Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Caught Up or . . . Grounded?

So there’s been plenty of buzz lately about teen idol and role model Miley Cyrus and her photo shoot with Vanity Fair. It has turned into quite the hot topic with plenty of controversy.

We can almost remember a time when a photo shoot like this of a fifteen-year-old wouldn’t have even been a consideration. They simply wouldn’t have done it. But in today’s world of relativism and sliding morals, the lines jump all over the place like an old vein dodging a needle.

I don’t know. Maybe Miley and her parents didn’t imagine the photographer—though known for racey—would go the direction she did. Maybe Miley fully trusted the adults around her and the encouragement that this would be a classy and fun shoot rather than what it became. And then looking back, with media response and pressure, there are now all kinds of regrets.

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. Too easy.

On a less celebrity scale—but equally as important—that can happen in our everyday, more ordinary lives. We’re in a conversation and find ourselves trashing a friend who a moment before we’d never betray. We are out in a group and one thing leads to another, and before we know it we’ve compromised a standard we thought we’d never violate. Or pressures and pain that run deep resurface and derail our resolve; we step right into a choice we never imagined we’d make.

Memories of instances when I did that still make me shiver with regret. I’ve experienced fewer and fewer slips, and therefore regrets, as God has grounded me deeper in my relationship with Him. I think of Psalm 1. It’s a grounding Psalm. It gives me a vision of what I want to avoid and where I want to keep heading. It offers words to help me formulate my prayer and plea for a solid resolve rooted in the only One who can keep me grounded.

If you haven’t read Psalm 1 recently, read the whole thing again . . . slowly. Then if you want, create your own personalized version of your grounding Psalm.

When we’re prepared and rooted deeply by the “streams of water,” we won’t so easily get caught up in the moment.

Praying for you!

Jan

Jan’s recent books, Scars That Wound, Scars That Heal—A Journey Out of Self-Injury, and Seduced by Sex, Saved by Love—A Journey Out of False Intimacy talk about how God can help us avoid getting caught up in the moment, particularly with two vital issues and pressures: self-injury and sex.

http://www.jankern.com/

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Brave

Camy here, talking about being brave.

This past week on my blog, I posted the lyrics for a Nichole Nordeman song that inspired me while I was writing my novel, Only Uni.

I love this song because it talks about how we don’t need to know it all, and we can still be strong believers in Christ. The world can think we’re completely loco, and it doesn’t matter because God is with us.

I admit I struggle with this. As much as I tell myself it doesn’t matter what other people think, helllooooooooo, yes it does matter. I don’t like it, but I can tell myself to ignore it all I want and still I won’t feel any different, I’ll still feel self-conscious.

Worship is my worst area for this. I’m pretty sure no one is going to think anything if I stand or raise my hands or even if I dance around the sanctuary (although I’d probably trip over some lady’s walker if I did that). But something inside me holds back and I just sit there meekly and sing the songs.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always want to raise my hands or stand, but sometimes I feel a push in me to do it, and I ignore it.

At other times (and this is totally perverse of me, but I’ve gotten used to my illogic), I wonder if I feel like I ought to raise my hands because God would want me to, or it would be expected of someone who was a true Christian—not because I really want to raise my hands. You know what I mean?

At the same time, I know that God moves me in other ways, outside of worship at church. He moves me during worship team practices before youth group meetings. He moves me in the shower. He moves me when I’m listening to music during the day. Then, I raise my hands and sing with some gusto.

God also makes me brave in other areas—in telling my teen girls some hard things about their spiritual lives, or their choices. In writing hard things in my fiction. In confessing hard things to my Bible study group or my prayer group.

Why can’t I be brave at church and raise my hands? At the same time, why is it so necessary for me to do that at all?

Is it wrong not to be moved during worship at church? Is that irreverent for me to even ask that?

Well, I have church today (I’m writing this the night before). I’ll talk to God some during service and see if He has an answer for me.

