Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I've been getting weaker by the day
like an ailing orchard, I've been leaving dead fruit in my wake
there's a bitter bite inside of me
because I've been feeding something other than my spirit's deepest need

remind me how you've turned me inside out

I've been crucified, losing my life
resurrect me, Spirit will you heal me?
you have given grace, given me faith in the Christ who gave himself for me

how can I be unchanged now that I see?
drowning in my debt, you credited your righteousness to me
everything I thought was upside down
but every time I find identity in You, You show me how

I once was lost, but now in You I'm found

I've been crucified losing my life
resurrect me, Spirit will you heal me?
you have given grace, given me faith in the Christ who gave himself for me

I've been crucified losing my life
resurrect me, Spirit will you heal me?
You have given grace, given me faith in the Christ who gave himself for me

Sunday, April 18, 2010

how to kill a church

Riverview's latest series, "How to Kill a Church", has been kicking my butt. Week two (4/11/2010) was about how to kill a church with your life, and it focused on the hypocrisy all Christians struggle with.

Noel talked about how being raised with Christ (Colossians 3) should PROFOUNDLY affect our lives; how you can TELL what a person believes by what they DO.

Right away, a giant, glaringly obvious question sprang at me:

Do I believe Jesus is enough?

Does my life make it apparent that I believe my Heavenly Father will provide ALL that I need? If someone observed my life, watching my reactions, trying to understand my motives...would they see someone who is dependent on God for strength, sustenance, completion, and provision? Even more-- would they see someone who depends on Him joyfully?

Because yes, my knowledge of God assures me, Jesus is enough. I know this. I accept it as truth. I'd preach this to you all day long. It's BEAUTIFUL.

But I don't know that my life proclaims Him to be a wonderful provider. Complaints, moping, and incessant planning are the most obvious products of this broken area of my life.

[My own hypocrisy. Or struggle, to say the least.]

So I was thinking about this about a week ago, after hearing the teaching on Sunday. And maybe God agrees with me that I need to depend on Him more, because over the next seven days I watched little pieces of my life fall apart.

First-- you know when people describe themselves by saying, "I'm a dreamer" and they sound kinda like a hippie and no one really knows what that means anyway because everyone's a bit of a dreamer? Well, I think I realized I'm a dreamer. And, more accurately, an overly enthusiastic planner. I loooove to try and work out my future. I'm always telling people about the fantastic new plans I have for my major, an internship, a job, a career, etc. I create intricate, perfectly-timed plans in my head on grand schedules; and at the slightest altercation, I re-adjust immediately and make a new perfect plan.

But as of last week, most of the things I like to plan about have been knocked down to become non-issues. The first is school. Under the assumption that a magic federal loan fairy existed, I didn't bother to investigate my options. In my mind, it was all going to work out perfectly. Come to find out, the magic federal loan fairy doesn't cover my agenda, and I have no way to pay for school. So fall will be a season of work for me, and possibly spring as well. I'll go back to school when I can. Going along with this, I have no car or place to live, and zero means to pay for either of those things. My job is shaky, and since I'm going on a required study abroad for the entire summer, I'll be doing nothing but spending until mid-August.

Talk about dependence on His provision. My soul has always needed God, but my bank account has not. Never have I so tangibly been in wait for Him to provide.

And by provide, I don't mean give me what I want to live the ways my selfish heart desires. [Car. Cushy place to live. Great roommates. Tuition. Social life. Savings. Location.]

I am seriously just curious to see what fall has in store for me, because it looks sorta bleak right now. Every human bit of me is singing a death march: you have nothing, you have nothing, you have nothing.

But the little dependence on God I do have says, and KNOWS: that I have EVERYTHING, that I am indeed RICH because I have Christ. That all of the things in this world, including myself, are fading away. That His kingdom is all that will remain. That His power is made perfect in weakness, that when I am weak, then I am strong.

I long for this to be true in what I do, in the way I think, in the way I move through life.

Here are examples of the kind of trust and assurance I want to be a model of :]

James 4:13-15 -- Now listen, you who say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.' Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, 'If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.'

