caught in the tangles

oh the tangled-ness of life. gotta love it.

i know God has a plan for me and i know i need to seek him more and trust him more and just be all around more honest in my faith and deep in my spiritual life, but right now i just feel so tangled up in life….sorta.

my dad wants me to figure out next year right now. well he says he doesn’t yet asks me questions that seem like i should know exactly where i’ll live next year and exactly what i’ll do when i graduate and i don’t know those things.

i want to live in nashville, but that’s far from school. i am more myself when i’m there, my job is there, my favorite man on the planet is there, but school is not and cheap rent is not. i don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket with that job but i LOVE that job. it makes me more myself and it makes me happy and i indirectly get to serve people and the Y is just a great place to work, but it’s in nashville. sure i could transfer to the boro one but it’s not the same. it’s the people i work with that make the job great.

and nashville does not have mtsu in it and so i’d commute. it means i’d lose the ability to bike to school, and the ability to go to the library or rec center whenever i wanted. i’d lose some restaurants and such and i’d basically be severing ties with the town aside from school and i’m not sure if i’m ready to do that.

i’ll figure all this out in march or so but he still gets me thinking about it now.

i don’t want to sign a year lease in the boro because i don’t want to live there when i graduate. the town offers a lot of random crap yet i don’t want to be tied to it.

the big issue here is pathetically friends. i always feel lame when i talk about friends, but i miss my friends terribly. i thought i would make great friends when i transferred here, and i haven’t. i expected the kinds of friendships i made at lipscomb to be found here, but i haven’t found them. i expected to just meet people in classes or whatever and find friends, good friends, lifelong friends, but i haven’t. yeah i’ve met a lot of people and i’ve met a lot of great people yet i haven’t gotten close to really any of them. i’m not sure if it’s my fault or what the deal is but people here seem to have a different outlook on making friends in college.

i don’t want to go greek, its just not me, or at least it doesnt seem to be at mtsu.

i’ve tried a couple of the on campus christian groups yet i havent really found one i liked, i can’t find a church i like here, and i just can’t seem to find close friends.

i’ll be the first to admit that i value friendships deeper than the average person, but lipscomb gave me some of the greatest friends i will ever have, even though i don’t talk to many of them too much anymore because we’re all scattered across the country. but they were the deepest friendships i’ve ever had, for the most part, and i can’t seem to find that here and pathetically it upsets me.

granted i do still have a handful of friends from high school and i’m not discounting that, however, i long for deep friendship and i thought i would find more of that at this school and i haven’t. everyone seems perfectly content with the group they had from their high school or their home town and really isnt interested in expanding much outside of that except people to party with or go greek with and i don’t think that’s me.

i know God has a plan for me through all of this and i know its selfish and pathetic of me to sound like i’m complaining, but i just feel so lonely sometimes.

i know i need to lean into him more, but you know what i mean.

my sophomore year, the part at lipscomb, i developed some of these deep friendships and had the time of my life. you can look through my facebook albums and see the multitudes of pictures explaining that, yet it’s been different since then. i havent’ had those friendships locally and some of those friends have even drifted. not you kels kels!!

and i miss it.

but i don’t want to think about this too much and miss out on whatever God has planned for me right now and through this, but i just want some friends. as pathetic and middle school ish as that sounds, i just want some close girl friends to lean on and be honest with and just chill with. this is all just me venting and being me but i’ve really just struggled with this lately.

i know there is a plan through all of this and i know i’ll be able to comfort and empathize with others in this situation but right now i just don’t get it. but it will all work out and i know this i just needed to be all vulnerable and pathetic for a minute…..

but yes, all of you who are reading this need to read Francis Chan‘s Crazy Love….if you hadnt already seen me say this…

the end of lukewarm-ness

I just finished reading “crazy love” by francis chan. I got the book yesterday morning and have hardly put it down since. It was amazing. It started off as a book challenging the american church to take a long hard look in the mirror. But the more I got into it I realized that it was convicting all of us christians that we are the ones who need to look into the mirror. The church is made up of us. We cannot blame anyone but ourselves for the reason the church is the way it is. We cannot blame anyone but ourselves for the overwhelming stench of lukewarm-ness in today’s church. Sure its easy to blame those who came before us or those in leadership or those who are supposed to be our teachers but ultimately they don’t control our lives.

The book discussed how the church/christians should be and how we are today. We are all lukewarm to an extent. Everyone, even the most active missionaries go through periods of being lukewarm and doubting or just otherwise not giving ourselves completely up to Him.