Camy Tang lives in San Jose, California. She previously worked in biology research, and she is a staff worker for her church youth group. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, and her new Asian chick lit novel, Only Uni, just released this month. Join her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly Christian fiction giveaways!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Have you been Expelled?


My husband is a biologist. He also believes that God created the world--that life didn't just happen by random chance. For one thing, God says He did it. But even if He never took credit, there's simply too much order in a single cell, let alone the whole universe, for life to have evolved without a designer.

Nobody can prove scientifically how life started, because nobody can go back in time and observe the process. Any explanation for the origin of life requires a certain amount of faith--believing in things that can't be seen or measured or recreated in a test tube. But somewhere along the line, Darwin's theory of evolution became accepted as proven fact, and anyone who offers a dissenting argument or evidence to the contrary is labeled stupid or accused of trying to mix science and religion. Some have lost their jobs.

Well-known comedian, actor, and author, Ben Stein, decided to get to the bottom of the issue, and the result was the recently released documentary, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who cares about the future of education and society. Parts of it will make you laugh. It will also make you cry. But most importantly, it will make you think.

Please go see it. Take your parents and friends, and then discuss it. Academic freedom may be under attack, but no one can stop you from thinking for yourself.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fear


This is The Drop Tower at Kings Dominion. The picture really doesn't do it justice. According to their website it's 
The largest drop ride in North America, a 305-foot tower of thrills that promises daring riders a 272-foot descent at 72 miles-per-hour! This adrenaline-pumping adventure simulates the sensation of skydiving. 

If that's true, I won't be going skydiving. Ever. I thought for sure I'd like it since the Hollywood Tower of Terror - also a drop-motion ride, was one of my favorites. But that one dropped and then went back up, dropped again, then went back up. It was fun. I went on The Drop Tower, or as I like to call it The Tower of Death, with my daring seven year old daughter, who BTW, was well within the height requirements for the ride. 

My first clue should have been the women who panicked and asked to get out just as my daughter and I were heading towards our seats. The Ride Guy had to unlock her to let her out and they put me in next to the guy she had just abandoned on the ride. 

I snapped the thing closed and my maternal instincts kicked in as I checked and re-checked my daughter's straps to be sure she was in securely. All the while, the guy next to me keeps up this constant chatter about how this is "the scariest ride I've ever been on" and "it makes me want to die". No wonder the chick with him jumped out! And just about the point my panic reached the "I have to get out of here" stage, the ride started and I was stuck.

I grabbed my daughter's hand thinking that if I was panicking how was she doing? Meanwhile, the guy next to me will not shut up. He's giving me a blow-by-blow about how many seconds it takes to get to the top and how long we'll linger there looking out over Kings Dominion before we drop to our deaths.

Then we dropped. And I mean totally and completely dropped. And it went on forever. I had never been more scared on a ride in my life. And not the fun kind of scared. The terrified kind of scared. But I had my seven year old to think about so all feelings of panic and fear were stuffed inside so that I didn't react. (besides the scream on the way down!) Not because I didn't want to admit it, but because I didn't want to scare her. But once we reached the ground safely (Thank you God!), my daughter hops out of the seat smiling, with only a little bit of nervous laughter. "Did you like it?" I asked her.

"Yeah! My legs are all shaky," she said.

I felt shaky all over, and a wave of nausea coursed through me just to add to the thrill. I spent the next hour telling my husband how scary it was and declaring that I'd never go on the ride again. My seven year old was surprised I was that scared, since she didn't think it was too bad. I even skipped out on the Rebel Yell because I was still feeling woozy from the whole thing.

I'm not sure that I have some profound spiritual point. Got any ideas? I mean, I'm okay. But I won't ever go on it again. Give me a nice loop-de-loop roller coaster and I'll be happy. But I am curious - what about you? Ever been on a scary ride? Ever done something that was really scary and then it turned out okay?
Tell me about it, maybe it will make me feel better:-)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Do Hard Things!

See...you don't have to be old and serious to make a difference!