Philippians 4:11-14 -- I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in hungry or in want. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

1 Peter 4:12-13 -- Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Romans 5:2-5 -- We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings,because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance, character, and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

she won't falter easy

This is one of my favorite songs of all time. It's by a marvelous Jesus-loving band called Future of Forestry whose debut album Twlight (wholly unrelated to the teenage-girl-consuming vampire culture) is also probably one of my all-time favorites. They just make beautiful, beautiful music-- some in a spirit of praise, some with hugely comforting and encouraging lyrics and melodies, and some are more story-telling.

If You Find Her has been my most-played song on iTunes since at least senior year of high school. It's a simply written song, and narrated from God's point of view. It seems to have two themes to it. One, it paints a picture of a girl lost in seeking validation and love and attention from the world, especially from men-- and so it's a lament about how easily our weak hearts can be consumed by that search. Two, the chorus seems to be a direction to us to show compassion to the downcast & brokenhearted in this world, reminding them of the Father's passionate, perfect love for each soul.

It struck several chords with me in high school, and I still love the message and the intricate melody. :]

if you find her

she won't falter easy, she'll be careful, she'll be coy
but still she paints her heart among the musings of a boy

if you find her, tell her that I love her
if she hears you, ask her heart to come

at the break of morning, the day awaits her as she sleeps
deep inside her dreams is all the beauty that she keeps

if you find her, tell her that I love her
if she hears you, ask her heart to come

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

worry&anxiety vs. prayer&thanksgiving

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."

Philippians 4:6 has been killing me lately. Of all the one-sentence baby verses I have memorized, this one escapes me more often than not. Worry isn't something I deal with consistently-- it shows up in awkward seasons of life and consumes me for a while, and then after all the plan-making is done, well...then it's done. No more worries. No more need for Philippians 4:6.

Ehhhhhh. That's probably not so good. Bible verses aren't exactly intended to be seasonal.

So right now I find myself in a huge, nasty, consuming season of worry and anxiety. Last week I was so stressed that I was making myself sick. It's mostly worldly plan-making that has me consumed. Planning just inevitably involves lots of thinking, which easily slides into worry. Trying to plan my study abroad/internship in Madrid this summer has enough worry in it for about five of me. Loans, plane tickets, applications, recommendation letters, language tests, background checks, orientations I'm unable to attend, and extra travel plans have pretty much filled my anxiety quota for spring.

Even more worrisome to me is anticipating what will actually happen once I'm there. My last home-stay experience was strange at best, and so I'm pretty darn nervous as to where I'll be living. I'm nervous about doing well at whatever internship I get. I laughed at my application-- I'm trying to pass myself off as a competent ESL teacher by explaining that I've taken one class about teaching. Realistically, I could probably handle a class pretty well, but I am TERRIFIED at the idea of teaching real live human beings this summer.

Apart from my study abroad, I'm trying to get things together for next fall, since when I get back, I'll have like 6 days before class starts. So I'm working on signing a lease and furnishing a house, finding a car for next fall. Annnnd passing all my current classes. And as always, maintain and grow important relationships.

So maybe it's this season where I try and break this habit of ignoring God's command to replace worry with prayer and thanksgiving. Sometimes prayers for really tangible things sound funny to me, almost whiny, or something. Which I know has to be another lie I struggle with believing-- that God doesn't want to hear about what I'm worrying about. But he tells us to pray about everything, and God isn't a liar, so he must really mean EVERYTHING, huh? Likewise, sometimes I forget that "Don't worry about anything" really means "Don't worry about ANYTHING." My mind interprets it as, "Don't worry about where you'll retire!" and "Don't worry about the long-term effects of health care reform!" and other incredibly far-off things that I don't struggle with worrying about anyway. I think it's time to interpret this verse to mean, "Don't worry about loans" and "Don't worry about interning in Madrid" and "Don't worry about your living situation" and "Don't worry about having a car."

