Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Passion Has a Voice




I think in terms of a twist to my latest post about narrow-mindedness there is a different way at looking at one way of seeing things. Passion! I would say I am very passionate about my freedom and Grace that Father has given me. I sense that there is a huge difference in regards to where I am and where others are… I am trying to find a common ground here so I don’t sound like I know it all, but, what I have experienced and continue to experience is something that I have to talk about. I was trying to think of an analogy to compare this to something on earth, but honestly, this freedom in Father has no comparison. Nothing compares to the grace and freedom that I have found in my relationship with the Lord. I have no obligations to live up to in regards to a standard Christian scale. I am learning to just be, and live everyday as if Father was sitting right beside me and taking each step with me anywhere I am. One can only imagine how much freedom is found in that. No obligations or standards to live up to. I am completely loved for who I am, and his love is not based on what I do or how I do it, or even how much of it I do. I can sit here and do nothing all day everyday and still be just as loved by Father as if I was in a church building, or ‘reaching’ the lost. I am not judged by Father nor do I feel demanded by him to meet people’s agenda’s or obligations. To some, this kind of thinking and living is scary and so unfamiliar that I can understand why people may think this is way out of anyone’s comfort zones. I too, believe it or not, have felt the same way about this kind of living, but, if I was to allow fear and self-condemnation to keep me from this kind of life, I would be missing out on an amazing and incredible journey with my Father and would not ever understand the depth of His love for me that he gives FREELY. I am passionate about my Father and my life. My passion has a voice, and if I were to shut that voice off, I would not have a voice at all.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Too Tired To Blog!

I have this strange urge to blog, but I have no more energy... My eyes are half closed, but my mind is buzzing like a bee... What will my fingers type before I will even notice what I have said?! That is how 'out' of it I am... I wanted to correlate a blog post that relates to my previous post I wrote about how narrow-minded I can get, but there is a twist to that, but, right now I must sleep! Keep your eyes open for another blog post that will appear shortly... In the morning I hope! :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Boxes I Continually Put Myself In




I always refer to living outside the ‘box’ as a religious box that keeps me bound. However, I am finding that there are many boxes, many things that keep me bound and usually those things are created by me. I hate to admit this, but when I get fixated on something, that thing I am allowing to captivate me is what keeps me from growing, or having a broader mindset on where others are or what is right or wrong… I have asked myself before if there a right or wrong answer to everything? My answer to that today would be absolutely not. There are a lot of people who I may not agree with or see eye to eye on every issue with, but that does not mean that I have all the answers or know everything, and it seems like these boxes/viewpoints are used as a form of security or protection from other beliefs or ways of doing things. It’s so easy to get in that mindset though, and it’s hard to break free from the boxes that can keep me from seeing different viewpoints or even keep me away from showing curiosity or interest in different aspects of people’s lives that may differ from my own. I have heard my husband tell me that I sometimes get religious about my un-religious beliefs. Pretty contradictory, but true in a lot of ways, and it seems like it typically doesn’t just stop at religion. I always thought that if someone agreed with me or found things that interest them as they did me, there were more comparable aspects to being in a friendship or relationship than with someone who differed from me! Yeah, I think all of us like those who agree with us or have the same interest who come into our lives, but that does not close the door to others who don’t match our criteria in life. What is it going to take to break free from the boxes that only offer narrow mindedness and that only produce isolation from others? It’s a process, but I am learning how to live OUTSIDE the boxes I continually put myself in that keep me trapped from a freedom that is found on a broader scale.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Churched