ALEX AND BRETT HARRIS founded TheRebelution.com in August 2005 and today, at age 19, are among the most widely read teen writers on the Web.

The twins are frequent contributors to Focus on the Family's webzine Boundless, serve as the main speakers for The Rebelution Tour conferences, and have been featured nationally on MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and The New York Times, as well as in publications like WORLD magazine, Breakaway, and Ignite Your Faith. Their first book, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations, will be released on April 15, 2008, by Multnomah Books.

Sons of homeschool pioneers Gregg and Sono Harris and younger brothers of best-selling author Joshua Harris (I Kissed Dating Goodbye), Alex and Brett have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, basketball, and soccer. And food. They like food.

When they're not traveling around doing conferences, Alex and Brett live with their parents and three younger siblings near Portland, Oregon, where they attend Household of Faith Community Church. They plan to enter college together in the fall of 2008 -- and continue to write, speak, and blog.

What is a Rebelution you ask? If this is all news to you, The Rebelution is "a teenage rebellion against low expectations." It is not just another youth ministry. Though it is not at all legalistic, it does not indulge teens in their usual laziness and consumerism. It is rooted in the Gospel itself and in God's eternal purpose in sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins. It speaks to teens as young adults who are expected to shoulder real responsibility for making their own family, church and nation godly and strong. It asks teens to stop living like guests in their own homes and instead take their place on the family team. It's battle cry is Do Hard Things. Think about that.

Win a copy of the book for yourself...or your parents! Leave a comment on this post!



About the book: The next generation stands on the brink of a "rebelution."

With over 16 million hits to their website TheRebelution.com, Alex and Brett Harris are leading the charge in a growing movement of Christian young people who are rebelling against the low expectations of their culture by choosing to "do hard things" for the glory of God.

Written when they were 18 years old, Do Hard Things is the Harris twins' revolutionary message in its purest and most compelling form, giving readers a tangible glimpse of what is possible for teens who actively resist cultural lies that limit their potential.

Combating the idea of adolescence as a vacation from responsibility, the authors weave together biblical insights, history, and modern examples to redefine the teen years as the launching pad of life and map a clear trajectory for long-term fulfillment and eternal impact.

Written by teens for teens, Do Hard Things is packed with humorous personal anecdotes, practical examples, and stories of real-life rebelutionaries in action. This rallying cry from the heart of revolution already in progress challenges the next generation to lay claim to a brighter future, starting today. Read an excerpt.

Buy the book here

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Involved

This morning, I was reading 1 Peter 4:10-11:

"Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen."

These verses talk about how God has given each one of us as Christians a special gift so that we can serve others. It struck me because often times I think about serving in terms of myself. Is it convenient? Will this benefit me? Will I enjoy it? Do I have enough time to do this? These verses don't say anything about this questions. In fact, when I am thinking about serving, I often eliminate others from the equation. I am a small group leader for a group of sophomore girls. These verses remind me and put things back into perspective for me. God has gifted me to serve others. He wants me to be a good steward of what he has given me.

How has God gifted you? How can you get involved in what He is doing? How can you be a steward of His grace to other people? God can take even your fears and inadequacies and use them for His glory and purposes. I bet the disciples didn't feel adequate at times. I bet they were fearful at times. But they made themselves available and got involved. Are you serving somewhere? I would love to hear about it...

Sarah

Saturday, April 19, 2008

It's about having Fun





This is my son Nathan (aka Nate the Great) at his first T-ball game. He loves everything about the sport from the gear to running the bases to the snacks afterward. When he makes that final sprint from 3rd base to home plate he even waves at the crowd.

I’m not much of a sports fan but I must confess, watching a bunch of 5-and-6-year-olds play T-ball is a blast. They each get a chance at bat, nobody keeps score, and the parents cheer for every player, including those on the opposite team. If somebody makes a mistake we all laugh it off and applaud anyway. Only about half the kids know what they’re doing, which is what makes the game so fun to watch. This morning, my husband’s hat blew off (he is an assistant coach) and Nathan, along with about half a dozen other kids, stopped mid-play to chase it down the field and catch it for him.

