to write to them or want any more information, please ask me!!!



Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Sin Series

I've titled this post "The Sin Series" because I'm dealing a lot with sin in my life right now, and this post might just be the start of many more cases of rambling about it.

The fact that we in America don't have arranged marriages is both a blessing and a curse (gasp!). Ok, I'll explain what I mean...obviously I'm thankful that we get to "pick" our spouses because I really like the one I picked! But I think it has also taught us some bad habits. Like in dating for example... we see that as a "testing ground" for ultimately picking a mate...like taking a car on a test drive before you buy it. Understandable. BUT this system of dating and "marrying for love" combined with the Disney-infused concept of "falling in love" (as if love is something that just happens) and "just meeting the right person and sparks will fly" has created genuine confusion and therefore serious disappointment for a lot of people.

Why? Because sin is left out of the equation completely.

This is the reality...a relationship can only exist so long before sin enters the picture enough for both people to say, "wow, is this really working out?" I had three other boyfriends before getting married AND a couple of really close friendships and sin has been a problem in all of them. Whether it took a really visible form like disloyalty or lying-- or a more subtle form like selfishness or being controlling-- it definitely caused me to say, "I don't know if this is going to work out". So here is what our American-Disney way of thinking teaches us:

When sin (which we have no word for in our culture, b/c we don't like to define what is right and wrong) becomes a problem in a relationship, it means we just haven't found the right person yet, or we just aren't "right" for each other. So then we break up and find a new boyfriend/girlfriend to feel the sparks with, or find new friends (who won't be able to call us out on our "junk")...and it is only a matter of time before the cycle repeats itself!

But sin shows us that nobody is "right for each other" in the sense that there won't be conflict, there won't be selfishness, controlling behavior, dishonesty, disloyalty, etc. It teaches us that in every human relationship, conflict will come- and you either face it (your own "sin" included!) or you avoid it. You know the couple who never really handles conflict but stuffs it all under the rug? Or they blame it all on an external force ("it's this job, it's my in-laws, it's because my needs aren't being met")? Or the girl who doesn't ever keep a close friend because there's always a falling out that happens to be the "other person's" fault? Been there, done that.

We don't like sin. We don't like looking at our own or at others' junk, and it would be easier to believe "if I just meet the right person, things will work out and the sparks will fly, and I"ll feel warm and fuzzy forever". Well, I'm married to the "right" person and it's not always warm and fuzzy, and I've only been married three months!!-- I'm still in the "warm and fuzzy stage" of life!

Thankfully, sin is part of the equation, but it's not the SUM of the equation. (I'm terrible at math so don't expect this metaphor to actually make mathematical sense). There is a reason that we can acknowledge, look at, and face our sin- that reason is Christ. Because of Christ I can say "I'm not good enough, I'm not the right person, I'm not really capable of being a loving wife/friend/pastor...but there is someone who IS good enough, and He not only knows what I really am and has forgiven me, but He gives me the power to change when I go to Him as the only solution to sin and let Him change my heart." And in fact, when I avoid looking at my own heart to see my own junk, I'm not really honoring myself, those I'm in relationship with, or God.

Remember when your mom used to say, "sweetie, you have to let me see it so I can make it better"? Acknowledging our sin it's painful, uncomfortable, maybe embarrassing...(at least it is for me) but it's the only way we ever get better and can ever have true, lasting intimacy with God or others.





Thursday, October 7, 2010

Holst and Heaven

So last week Michael and I went to see Dallas Symphony Orchestra perform "The Planets" by Holst. This was fun for us because at our wedding, I walked down the aisle to the Jupiter theme (which happens to be set to a really cool hymn text...) but anyway, I think I cried in at least three of the movements of this "symphony"- and I won't try to explain why, because Anne Porter already did in this amazing poem that my friend Megan shared with me a couple months ago:

When I was a child

I once sat sobbing on the floor
Beside my mother’s piano
As she played and sang
For there was in her singing
A shy yet solemn glory
My smallness could not hold

And when I was asked

Why I was crying
I had no words for it
I only shook my head
And went on crying

Why is it that music

At its most beautiful
Opens a wound in us
An ache, a desolation
Deep as a homesickness
For some far-off
And half-forgotten country

I’ve never understood

Why this is so

But there’s an ancient legend

From the other side of the world
That gives away the secret
Of this mysterious sorrow

For centuries on centuries

We have been wandering
But we were made for Paradise
As deer for the forest

And when music comes to us

With its heavenly beauty
It brings us desolation
For when we hear it
We half remember
That lost native country

We dimly remember the fields

Their fragrant windswept clover
The birdsongs in the orchards
The wild white violets in the moss
By the transparent streams

And shining at the heart of it

Is the longed-for
beauty
Of the One who waits for us
Who will always wait for us
In those radiant meadows

Yet also came to live with us

And wanders where we wander.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Confession

Today I'm fasting, also known as skipping mealtime. Anyone who knows me well knows that this doesn't sound like typical Hannah behavior- usually I like to have extra mealtimes, not skip them! So there must be a compelling reason for me to do this- more compelling than food. In fact that's the very reason, because intimacy with God is more compelling than food. Ok, that might seem like a leap. How does giving up food make us more intimate with God? Well, what it does (at least when I fast) is it causes me to realize my need for and dependence on God, and it teaches me how to see and live in that need. This, therefore, draws me into deeper "intimacy" or relationship with God. There are a few examples I can think of from today.

I'm hungry, which makes me cranky. I have to depend on
God to teach me how to behave toward others, not tasty pizza that happens to put me in a really good mood. Secondly (this is a more recent revelation) it makes me realize how much I worship food. Yea, it's true- food is an idol in my life.
"Their god is their stomach...their mind is on earthly things" Philippians 3:19. That's me! I know that I don't have an eating disorder or have a problem (well, most of the time anyway) binge eating or anything like that, but that's why this is incredible evidence that something can be a false god even if it doesn't completely consume my life! So that being said, I praise the Lord that He actually created food and gave us taste buds for us to enjoy things like goat cheese and carrot salads, chick-fil-a sandwiches, pigs-in-blankets, salads from Panera, chocolate cake....(ok can you tell I'm hungry?) But I also praise the Lord for the truth that He is ultimately
better, far more satisfying, and infinitely more worthy than food of my affection (it's true, I really ADORE food) AND that I am in much greater need of HIM, the Bread of Life, than any physical sustenance.

Jesus said, "man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God". Matthew 4:4. In other words, I really
need God, and His Word (which happens to be Jesus!) far more than I need lunch today.

Even more wonderful, Jesus also said... "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never go thirsty." John 6:35 WOW. So it might sound weird, but skipping lunch (what a sacrifice) helps me to slowly, very slowly, learn to feast on and
hunger for and delight in the True Bread- the very life of God offered to me!