counting my chickens . . .

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I have a tax refund coming my way in just a week or so. I’m trying to decide what to do with the money. I have a whopping $229 that will arrive in my bank account, and I want to spend it wisely.

But I want to spend it.

On something fun.

And something for me.
[How selfish.]

Here’s the thing . . . I’ve been living off the money I’ve been receiving the past couple months just fine. I know that I have a good amount coming in for this month, and I feel like I haven’t purchased something really fun for myself in a while.

Please help me. Here are my thoughts:

  1. Graphire 6×8 Bluetooth tablet: I’ve wanted this for a while. I asked for one for Christmas, but knew it was too expensive to expect. It costs $250, so I would have to add just a little of my own money. It would be a fun design tool to have around.
  2. Clothes: I could definitely invest in more jeans. And more stuff I could wear around camp. I don’t know that it’s really necessary, though.
  3. Pedicure and books: I’d be able to save some money this way. And I could really use a pedicure. It would be nice to pamper myself. I could get a massage, too, but that’s just a thought. I should probably focus on reading the books I already have before I start buying more.
  4. Credit card debt: I want to pay off my card. I really do. I just don’t want to use this money to do it. And it’s not a lot of debt, anyways. I’m paying it off slowly, but surely.
  5. Design magazine subscription: I have a few in mind to choose from . . . Communication Arts, Step, HOW . . .

So those are my ideas. I’m also open to other ideas. If you have any good ones, please send them my way. Even if it’s over my budget, just tell me and I can drool over it.

At this point, I’m leaning towards the tablet.

fulfilled wishes

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I love Christmas. I think it’s the combination of things that I love so much. The cold, the family time, the decorations, the food [oh, yes, so much the food], reading the Christmas story by the fire, glitter, candles, the music, taking pictures, . . . and the sister that sings with every holiday song no matter if she knows the words or not, no matter if it’s the 5th time the song has played in the past 30 minutes, and no matter how long you’ve been driving. All that to say, I honestly think that the gifts are a very little part of the holiday for me. I like giving gifts, and I won’t try to lie and say I don’t like receiving gifts, but most of my Christmas joy comes from the atmosphere and the history of the holiday.

With that being said, I put up my wish list a few posts back, so I have to list what I got.

Ski jacket. I actually jumped around the room when I opened it. Let’s just say I really needed one!
Let Me Be a Woman. A book by Elizabeth Elliot. I love the typeface they used, too. Always makes it easier to read.
Necklace. A cool artsy necklace Amy got me from Blue Skies, one of the coolest stores in downtown Chattanooga.
Hoodies. Much needed. And they’re cool. Both from American Eagle. Mom did a good job.
Hair turban. No, I’m not converting. Mom couldn’t find a hair towel, but the turban works just as well. :)
Track jacket. PUMA. It’s my first PUMA article of clothing. Brown and pink. Can’t go wrong there.
The 10 Most Common Objections to Christianity. A book by Alex McFarland. It will be a very practical read.
Peace on Earth tee. I love the color [fuschia], I love the design. And who doesn’t want peace? ;)
Sweater jacket. I wasn’t sold on it at first, but when I put it on, I liked it. It’s short-sleeved. It’s cool.
Discipline. Another Elizabeth Elliot book. I love her style of writing.
Money. $50 cash from various relatives in Florida.

A couple things that didn’t quite make the cut . . .

Jeans. I think I could find some I like better.
PUMA shirt. I didn’t like the color [BRIGHT PINK] or the fit.
Long-sleeve tee. An oh-so cute red tee with a very wintry design. Just too short.

And now, what I gave to the fam.

Mom: the game Banangrams and the movie Amazing Grace.
Dad: Volume 1 in The Civil War by Shelby Foote.
Amy: A book about the lives of many classical composers and an Audrey original handmade journal [and pretty sweet, if I do say so myself].

I hope your Christmas was as merry as mine.

mirrored

James 1:23—25
For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.

I tend to think more highly of myself than others think of me. A lot of people would argue with me, I think. “But you know your own faults,” they would say. Right. And somehow I still manage to think I’m a good person. Scary.

It’s funny to me that I spend 20 minutes every morning making myself presentable, generally in front of a mirror. By the time I’m finished, I know exactly how I look. But throughout the day, things change. I eat lunch. I get a little windblown. And every time I look in a mirror, it seems like there’s a little something that could be taken care of.

I don’t live life this way, though.

It’s because I don’t have a constant image in my head of what I really am. I forget . . . and tend to think that I’m doing ok.

Sometimes, I don’t even pay attention to those “mirrors” of life. There have been times when I’ve just ignored them because I feel like there’s too much to correct . . . I don’t have enough time to do it all. So what is this constant mirror that I can have? Well, James says that I need to study the word and do it. Hearing it will produce a life reminiscent of someone who looks in a mirror and sees some stuff that needs to be taken care of, but as soon as he walks away forgets the problem.