We have a great picture of Nate with one mit-covered hand out, ready to catch a fly ball and the other hand in his mouth wiggling a loose tooth. And you should see these pint-sized players in catcher’s gear. It’s a wonder they can walk without falling over.

I love that the boys high five players from the other team on the way around the bases, or talk while they wait for the next batter to hit. At their age they are first and foremost friends. Instead of “We’re playing the Yankee’s tonight. I hate that team” it’s “We’re playing the Yankee’s. That’s Zack’s team. Cool!” They are out there to have a good time, see their friends, and have a juice box and packaged doughnuts afterward.
Why can’t activities stay this way—pure enjoyment, no rivalry, pressure, or competition? At the end of a game, Nathan is jazzed and chattering on.


“Did you see me playing catcher?”

“Did you see how far I hit?”

“Do we have another game tomorrow?”

I dread the day when he drags his feet to the car because he missed a pitch or stuck out. For now I plan to enjoy watching him love the game as he should. I am also using his games as reminders to enjoy life more instead of putting so much pressure on myself.

Think of an activity that used to be fun until it became competitive or pressure-filled. What can you do to rediscover the excitement? If you need a little inspiration, go watch a T-ball game.
I think I’m craving a juice box and packaged doughnut.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Homeless

As a writer, inspiration comes easily. Daily. Writing and publication can take years.

When I feel an idea coming on, it's as though I've eaten an entire bag of Hershey's Kisses. This sweetness settles down inside me and takes up residence. I can't rest until I've written the experience--what moved my heart.

There's a women's homeless shelter in Georgia that gave me the Hershey's Kiss feeling. I couldn't/can't forget about the shelter and the ladies. They reached out to one of my family members. You don't forget kindness like that.

I ghosted an article in Guideposts magazine coming out this May. It's about a local hairdresser who spent a Saturday cutting/styling/coloring the ladies' hair from the shelter. You can access it by going to the www.guidepostsmag.com link through the personal change section or picking up the May issue.

I also have an article coming in May/June of Today's Christian about the manager who runs the shelter.

My Sister's Place, I won't forget you. The sweetness lingers.

Love,
Julie

Monday, April 14, 2008

Looking stupid

Camy here, talking about something I do way too often.

I’m just not graceful, both physically and verbally. I trip a lot over my feet, and my mouth will usually say something my brain never thought.

I just joined my first Mystery shawl Knit-along. Basically, the designer running the knit-along doles out the pattern for the shawl we’re knitting, a little each week, and we knit with everybody else and discover the beauty of the knitted piece as we go along.

Since I’ve never done this before, I immediately go on a PUBLIC FORUM BOARD and ask, So what kind of yarn should I use?

The next day, I’m approved for the knit-along and I start reading posts. Now, it’s been open for applications for a while, so they’re talking about stuff from earlier questions and I’m a bit lost.

Then suddenly there’s a post about how there’s a new file uploaded in the file section. I go to the file section, and there’s actually five files in the file section. One file’s in German, so I don’t bother opening it.

I open the other four. Three of them are related to knitting a test swatch. I have to knit a test swatch? That’s good to know. I should work on that asap. Like, before we have to start knitting the actual shawl so I know what needle size I should use.

The fourth is an informational .pdf. Which includes what yarn I should use. And color. And how many yards I’ll need. And how large my test swatch should turn out.

So now, I have just announced to a PUBLIC FORUM BOARD that I am too stupid to READ INSTRUCTIONS.

Now, I could turn this into a really wise devotional-type blog post and relate my embarrassment to how much God loves me and made me the way I am.

However, I will only say that I’m really glad God likes me no matter how stupid I look to other people, and I wish I could just burn the entire incident out of my brain with a red hot poker. (Theoretically, I could, but that would be just gross.)

Rejoice! You’re you. I’m me. God’s with us. That’s all that matters, right?

