Bring Me Back to Life

I cannot even begin to explain to you how easily I am distracted.   I could ask you a question and you could answer me, and I would have no idea what your answer means because I forgot my own question.  Somewhere between me asking and you answering, I started thinking about something else.  I like to think I’m a good listener, but I’m not, not at all, and I’m sorry if you’ve experienced this type of conversation with me.  I am really trying to change this because I don’t want people to think that what they have to say is not important to me!

I am pretty much like this in my “relationship” with Christ also.  I have been a bit distracted by our new little one, that I have completely neglected him.  Prior to our baby coming home, I was distracted by the adoption process, therefore, I have taken a seven or so month hiatus.  I am sure he is used to this by now as this is pretty common for me.  The bigger issue is that I was doing so good for a while!!!  I was reading and listening and things were making sense.  You throw a baby in the mix and I quit cold turkey!  

I have noticed some major differences in “Jenny”s good Jesus time” and “Jenny’s lack of Jesus time” .  In the “good”  time I was more patient, I got things done, sermons were really getting to me (they all felt applicable), worship songs would bring me to tears, I was exercising, and eating well.  Now during the “lack of Jesus” time  I feel nothing, literally, I don’t get anything from sermons, worship songs do nothing for me, I quit exercising, my stomach aches right now from all the Halloween candy I’ve eaten today, I have no time for my friends and I have lost all patience for my children.

The strangest thing to me and what I miss the most is that when I read anything from the bible, or when I’m trying to do my bible study, I don’t get it,  and I did before, for that half a year or so that I was “good”.   I would have more questions but everything was a bit clearer.  It’s like I have the wrong prescription now and can’t find the right one.  I want to be the person that makes time for God and my kids AND my friends.  I know it can happen, just getting back into figuring out how to quit being so selfish because I do have the time.

I heard these lyrics tonight, a song I’ve heard over and over by Evanescence, the lyrics hit me differently tonight.

Bring Me Back to Life

Wake me up inside
call my name and save me from the dark
bid my blood to run
before I come undone

now that I know what I’m without
you can’t just leave me
breathe into me and make me real
bring me back to life

Wake me up inside
call my name and save me from the dark
bid my blood to run
save me from the nothing I’ve become

Bring me to life
(I’ve been living a lie, there’s nothing inside)
Bring me to life

This is why I write and don’t speak…

Last Month I mentioned that we were going to do a “No Spend” month, and I said I would let you know how it went.  I was interviewed by a Lincoln radio station about the concept, and it aired this morning, so instead of writing about it, you can listen to the interview on the radio stations website (keep in mind, I am not a great speaker :)).

No Spend May Interview

A short quote…

I read this today…

“But then something happens.  You pass a seventeen-year old girl in the hallway of a Bangkok motel, fully knowing that she’s selling herself, and you say, “I can’t keep pretending I live in Disneyland, singing hymns and practicing personal piety while human trafficking steals children’s souls, and thirty thousand people die every day of treatable diseases.  I can’t continue to live ‘faith as usual’ when I learn how many billions of people are making the same amount of money in a year that I make in three days.”  If knowing all this doesn’t shake you to the core, something’s probably wrong with your view of Jesus and the life to which we’re invited.”

Quoted from the book, The Colors of Hope,  by Richard Dahlstrom

What’s Your Pain Tolerance?

In my last post, First World Problem, I said I would do something about my lack of action when it comes to helping others. I definitely have the empathy down, but not “giving til it hurts”.  (For the record, I also think the phrase “giving til it hurts”  is a horrible phrase,  there is so much joy in giving that I don’t believe it ever really “hurts”.  Maybe “give until you notice”, or “give until you see a change in you”.  But I will stick to the “hurts” for this post because it just works.)

I don’t think anyone can tell you what percentage to give, everyone’s pain tolerance is different.
For instance…Oprah Winfrey gave $40 million dollars in 2009 (People Magazine), her annual salary was $275 million (Forbes).