When I go into bookstores, what excites me the most is the rows and rows of books that are just waiting to be recognized and opened! I am actually not a huge reader, but what intrigues me the most about bookstores or books in general, is the cover of books. The display of a book and its title is probably the most important part of a book. I am less likely to even glance at a book if the front cover has no pictures or a title that has no significance. Last week, I went into a local bookstore down town Durango with a friend, and this is when I started thinking about the importance of a book’s title and the display of the cover. I would walk down each aisle and look at books with intriguing covers, and titles. One book that got my attention the most was called Churched, by Matthew Paul Turner. First of all, it intrigued me because the word churched is something that is very familiar to me. Dressing up and going to a local building to hear someone preach is pretty normal for a Christian to do and it actually is expected in this day and age if we profess to know God. I have not read this book as of yet, but the more I look at the title and sub-titles and the picture of this book, I am more curious as to what the writer has experienced. It may be very similar to what I have experienced, and that tells me that I am not alone in this kind of thinking that being ‘churched’ can do more damage than good in a lot of ways if we are to recognize the depth of issues it causes. I feel so inclined to run to the bookstore and buy this book and read it, just because the title, and the cover display has brought me to a place of curiosity that I cannot ignore.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Changes Create Headache

Hey Guys,

I have been changing my blog and in the process I lost all of my blog links that I had on my sidebar. For those of you who I have not yet collected, could you please leave a comment with your blog address so that I can add you to my blogger friends list! I would hate to miss out on anyone's blog!!!

Thanks a lot!

In Freedom, Nicole!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Condenmed To Fail




Do the modern churches of today embrace those who happen to make ‘un-godly’ decisions in their life? Or do they condemn those without giving them a chance to repent? I recently heard of a husband who left his wife for another woman and now it seems as though his church friends and others don’t want anything to do with him anymore. Maybe he has avoided them because of his decisions as well, but, it seems weird to me that when something big and ungodly happens to a brother and sister in the Lord, they are looked at as someone that no longer fits into ‘the club’. If I remember correctly, Father embraced those who were drenched in sin, and he accepted them regardless of what they did. How is it, that a lot of ‘Christians’ act as though ungodly acts that are committed are not to be embraced. I would tend to think that if someone is struggling with sin or whatever, that is when they need us, brothers and sisters the most. But, it seems as though Christians run the opposite direction to avoid those who purposely sin to let their un-acceptance of the sinner be known… No wonder why the husband was avoiding his church friends, he felt condemned from the get go. It makes me stop and think how corrupt the family of God has seemed to become. It is as though we can no longer depend on each other as Father had set it up to be! One can have a lot of Godly friends and people he/she may know at their church, but it wouldn’t surprise me if this person couldn’t go to any of them during hardships because of the fear of condemnation he/she may feel if he/she exposes their sin!? I am not saying that the man who left his wife did the right thing at all, but I happen to think that there is more to this than what meets the eye. There are details that are not exposed and perhaps many reason that led up to affair. And, if one can’t feel comfortable seeking help, then no wonder why it ended the way it did. There are no excuses for sin, but I can say that without grace from our brothers and sisters, we are left alone to deal with things on our own, and that is not how Father intended it to be!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Judge Not




Why does it seem so easy to judge those who judge me? I can’t get it off of my mind, but I seem to get over annoyed with those who think they are perfect and live a perfect Christian life. I grew up in a Christian home, and was homeschooled and was raised with strict rules and standards that were completely above any type of normalness. Well I am exaggerating, but looking back, it seemed as though my childhood was laced with religious standards and meeting obligations of others. I don't blame my parents for it all, because at the time that was the only influence they had, and the kind of people they were around... I would go to these homeschool conventions. A huge organized church would open their doors for a week to provide thousands to come and hear speakers who talked about homeschooling and Christian living type conferences, plus they would have booths set up to sell Christian Curriculum to all of the homeschool, Christian families who came. It was quite a production, and almost every year, I would sign up to be a runner, who basically would be there at the conference to run errands for people and set up and tear down the conference. I met so many people my age, which I think the social aspect of this was beneficial for me, however, I remember sitting in on some of the speakers, and can’t remember anything they shared, but draw a HUGE BLANK. I remember meeting families that were huge, like one family I remember had like 12 children and I remember all the girls wore dresses, and the boys wore blue dress pants, and apparently that was their standard dress. I was not forced to wear a dress every day, but the thought of it drives me crazy… It reminds me of this show on TLC about a family who has 18 children, and all the girls wear dresses, and the men pants. I don’t know why this bothers me so much, and to me it is like bringing the Little House on the Prairie days back… How crazy sounding is that?! Anyway, so a little of my background and familiarity of this kind of living I guess has put a bad taste in my mouth now that I find myself in a much different place… I know, it sounds judgmental, but this is my dilemma, people who live totally different than I, I feel judged by them because they have this higher standard of living, and I don’t mean rich, but religiously taken over and if I don’t meet the standard that they are living at, then I feel judged. Or did I build it up in my head and am making this more than it is? I guess my issue is when I was growing up, the only people I spent time with or hung out with was homeschoolers who lived pretty much the same way I did. Saw them at church every Sunday, and some throughout the weeks. I grew up with these unspoken expectations of how a Christian is supposed to live, and that was for woman to get married and immediately produce a family, even college for woman was not talked about simply because it wasn’t done… I had no real taste outside of this club until I was college age, and even then I was still pressed to be this certain person in these people’s eyes. I don’t even think it really had to do with a relationship with Father, but, religious agenda’s that were forced on others. Do I still deal with a lot of angst over my religious filled childhood? Absolutely. However, I hope that each day Father will help me to let go and release this of which I am holding on to. I do not want to judge those who live the way I explained, but sometimes it is so hard to ignore and back down from the judgments they have so seemingly put upon others.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Love Wins





