Wednesday, January 8, 2014

This is sort of an oxymoron.

   It has become nearly impossible, as of late, to scroll through social media feeds such as Facebook and Twitter without seeing a link to a blog post or online article. Your aunt Deb posts "20 Books to Read Before The Movie Comes Out" and then there's the single friend who posts articles publicly trying to justify her relationship status, and finally, there's the angsty but equally motivating article "Name Something the Church is Doing Wrong."
   We all know these posts fairly well. I am guilty of posting the ones that make me think and I definitely encourage my friends to read them. There's something to be said for posts that motivate people to action, or inspire people. This is not a bad thing, so that's not where I'm going with this. That'd be annoying.
However, with so many being posted (And my terrible self-control when it comes to reading them), all of this advice is starting to get jumbled in my head. It's time to take a step back.
   This is a constant struggle for me, but I want to make light of the fact that most of these articles/ blog posts are hinting that there is a 'best way' or an 'easiest way' to do things. I'm not so sure that that's the truth.
Seeking wisdom is just part of life, something that we do naturally. So, when an issue we're encountering is all wrapped up in a nice little blog and posted on the internet for easy access, why the heck not? Well, that's a valid point, but I think our immediate acceptance of these blogs as truth becomes a tricky thing to discern.   To start, most of the posts contain some sort of list, or number of things you must do for blankity blank blank to improve. It's never that simple. Each of our circumstances, though often ubiquitous, are unique and rarely clear cut, or black and white. No easy answer or list of things is going to be designed specifically for your life. Sure, use these posts as a general guideline every once in a while, but don't let them rule over your decisions.
    In fact, when you try to implement these things in your life and you fall short of fixing the blankity blank blank, then what? In light of the advice given, we have failed...yet again. Comparison is already biting at our ankles trying to break us down, and yet we stand feeling inadequate, just trying to get things right for once. Oh, to just be able to do something the correct way. The best way. Then I would be happier, more successful, less burdened, less judged. Friends, that is false. What does 'the best way' even mean? That is a concept so fickle and subjective and we let it overtake our lives in a heartbreaking amount of ways.
   Now, here's where I apologize for not having an easy solution for this problem. But I do have a few suggestions. Go to people in your life for advice. Like you know, you have 'your people' (Shameless Grey's Anatomy plug). They know you, they know your life, they understand what's really at stake. Trust them to provide real and honest opinions. It's much more personal than suggestions given to you via a random author half way across the country who doesn't know your first name or even your favorite color, for Pete's sake. My other suggestion is to simply seek God. Take Scripture as absolute truth and pray, everything else will fall into place, and you just have to trust God's faithfulness. Man's empty words will contradict each other when they try to reveal 'the best way' to do something. God's living, breathing, inspired word will absolutely guide you. Sometimes it takes a while to get to a point of clarity with God, but be relentless in pursuing Him. Flee from settling for what some blogger advises you do with your life. Overall, seeking God makes everything more approachable and a whole lot simpler. Our minds are quick to try to fix things. We even recognize how much we need change, and then we try to do it ourselves. This task will bring exhaustion, overwhelming anxiety, and defeat rather quickly. What if we just let God work and actively pursued His spirit? What if we didn't feel that grandiose feeling of inadequacy, that pressure to get things right?

Remember God is for you, even in the little things. Strive to do things for His glory, not just for the sake of doing them 'the best way.'

Feel free to share your thoughts! Thanks for reading this whole entire thing. Here's a virtual pat on the back!





Monday, November 18, 2013

Seasons.

It's interesting how seasons of life sometimes reflect an actual season change. Autumn is my absolute favorite, mostly because of Thanksgiving and the frequency of my food baby. But really, it's a season of warmth and closeness, vivid color and earthy tones, smell-goods and spiced EVERYTHING. This is an unusual post for my blog, but I would love to share some things that are making this season of life so near to my heart. Things that I'm thankful for, things that I'm blessed by, and maybe a few things that I'm embarrassed to laugh at.