Some would say giving $40 million dollars away is a huge sacrifice.  I’m not convinced it is.   I’m not really sure where she would start to feel the pain, but would seem she is a few million away for that.

Courtesy of
Sarah Poppe Photography

On the other hand, there’s a child whom, to them, giving their favorite toy away to someone who had none would be devastating. So it would seem as if the child giving away a favorite toy is making a bigger sacrifice that Oprah giving $40 million dollars.

So how do you measure the “pain” of giving? Everyone’s pain tolerance is different, every persons circumstance are different.

I am measuring my giving “pain” based on the pain chart often seen in hospitals.  I am at a level 3 (to some in my situation, they could say they were at a 1 and to others, with different pain tolerance would say they were at a 9, even my husband living in the exact same financial situation could be somewhere different on that chart.)

Here is my first step of action.  For the month of May, I am not buying anything outside of basic necessities (disclaimer, I will be buying Mother’s Day gifts and baby shower gifts).    All the money that would have been spent on eating out, clothes, activities, etc., will be given to one of my favorite organization, Obasi.

Obasi is a ministry in Lincoln, NE where Miss Brenda works with inner-city kids to prepare them for adulthood.  I have followed her for years, and she and the Obasi staff and volunteers do amazing work with these kids.  They are hard-working and really devote their lives to them.  There are wonderful stories that come from these children and they love Miss Brenda.  She pours her heart and soul into them.  So I am sacrificing for them this month and will be getting my girls involved in this also.   Looking forward to see what the month brings, I’ll keep you posted!

First World Problem

I am sitting in my living room, eating my chocolate covered bananas, sitting in my leather couch, in my perfectly temperature controlled house, and I am feeling incredibly UN-comfortable.

About 90% of the blog posts I write, are due to the fact that I feel guilty (some might use the term “convicted”) of something. I don’t like that feeling, hence the lack of posts recently.

Tonight, I’m letting the guilt set in, and I feel heavy! I have had a migraine for 24 hours now, the longest I’ve had and all I wanted was a hot shower in a dark room. I got the kids to bed and went to get in the nice hot shower and my water was LUKE WARM!! This was incredibly disappointing and I was really quite angry, and that is where the guilt set in. I remembered a story that a friend was telling me. She had listened to a man tell about the adoption of a his son. He explained that until his son came to America, he had NEVER felt anything besides cold water. He told how they had to start with warmish water and very carefully place his hand in it, then warm it up a bit more, and continue with that process. He then stated how it was the best thing he’d ever felt. Now, I‘m sure I don’t have that story perfect, I didn’t hear him speak, and don’t even know who it was (if someone does, let me know!). I do know that he has far more appreciation for warm water than I have for probably anything in my life! I am a spoiled, spoiled person, who doesn’t give enough thought and doesn’t take enough action for those who don’t have anything.

One of the hard questions that people have about God, is how can he let people go hungry, and suffer in horrible living environments. We ask these questions while we live in homes that are too big, drive cars way beyond necessity, and eat way too much food. We want God to fix everything while we sacrifice nothing.

My husband has been using the phrase “First World Problem” whenever he hears a complaint, or finds himself complaining about anything. So my luke warm water that I was “tortured” with this evening was my “first world problem”!

I prayed that every person reading this post, the next time you complain about something incredibly petty, that you hear the phrase “First World Problem” in your head. (You will hear it ;))

I have an idea of how to take action myself, I will explain more in my next post! Stay tuned…

Can you spot the difference?

There are good moral atheists…There are good moral Christians…There are bad atheists…and bad Christians…Atheists truly believe there is no god…Christians truly believe there is a God…Atheists are offended by you telling them they are going to Hell…Christians are offended by you telling them they believe because they are lacking intelligence…

Offensive………………and Offensive.

Christians are jerks when they celebrate the death of someone they don’t agree with…as are atheists…We all at some point in our lives doubt our belief or lack of belief.