Have you ever been at odds with someone? Someone who you have stepped away from for a while for whatever reason? I have. Never seemed like things between us would ever be the same, but perhaps I was wrong. There is a friendship that I have had with someone that I put the brakes on for a while. I set some boundaries with this person because I was going through some weird crap at the time that made me scared and felt too vulnerable to continue in the relationship! I will admit that I was scared and na├»ve and felt at the time I needed a change of direction in the friendship. It was stupid, but maybe, just maybe through that time of this friend’s absence, it made me stop and realize what I was missing. A person who wanted to be my friend, and out of fear, I rejected the offer. I didn’t think I was capable of such things, but I am. It is scary to think about what I am capable of sometimes. It was during the time I was going through the broken relationship that I had with my former best friend that made me realize that this other friend that I feel I was purposely putting aside, was supposed to be in my life. At the time I didn’t see this, I was in my own little world and trying to make peace with my decisions regardless of the outcome. It was out of this friend’s kindness and respect that made me realize that this is someone I want and need to be friends with. I felt like this friend went out of her way to be as gentle and kind to me even when I treated her badly. There is something about kindness and respect that is hard to ignore, and when I have been faced with the exact opposite of that, I immediately can appreciate the friend who went out of her way to treat me with love and kindness.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Oh The Little Things




What would I do without the little things in life?

Small blessings is the cause for great happiness and joy in my life. I know this sounds silly, but I find myself in amazement of the little things I am blessed with in my life each and everyday. I have a list of things I think about and they make me happy like a kid happy over an ice cream cone. I don’t find that I am high maintenance, but the small things make me happy. I like coffee, and having that one cup of coffee every morning puts joy in my heart and a huge smile of awake-ness on my face. I am blessed to go to the store with everything on my list in my basket as I am leaving. Yes, I feel like I have accomplished something great! :) I love to exchange smiles in the store with strangers. It feels great to leave a place with a smile that is remembered throughout the day. I love showers, and that is an understatement. I feel like a new person, with a new clean perspective on life. I love to have fresh clean clothes to wear as I start a new day in a clean outfit. I adore our studio apartment, even though its small, it’s the perfect fit for my husband and I. I have everything at arms length with no complaints. (it’s not that small, but it rhymed so I couldn’t help it.) These things are easily ignored and taken for granted, but I am learning how to live in every moment and take in and appreciate these little things when they come my way. Thank you Papa!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Love Remains The Same

This song really has touched me, and I just had to put the video up and share this with you.

So, here is a toast to Father, through everything we have lost and mistakes we have made, everything will change, but His love remains the same!

CHEERS!

In Freedom, Nicole!



Monday, February 2, 2009

Evangelism Seems To Be Fear-Based




Evangelism is something that seems to be forced upon Christians to bring people to Christ and salvation. Is it effective though? Does this approach to reaching the lost work? Or does is do more damage to the lost and put a bad taste in their mouths towards Christianity? I find that in this country, many are turned off to God and a relationship with him because many feel they are being pushed and shoved into Christianity out of fear of what will happen if they don’t convert. Here is something that I found on Wikipedia.


