Friday, August 17, 2012

Big enough.

Just a quick thought for today... I've been listening to worship music on my headphones, and it's amazing how it lifts my mood and makes the day seem to run so much more smoothly. This song came on earlier, and I had to listen to it a few times to really let the lyrics sink in: God is big enough to handle ANYTHING.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Uncomfortable thoughts.

I have been having a lot of thoughts lately on a topic I am NOT comfortable talking about, writing about, or really even thinking about, to be honest. But the best way I've found to get thoughts OFF my chest (and out of my head) is to write about them. This post has been in draft for awhile, and I guess it's time for me to just put it out there.

Please read the whole post before you comment; my thoughts evolved as I wrote it.  

I would like to disclaim that I fully expect this post to have holes and be not very structured or intelligent or cohesive, and maybe even to cause me to lose some friends. It's what I'm thinking, and I don't have it all figured out but I need to quit burying these thoughts away.

The whole Chick-Fil-A thing, and the broader issues surrounding it, is the kind of thing I normally try my best to just ignore. Honestly, I am purposely pretty ignorant of what's going on politically in the nation/world. I shy away (okay, RUN) from any conversation or confrontation about political stuff. I'm not proud to admit this, since I know I am an Adult, and an American, and I should be Responsible and take an active stand for what I believe by Voting and Crap Like That. (I don't know what's up with all this random capitalization. It just happened.)

Anyway, I guess the truth is: I am freaked out and confused about some super politically-charged topics -- namely: abortion and homosexuality/gay marriage. I was brought up to believe that marriage and romantic relationships are meant to be between a man and a woman, and I still believe that. I was taught that life begins at conception, and therefore abortion at any point during a pregnancy is murder -- and I still believe that, too.

But I don't know how I feel about getting the government involved with legislating these issues one way or the other. I think something major that I struggle with is understanding why Christians are so focused on preventing gay marriage from becoming legal, but no one is out there trying to ban unmarried couples from living together. What I mean is, why are we SO focused (legally/politically) on a couple of hot-button issues and ignoring so many others?

I don't fall into the camp with people who would claim that "all sin is equal" (since Jesus himself refers to one man as having committed "a greater sin" - John 19:11). So I'm not suggesting that someone having an abortion is just "as bad" as someone who steals a bracelet from Forever 21. But I do believe that ALL sin separates us from God, and ALL sin needs to be paid for, and that the wages of ALL sin is death, and that Jesus died to cover ALL sin -- the "big" stuff and the seemingly "small" stuff.

I just...I don't know. I hate that Christians are SO obsessed with vocalizing how wrong and unnatural homosexuality is, and how Jesus apparently HATES gay people. I absolutely do not believe Jesus hates gay people, and I don't think Jesus had a stronger agenda against the sins of homosexuality or abortion than he had against, say, adultery or stealing. I honestly don't even know what Jesus would have said about legalizing gay marriage or abortion. Did Jesus ever intend to have a say in what Caesar's law should be? (I'm asking that in all seriousness; I have no idea what the answer is.)

One of my Christian friends on facebook recently posted something that said: "Don't judge someone just because they sin differently than you." And I guess that's kind of how I feel about this. I believe homosexuality is a sin, yes. I also believe that stealing, lying, alcoholism, infidelity, jealousy, and premarital sex are sins. And I believe that people have serious struggles with their sins. There are plenty of Christians who struggle with compulsive lying. Getting drunk five nights a week. Cheating on their significant others. And it seems like, generally speaking, these people can confess their sins in church with the prayer team up front, and they are accepted and declared forgiven in God's sight, and they are encouraged and supported and given resources for accountability and help.

I'm getting on a tangent, actually. What I'm really struggling with is how we as Christians deal with non-Christians and their choices.

My campus pastor during my freshman year of college once said something along the lines of, "We have no reason to tell non-Christians to stop sinning, and we should not judge or rebuke them for the way they live their lives. Why? Because they don't have Jesus. They are living in the world, in Satan's domain, and as far as he's concerned, they're following all his rules to a tee. The only thing we should be concerned with when we're talking to our non-Christian friends is showing them the same love that Jesus did. He hung out with thieves and murderers. He spent most of his time rebuking the Pharisees -- the religious elite! -- for their hypocrisy." (His sermon was much more in-depth and coherent than that, but that's the gist of what I remember.)

