I See Jesus

“‘For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’  Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matthew 25:35-40, ESV

With cool air blowing on my face, comfortable cloth seats relieving each muscle, and soft music filling my ears, I drive to work.  There may be stresses outside the car, but inside there’s peace, relief, and comfort.  Though there’s only glass separating me from the rest of the world, I’m completely unaware of what’s experienced outside.  When I

This is the street where one of my jobs is located.  I can see this part of the street from the parking lot.

This is the street where one of my jobs is located. I can see this part of the street from the parking lot.

open my eyes to the world outside the car, I see a mom walking along the road with her three kids as I exit the seminary.  I see someone’s dad or brother living under the interstate as I cross the train tracks.  I

This is a house across the street from one of my jobs.  It's one of many houses in a similar state.

This is a house across the street from one of my jobs. It’s one of many houses in a similar state.

see a foundation where someone’s home of 30 years used to stand.  I see someone’s son playing football in an overgrown field as I drive through a school zone.  I see someone’s granddaughter walking out of preschool with her glittery masterpiece proudly in hand as I pull in the parking lot.  I see a co-worker getting off her rusty bicycle and wiping her forehead as I turn off my car.  I see Jesus.

In the Big Easy, things are slow.  Locals talk slow, walk slow, and eat slow.  They’re always willing to just sit and listen to music (preferably jazz) or sit and have a meal (preferably red beans and rice).  They know how to stop and appreciate blessings.  It amazes me that when I focus on my own environment—as easy as it may be—I often see the flaws.  Instead of enjoying air conditioning, I moan that it’s not working fast enough.  Instead of relaxing in the comfort of my vehicle, I long to sit at home.  Instead of listening to the music around me, I tune it out.  Yet, when I look past myself, I see blessings.  I see Jesus.

The Fullness of Life

One of my pet peeves is when someone says, “I have no life.”  Correction: when someone that has a relationship with Jesus says, “I have no life.” I’m guilty of it.  In fact, recently I’ve thought many times, “I have no life.”  Know that my own conviction is what’s prompting this post.

John 10:10 is a pretty well-known verse.  In fact, many of you may already be thinking, “Why is she about to tell us about satan?” Hang in there.  It’s not satan that’s my focus, it’s Jesus.  The portion of this verse that I primarily focus on when it comes to mind is, “a thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” (NIV2011).  That’s certainly true and a good combat when facing spiritual warfare.  Yet, the verse continues, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (NIV2011).  Let’s not miss that! Yes, satan is awful, but look how good God is! When we’re tempted to complain that satan is stealing our thoughts or killing our happiness or destroying our lives, we better be careful not to dwell too long on that part of the verse.  We need to move past satan and back to Jesus.  Jesus gives us life! AND He doesn’t just give us life, He gives us life to the full! So why would I ever say “I have no life?”

I realize that the phrase “I have no life” is often associated with a social life, so it’s not that I think there is some ulterior motive to blasphemy Jesus when it’s used.  Yet, I still think it shows an attitude of discontentment and ungratefulness, which is an insult to the Lord, who gives us everything (and I frequently see in my own sinful nature).  Equating society’s standards with God’s standards for our social lives is something satan often uses to steal, kill, and destroy the better life that Jesus provided.

In New Orleans, a person’s social life is a high priority.  (My motive in pointing this out is not to judge the people here, it’s to love them more as a result of loving Him more.)  A person’s social life is also a high priority in Oklahoma and elsewhere (we may just hide it better); however, I have observed that part of NOLA culture is having a good time with people.  For example, the first French phrase I was taught when coming here was, “laissez les bons temps rouler,” which means, “let the good times roll.”

I think one good example of this is in a chain I’ve seen several places in the city.  Below is a picture of one.

This was taken on a Sunday afternoon and it’s right across from school.  I was not in the French Quarter or on Bourbon Street.

Please note that this was taken on a Sunday afternoon and it’s right across from school. I was not in the French Quarter or on Bourbon Street.

From a worldly perspective, the people of New Orleans certainly know how to live life to the fullest.  Yet, like me, they do not always see that Jesus is truly the source of life.  He is the author of true pleasure and joy, setting boundaries for our good and His glory.  Let’s celebrate the fullness of life with more joy than the world celebrates the idols we’ve created.

May I find life to the full through Jesus and may He use me to share that life with others.

New Place, Same God

It’s official! I’ve been in New Orleans exactly one month!

Though my typical hangout spots look different, there are a lot of similarities.

My home is still a safe place where I long to be at the end of the day (even if it means seeing 3 professors in the gym or dodging a classmate when I’m ashamed of how little reading I’ve done).

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I still have a place to shop that’s very close (literally across the street) and inexpensive.  It also opened the first full day I was here and is not scary at all (totally different than the one Lisa accurately described as “life-threatening” on the other side of town).  Yay God!

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Despite not being a coffee-drinker, I still seem to spend a lot of time in coffee shops.  This one is open 24-7 and has free Wi-Fi.  (Praise the Lord I have Wi-Fi in my room as of today, so hopefully this will become a less frequent stop.)

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Football is still a big deal.  In fact, I’d venture to say it’s a bigger deal here than in Oklahoma.  The colors may look different, but the spirit’s the same.  There are fans everywhere!

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Although I’m in a new place with new experiences, new people, new ups, and new downs, I still serve the same God and He is still making Himself known in this place.

From Friends Filled with Cotton to Friends Filled with Sugar

This week I decided it was time to make more friends.  There have definitely been pros to the time I’ve spent with my stuffed animals…

They never complain about movie choices or hog the snacks.

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They’re excellent study buddies.  (Though Dr. Watson shows Mr. Bunny and I up each night.)

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They’re more than willing to pitch-in cleaning.

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And they’re very supportive exercise partners.

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Yet, I still feel the need for some human companionship.  So, how do you make friends while living in a dorm with 30 women? Make brownies!

(Disclaimer: the Hanes’s super secret brownie recipe will NOT be revealed in this post.)

Before setting out to make brownies, you put on an apron.  (Thanks to my sweet friend Madison, I happen to have a super cute apron.) The apron protects you while you’re baking.  While making friends, it is also important to clothe yourself with prayer.  In my flesh, I know I cannot get past my insecurities and be good friend.  With the help of the Holy Spirit, I can confidently lay down my life for others.

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Next, you need a mixing bowl.  My dear friend Jennifer provided this bowl.  With it, I can mix tasty ingredients.  Similarly, the Lord provided this new place for me to live where I can meet new friends and serve in new ways.

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After you’ve got the mixing bowl ready, you need the ingredients.  Although these ingredients may or may not make sense, you trust the baker’s plan to make something delicious.  Similarly, the group of people you’re placed with may or may not be who you’d expect the Lord to provide as friends, but you trust His plan in having you together.

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Next, you need a spoon to stir the brownies together.  (Thanks, mom, for the vintage spoon!) This is what the Lord uses to mix you together.  This friend-making go-around, I’m hoping brownies will help mix the girls in Carey Hall together.

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Last, but not least, you need an oven. This step seals the deal for good brownies much like a conversation or time spent together seals the deal for good friendship.

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Voila! My attempt at the best brownies in the world! I can’t wait to see the friends the Lord provides that are as sweet as these!

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