The intention of most evangelism is to convert those who do not follow the Christian God to Christianity for the purpose of effecting eternal salvation.

The word that sticks out to me is convert. Converting people is basically a way to manipulate and control people to do what you want them to do. In evangelism, converting someone to Christianity is the reason why evangelism is done the way it’s done. It’s like a puzzle. The Christian feels convinced and forced to evangelize out of fear of what will happen to them if they don’t, and then that fear is used to control others to convert to Christianity. Underlying problem I see in this entire picture is that the foundation of evangelism is based on fear. Father does not use fear to bring us closer to him but only out of His love we are drawn to Him. These kind of evangelical tactics only produce fear and guilt. Another problem I see in evangelism is it’s NOT based on grace. We are trained to think that evangelism is something we have to do and if we don’t, we don’t feel like Father accepts us or loves us. We ultimately think we fall short of what He wants from us… I was on a walk today and heard a couple of songs that really just confirmed my thinking about these thought patterns that are behind fear and un-acceptance.

All That I'm living For by Evanescence-

“Guess I thought I'd have to change the world to make you see me.”

Good Enough by Evanescence

Good enough
I feel good enough.
It's been such a long time coming, but I feel good.

And I'm still waiting for the rain to fall.
Pour real life down on me.
'Cause I can't hold on to anything this good enough.
Am I good enough for you to love me too?
_____________________________________________________
We cannot do anything or enough to be good enough to receive his grace and love, but the good news really is, is that His love is free of charge and He accepts us no matter what we do. Do nothing, and He will still find pleasure and use you in ways you can only imagine.

Reaching Across the Aisle



This past weekend I got a call from one of my house cleaning clients and found out that she is cutting my hours due to the down turn of the economy. It made me stop and think and ask why now. I have been in the middle of trying to grow my cleaning and house-sitting business, but it seems that instead of gaining more clients, I am losing hours. It’s weird, but perhaps it’s not the time yet to work more, so I have been thinking about what I should do with my free time. I seem to always fall into a rut when I have too much time on my hands. It’s like this free time is all so consuming. I know people would laugh at that last sentence, but, it’s true, I don’t know what to do with myself. I find myself thinking that I want to make a difference in someone’s life, and reach out to those in need. I hear it all the time. People who are Christians need to make that difference and bring others to Christ. That’s all well and good, however, what if my heart isn’t in it? What if what I am doing right now, is reaching across the aisle more than what I could be doing on the streets? I have never been a huge supporter of evangelism. I think it actually defeats the whole purpose of knowing Father and allowing others to see Father in me than forcing it down their throats with my words. I write blogs that mean something to me, but when they mean something to someone else, that shows me more of how Father can touch people than me touching people. I do not force people to read my blog, or participate by leaving comments. People seem to come on their own accord, and that says a lot more to me than any other way of doing it. I feel content in writing blogs, and if this blog only reaches a handful of people, than praise God. I am doing what I feel Father leading me to do, and that is enough to satisfy my need Father has given me to reach across the aisle.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Falling Into Grace



It always seems as though I find my own weakness when I am focused on someone else. I realized that my last post was a little harsh, but, I was at the time of writing going through some angst of some people in my life who like to run the show. I guess it was a good eye opener for me to realize that I am the same way at times. It usually doesn’t include anyone else but my home and husband, and unfortunately, this weakness is hard to overcome. I get it, we are all human and we all deal with weaknesses and issues, but sometimes, it’s so hard to live out grace. It takes extra effort to treat others as we would like to be treated. I wish I could write and say that I am as graceful as they come, but that would be a fat lie and I would sound arrogant and it would be irresponsible for me to take that much credit. It’s easy to talk about grace and preach it; however, it is a lot harder to live it day in and day out. That is what I have come to at least in my journey. I just wanted to be real here and explain to you, that I don’t have it all together, I don’t even come close, but I do know that He who does have it all together is helping me pick up the pieces of a fallen me and through Him, I am learning how to live in grace even when I fail on a consistent level. One step forward, two steps back, the dance of this life.