We are not so different, so what sets us apart? There has to be something, after all, we are told to be set apart.

How do I show someone that what I believe is real?

LOVE the unlovable, or whoever is unlovable to you. It definitely takes the existence of a God to love some people, so prove that you have that power within you. If you disagree with something someone does or is, show them God, that’s your job. God convicts, let Him do his job.

LEARN!! You believe in a ALL Powerful, ALL knowing, Loving God who created this earth, performs miracles, and is going to someday take us all to live in His presence. That’s fascinating! Research it, read the bible, read all about this amazing being. You are going to be spending eternity with Him, you should have a little knowledge about what that means and should want that knowledge. The whole purpose of this life is choosing Jesus and showing Jesus, so we should know something about it.

SACRAFICE! Sell something; help someone, don’t hang on to that money so tight! After all, “this is not your home” So LIVE LIKE IT! Next time you have bad service at a restaurant, tip a little more, maybe they are having a really bad day, prove that cheap Christian stereotype wrong, make their day a little better, not worse. Next time you buy a car, buy a cheaper one than you budgeted for and give that money to someone that can really make a difference in their life. Forgive someone a debt owed to you. Show people there’s a God even when there is money involved.

I understand that we are all human and we all make mistakes, but you are trying to convince people you have a supernatural God, so show some supernatural restraint, forgiveness and generosity.

Fairytale of Christianity

I’ve heard it said that many people think of Christianity as a Fairytale. The magical star led the people to the magical baby who grew up and healed people magically, and then magically ascended into heaven, and someday we’ll end up in the magical kingdom and live happily ever after.

I can see where someone might get this, but this is far from the reality of a Christian’s life. I am trying to read and understand the beliefs, and unbelief of others but also want others to understand that my choice to love and live for Christ is no Fairytale, it’s not an escape, it’s not ignorance, it’s not easy. My choice is based on personal evidence of a Creator in my life.

Now, I’m trying to be as honest as possible on this blog without getting too detailed and boring. This is quite the Faith testing journey. I am very up and down and it’s frustrating. I remember seeing a diagram something like this once and had something like this pictured in my mind as I read the book on the Mormon Sects. The men in this particular sect believe that they are to have multiple wives, and the more wives they have, the higher in the kingdom they will be. The women fast/pray and come to a conclusion of who they are to marry, and they believe that they are following the teachings of God. Taking a look at this from the outside, I think that’s ridiculous, along with other extreme beliefs.

So then there are atheist or naturalists who don’t believe in anything but what you can see and touch (they are standing outside the bubbles on the diagram). They are looking at Me and other Christians, and all religions the same way, like we are all delusional! I completely understand this, seriously, look at the diagram, the obvious conclusion is that we are all crazy and unable to look outside of our own bubble! A friend said to me yesterday, it’s not meant to be this complicated. I believe that! I tend to have two extremes; when I am researching and conversing about hard questions, my mind goes in every different direction, but I am learning, and understanding and I feel the need to understand others right now. But, when I am simply having my time praying or reading, I have complete peace and nothing is complicated.

This whole “Fairytale” thing actually surprised me a bit. I think it’s hard to know and see evidence of a God, that others don’t acknowledge and won’t give him a chance to show himself. It’s hard for me to see people living on this earth filled with so much heartache and pain without Jesus. I feel a completeness about myself and about my life and it’s not because of my husband, and it’s not because of my kids; they are wonderful, but they do and will always disappoint me. I have not been disappointed yet by God. Once you’ve experienced this kind of love, it’s hard to see others without it. I do have the hope of eternal life with my Creator ( in a magical kingdom) but it’s no fairytale seeing people reject His offer.

I understand that the diagram points to an obvious conclusion, but there is so much more to it. I don’t have a good foundation of faith right now, I am easily persuaded one way or another at any given moment. BUT, the minute I walk away from these situations, or shut my computer off, or close my book, God reveals himself to me every time, as if saying that he’s still here, protecting me as I am on this journey, making it impossible for me to believe in anything other than Him. No diagram will ever be able to show you this.

