A New Terror

I’m not a big fan of scary.  Horror movies are among my least favorite, even “suspenseful” shows often given me nightmares.

While there are many posts today about ghosts, goblins, and ghouls (especially in New Orleans), I thought I’d share a recent discovery I made here.  I thought stinging caterpillars were enough, but apparently not.

Meet Nutria.  Not to be confused with a granola bar or something semi-appealing.  (Please note that I found these pictures on a public domain website.  I would never get this close to them, even though they hang out in parks around here.)

At first, Nutria look reasonably cute.

nutria0

Like a beaver, maybe? Sure, a pest to any swampland homeowner, but not scary…

But then it gets worse…

nutria

Look at them.  Do you see their tails hidden back there? They’re like giant rats!

If you’re still not convinced that they’re terrifying…

nutria1

They have orange teeth!!!

I just can’t imagine these guys creeping up at your house.  Each time I think about it, I freak out a little.

You may think these giant furry rat things are an unreasonable fear (though I think I could persuade you otherwise if given enough time), but they’re about as scary as I can handle this spooky season.  Yes, they’re invasive critters that wreak havoc to people in Southern Louisiana, but they’re not as invasive as the spiritual stuff that happens around here.

I’m grateful to be far away from voodoo and such that is happening downtown.  Though I serve a God much more powerful than any spiritual forces of darkness, I’m grateful He doesn’t have me in the midst of it this weekend.

Please join with me in praying for New Orleans this weekend.  Pray for believers and unbelievers alike: protection and boldness for believers, and protection and salvation for the lost.

Pray for the

Laundry List

laundry

Even seeing the phrase “laundry list” sends my head spinning with a list of things I need to do.  I look at my dusty shelves, unfolded clothes, stacks of books and unprepared food, and that all too familiar tightness fills my chest.  These mundane tasks can so easily suck out life’s pleasures.

That sucking sensation is only magnified when my laundry list is ripped in half by an interruption.  I’m not necessarily talking about life’s catastrophes, just those day-to-day annoyances: something breaking, losing something, a task taking longer than it should…

The specific interruption that comes to mind is people.  Sure, there’s the repairman that keeps you waiting all day or the customer service person that is really not into service, but there’s also the people we love.  God’s done a mighty work in my life by helping interruptions to not cripple or infuriate me (usually); but as a task-oriented introvert, I have to constantly remind myself that people are not a task.  People are not part of the laundry list, they’re the reason I do laundry.  

Living with over sixty women, God often puts this conviction to the test.  (…especially since we’re supposed to love our neighbors AND my neighbors are my sisters in Christ.)

Of course, this happens as I’m frantically finishing an assignment, and someone knocks on my door or needs help with an assignment.  However, it also happens in other areas of the dorm.  Since I’ve made my own little kitchenette, this rarely happens to me in our kitchen.  It does happen often in the bathroom and the laundry room though.

Not surprisingly, the story that inspired this post was in the laundry room.

You see, there are only three washing machines and two working driers inside our dorm building.  (There are a few more outside, but who wants to go outside? Not me!) These inside washers and driers are on the second floor, which is right across the hall from my room.  With sixty women and two working driers, you can imagine what a nightmare this sometimes becomes.  It’s normally okay until someone forgets to get their clothes out of the drier…then it gets ugly.  Some people are willing to wait an hour, some thirty minutes, but some can hardly wait five.  Thankfully, I’ve never been caught in the cross-fire (mainly because I try to wash clothes as little as possible…how’s that for airing some dirty laundry? Pun, intended…).  I have witnessed quite a few tense laundry moments though.

One in particular really bothered me.  A girl in a room near me (and, thus, the laundry room) told me she carted her laundry downstairs and outside because another girl barked at her when asked her to retrieve her dry clothes.  I like both of the girls involved, so it wasn’t a matter of sides.  Something infuriated me about this girl not being able to use the laundry machine right next to her room.  Before I responded, the Holy Spirit flooded my heart with conviction.  My response would’ve been, “but you deserve to do laundry in the room next door!” But oh what a sense of entitlement that is…

I hate that millennials are characterized by this atrocious trait.  I’m not even sure what generation I fall into, but I know I obviously catch myself with feelings of entitlement too.

Yet, this sweet girl did not have a sense of entitlement.  She described the laundry room outside with enthusiasm, explaining its oasis-like atmosphere.

Ouch.  I literally missed the point of the laundry.  She was willing to sacrifice herself for others, not sacrifice others to her task.  I wanted to do the exact opposite.  She saw the need to literally love her neighbor, to help the man brutalized on the side of the road by treating his brokenness with respect.  I refused to stop and see the bigger picture.  She was the Good Samaritan.  I was not.