So, why are we so much more concerned with condemning people for the way they live their lives, rather than focusing on showing them Christ's love? I really don't think we're going to win people to Jesus by insisting that they can't marry someone of the same sex because the Bible says it's wrong. I especially don't think that standing around at Planned Parenthood with signs that say "Abortion is murder!" and "Jesus hates abortion!" is particularly effective, despite my belief that both those statements are true (let me clarify: I think Jesus hates abortion, but NOT people who have had or performed abortions). I think a much more reasonable way to reach out to a woman who has had or is considering an abortion is to ask her about her life. Get to know her and find out what she's been through that has brought her here. Be loving toward her, and if you have the ability to offer up alternatives in a helpful and practical way, do it gently and thoughtfully. Pray for her.

I dunno. Like I said, I'm having a lot of thoughts and I haven't exactly nailed down my stance -- politically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally. But I don't want to keep hiding away from these topics out of fear. I just want to remain true to what I believe, without condemning my non-Christian peers for living a lifestyle I don't understand or support.

Bottom line: I don't want to treat ANYONE hatefully, ever. I want to encourage and support my Christian friends who struggle with whatever sin they struggle with, and be there for them in any way I can. And I want to respect my non-Christian friends regardless of whether their beliefs line up with all of mine. And I have NO clue how these hot-button topics should be dealt with by Christians in the political realm, but I don't think the current approach is doing anyone much good.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Anniversary Weekend Recap!

Joe and I celebrated our anniversary all weekend, and it was simply wonderful. We didn't drive hours away from home, pack any bags or spend any big money -- that's all coming in under two weeks when we leave for Scotland! Instead, we played tourists in good old Santa Barbara! And it was only THE most beautiful weekend to be outside. Seriously, the weather couldn't have been more perfect. Get ready for picture overload.

Friday, we slept in, went to brunch at Jeannine's, then headed to the Santa Barbara Zoo! I took about seven thousand pictures, but here are the ones I instagrammed for your viewing pleasure:

This scared the crap out of me. His head poking out of the water looked like a rock!

Confused giraffe licking wood.

Pregnant fish?

Lions and meerkats and anteaters, oh my!

We made some friends!

All the birds!

Us. :-)

After that, we went to our martial arts studio for forms class...

Because on Saturday morning, Joe got to test for a new belt level. And he passed!

New yellow belt!

After that, we went to lunch at Longboard's Grill (mostly for the gorgeous view of the ocean, but the food's good too).

Margarita? Yes, please!

My handsome beau.

Then we went on the LandShark tour, which I've been wanting to do for awhile. It was so much fun seeing parts of Santa Barbara I haven't encountered yet and learning a bit more of its history. Driving straight into the ocean was a little nerve-wracking, but we survived! And there were sea lions!

We're on a bus (kinda)! In the ocean!

These guys were totally posing for our pictures.

View of Santa Barbara from the LandShark. I live in a beautiful place, peeps.

After that, we were pretty worn out from All The Sunshine! We did a LOT of walking around town on Friday and Saturday, and it's been really (wonderfully) warm, and we probably weren't drinking enough water. So we came home from the tour and pretty much vegged out for a bit.

I watched a mess of YouTube hair tutorials and tried one out for fun.

Kinda love this style!

Then we went for a late-night meal at Freebirds, followed by ice cream cookie sandwiches from IV Drip -- yum!


Sunday was more for catching up on housework, shopping for Scotland, and just hanging out indoors.

All in all, we had a spectacular, memorable, relaxing anniversary weekend!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Three years!

Three years ago today, I married the greatest guy on the planet. 

He makes me smile. (And he looks dapper in a hat.)

He is trustworthy, God-fearing and genuine.

He forgives me when I screw up, and encourages me when I am distressed.

He makes me laugh...often with the kind of joke that only I can appreciate.

He is adventurous, generous, thoughtful, and creative.

He is smart and ambitious.

He is full of optimism and excitement about the future.

He's always looking for new ways to enjoy life, and his happiness rubs off on others.
(I mean, look at all the people smiling in this picture!)

He takes care of me when I'm sick.

He surprises me with little gifts and acts of kindness ALL the time.

He is the best cuddler, the best lover, the best future father (someday), and my best friend.

And bonus? He's the best kisser.

He's also incredibly sexy. (Just sayin'.)

Happy third anniversary, Joe!

I'm looking forward to the next eighty billion years with you.