Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sand, Surf, and Sisterhood

I leave for Charleston tomorrow with my beautiful sisters. And I couldn't be more excited.

(And just to throw this out there about the game on Saturday...go Heels AND Pirates!)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Being Perfect

A devotional that showed up in my email today. It was too good not to post, so here you go.

By Rachel Olsen

"Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God." Romans 8:5-6 (MSG)


There's a moment I dread when going to the doctor for a check-up. It's not putting on that tissue paper rectangle they mistakenly call a "gown." It's not having my finger pricked for blood tests - though I'm really squeamish about that. It's the moment right after the nurse finishes her questions, grabs her clip board, and announces the doctor will be in to see me shortly. Pulling the door closed behind her, she leaves me alone with it.

I already know what it's going to say about me; I've read it before. It's going to say that I don't measure up. That I'm not reaching my potential. That I don't equal my ideal. It's the height/weight chart that declares the perfect weight for my height - and I'm several pounds away.

It extends no mercy. It offers no grace. It makes no allowances for how old I am, how many babies I've birthed, or the fact that my husband can eat three plates of food every night without gaining an ounce. It demands perfection.

A few years ago I heard a verse that seemed to be the scriptural equivalent of the height/weight chart. A single verse to measure my worth against, and feed my expectations for perfection: "But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matt 5:48, NIV)

I figured this verse justified dressing my family in matching sweaters, in the middle of July, to take the Christmas card photo because I'd just gotten the perfect haircut. I figured it warranted pricey tooth whitening treatments because I drink coffee and tea, and it shows. And I figured it would be my defense when I drove my family nuts about deep-cleaning the entire house because my new friend said she might stop by.

While the verse came in handy when I needed to justify my quest for perfect teeth, perfect photos or a perfectly clean house, it added to my disappointment, guilt and occasional loathing when my life, body or family didn't match the ideal notions in my head. Rather than fostering perfection, it fueled my self-criticism. Surely this is not what Jesus intended!

In the years since hearing that verse, I've embraced a core conviction that goes like this: If God created life, He alone gets to define it. This conviction drove me to find out what exactly Jesus meant by "be perfect."

Matthew wrote this verse. And the word he used in the ancient Greek language means something a little different than Mr. Webster's English definition. The Greek word here is teleos and it means "complete, full grown, developing."

The first two pieces of that definition indicate something already accomplished, while the third indicates an ongoing process. So this perfection Jesus prescribes for us is already complete and yet still developing. Complete in Him; still at work in us. We're allowed to be a work-in-progress!

All parts of this definition, however, refer to maturity of character, rather than a flawless figure, immaculate home, or the faultless execution of a task. Jesus just doesn't care so much if there's dust on our mantle, a stain on our teeth, or a scratch on our car. He isn't interested in how well our bedspread matches our curtains; He's interested in our spiritual maturity. Jesus teaches I will not find my worth in my ability to reach my perfect weight or accomplish my to-do list flawlessly, but in the fact that I am learning to reflect His character. To graciously give and receive love.

That's good news for a recovering perfectionist. Plus, as John writes in 1 John 3:18-19 of The Message: "My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it."

Dear Lord, thank You for grace! Thank You for mercy! Thank You for empowering me to be like You as I submit to Your Word. And thank You for not caring about dust bunnies or stained shirts. Help me to care less about those things as well and focus my heart more on You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Application Steps:

Spend time reading through the gospels, noticing what concerned Jesus and what did not.


What surface-level thing(s) have you been worrying over lately?

If it's not about your character, let it go as imperfect and rest in God's grace today.

Power Verses:

Phil 3: 8-9, "More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith," (NASB)

Big-Time Business

I sure am slackin' in terms of this blog business. College is kicking my butt, I'm in the midst of midterms, I feel like blah, and all I want to do is wallow and crawl into my little twin bed. And on another note, my dorm has horrible coffee cups. I mean really people. That eensy bit of caffeine does absolutely nothing for me.

What is it with Tuesdays? The school week isn't half over, and the looming presence of assignments keeps me too stressed for my taste. In my mind they're worse than Mondays. But then again, I'm in this weird nothing is going my way funk today.

So I went home this past weekend, and it was ah-ma-zing. Even though I mainly sat on my bed and did homework and practiced speaking Spanish into the computer for forever long, it felt like my old study sessions in high school. Coming back here was difficult, if I'm going to be honest. I guess just some things felt wrong, and my life feels kind of out of whack. Yeah, I'll just leave it there. I'm at a loss for what to say.

Since this bad mood of mine is getting the best of me, I thought I should come up with a "looking forward to" list.
  • Tuesday night worship
  • Alpha retreat in CHARLESTON this weekend
  • Mallard Ball
  • ECU Homecoming
Pleaseee come soon.

Wait! Photo update!

Here's a picture of my Big and I. She's such a beautiful person, inside and out!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

peace, love, and adpi

WHY do I never have time to blog? I'm a freaking college student, that's why.

But wait, some good news! I'm an ADPI!!! And I am so thankful. It was a last minute decision, but I know I wrote down that name for a reason. And I'm excited as hell to find out what that reason is. I. Am. So. Pumped. (Excuse the corniness of these next two sentences) But hello, my dream came true! I am finally a sorority girl.

Okay, updates updates. First of all, classes are hard here. Everyone is smart and I can hardly get a word in edgewise in my smaller classes. I feel dumb, but heck, honestly, that's perfectly dandy with me. Second, I got a hair cut. (Eh no, I got my hair CHOPPED off and I donated it.) And being the worst hair-savvy person on the planet, I cannot style it at all. Third, I love the girls I've met here. (Not so much the boys, but that's another matter.) Every time we go out, whether it's for a night out on the town or a Ben & Jerry's run when we're having a horrid day, I'm continually surprised by them. They are solid ladies, and I'm so happy I chose this school, especially for the reason that I have the privilege of meeting these girls. Fourth, I've been in this weird funk this past week. Maybe it was just rush, or I was a bit homesick, or something else...can't quite put my finger on it. One moment I'm crying to my mom and the next I'm on the top of the world. So weird. But maybe that's just freshman year in college. Fifth, despite my nervous breakdowns and meltdowns, I love Carolina. It's the absolutely perfect fit for me. I couldn't have asked for a better roommate or suitemates, or group of friends. And I can freaking dance here. It's wonderfulllll.

Alright, enough for now. Mark Twain's Roughing It is calling my name.
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