May our laundry lists be seen as just that, a list.  May going through them be filled with joy, service, and love…after all, isn’t that the point?

She Tells Her Grandma That She’s Just Been Cheated On So Grandma Tells Her To Do This!

Great illustration of suffering well.

CURATORNET

She Tells Her Grandma That She’s Just Been Cheated On So Grandma Tells Her To Do This
This is a good lesson for all of us, no matter what stage of life you’re in. You’ll see what I mean.

A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her – her husband had cheated on her and she was devastated. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as soon as one problem was solved, a new one arose.

Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water and placed each on a high fire. Soon the pots came to boil. In the first she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs, and in the last she…

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A Change of Heart

Proverbs17.22

It’s amazing what a change of heart will do.  Proverbs 17:22 says, “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” I love that the ESV uses “joyful” to describe this kind of heart.  Joy is so different than happiness.  While they may look similar in some instances, their source is completely different.  Joy is lasting.  Joy is not limited to good times or happy seasons.  Joy actually comes from trials (James 1:2-3).

This medicinal heart is not necessarily squeals of laughter at a playground (though it certainly may come in that form).  This medicinal heart could be a friend’s embrace in a hospital room or shared tears at a funeral.  (Note: a smile is not a required ingredient… after all, how helpful is a gawking smile at a funeral?) Since we are to consider trials joyful and those trials produce perseverance (James 1:2-3), it would appear that the power of a joyful heart is found in its strength not its glee.

I’ve heard this same sentiment repeatedly as I listen to those caught in troubled times.  Whether it’s longing for health, provision, love, or countless other desires, those desires seem to so often be fulfilled once there is a change of heart.  Like contentment actually heals the wound.  Of course, I would never assert that is always the case—we serve a God of grace, not of works.  We may not be physically healed, financially sustained, or relationally fulfilled, but it appears that there is wisdom in “godliness with contentment” (1 Timothy 6:6).

“A crushed spirit” also seems different than what we automatically assume.  True, it may look exactly like what the imagery suggests, but the context of the chapter also shows much more than that.  It appears that “a crushed spirit” is synonymous with sin, like someone that’s gotten so discouraged that they throw away their values.  I think it’s important to distinguish “a crushed spirit” and someone hurting.  While they could go hand-and-hand, in God’s grace-filled universe (which is completely contrary to our human nature) someone hurting could actually have a joyful heart.  That person could actually be good medicine to someone with a crushed spirit.  The Lord uses us despite ourselves.

Not Enough Time

One of the phrases I hear (and say) constantly is some variation of “if only I had more time.”  It’s true, our time is limited.  Yet, this phrase is often said like I have been cheated on time.  It’s said in the form of a comparison and entitlement.  But, really, we are all given the same amount of time.  That’s one thing about life that is distributed with absolute fairness.  Sure, some people live 100 years and some 10, but we all have 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week.  (And God designed it that way…surely He knew what He was doing.) On a person’s deathbed they may say “I wish I had more time,” but the frequency of this phrase is more commonly spoken by the healthy American in the midst of everyday life.   Though the phrase suggests a longing for more time (like the longing for a second helping of cake), the reality is we are the stewards of the time God’s given us.  We are the ones responsible for making the most of our time rather than wasting it by wishing for more.
As a student working two jobs and doing clinical hours, I often think, say, or complain, “I wish I had more time.” This week I was convicted of my own poor stewardship by an obscure Old Testament verse.
The Old Testament fascinates me.  It is rich in God’s truth and character, yet so different from the reality we live in today.  Reading the Old Testament always reminds me of how much I take Jesus’ sacrifice for granted.  I cannot imagine having to worship in the form of animal sacrifice, continuously surrounded by blood.  (I have enough trouble putting a dog to sleep, which is significantly less grotesque.) Being bound to the Law, not covered by the precious blood of Jesus is unfathomable to me.  In 2 Chronicles 5, which is the chapter that convicted me, animal sacrifices were described as too numerous to count.  There were rituals that are incomprehensible to us.  One hundred and twenty priests were there (a site difficult for even a seminary student to imagine).  Upon the entry of the Ark into the Temple, it was said, “And because of the cloud, the priests were not able to continue ministering, for the glory of the Lord filled God’s temple” (2 Chronicles‬ ‭5:14‬ ‭HCSB)‬‬.  Read that again, because of the glory of the Lord filling the temple, the priests were not able to continue ministering.  What?? God stopped the priests from ministering with His glory.  Sometimes I get so busy ministering that I forget to stop and observe God’s glory.  I waste time wishing I had more time, racing around like a chicken with my head cut off, supposedly doing things in “His” name….but I don’t  stop to bask in His glory.