Elizabeth Elliot shares a similar thought in her book Trusting God in a Twisted World. She muses on the fact that people passing by store windows are interesting to watch—their posture always changes for the better because they want the image they see to match up to the image they hold in their mind. “What is it that makes us preen, recoil, laugh? It must be the degree of incongruity between what we thought we were and what we actually saw” (p. 34).

Only when I see what I am can I begin to correct it to become what I know I should be. And the only way to do that is through seeing the image of my Savior.

alike

As I was working in Uncle Wally’s (Ironwood’s equivalent to a book|souvenir store) this past Tuesday, I sauntered down to the end bookshelf and noticed a book that sounded intriguing. I don’t remember what the title was, but it deals with relationships. Something about putting your love life in the right perspective. After reading the back of that book, I was guided to the prequel – Passion and Purity by Elizabeth Elliot. I didn’t have my money with me, but after reading the back of P&P, I was really interested. So I bought it on Thursday. I just finished it on the way back from church today. It was amazing. Probably the most encouraging thing I’ve read in quite a while, actually.

Elizabeth Elliot is an amazing author. Her writing style is extremely easy to follow. But that wasn’t what made this book a good read. That woman has been inside my head or something. I’ve had the exact same thoughts that she’s had in dealing with singleness and God’s will for my life. Within the first two chapters, I was hooked. There are verses that she wrote in her journals which I’ve held onto quite tightly in the past few years. Things like Psalm 73:25 – “Whom have I in heaven but you? and there is nothing on earth I desire besides you.” Or verses from Psalm 16 – “I have set the Lord always before me . . . You will show me the path of life, in Your presence is fulness of joy.” I couldn’t help but laugh when I read those verses she had listed out. That was my list.

I actually earmarked a couple of the pages [which is something I never do]. Elliot uses a portion of Quiet Talks on Prayer (by S.D. Gordon) to define waiting. It is

steadfastness, that is holding on;
patience, that is holding back;
expectancy, that is holding the face up;
obedience, that is holding one’s self in readiness to go or do;
listening, that is holding quiet and still so as to hear.

If you don’t know the love story of Jim and Elizabeth Elliot – the part before the part that everybody knows – get this book. In chapter 19, Elizabeth shares another portion of her journals

Does the fact that I do not forget Jim indicate that God does not want me to, or is it my own unwillingness to forget that has kept God from answering my prayer to that end? Or does He want me to remember – to “suffer me to hunger” so that I might the more fully learn to find all my satisfaction in Him? . . . Can it be that by a show of what Paul calls “will worship” I should crush the bud of a flower of God’s creation? I know no prayer other than Thy will be done.

I’ve had those same thoughts. When you pray to forget . . . to just get over . . . to be able to move on before you get to the point where it will hurt, but you don’t forget, is that showing God’s will . . . or is it just the fact that I really don’t want to forget? Wow. Yeah. I’ve been there.

Another thing she tackled which I’ve been wondering about . . . what about the girls that chase boys? This is one of my biggest pet peeves and one of my biggest fears. I never want to come across as chasing a boy. I hate the entire idea of it. I just think it’s not my responsibility as the girl, and it starts the relationship off on a bad foot. If I begin pursuing, when do I stop and let the guy take over? How awkward. Anyways, it was the topic of a very interesting and long discussion I had last year. And I was never quite persuaded that it was alright. I’m still just not ok with doing something like that. I want it to obviously be God’s will if I start dating someone, which means I don’t want to ever start manipulating situations in order to start a relationship.

Now, pair that with the idea of being transparently honest. That’s another huge desire I have for life – to be see-through, in a sense. So how could I have those feelings and not share them . . . and still be transparent? I think that’s where discretion comes in. Just because I think something doesn’t mean the whole world should be able to share that thought with me. Let me share another part of the book with you . . .

One evening last winter my husband and I invited a group of single men from a theological seminary to sit around our fireplace and talk about what single Christian men expect of single Christian women. We hear a great deal from the women on this subject, and on what they expect of men, but we had not heard much from the men. We were not asking what they were looking for, first of all, in a wife, but simply what they expect in ordinary, everyday social contact.

“Do you want women to do the asking?” was one of my questions.
“It’s a shock,” somebody said.
“A turnoff,” somebody else said.
“If a woman is smart, she knows the best place for her to be, according to Scripture, is submission. A man is supposed to serve because he is the head,” one man said.
“Submission is a command to married women, isn’t it?” I said. “What do you expect in ordinary give-and-take on campus?”
“Total honesty.”
“Oh. Hmm. Total honesty. Then suppose she comes to you in the hall one day,” I suggested, “and says, ‘I think you’re the handsomest stud on the Hill. I’ve been dreaming about you every night for three weeks. The Lord has told me we should establish a caring and sharing relationship.’ She’s honest (maybe). Is that what you’re asking for?”
“Oh, heck no. I didn’t mean that.”
“What, then?”

Long silence. Head scratching. Then the answers began to come.
Femininity.
Affirmation.
Encouragement.
Tenderness.
Sensitivity.
Vulnerability.