On a side note, a great article from Relevant Magazine, Why Can’t Christians Play Nice

Living in a closed society?

I have mentioned this book exchange that I am doing with a fellow blogger. I am so glad that we agreed to this and hope we continue with more books! It’s great to get a recommendation from someone who has a completely different view point. Hate can come from a lack of understanding, so it would do us all a bit of good to try to understand others.

Nina ran across my blog a couple months ago and commented on a post. She is a self-described Naturalist, she suggested I read different views if I am going to research my beliefs so we agreed on this book exchange. She recently wrote a review of the first few chapters of the book that I sent her, Letters from a Skeptic. You can find her post here Random Ntrygg.

She said this in her post:

“Religionists and Naturalists are not speaking the same language and are not having the same discussions. We need to not be having discussions inside religious realities – leave those for those who believe.”

This is my reasoning for this journey, to not only research and build the foundation of my faith, but to find a common language so communicating with people who don’t have the same belief that I do can be possible and beneficial for all parties involved.

I’m a little more than half way through the book that she recommended to me, The Secret Lives of Saints. The book is about the extreme reality of the polygamist societies in North America. These people are completely closed off from the outside world and live the lives they have always been told to live because they don’t know differently. There is so much “bad” that comes from living this way, and I think this is the way that many people view how Christians live. Sadly, it probably is the way most Christians live; closed off to anything or anyone “different”.

I want to make sure I am not living in a closed off society. There are wonderful people out there who aren’t like me, and don’t believe what I believe but would enrich my life by being in it and possibly me theirs. This doesn’t mean I am conforming to their way of thinking, just that I understand where they are coming from.

I’ll write more on the book as soon as I finish.

Kevin Spear cartoon

Quit Complaining

We were visiting some good friends in Illinois this weekend. Our friend Tim is a pastor at the Christian church there. He had a great sermon on Gratitude and tis the season, so great time to blog about Gratitude. Tim talked a bit about a study that linked Gratitude to Happiness. The study showed that adults and kids who maintain an attitude of gratitude can improve their physycological, emotional and physical well-being.

“Adults who frequently feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics. They earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections.”

“Now, researchers are finding that gratitude brings similar benefits in children and adolescents. Kids who feel and act grateful tend to be less materialistic, get better grades, set higher goals, complain of fewer headaches and stomach aches and feel more satisfied with their friends, families and schools than those who don’t, studies show.”

More from the article “Thank You, No, Thank You.”

Tim also mentioned that as Christians we need to be the Joy in the world. I have not seen many descriptions of Christians as “Joyful”. Do you spend more time complaining or thanking?

We are living in such an amazing time with so many advances, yet seem to be less happy. We have more ways to communicate than ever yet we say “Thank You” less.

C.S. Lewis talked of joy as a serious matter. Don’t take it so lightly. Laugh a little more, say thank you more often and complain a lot less. I deserve nothing,  and I am to be grateful for everything. The end result can not be bad, I will have a more positive outlook, and won’t annoy people with my constant complaining.

I’ve downloaded an app for my phone that I can go in and journal what I am grateful for daily. Goodbye entitlement, hello Joy! Gratitude Journal

Happy Thanksgiving!

Interesting Book Challenge

A couple weeks ago I posted about God’s Vengeance.    Nina, a fellow blogger ( Random Ntrygg) ran across my blog and had some comments.  After a little discussion about reading other viewpoints we decided to read books that the other had recommended.  We have agreed that this is not to influence the other, only to inform and understand.   I received her book this weekend and am excited to get started.

Book review to come on both our blogs!

The book I am reading:  The Secret Lives of Saints by Daphne Bramham

The book I sent Nina:  Letters from a Skeptic by Gregory Boyd

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