Camy Tang lives in San Jose, California. She previously worked in biology research, and she is a staff worker for her church youth group. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, and her new Asian chick lit novel, Only Uni, just released this month. Join her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly Christian fiction giveaways!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

How Many "Christian" Teens Are Really Christians?

Last week I was on the Barna Research website looking for some recent statistics regarding teenagers and the Church. Here is just a small sample of what I found:



  • 52% of teens who attend Protestant churches believe Jesus Christ sinned while on earth.

  • 40% of teens who claim to have a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ" agree with them.

  • 61% of young adults who attended church as a teen become completely spiritually disengaged during their twenties.

  • Only 20% of young adults who attended church in their teen years remain spiritually active by the age of 29.

Let me deal with the first two statistics for a minute. Since this is a blog post and not a book, I'll stick to using only one Bible verse to debunk that theory. 1 Corinthians 5:21 explicitly says: "God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (emphasis mine).

So, sadly, somewhere between 40-52% of church going teens who think they are going to heaven are actually headed straight for hell. Belief in a sinful Jesus is belief in a Jesus who 1) is not biblical and 2) didn't exist. There just isn't any good news for the people who believe in a Jesus like that.


Now, dealing with the second half of these statistics, let me just say this. I think a big portion of the problem the Church has with retaining young Christians is that these young people weren't really Christians to begin with. In Matthew 13:1-23 Jesus describes four types of people who will hear the Gospel message. Let me put these in teen-girl friendly terms for you. Imagine a typical camp alter call with me. During that time, four types of girls will respond to the Gospel.


They are as follows:


(v. 19) The Actress. This is the girl who raises her hand during an alter call because all of her friends are. She isn't really sure what the preacher just said, but it sounds good. So even though she doesn't understand what she's heard, and she's too embarrassed to ask, she raises her hand and claims "salvation" and returns to life as normal. This girl most certainly falls into the 80% who will fall away before the age of 29. She doesn't have to fall very far since she wasn't ever grounded in what she believed in the first place. In fact, she may even be among the 40-52% who believe in a sinful Jesus.


(v. 20-21) The Drama Queen. This girl comes forward during the alter call in tears. She's sobbing so hysterically, that she needs five different friends to usher her up to the stage and hold her up as she cries. Normally, this girl comes from a background of pain and heartache. Maybe her parents are divorced, or she was abused at some point during her life. In the very least, she has probably had her heart broken by a boy who dumped her or a friend who betrayed her. Her response to the Gospel is based on pure emotion. She wants Jesus because He will make all of her hurts go away, and her life will magically become all better. This girl, too, is more than likely to fall into the 80% who will fall away because time will prove that life isn't all chocolate and roses once you know Jesus Christ. Life will still be hard, and this girl will think God isn't who He promised to be so she will set out in search of the next quick fix for her pain.


(v. 22) The Have-it-All-Princess. This girl is easy to spot in any youth group. She has the latest cell phone dangling from her ear, the hottest label on her clothing and she drives a car much nicer than the one driven by the youth pastor. She raises her hand during the alter call because Jesus seems to be the hottest trend of the moment. The preacher's sermon made sense, and she can see a need for Jesus in this moment. But, she too will be among the 80% who will fall away. Inevitably, someone or something that is a lot hotter and more attractive than Jesus will come along and she will hop on that band wagon forgetting all about her moving memories of the summer she spent at camp singing Cum-by-ya in last year's jeans.


(v.23) The Real Deal Christian. This girls is harder to spot because in a group of 100 kids, she's one of only twenty. She listens to the preacher's sermon and her heart burns within her because she understands exactly what he's saying. She recognizes her status as a sinner and feels the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Her belief in Jesus Christ is genuine and she changes her life in response to the Gospel message. She is among the 20% who will still be professing her faith on her 29th birthday, and forever afterward.


Although parts of what you've just read were meant in jest, they also represent a really sad reality in the Church today. What about you? Do you know what you believe?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Inspired

I love laughing, and one person I really enjoying laughing with is my daughter.

Last weekend, I was taking pictures of her for her college graduation announcement. We started by an old oak by our deck and ended up at a small walking bridge at a pond below our house. She was standing and sitting in different positions on the bridge. I thought I'd try to get what I thought would be a really cool picture by focusing the shot through some of the tall grasses at the edge of the pond.

Okay, go ahead and guess what happened next.

Yep, I ended up in the pond. I was on my side, left leg submerged in the muddy sludge, and holding my camera high to save it from water damage. I couldn't get up, and Sarah could barely help because we were both laughing so hard.

As I write this post today, I'm realizing how inspired I am by many young women. Some of those include those of you who shared your stories and perspectives for my last post. Another is my daughter.

She came to Christ at a young age, but I knew by her many questions that she was totally serious. Over the next years, I continued to be challenged by her questions and thoughts about the world and God. Now that she is about to graduate from college later this month, I can tell you it hasn’t let up.

No, she isn’t perfect. I know that and she knows that. But what I see is that she tackles life with a full realization that at the end of herself she finds God’s great intervention. She’s not afraid to be challenged by the hard stuff and to be confronted by the frailties of her human nature in the face of God’s presence in each circumstance. She longs to hear God’s voice as a whisper or a roar—however he wants to speak—but most often she is listening while she is serving. Like many of her generation, she is passionate about people and causes beyond the borders of her own culture and experience, but she operates out of a determination not to make any cause a god.

She wouldn't claim that her faith is unshakeable, but it is real—very real. So her relationship with God is amazingly deep. And that inspires me. Every day I'm thankful for the many like her who are rooted deeply and doing whatever it takes to grow in their faith and be open and available to make a difference in this broken world.

By the time I was the age she is now, or perhaps the age you are, I had not been a Christian long. I don't wish for a second any different beginning to my walk in Christ. For where I was in my young faith, God was working in me and using me too.

As you commit to his transforming work in you, God will work in you and use you probably more powerfully than anything I've known. Keep asking questions, growing deep, and sharing what he's doing in you.

And don't forget to laugh along the way! Join me at the pond.

Jan

http://www.jankern.com/
http://www.choose2livefree.com/ (launching soon!)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Teen Fiction!


Teen-Script blog is looking for fresh, creative, and entertaining stories, articles, and opinion pieces from teens. Teen-script is eager to work with teen writers.

What we're looking for:
We are actively looking for teen writers in a wide range of genres.We're interested in all kinds of commercial young adult short fiction, including: mysteries, children's, sweet romance, ethnic, science fiction, fantasy and general fiction. We are also interested in literary fiction as long as it has a strong narrative voice.In nonfiction, we are interested in current affairs, history, health, adventure, personal experience, Bible reflections, and opinion. Tell us your thoughts!We will not accept any material that uses bad language or is offensive. Please be positive and encouraging!

How to submit your work:
Your submission should be submitted via email to bookmarketing@triciagoyer.com and should include:• Short piece (300-800 words). If you are submitting a longer piece, then please break it into small segments.• a short author bio• any corresponding artwork as a .jpeg attachment• contact information (i.e. address, email address)

Here is a sample!

Also, check out who won an iPod Nano here...and we're running a second contest that ends December 31, 2008. Details here!

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Confession


Last week at church, the message was about the words we say. He talked about how dangerous our mouths are and how we need to use caution when opening them. I left church that day thinking the message was good, but not really feeling like I had a problem.

I went throughout my week and to be honest forgot about the message all together until this morning. I sat down in my reading nook with a cup of hot chocolate to spend some quality time in God's word. I asked God to speak to me through His word as I read and studied. I still wasn't thinking about that message until the very end of my time. As I finished reading, I looked on the ottoman in front of me and saw the card with scripture verses that they handed out last week at church. I instantly knew what God wanted to say to me this morning.

He flooded my mind with a few instances this week when my words got the best of me. I distinctly remember blaming my little outbursts on the fact that I am eight months pregnant and hormonal, but there was no pointing fingers this morning except at myself. My words were used like fire this week.