The message we were receiving as the seminary men talked around our fireplace was that they did not want to be told everything the women were thinking. They wanted to be left to wonder about it and to find out for themselves.

A woman’s beauty should reside, according to the Apostle Peter, in the inmost center of her being, an “. . . imperishable ornament, a gentle, quiet spirit, which is of high value in the sight of God.”

Hm. Looks like I have a little work to do.

homeless

My thoughts have been challenged again. I’m beginning to like this a lot. After feeling a little sorry for myself that I don’t know what’s going on anymore and the fact that I don’t have any plans for 50 days from now, I began to wonder who my Jesus is.

My God is One who didn’t think about tomorrow because tomorrow will take care of itself. The God I serve sent His Son to be homeless – to live a completely selfless life. And guess what? He never wanted anything. He didn’t bother Himself with building up possessions or wondering who He was going to marry. He was so consumed with the Father that He cared nothing for Himself. That’s what I want. Maybe He could do all that because He knew He came to die. Maybe I should do that because I am dead. I should be anyways. Christ is living in me, so how is there still any room for self? Maybe that’s what Christ meant when He said you can’t serve 2 masters. I’ve always been told that literally, that interprets out to money and Christ. It makes sense. So why would I ever choose money?

I’ve discovered that there’s no point in a job unless it glorifies God. So for me, a lot of the options I’ve been looking at just don’t hold any glitter anymore. The shiny has worn off before I’ve even started. I was given advice about a month ago to find a church, then find a job (thanks, Michelle!). What great advice. I know that for me to work in an office will seem completely and utterly pointless to me and probably drive me insane in a matter of days. I need a ministry. My ability to design is worth nothing if it’s not being used for Him. I wouldn’t be happy in an office.

So now, I guess I’m looking for a church.

Then in the midst of all of this, I get bombarded again. Let me give you a little excerpt from a book I picked up . . .

Rich stood up in chapel and said, “You guys are all into that born again thing, which is great. We do need to be born again, since Jesus said that to a guy named Nicodemus. But if you tell me I have to be born again to enter into the kingdom of God, I can tell you that you have to sell everything you have and give it to the poor, because Jesus said that to one guy too . . . [And he paused in the awkward silence.] But I guess that’s why God invented highlighters, so we can highlight the parts we like and ignore the rest.”

I’ve been choosing to live a comfortable life. Is that really what being a Christian is about? I actually think the life of Christ directly opposes any form of comfort. Think about it. When did Jesus do something purely for His comfort? But I kinda ignore those parts of the Bible. So maybe what needs to happen is some intense scouring of the life of Christ.

All these thoughts have jumped on me in only the past couple of days, so forgive me if they seem a little jumbled. They are.

Interestingly enough, it’s beginning to bother me less that I don’t really have plans.

top 5 – books

I wanted to do a Top 5, but I was having problems thinking of a stellar idea.

1. All-time favorite: Wuthering Heights. I’ve only read this book once, but it’s my favorite. I don’t return to books often. This is one I would pick up 20 more times.

2. Christian-living: The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment. Jeremiah Burroughs hooked me on chapter 1. This book gave me a greater perspective on one of my biggest struggles. Yes, I’ve gone on and on about this book. And no, I won’t stop anytime soon.

3. Children’s book: If You Give a Mouse a Cookie . . . This was my first book I owned [I think]. It’s the first one I remember owning, anyways. I loved the illustrations way more than the story. Still a good read.

4. Tear-jerker: Where the Red Fern Grows. I was not happy with this book. I cried many tears out of my little eyes when I was in 3rd grade. Those dogs loved each other. No good. Perfect.

5. Made-into movie: Pride and Prejudice. This is a current read; I’m almost halfway through. I highly recommend the movie [new or A&E version]. I’m not a huge Austen fan – I love her stories, but her books get insane sometimes. This one has proven to be enjoyable so far.

Go read something.

dostoevsky | dostoyevsky

Your choice.

Crime and Punishment
by Fyodor Dostoevsky

I think it took me about a week to get through this book. Luckily, it’s separated into seven parts, and I tried to get through one each day. Dostoevsky is an interesting read. My friend PJ really enjoys this guy. But PJ gets him. I don’t think I completely follow everything he’s trying to get across. So it’s a good discussion book for me. It was an interesting story. I discovered something from my smart friend . . . apparently the book was written during a very political time, so Dostoevsky couldn’t name places. In the book, instead of the actual street or town name, it will say T— Street or K— Place. I thought it was weird at first, but now I learned something new. Excellent.

My reading list somehow continues to grow. It’s a little frustrating. But at least I have a 4-hour plane ride coming up on Monday. I’m going to try to make it through Pride and Prejudice and The Irresistible Revolution before camp starts.

The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
Love to Eat, Hate to Eat
by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Attributes of God
(vol. 1 and 2) by A.W. Tozer
When People are Big and God is Small by Edward Welch
When I Don’t Desire God (How to Fight for Joy) by John Piper
The Divine Conspiracy by Willard
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (again)
Not Even a Hint by Joshua Harris (again)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray