Thursday, March 30, 2006

Lord Have Mercy

Thank God, Abdul Rahman is safe in Italy. Michelle Malkin has been covering the story pretty thoroughly. I feel both relieved and guilty for living in a country where I don't have to worry about being beheaded because of my Christian faith. There but for the grace of God go I. I can only pray that God would give me the ability to stand strong in the faith if I was ever in that situation, and that He will protect all those who still risk losing their lives for Him.

On a somewhat related note, I was astounded this Lenten season to discover how many people, some of them presumably Christian, did not even know what Lent was. To paraphrase a friend from church, "Haven't they even noticed all those fish specials this time of year?" I found out some people do not even know what Mardi Gras is. Forget about the repentence part; they don't even know about the party part anymore.

I've been debating whether it is better to live in a country where most people are ostensibly Christian, like I've read and heard America used to be, or whether the current state of things is better, where even believing in God is not a given. Even today, Christian churches do not always have a Christian message. I'm thinking of a church near where I live, that currently displays the message, "When God Audits You, Will He Be Pleased With the Life You Are Living?" Of course God will not be pleased! We're still poor, miserable sinners in need of salvation! Only the gift of Jesus' shed blood makes us pleasing in God's sight. I knew a woman who used to attend that church. She struggled with feelings of guilt over the sins she kept committing, and a feeling of falling short of what she should be doing. But is it better that she at least knows she is sinful and under God's wrath, as opposed to not being aware that we even have this sin problem with its eternal consequences?

These thoughts did run their way through my mind, but I came to the thought that God is sovereign. His Holy Spirit can use any circumstances to convict a person of their guilt and need of God's forgiveness. I can only pray that God use me to do His will through my vocation, and that His Word "may not be bound, but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ's holy people."

Monday, March 27, 2006

You Know You Grew Up in Northeast Ohio When...

you know the four seasons: Winter, Almost Winter, Still Winter and Construction! Ha. Still, the crocuses are blooming in my front yard, and the robins and Canadian geese are back. Since spring is here, can summer be far behind? So what do you look forward to about summer? I look forward to going to Cedar Point, Roller Coaster Capital of the World, on America's Roller Coast! I look forward to not having to wear a heavy coat everywhere. At least we did not have a lot of snow this winter, so I got to skip the boots. I look forward to once again seeing neighbors who have spent the winter holed up inside, like we did! And at the risk of having a bunch of you showing up here a lot this summer, I am looking forward to swimming in our pool. It's not enormous, but big enough to hold several adults or a lot of kids. I float on a raft, and the kids splash and play. Ahhhh.

What I am not looking forward to about summer: being in church without air-conditioning. And feeling sorrier still for our pastors in full robes and other clerical garb. I still like going to church though!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

What's New?

Should I be glad to know that I am not the only one disgusted with the current state of the world's affairs? Lilac Rose is also seeing a pervading spirit of selfishness and desire to control in our world. Of course, it isn't really a surprise. It's easy to say things are so much worse now than ever, but I wonder if that is really the case. Man's warped nature has always been in evidence.

At the same time, I still feel a sense of excitement and hope from a personal perspective. God has given me new sources of support and caused some good things to happen in my life, and I am learning to get out from under other's expectations and pressure. I am feeling a new strength and purpose. At the same time, my pessimist self is telling me not to hope at all, that things will just fall back to the way they were. I can't help but hold out a little hope, though. It's just better than falling into debilitating depression. Been there, done that.

I know things will get better for everyone who is down right now, because they always do. Good times and bad times are a fact of life. So I also hope that we can find something useful from this time when things seem bad.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Is It the Weekend Yet?

Can't wait until the weekend! A birthday party with a lot of great people on Saturday, then church on Sunday. Most of the time I am extremely introverted, but right now I need to be around some nice, friendly people as much as possible. It helps me keep my spirits up. I'm having to make some difficult adjustments, and with the help of God, I will, but it will take some time. I'm thankful that God has not left me alone.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Let Me Rain on Your Parade

I'm feeling really down right now. I couldn't think of anything to post that didn't show too much of my dark side. But then I saw some goofy motivational posters today and remembered a site that combines humor with grinding pessimism! Here's a great example: Madness.
Ever watch Teen Titans? If it wasn't for hope in Christ keeping me from absolute despair, I'd probably be a lot like Raven, the chick with the dry humor and the Goth personality. As it is, I still have the dry sense of humor. Just ask my husband.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Do You Care About Me?

My husband today pointed out a great quote to me that comes from here. The quote is this: "Judge yourself (and your ideas) by the people that care about you. Don't give that power to people who are not invested in your well being." It struck me because I'm still trying to get rid of the negative influences in my life, and listen to the people who do care about me. I have made myself miserable for so many years because of others' negative words about me, making me feel that I was hopeless and worthless.

When people don't care about you, they judge you by their standards. Only, you'll never achieve what you're meant to do if you're doing what others expect of you instead of what you expect of yourself. Not only that, you'll never be good enough to live up to their standards! When others care about your well being, they look at what will work best for you, not what they would do. Since I'm a Christian, I also expect them to care about my spiritual well-being, since we can not have happiness or peace in this world or the next without it. But here we have to discern God's standards, again not those of others! For example, I was discussing crunchy-cons with Lilac Rose. Will it really improve my spirituality to drive 50 miles one way to buy organic food, raise my own chickens, quit shopping at retail stores? When did God create the 11th Commandment: Thou shalt eschew all plastic! Is this how God wants us to live, or what some human thinks is right for them and therefore everyone?