Don't worry about ANYTHING........Okey. I'll try.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

forty days (+)

It's time for Lent! After ceasing to consider myself Catholic, I kinda thought I'd never do Lent again. I felt like Lent was pointless if it was the only time of the year I sought discipline for God. I wanted to bring Christ-like discipline into my life year-round, not just in the springtime-- but we all know how hard that is. And right now, having a period of focusing on discipline would be GREAT. So I've skipped out on Lent for the past two years, but this year imma do it. It's a beautiful opportunity to start on something I've been thinking about for a while. Last week in small group, I mentioned there are lots of little areas of life that remain undisciplined, that I just haven't given to God.

One of these is my eating habits. While techinically being a relatively healthy eater these days, I have unusual restrictions on my diet that I just blatantly ignore. I have a chronic pain disorder called Interstitial Cystitis. If you've ever heard of it, it's probably because your grandma has it-- I'm one of the youngest cases recorded in the U.S. It's weird, I'll explain in person sometime if you ask me about it. And-- if you're reading this and you didn't know this about me before, don't worry, it's not fatal or debilitating in any way. It's just annoying.

Anyway, there's an extremely restricted diet that people with IC are supposed to follow. Basically, you can eat like 3% of foods in the world. Anything acidic, anything processed, anything artificial, anything carbonated, anything with lots of sugar, anything with lots of salt, anything caffeinated, anything with vinegar-- basically anything with flavor-- all out. What's left, you might ask? Pears, blueberries, and honeydew melon are the only okay fruits. Almost all vegetables have low acidity, which is nice. Meat without flavoring or sauce is okay. Breads & pastas made without preservatives are okay. As far as drinks go, your options are water, milk, decaf peppermint tea, pear juice and carrot juice (both of which are actually delicious!)

Following this diet is pretty much your only chance for the IC to go into remission, which you'd think would be incentive enough for me to do it. But I've never been intentional about it- it's HARD to say no to normal, healthy, seemingly okay foods all day long. I was diagnosed in 2006, and while I've cut out the super acidic stuff, like orange juice and lemonade, you will still see me eating apples and salads and chocolate and drinking coffee on a regular basis.

So then, Lent. My idea came about last week when I was thinking about making this issue part of honoring God in everything I do. He has given us beautiful, strong, glorious bodies as vessels to live out his truths and glorify him. And never did he promise health or perfection. So these weird sucky conditions that I have? They present not problems or annoyances, but opportunities: to grow in discipline, to glorify God, to learn to love him better.

So for the next forty days, and hopefully beyond, I am going to try and move through each day saying no to apples and bananas and Cherry Coke (ahh...) and salad dressing and spaghetti sauce. Oh man, and coffee. Shoot. I'm going to be praying that God align my desires in this situation with his, that he would bend my heart to know his perfect love for me, that this desire for discipline would flow from a heart set upon his glory.

Prediction: I'm probably gonna become one of those people who always have a Klean Kanteen in their hand.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

it's almost springtime, right?

a SNOWSTORM? tomorrow?

gahhhhh. I think I'm about ready to throw in the towel with Michigan. Since coming to college, I have despised the cold like never before. I used to LIKE winter. My parents used to have to force me to come inside for fear of me getting frostbitten. I loved the cold and the snow, and sledding, and making snowmen, and ice-skating in the ditches and swamps around my house, and building complex igloos (complete with ice shelves, chairs, and refrigerators. booyah) and making snow ice cream, and even snowshoeing.

But then I came to school, and now winter means trudging slowly through the snow to class and headaches from the cold and wind. My body reacts differently to cold than it used to, too-- I am now a violent, violent shiverer. I shake intensely and my teeth chatter. And wearing boots-- I mean, dressy boots are great, but wearing boots because you have to just stinks. My boots (which are in the 3% of non-Ugg boots on campus) have already been glued back together once. Slush and salt are nasty catalysts to shoe wear-and-tear, and I have several pairs to prove it.

Slush is also fantastic in the way it changes everyone's walk. My roommate and I noticed in December that our winter walks look hilarious and ridiculously abnormal. We don't use normal, relaxed leg and feet motions. We both kinda tense up our legs, clench our knees still at a slight angle, and simply pull each leg in front of the other. Hunched over, hands in the pockets... It's kind of amusing to watch people you know well move around in the winter, because we all age about 60 years and appear to be afflicted with temporary arthritis.