The book has challenged me to give more of myself. Whether this means give more of my money, my time, or whatever I don’t know, but I know I need to give more. I’m not sure how God wants me to do this and I’m not sure where. In my selfish being I’d like it to be somewhere not too far away from my life as it is but I’d also like to not stand in God’s way of what He wants me to do.

I guess I’ve never really fully given everything I have up to Him before. I like to be in control and I like to be comfortable to an extent. I need stability with uncertainty to be happy because I hate to have the exact same routine, but I like to know where I’m going. It’s just a thing I have and anyone who knows me even a little knows that I’m a mild control freak. But I’m sick of it. I hate it about myself. I hate my indecisiveness too and we all know I’m indecisive.

I want to live out the life that God has given me to the greatest extent that he desires for me to. I want to be exhausted at the end of every day and know I did what He designed me to do. I want to go where He wants me to go and see the people He wants me to see and speak the words they need to hear from Him. I want to do all these things and I know that we are each called to do this in our lives as Christians but I honestly have no idea what that means for me.

In the coming hours, days, months, and years I want to try and figure this out. I want to spend more time in the word. I want to follow headfirst where He wants me to go, I want to sit in silence so I can hear Him, I want to change the world in His name, and I want to live my life so that others might see Him through me more-so than I do now. I want to spend all of my time doing things that bring glory to Him and I want every single person I encounter to be better because of something He has done through me for them. I want this to be my life every single day. I pray that it is and I ask that you will pray this for me because I know I cannot do this alone.

Francis talked in the book a great bit about love. Love is the greatest command. Shane Claiborne (“irresistible revolution” check it out) calls himself a lover as his occupation because he believes this is God’s calling for all of us. Francis talked about how some days we all just don’t feel like loving anyone, including God. Somedays we don’t even feel like loving ourselves (although those days are rare because we are naturally selfish), and how God loves us so much that we can and often need to pray to him and ask him to help us love him. That’s a confusing sentence I realize as I reread it, but basically, as I will in the future, I encourage each of us to pray that God will help us love Him with the intensity that we can love those around us, or the things around us, and then some. Those of us in relationships know the deep love we have for the other person. The love that would compel us to drive hours to see them even for 5 minutes or other things that might seem ridiculous to anyone else, yet our love for God should be even stronger and deeper than that. Wow.

I want to be like that. I want to love like that. I want to live a radically spirit filled life for all of my days and I want to be free within christ. I never really grasped what that meant until I read crazy love. So many times we hear about all the rules of christianity and all the things you have to do to be a ‘good christian’ and how you have to dress up for church and not swear or drink or blah blah blah. We think we need to put on this front that everything is fine to be a good christian but that’s not what it is all about.

In christ we are free. We’ve all heard that in some context or another. But that means we are free from having to worry about our lives, free from having to worry about tomorrow, free from having to constantly live up to someone else’s standard, free from anything that bonds us. In christ we are commanded to give up our lives to him because after all it wasn’t ours in the first place and live sacrificially loving those around us (even our enemies) so that God can be glorified. Help those in need. Give to those in need. Hold those who need holding. Whatever it may be, we are called to do it. We are called to treat each person we encounter as if they are Christ himself. I’d been told this but never really got it. Francis talked about this meaning treat the person who cuts you off in traffic as if they are Christ, treat the person who hurts your child as if they are Christ. Basically love those the world hates and that you instinctually would hate yourself. He gave the example of the story about the amish families who, the day after their children had been shot, went and forgave the shooter and offered forgiveness to his family. What a story. I dont know if I’d be able to do that if someone shot my child at school.

But this is how God loves us. We reject him every single day. We think we have a better idea of how life should be. We think we know the better way. We think those people deserve the poverty they have or _______ deserves ____________, but that is NOT how we are called to live. And it’s a tough route to follow. Jesus calls it the narrow path and says few will take it. This reminds me of a robert frost poem about the road less traveled. Beautiful poetry that pretty accurately reflects the christian life we are called to live.

Yet through all this difficult stuff we are called to do, say, and live out, God is right there beside us to hold us up the entire way. He is right there when we want to quit. He is right there when we just need someone to comfort us on a lonely night. Right there to wipe away our tears and will place people in our lives to help us along the way. He will be there if we run away from him and later realize how much we needed him. Always. That’s amazing. There is not a single person on this earth who can honestly say they would do that. None. We may think we are that person or that we know someone who is, but not a single person can do it the way God can. Not a single person can give us the love that God can. We are called to love each other as he loves us and that’s a pretty high standard of love, but He’s there to help us. He won’t be too exhausted to help us at the end of the day, he won’t be too tired to help us when we’ve been working all day, his strength is never ending and never failing and he is ALWAYS just as full of love as the day he created the universe. I can’t even begin to understand that but it’s true.