Here are the verses that God used to convict and refine me this morning:

"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise." Proverbs 10:19

"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered." Proverbs 17:27

"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer." Psalm 19:14

I am thankful for God's loving discipline in me. He is a loving Father who disciplines us in order to make us more like Him. So as I begin my week, I want to use extreme caution when it comes to my words. I pray that God gives me the ability to stop and think before I speak so that I can use words that will build up and not tear down.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

A Lesson in Forgiveness


In February I watched ABC’s production of A Raisin in the Sun. At first I watched it just to see what all the hype was about. It seemed like, for weeks, every other commercial break featured an ad for it, promising that it would be “The most powerful night of television all season.” Wow, I had to see this!


I was not disappointed. If you missed the movie, rent it when it comes out on DVD in May. Not only is it a great story of strength and involve some amazing female characters, but I also caught a powerful message of forgiveness—one that I didn’t realize until later that I needed to hear.
I won’t give the story away, but in the play, Lena’s son Walter does something incredibly selfish and irresponsible (to put it mildly). In the process he jeopardizes the future of his entire family. It’s pretty clear from scene one that he has done similar things before, but this time he blows it in such a huge way that most families would have sent him packing. Lena certainly has the right to considering that she is hurt the most. Instead, Lena forgives her son. Does she let him off the hook and encourage a repeat performance? Not at all! Are the consequences easy for Walter? No way! But in the end the entire family seems stronger. Most incredible of all, it’s clear that Walter grows in a way that would not have happened if he hadn’t made the biggest mistake of his life.


A week or so later, I realized that I was still struggling to forgive someone who hurt me. The message of A Raisin in the Sun came back to me. If Lena could forgive her son for such a heart breaking betrayal then what was holding me back. I no longer have to see my betrayer; she had to continue living with Walter. So I decided to forgive—because Jesus modeled and instructed it and because, as this movie reminded me, others have had to forgive big hurts too—many bigger than the one I suffered.

Who knew that I television production of a classic play would lead to a step of growth in my own life.

So, who do you need to forgive? Why are you finding it difficult to do? Ask God to help you take the next step in the forgiveness process. Maybe it’ll help to do what I did—consider someone who had to forgive far more!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Gifts



Our church gave a bridal shower for our new youth director this past Sunday. Somebody called and asked me to help. Here's the truth. I was afraid they were going to ask me to DECORATE. I'm not good at that. I don't have creativity with decorating. I'm NOT a centerpiece woman.

You should have seen how gorgeous the place was. The table had a chocolate fountain with lights around it. The lady (Jan) who decorated used real bamboo from her back yard to go behind the fountain. She had clear vases (three)arranged in front of the fountain. She filled the vases with aqua tissue paper and clear pebbles so it looked like water. Then she put marshmallows and Rice Krispie treats on long skewers inside the two outer vases. The inside vase she filled with strawberries on skewers (looked like red roses). It was so pretty, I almost cried.

The lady who makes incredible punch brought her punch. The woman who makes designer cakes made a cake in the bride's theme colors, brown and blue. Of course the lady who does pretty invitations handled those.

They wanted me to say a little something about marriage--like bless their marriage. I used The Message and taught from Eph 3 and 4. I shared that we've almost been married 30 years and I'd never gotten on my knees and prayed for my husband. I've prayed on my knees for my children plenty of times--but never for my husband. How odd. I said, "Wonder what our marriage could have been like if I'd done this over the years?" (We have a good marriage, but you know...) I shared that it comes easier for me to keep up with my husband's negative traits than his positive ones. But, his positives outshine his negatives. He's fair, honest, bold, generous, plus he teaches the Bible to Middle School boys.

We've all been given gifts. When we use them freely, God brings around amazing results.

Anybody have an example of using your gift(s)? Just please don't ever ask me to come up with a pretty centerpiece. :-0

Love,
Julie
Labels: The Message

Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
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