*Thick socks. -I've never met anyone who enjoys having literal cold feet.
*Color changing leaves.- The idea of beauty resulting from death is enough to entertain my English major soul for hours. 
*Cliches. - They exist for a reason, because they're true. Get over it. Be original, but also be okay with being a sap. 
*Far Hills Community Church. -I can't even begin to describe the ripples of Christ I get to witness because of this place. 
*Community. -It is essential to experience real, Christ-centered encouragement.
*Music that does something funny to my heart. -Needtobreathe, Macklemore, Bethel, John Legend, and Phil Wickham.  
*My housemates. -The K/Carly's show me Christ daily and it's really cool. Sometimes they even make me mashed potatoes at midnight. 
*Coffee. -Also, hot tea and apple cider. and any people I get to drink them with.  
*Words. -Specifically the ones that make me feel alive. They seriously bring me so much joy and it's funny because I don't really have words to explain it. 
*Jesus. -I can't be a real Christian if I don't include that guy on this list. 
*Facetime. -Getting to see lil Elijah and my sister brightens my day every time. 
*Morning sunshine. -Evening sunshine is okay, too. But I like this kind better. 
*Wearing black and brown. -The very thought of it used to make me cringe. Now I do it more often than not.
*Sleep talking. -I don't care who you are, this is the funniest thing in the world. 
*The ability to cook. -Creating things in general is the best. Even better is the fellowship that happens over meals. 
*Passions. -It's the coolest thing to watch as God reveals passions and opportunities to pursue them in my own life and the lives of others. 
*New boots. -That were made for walkin'. Seriously, one the best feelings.  
*Witty conversations. -THE best. 
*Pies & Pints. -A wonderful restaurant and atmosphere. The company is so worth spending half of my income on pizza. 

Take some time to reflect on what's going on in your life right now. Do you like it? What are things to change or keep doing? What are you thankful for? I know my list is only a portion of things I'm thankful for, so I would love to hear a few of yours! Feel free to comment on this post. Thanks for reading, friends. Happy holiday season!


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

iComfortable

This generation has always known technology. It's no big deal that we have learned to teach ourselves new software programs and to always be looking out for the next big thing. It's just life. While influential people like Steve Jobs are commended for their impactful ideas, there is also this underlying, Spiderman-esque truth that says "with great power comes great responsibility." It seems that most things in life are good in moderation.There are always cons to things that have substantial pros, including technology. I know that this is nothing new, probably not even the first mediocre blog post you've read on the subject. But I think it's crucial to embrace and react to culture with a kingdom mindset.

Texting:
Texting is usually the easiest way to contact someone, near or far. It's convenient and seemingly harmless. But from past experience, I would argue otherwise. Being able to contact any person you have a relationship with by simply moving your thumbs around for a few seconds enables risky business. Myself, hating small talk, means I'm talking more about deep conversations. It creates a false sense of vulnerability, when in reality, saying those things in person would be less vulnerable. Especially in the age of screen shots. But since we can't see the other person, their body language (about 93% of communication), and we have time to formulate EXACTLY what we want the other person to know, it implies that there's a wall of protection-but it's actually just taking all emotion, feeling, and personal responsibility away. This is where relationships get confusing and intentions and lines become blurred (I resent that song). We also trick ourselves into accepting this kind of communication, especially with intimate relationships. It's fairly easy to think "Wow, this super attractive person just shared their life with me, I must be special." Basically, texting allows us to become double-sided people too often. Sharing things with someone via text and not in person just complicates everything. Deep, meaningful conversations late at night paired with occasional cordiality just doesn't line up. We weren't created to stop at a certain point and be okay. These relationships started and fueled by texting hurt.

Social Media:
Disclaimer: I enjoy social media and I'm not bashing on it as a whole but I think it must be used properly, okay that's all. I can't tell you how often I've heard of girls getting creeped on via social media. And maybe this happens to some guys,too, not sure! But what in the world is it with this passive and private flirting via Facebook message?! It's a cop out, that's what. It literally takes no...guts, to message a girl and be borderline flirty. Ambiguous smiley faces and awkwardly distasteful compliments are not the way to go. I realize the amount of pressure it is, especially in facing rejection- nobody likes that- but if you're gonna do it, DO IT. Also, subtly favoriting or liking posts on social media is NOT flirting. *end rant (kind of)* Social media and texting contain several similar flaws. Another thing we face with Twitter, Facebook, and especially Instagram, is our innate nature to compare. We see other people posting one, "perfect moment" of their day repeatedly over time and naturally assume that their life is made up entirely of those "perfect moments" of Starbucks bliss, sunsets, and anything vintage. And their past looks perfect too thanks to #throwbackthursday. Why isn't my life that sweet? Why don't I look hott without a filter? We weren't created to be perfect, it's impossible. Sometimes social media makes us think it is, though. 
And if we're skillful at posting, we become prideful. Basing value off of likes and comments, whether we realize it or not.   