Crazy love has challenged me to live out more fully the life that God has so graciously given me. After all, he did give me this life, I better seek him every second of every day to find out what he wants me to do with it. Our lives are but milliseconds of a scene in God’s story, so we better make them count.

Oh, and everyone needs to read Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

crazy love.

crazy love.

^ a book you should all read.
i could stop there, but i must go on because this book is so amazing so far.  i got it today and am nearly halfway finished with it.
the book is basically about the american church and how it doesn’t necessarily always line up with the church God calls us to have in Acts.  it’s not the church leaders fault, its not God’s fault, it’s not America’s fault, it’s our fault.
i say our very loosely.
the christians are the body of christ. the church is the body of christ.  but has church become a place where we act like the body of christ or has it become a country club or other social arena?
too often i think it has become the latter and it angers me.
i’m not a bible scholar, i’m not an expert, and so i could be wrong in what i say but i don’t think that the american church is what it should be.
i’m sure i’ll write many more notes concerning this or have many conversations about this, but it’s an important subject to me.
crazy love, by francis chan as well as every time i’ve heard francis speak and pretty much every time i read anything related to christianity or the church or overhear a conversation about the church makes me realize that we are not what we were supposed to be.
we are not a place where the needy and the lost feel they can come to.
we are not a place where we can all be honest about our struggles.
we are not a place of refuge.
we are not a place that is ALWAYS working to improve our community and our world.
we are not a place full of radical christians on fire for the Lord who are willing to go to the ends of the earth if He wants us to.
we do not worry about the spiritual health of our members enough
we are selfish.
we are too comfortable.
we are showy.
we are arrogant.
we are judgemental.
we want everyone to act like things are fine because for some reason we try to make Jesus a ten step plan to a nice life.
we do not do nearly as much service as we should yet we have building plans out our asses
we worry about numbers not spiritual on fire-ness
and this angers me.
not all churches are all messed up or whatever and not all churches are the things i say we are, but too many are.  i’m not claiming i have found a church with no problems. i don’t think there ever will be because the church is made of humans and humans have problems. period.
but i do think that we need to start looking at ourselves in the mirror for a bit longer and see where we are and how people view us and start working on changing that image to be the church of Acts that Francis talks about in his talks and his book.
we cannot be a church that is so worried about numbers and building projects that we neglect hte very community we live in until there is a service project that directly affects our members.  we cannot treat our churches like businesses.  we have got to stop acting like everyone has to dress up for church or else God disapproves.  we have got to start making church a place where we can come with our struggles and openly and honestly discuss them without fear of the women of the PTO thinking less of us or our ‘friends’ talking about us to others. we have got to get out into the community and meet people where they are.
thats what jesus did. that’s what God does.
God doesn’t say ‘hey fix all your problems then come to me and we”ll talk about a relationship’ that would be ridiculous.  He invites us with open arms and comforts us in our times of struggle.  think of the ideal love a parent has for their child, unconditional love. no matter how many times the child messes up or strays away, the ideal parent loves their child and would do anything for him/her.  that is how God loves us…..times infinity.
isn’t that crazy?
but it’s true.
and yet we try to act like God can fit in a box, or a building, or a 10 point sermon, or a sermon series.
we don’t tell God what to do or where to go or what to say to who, God tells us what to do, where to go, what to say, and how to live and we damn well better listen.  He did kinda create the entire universe and everything in it and lets us continue to live in it despite all the times we mess up or leave Him or completely disregard his even existence.
how many people do you think would do that? i can’t think of many.
Francis calls us to look at the church, see where we are, and see where we should be, and work towards that.  i haven’t finished the book yet, i’m sure i will soon, but i invite you to read it, or just think about these things.
why are churches this way?
i grew up southern baptist and southern baptists are some of the worst about soem of this stuff.
they seem to always be worried about numbers
and building projects
and programs
and having the best retreats with the best bands and the most students
but why?
what good does a fancy building full of fancy people in fancy clothes do if it doesn’t serve the Kingdom of God?

it’s not about nativity scenes or zucas

christmas.