I just want it to be warm. Forever.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

academia slapped me in the FACE

You know that friend you never see?

The one you used to see several times a week, or even several times a day, but somehow now their days are filled with things you didn't even know they did? And when you finally get ahold of them, it's like, "Oh, well-- this week I'm available on...oh, wait, no. I could do Thursday between 7:30-8:00 in the morning. Coffee?"

I'm very reluctantly going to predict that this might be me this semester.

I have never been a particularly busy person. And never, ever, ever before has school required me putting forth actual effort. I blogged about this when I first began writing on here before... (http://emilyfluck.blogspot.com/2009/10/philosophy-of-apathy.html)

(And no, sorry to disappoint-- I don't know how to do fancy links yet. Someday i'll be a sophisticated blogger. But it is not this day! This day we...*cough*)

But yeah. I'm not used to feeling consumed by schoolwork. And here we are on day two of Spring Semester 2010, and I already want to cry at how much work I have to do tonight. All of my current classes are structured in a way that my usual study habits (or lack thereof) just won't cut it. I'll probably total about 2 hours of reading per day for various classes. I'll have assignments due on a daily basis. Basically, every day, I'll be spending more time doing schoolwork than I would in a week last semester. Or ever, for that matter. Seriously you guys, I don't know who I AM after yesterday and today! I really think I have to be diligent, and studious, and disciplined, and all of those qualities good students have that I never cared to attain for myself.

For real, academia gave me a good slap in the face today. My schedule was CRAMMED. I worked a shift early this morning, went to class for 4 hours, took a few hours to babysit, had dinner, and am now sitting down, finally, to do my work. I even have a big-girl, real-world planner now, into which I have already copied all of my work times, class times, exams, syllabus dates, etc. And it is FULL. And there's nothing I can drop.

I totally recognize that this could be a huge growing experience for me. This sort of coercion towards improvement is something I've seen God do in my life before. I think it's possible that humans- at least I- can thrive in this sort of situation, being between a rock and a hard place and really going through times of sacrifice and humility while working towards something you didn't even want or realize you needed. I would never be driven towards academic discipline unless it was absolutely necessary. Like now.

So I guess that's the joy I've found in this situation so far! I mean, God certainly promised to draw his people towards completion, to constantly transform them. Which is wonderful, and I'm grateful and full of praise for my constant, unchanging, perfect God who wants me to be like him. But I'm not exactly all smiles about how this semester is looking, and so if you're so inclined, prayers for a peaceful heart and perseverance in discipline this semester would be awesome.

And if it's mid-February and I haven't seen you since December and you want to get coffee at 7:30 am on a Thursday, let me know. :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

[insert color here]

I don't know about the rest of you-- but I already knew that breast cancer existed. And that, it seems to me, is the only thing it's possible for Facebook's post-your-bra-color-in-your-status phenomenon to "raise awareness" about. I'm not learning anything new about breast cancer: no interesting statistics, no prevention tips, nothing about donating to non-profits.

The only thing I am learning is what color your bra is. Which likely provokes a mental image of you, whoever you are, in your bra. And while the majority of facebook users wouldn't care at all, I have at least a few good guy friends who work hard at keeping their minds pure, and probably don't appreciate fighting off all of these mental images of girls they are friends with.

Just an opinion. Feel free to debate me on this one. And please, if you're reading this and participated, please don't think I am condemning you, or think less of you. At ALLLL. I'm absolutely not. I guess I'm just encouraging putting thought into what you do with your facebook page: Where did this phenomenon come from? Is it really helping anything?

My friend Mike Nichols said this in a recent Facebook status conversation: "A cure for breast cancer is a wonderful cause and I think we should raise money for it, but there's got to be a better way. What organization is putting it on? How do we know that they're legit? What if some teenage guy or dirty old man thought that it would be a good idea to find a way to get girls to post their bra colors? I mean, what legit organization would risk their reputation on such a ploy? I would believe it if it's a company that makes bras. That would be a clever way to gain product information. But honestly...if breast cancer is the only motivation for this idea, I would be very surprised. It would be pragmatism at its best/worst."