Response:
Scripture often points out how we were created to be relational; relational to others and relational to God. In fact, relationships are an incredible reflection of God's glory and love for us, a reflection of his pursuit. One of the most satisfying blessings on this side of Heaven, in my opinion. However, with so much noise in this world, so much digital communication, being relational has become comfortable. And convenient. "Investing in someone" is often done by texting them every once in a while. Is that really investing though? Sure, it lets the person know you thought about them, but where is the sacrifice in that? It literally takes no effort to shoot a quick text from your bed. Wouldn't it say more to text them and ask to get coffee or Skype? To honestly devote time out of your schedule to listen to another person? Real, sacrificial investment needs to be happening. But two people with screens in front of them suffices. It's easy, and allows us to feel good about ourselves. Pretty non-confrontational and safe too, which is usually good(sarcasm). I recognize that there are people worth investing in that digital communication is necessary, and I don't think that it can't be used. It just has to be in moderation and intentional. Many of my Jr. High girls live more than three hours away from me, so yes, I text them about their lives, but Skype dates are also made so that we can really talk. It's so, so, so important to be investing in the people we do life with, wherever we are in life. God will use a willing heart anywhere, though it's a dangerous prayer to pray. In 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 it says Paul planted, Apollos watered, and God grew, everyone has a role to fill. Please don't do it halfheartedly. People everywhere are hurting, go after them and do life with them. Use texting and social media as needed, but don't let it be a mask or idol. Developing a discerning heart toward these things takes time, but it is possible. We were created to be relational and sometimes that calls us to be bold. Not comfortable. 

Any thoughts on the topic of social media, texting, or technology in general? I'd love to hear them! Also, thanks for reading, friends.

-Brittney




Monday, March 25, 2013

Truth. Not a Trend.

 

     Okay, so the above T-shirt is a little cheesy, but I think it speaks an honest point. So often in Christian culture we try to make things trendy and relatable. I think it is important to practice faith in a way that is exciting and unique to different people, but it's even more important to focus on 'what' instead of 'how' in light of the content being presented.
    As Christ-followers, our job is simple, Matthew 28:19: Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says nothing about participating in the newest, most 'hipster' ministries that seem radical and exalted. I speak with conviction when I say that we seem to often get caught up in the trendy ways of doing ministry, the 'Christian hipster ideology', and we judge peoples' hearts based on these things. Let's be honest, it's pretty easy to target 'the home-schooler' in a group of people and think how they're in their own little world. Hmm, they don't donate to that African well-building charity? They don't listen to the new Passion CD? These thoughts are a bit exaggerated, but hint at a reality.  
   To be Christ-like is to be completely unbiased and loving to people of all social groups, all ages, majors, etc. After all, the power of the cross transcends every boundary constructed by people. Jesus isn't a trend. To say and act accordingly is almost insulting to his character. Being exclusive was not something he was about. In our feeble attempts to be like him, it seems obvious that we should strive to reach those especially outside the 'in crowd'. With Easter approaching, I simply can't get over the fact that Jesus died and rose again. For me. For all of us. Talk about perspective. Despite the cultural spin we put on the gospel, the truth is profound, sufficient, and absolutely beautiful. I want to challenge myself and others to step out of focusing on maintaining a trendy faith. Don't pull a Pharisee; that's no good. Try sitting next to someone who is alone and doesn't own a pair of Toms, or look into ministries that don't provide coffee or sweet v-necks. Once again, I do not want to condemn being trendy, I mean, who doesn't love a good v-neck? I just don't think it's right to let these things blur the vision of Christ we are called to share.
     I really hope this little rant is encouraging in some way to you all. It is something that has been on my heart for a while now. I struggled many times to get the right words in order to not sound anti-hipster or critical, that's not my goal. I'm still not entirely sure if I've captured exactly what I want to share, but I would love to clear up any confusion in the comments section.
P.S Also, I've been obsessed with the band All Sons & Daughters recently. Their song 'All the Poor and Powerless' has had me undone, often times in the middle of a 7 page paper...but seriously, listen to the lyrics(Not sure what the video shows..)and reflect on what God has done for you. In turn, think of what you can do for others, whether you bond over French-press coffee or not. ;) The link is below.
Thanks for sticking with me,
Brittney


All the Poor and Powerless:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6fheuBf0Pk




Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Yes, that's the book for me...