Of course it can be hard to follow the above advice. Everyone who relentlessly butts in to other people's lives thinks they're doing right, because they only care about us and it's their duty to tell us when we're doing it wrong! But are they doing it because they truly want what's best for us, or because they want everyone to Do It Their Way? God gives us rules because He knows what's best for us; He knows how humans function and how we can best avoid hurt and find happiness. What's more, He knows what's best for us as individuals. He calls us to different vocations in life; we're not just cookie-cutter people! The opinions we need to seek on earth are those who also want what's best for us, not for us to be just like them.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Breaking Bread

Soooooooooo tired. Spent most of the day buying food and preparing a meal for a church dinner before Lenten service. Very enjoyable. My husband and I like to aim for high quality when buying food for a meal to share with others. We went to the West Side Market for fresh fruit, bratwurst, and sauerkraut, then went to Little Italy for sandwich rolls and a big tray of cookies. I fried close to three pounds of bacon for German potato salad and baked beans. All worth it though. I enjoy eating good food, I enjoy serving people I care about good food, and I enjoy breaking bread with friends.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Buckle Up

Although you will notice "Lutheran theology" on the list of interests in my profile, I'll probably never be known as a "Lutheran blogger," someone whose blog mostly consists of theology and Lutheran issues. I'm just a "blogger with a Lutheran perspective." Tonight I decided that this relates to another one of my listed interests, roller coasters! I looooove riding roller coasters! I've also been a reader of several roller coaster newsgroups and bulletin boards. I've picked up a lot of information and jargon like "traditional out-and-back" and I've had my own humble opinion on things like the wood vs. metal debate. I've even learned about roller coaster safety, why I can strap myself into a vehicle that will reach 120 mph and go over 400 feet into the air, and trust that I will reach the ground again in one piece. But I don't get into discussions myself. I won't ever be one of those people going on about maximum ride capacity per hour, or the minute details of how a roller coaster works. In the end, I just love to ride!

In similar fashion, I enjoy finding out and want to learn how God wants me to live, and about what it means to be Lutheran. Of course, I attend church. I try to read the Bible and learn from it. I've had a few deep discussions with other Christians, and I listen earnestly when those I trust discuss matters of faith. I read online conversations between Lutherans and Lutherans, and Lutherans and non-Lutherans, from which I've learned a lot, like the discord within the LCMS, and how many are leaving for the ELCA, or the WELS, or Eastern Orthodoxy, or something else entirely. I try to show my faith to others by my actions, and just about everyone who knows my family at all, knows that we are Christians. But generally, I don't get involved in talk about the intricate details of theology.

I'm not trying to trivialize faith here, just share my own personality quirks with you, my loyal reader. It's more important than anything to be sure why you believe in the Christian faith, and in specific matters of doctrine. You need to find out why you can undoubtingly place your trust in Christ as Savior. The worst that can happen to you on a roller coaster is that, against incredible odds, you could die. Eternity, however, in the words of Prince, "it means forever and that's a mighty long time".

I think in the end, it's just my Evil Genius* coming out! I will "observe, calculate, discern and decide," yes. But then I want to trust in God and enjoy the ride!

*Unfortunately, the original quiz doesn't seem to be around any more, but you can read about being an Evil Genius here.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

MY message

I heard Glenn Beck on the radio discussing how so many current TV shows seem to be pushing some "message." I've certainly noticed that, and it's pretty much turned me off of television. Watching very little television is certainly a good thing, but I have to admit to enjoying an evening of mindless entertainment now and then. Not that you can anymore, because you're always receiving some sort of "message" instead. I've been finding that "message" a lot of places. Movie messages definitely have been the talk of writers everywhere recently. The Government is Evil, Big Corporations are Evil, and Terrorists are People Too. I have to quit buying well-made toys my girls enjoy when companies start promoting organizations that want to give my daughters "reproductive choice" instead of just making a toy. Why is it so hard to even find a good online bulletin board on a subject I enjoy without also being informed that our President is stupid; that we can't judge a man who's dumped his wife and the mother of his two children, one a newborn; or hearing every detail about a member's lesbian Jewish wedding. Hello, if I'm in a group about skating, or sewing, I want to read about that! I don't want to hear your opinion about some other controversial subject thrown in as incontrovertible fact! When did it happen that certain opinions were always acceptable to be pushed on everybody for any reason at any time? Just a case of hoping if you say it often enough, it'll become true?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Well, I'm Still Alive...

I had an awful cold that lasted two weeks, and has me still feeling tired and worn out. As a result of the germs floating through our family, we missed three Sundays and Ash Wednesday service. We made it back to church for Lenten service last night, and it was *so good* to be back!

So, I have nothing witty, pithy or anything else to say right now, besides how wonderful it is to feel like a somewhat functioning human being again! But I thought I'd pop my head in here anyway. I debate endlessly in my head about posting things, pretty much like I debate everything else in my head, with the result that nothing much gets done! I need to attempt *some*thing, even if it isn't the perfection I envision. So this is it for now!