a celebration of the birth of the savior of the universe?  a holiday based upon acting fake-nice to please people for a day? something consumeristic america has turned into the day where relative are competing to see who can get the most presents? a day for bratty 5 year olds to get toys they’ll play with for 2 weeks then want something new?
or a day in which families come together to exchange meaningful gifts, possibly share a meal, catch up on lost time, and remember/recognize that Jesus is Lord and thus we are called to a life of humbly serving others before ourselves in the name of the Lord out of love and obedience not just to check of the “christian to do list”?
what is christmas anymore?
i’ve said alot in the paragraphs above, but to me it seems that too many have forgotten what christmas is about.
i’ve seen plenty of news stories about folks who havent but i have witnessed first hand many who have forgotten. and those people who’ve forgotten seem to have also forgotten what the christian life is all about.
this note could be me going on and on about putting christ back in christmas, but instead i invite us to put Christ back in our lives.  and i invite us to all put a little more service into our lives. especially around the christmas and thanksgiving seasons, but also year round.
an idea came into my mind last night at church.  many children have those countdown calendars to christmas where you get a small gift or a piece of candy or something new every day on the way to christmas.  i guess in some way this is ‘giving’ so it goes with the spirit of giving, but i want to spend the 24 days before christmas giving myself to others.  giving my time, energy, money, smiles, love, etc to those in need.  and by those in need i mean anyone.
i want to devote my time to random acts of kindness like those i saw featured in today’s paper (http://tennessean.com/article/20081225/news06/812250366), smiling at strangers, leaving larger tips at restaurants, cleaning up something when my roommates don’t have time, running errands for family or friends, or just otherwise offering myself up for the benefit of others.
i think this is what the ‘spirit of christmas’ is all about.  i dont think Jesus would have been giving out pieces of candy each day (even if they were those lovely little testamints) if he had an advent calendar. i think he would have found service acts much more giving.  so i’m going to try and do this next year.  i’m also going to try and instill this in my children in the very far off future and ensure that this is a family thing.
christmas is a time of family and a time of giving. 24 days of service is the perfect combination.  and i want this service to inspire a lifetime of random service acts. i want it to inspire attitudes of humble servanthood and putting others before ourselves.  i know that when i began to do service work (even though i started it as required stuff for a bible class) it began to change my worldview.  it began to put life in perspective.  it began to make me realize even more clearly that this is not about me, it’s about me using my skills and my knowledge that i have been given by God to do His work in this world.  whether or not those i serve know Him is another story, but if i live a life of servanthood in His name, maybe someday someone will notice a difference and ask me about it.  then i can share my story.
so this christmas season (the 7 minutes that are left in it) i challenge us all to remember what it’s about.  it’s not about nativity scenes, or gifts, or even family meals, its about recognizing what God did for us by sending us his only son to the earth to live a life as a man and then die for us so that we do not have to be separated from our creator forever by our sins that we commit every hour of every day.  it’s pretty sweet if you ask me.
i mean more and more lately i find myself unable to stop looking for ways in which i can give my time or energy to serve others. i know i have not done as much as i could have or should have however it will be a constant challenge for me to find random, small or big, time consuming or not, expensive or free, ways to serve Him by serving others.  in my mind this is one of the most important factors of being a Christian and so many of us forget that and forget to live that way.
just a simple reminder this christmas season.

oh the places you’ll go

every child should have books at home.
at least one.every child should get a new book at least once a year.i have a Little Brother in murfreesboro and for christmas i got him a little something including my favorite Dr. Seuss book “oh the places you’ll go“.

he was SUPER excited and proceeded to tell me that he’d never had a book at home besides ‘big chapter books‘ that his mom read.

this got me thinking about books and kids. i loved reading books when i was little. i always had books around me, at home, at school, wherever i was. but not every kid was as lucky as me, but every kid deserves a book.

in today’s times, some kids have so many unnecessary things like talking horses and cell phones while other kids don’t even have books at home.

i’d like to change that. i’d like to somehow start something that ensures that every child gets a new book every year. for younger kids i’d like to give them dr seuss books because i think those have a positive message and are just fun books to read. i’m not sure about kids older than that, i’ll work on that, but i think every child deserves a new book at least once a year, preferably once a month. children in the first grade like my Little Brother learn to read by reading books, and without books at home, they can’t practice outside of school.

i think every child and every parent should enjoy the irreplaceable times of bedtime stories once read by parents and later read by the kids as they grow older. i know this was a priceless part of my childhood and every child deserves that opportunity by having books at home.

i’d like to do something about this i’m just not sure where to start.

punishing students

During childhood, it’s completely normal to try out different sports or activities or even friends to find which ones suit you best. During adolescence, teenagers change their styles and attitudes constantly before they find one that fits them. Throughout life, we move from relationship to relationship typically on a quest to find someone who fits well with us. The most important things in life revolve around, at the most basic level, a trial and error mindset. So why should college be any different?