   I have a thing with repetition, I don't know if that's my English major being revealed, or if I am just super sensitive to events, words, or ideas that persist. On that note, whenever I become aware of something echoing in my life, it becomes important and powerful. It seems that every recent church service or message I've heard has been so adamantly focused on one topic. One single, simple truth. It just so happens to be a truth that I have been ignorantly craving in my everyday life for quite some time. This truth is something we as Christians know in the deep of our hearts, but often misuse and neglect. I am speaking of reading, meditating, and living by God's word. Scripture. 
   Speaking of my personal experience, it is fairly easy to read daily devotionals or some mind-blowing C.S Lewis literature. As an avid reader, I get sucked into anything that annotates Christianity, or shares inspiring stories that make me want to change, so, basically any Christian writing! I also believe they can aide in maintaining a healthy relationship with God. We can easily take those words and apply them to our lives because they speak to us, which can be beneficial.There is a point, though, where we must turn away and get back to focusing on the word of God. The value of those man-inspired words with some (often) out-of-context verses become fleeting in light of the God-breathed, inspired scripture we have the freedom to study. It is the authority in all situations. The answer to all questions. It is all we have to learn about Jesus, the man we are called to be like-minded with. I cannot even express how important this is. I know that I have heard the Sunday-school command 'Read your Bible!' for years. Like I said, it's a simple truth. 
   Starting a new semester at Cedarville has given me an excuse to begin new journeys in my life. Instead of trying to grow and focus on the Writings of Oswald Chambers, C.S Lewis, or Eldredge, I will base my devotion on scripture, first. I never knew how much I needed it until I felt like I was stuck. Like I wasn't growing from reading other types of books. I was yearning for something more solid, more consistent. Praise the Lord for 'duh' moments. Soon after this longing began, the reoccurring sermons came.  It may sound redundant, but we always have something to learn from scripture. Pray about it and see where you end up, what God is telling you. It's the beginning of a new year, take this opportunity to challenge yourself. Use God's word as the authority it's meant to be and be held accountable. I pray that I can do the same.
Thank you for reading!
Brittney
          

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Unspeakable Joy

The word 'JOY' is often thrown around and reflected upon more around the holiday season. We think of happiness, simplicity, and peace as being factors of joy. However, there is something we experience as Christ-followers that succeeds all earthly understanding of joy. I am referring to unspeakable joy. The kind that overwhelms and satisfies your soul. I literally cannot explain this in words. Even as I was thinking of a blog topic, I realized that I probably would not be satisfied with a post about this joy because it comes across as entirely too warm-n-fuzzy. Sometimes the power of words is so weak when they are describing something so strong. My challenge to you is to not take these words at face-value. Doing that will only dilute the message I wish to share. Please think about this joy in your own life. What triggered it? The Holy Spirit fascinates me; when I can experience something so tangible and real and breathtaking, I am filled with joy.  Sometimes it's the 'PTL' (Praise the Lord) reaction, where I just can't stop praising with my words. Other times, it's the quiet, teary, soft moments when I am overcome by God's grace and love. Reading and praying over scripture is also a way God can quiet us to discern His joy. These are only to name a few. I pray that you have known this joy. As I said, there are hardly words to describe accurately. Psalm 139:23-24 says "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Speaking personally, there is nothing more freeing than completely surrendering and being known. Especially by God. The joy that comes solely from that is divine. 

I hope this has honestly provoked you to think about where your 'joy' is being derived from. Keep your eyes open and set on Him. 

Also, feel free to suggest new post topics in the comments below, I'd love to hear from my readers!

-Brittney


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Silent Night

"Lord of my life. I sing to You

be with us now. on this Christmas night

let all be calm

and hearts be light

oh what a night. praising Your birth

light of my heart. shine down Your grace

to save the world

to You we praise"

If you have ever heard Lady Antebellum's version of 'Silent Night' then these words are probably familiar  to you. These lines are sung in an echo to the original words of the song. In light of Christmas I wanted to share. Go listen and focus on what a prayer this is! My new favorite Christmas song, for sure. Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!

-Brittney