Many students change their major an average of three times throughout college and a sizable percentage of college freshman are completely undecided in what they intend to study. This is not at all a bad thing; it’s completely healthy and normal. Students need to take at least an intro class in something before completely locking into a major. As a freshman, I was an engineering major until I took the intro class and decided it wasn’t for me. Luckily, I was also taking an intro to psychology class (simply as an elective) which blossomed into my major. Throughout my five semesters in college, I’ve taken a few extra classes outside of my major or minor simply because they were interesting to me. Some of these have been terribly boring; however most of these have been ‘fun classes’ for me. I’ve taken rock climbing and political science classes and was planning to take a few more fun classes like yoga, gymnastics, or maybe scuba diving until I read about a new business model proposed to the Tennessee Board of Regents.

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Charles Manning proposed a new business model which would help TBR colleges (including MTSU) cope with the upcoming budget cuts. The model did not pass, however, the state has “agreed to lift [the] tuition cap so that students would be charged for each hour they take. No more flat price for 12 hours and up, with hope to end ‘course shopping’ and help students needing specific courses at overcrowded institutions,” as stated in an email sent around to MTSU staff.

Tell me how ‘course shopping’ has ever harmed anyone. I understand that there can be students who need a certain class to graduate and it ends up full by the time they register or situations where a student wanted to take a class this semester but they’ll have to wait until the spring, but these situations are not the end of the world. Often, if a students absolutely has to have a class to graduate at that specific time slot, overrides can be made, paperwork can be filed, and the student can get in the class. If your class is full this semester, either try to get an override, wait until drop day at midnight, or just wait until next semester. Who’s to say that the students who have filled up the class aren’t just as interested in it as those who are majoring in it? Who’s to say that a student who takes a class on a whim won’t develop a lifetime passion for that subject? I know personally if I was forced to limit my class selection to 12 hours or have to worry about paying more for ‘fun classes,’ I might not have taken them. If I hadn’t taken various fun classes, I would not be the person I am today.

Colleges encourage ‘general education’ courses to make students into well rounded individuals in society. This works, to an extent. Taking classes outside of your major/minor/general education requirements allows you to see what else is out there and explore new areas you might have never gotten to experience.
When students take classes outside of their required ones, it also allows them to meet new people from different majors. While you might not become best friends with the person you sit next to in the poli sci class you take for fun, you just might begin to see the world from a different perspective, or at least be exposed to a different view.

By subliminally discouraging students from taking ‘fun classes’ out of the required list, it discourages students from exploring what else is out there and essentially forces freshman to pick a major and stick with it by the end of their first year of college.

That’s unnecessary.

Time after time, studies have shown that 18-24 is that age where young people, if allowed to explore different areas, flourish and discover new passions and career paths they might never have known even existed. Some textbooks call this a psychosocial moratorium, but to me it only seems natural that we should try out different classes, jobs, relationships, friends, etc before we settle into something especially during our 20s.

I understand that the budget is being cut and that requires changes across the university, however, punishing students who just want to figure out what else is out there is possibly the worst solution I can think of. It forces students to make a decision early in their college career before accurately exploring their options, punishes students who enjoy taking classes outside of their major, and will ultimately lead to the potential demise of certain programs.

Many students have part of their tuition paid for through scholarships or grants, but a large percentage don’t have this luxury and are forced to pay either out of pocket or through loans. If tuition goes to a ‘pay by the hour’ system, students who are not on scholarship (and possibly even some who are) will look to save money by taking only the minimum classes they need to graduate, which is fiscally responsible.

Hypothetically speaking, let’s say a student gets into her spring semester of sophomore year in a business program and decides that she hates all of her business classes and wants to become an elementary school teacher. With block tuition (the current system of 12+ hours costing the same) she can change her major and graduate nearly on time by simply taking the maximum 18 hours a semester. With the proposed new pay-by-the-hour system, this student might reconsider changing for financial reasons, thus remaining chained to a major she doesn’t enjoy. In my opinion, sticking with a program you hate will only lead to resentment and unhappiness later.

Another potentially alarming occurrence would be the diminishing of physical education classes on campus. Right now, many students sign up for yoga, weight training, rock climbing, swimming, social dance, and any number of other physical education classes that fit into their schedule simply because the options are there and it doesn’t cost any extra. With a pay-by-the-hour system, students might reconsider these classes to save money. Some of these classes lead students to lifetime hobbies or are the stepping stone to a daily physical fitness routine. Either way, they have positive effects and the new system could diminish these effects significantly.

In conclusion, a pay-by-the-hour system would save schools money, but discourages students from taking extra classes, causes some students to stay in majors they dislike, and could eventually diminish programs such as physical education. Ultimately, this does nothing to enhance students college experience and only causes potential problems for students who want to explore different options.