Category: Uncategorized (page 3 of 6)

Remind My Soul

This semester has been a blur.  A long, hellish, never-ending blur.

Write this paper.  Edit this blog.  Work this job.  Blah, blah, blah.  The only thing that seems to be consistent in my life is the emotional breakdown that typically happens about once a week.  And truth be told, I’ve been feeling pretty sorry for myself lately.  And I’ve felt justified in my pity party because, hey, I’M DROWNING HERE, PEOPLE.

There have been other times in my life that I have had some pretty stressful days.  Days when I didn’t know if my sanity would live to see the sun set.  Days when I wondered if the Lord had forgotten me.  When I wondered if He really did have plans to prosper me.  Because there were days when I didn’t feel very prosperous.

Am I all by myself on this?

We took The Lord’s Supper at The Well on Tuesday night.  From the very beginning, my heart was ready for the presence of the Lord.  I was ready to see Him.  To hear Him.  To feel Him.

After we sang a few tunes, Allen got up, read Scripture, and asked us to get still and quiet before the Lord for a few minutes.  The band played softly and in those moments, I realized that was the quietest my life had been in weeks.  It was nice.

In the silence, my heart began to swell, completely overwhelmed.  I was surrounded by a crowd of people, all in love with Jesus, all loving Jesus in that moment with me.  I choked back tears as I drank in the blessings that I so often overlook.  I could see them, clear as daylight dawning after a very long, dark night.  And they were beautiful.

I heard a voice, still and small, echoing inside my heart.

“Do you remember how hard you fought Me about staying at UNA?  Do you remember how hard you tried to push open doors that I was closing?  Do you remember when I promised to be faithful to you?  Do you remember when I promised that I had a plan to prosper you?  Look around, dear one.  This is it.”

I smiled, because I did remember.  I remembered the moments when I  balked against God’s direction in my life.  I remembered the moments when I couldn’t imagine the possibility of anything good coming out of where He was sending me.  And I remembered all of the times I doubted Him.  All of the times that I placed higher priority on my to-do list than on my time spent in His presence.  All of the times I allowed the busyness and the stresses of this life to overwhelm me.

But in this quiet moment, the Lord reminded me that even in the busyness, even in the blur, even when I can’t see the end result, He is always faithful.  Always.

Sometimes, the soul just has to be reminded.

Feeding the Fish

Hey! Do you remember that one time that I went all summer without blogging?  That was a blast wasn’t it?  Not really.

It’s kind of a bummer that I didn’t write this summer (call me Dr. Seuss) because it was really a huge time of growth for me.  The Lord taught me so much and during that time I actually made a list of all the possible blog topics I could use if I ever did decide to touch the keys again.

(The list itself is actually a pretty hilarious sight.  With words and phrases like “cookies” and “circling the block,” I shudder to think about the theological gems I lost in forgetting their meaning.)

Well, as you know, I did decide to touch the keys again.  And even now as I type this, I wonder why I was so afraid.

So now, though it is a little dated, I’d love to tell you about one of the moments in which God spoke truth to me last summer.

A family in my church asked if I could house-sit for them while they were out of town, i.e. I needed to keep their pets alive.  Cool.  I could do that.

And before you think I’m about to tell you how I destroyed this precious family by forgetting to feed their fish or dog, think again.  When they came home, the animals were still alive and well.

It was a simple task.  Come in, let the dog out, feed the dog, let the dog back in at night.

And feed the fish.

I opened the top of the tank, sprinkled a pinch of fish food over the water, and walked away.

But one day, I stood for a moment and watched the fish after I gave them their food.  I could see them perk up as soon as the flakes hit the water.  (I don’t know if you knew that fish could show emotion, but they totally can.)

They swam frantically back and forth across the bottom of the tank but the flakes still floated at the top.  I was confused.  Had they forgotten how to get the food?  They would have to swim to the top to get their breakfast.

I tried informing them of this but they didn’t listen.  Because fish don’t have ears.  And because they don’t understand English.  But that’s beside the point.

I stood there, my stress level increasing by the second, wondering if the fish were going to starve because they couldn’t find the food.

And then He spoke.

“That’s you, Elizabeth. You are the fish.”

In that moment, I realized how often I end up swimming frantically in all horizontal directions looking for peace.  I try to hold my crazy busy life together all by myself.  I cover all the corners of my tiny fish-tank life looking for answers.  And all the while, the Lord is waiting for me to change the direction of my gaze—waiting for me to look up and see that He has provided everything I need.

I spend too much time fretting over the horizontal problems and stresses in my life, that too often I miss the vertical blessings He so graciously provides.

Maybe I’m the only one.  Maybe.  But maybe I’m not.

Look up today, friend.  He’s given you grace enough for this day.  All you have to do is take it.

 

21

I am beginning the process of mourning the loss of my birthday weekend! It was so perfect and wonderful that I hate to see it end!  I suppose I did celebrate my 21st birthday for a solid five days so I guess I should let it go…

But not before I tell you all about it! I began the festivities on Thursday by taking a trip to the salon after class.  I wasn’t planning on turning up any alcoholic drinks this weekend (or ever, for clarification) but I still wanted to do something drastic to mark this occasion.  So I dyed my hair.

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The birthday girls with their sopaipillas at Rosie’s

Friday night, I celebrated small town America by strolling around First Friday with a few friends, one of which is my birthday twin.  We had loads of fun eating our fill of Mexican food and strolling past the endless booths of locally made crafts.  Also, if you’re a fan of the People Watching, First Friday is the place for you.

I spent the better part of my Saturday smiling at customers and taking their money.  When I got off, I met up with a few friends who had come into town to help me celebrate.  Oh how sweet it was to see their faces! It had been a whole two months since we were all together so we had an absolute blast!

After dinner, we went to Publix and bought a cake and candles and headed back to my house to make ourselves sick off of cookies and cream cake.

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  My girls and my cake

On Sunday, some friends from church took me out to eat at a local restaurant of my choice. Upon later reflection, I realized that was the third time this week that I chose to eat at that establishment.  Have I finally accomplished my life-long goal of becoming a regular?  Oh, happy day!

On my actual date of birth, I woke up early and had a birthday breakfast with Dad at  the  Donut Shoppe.  I ended the day with family dinner at Longhorn’s Steakhouse where one of our party stood and requested, in a loud voice, that the whole restaurant sing to me.

I told the people sitting at that table that I had read several places that a person’s 21st birthday was really important.  Like the biggest birthday ever or  something.  So I had begun to think that maybe I was unprepared to adequately step across the threshold of this monumental year  of my life.  I had begun to worry that maybe it wouldn’t be that exciting.  But I told my family  the same thing I will say to those of you who sent me sweet words of well wishes for my  birthday:  There is  nowhere else I’d rather be and there’s no one else I’d rather be with.

When I look back on this  moment in my life, I will remember the overwhelming feeling that  stirs now in my heart as I  realize just how greatly God has blessed me.  It is almost too much  joy for any one soul to bear.  I love you all so terribly much, it makes me ache sometimes to think on it.

Life is crazy a lot of the time.  Things are busy and fast-paced and due dates are everywhere.  But this life I live, it’s a good one.  And I cannot help but smile at the thought of it all.

 

 

All the Things

I have always been a liner-upper, a list-maker, a task-crosser-offer.  I cannot start a task without putting it on a list somewhere.  You laugh, but I know there are others out there like me.  Yeah, I’m talking to you.  You list-maker.  You suffer from the same disease I do.

In the movie Hercules, there is one scene that I feel like accurately depicts my list life.

Hercules is told that there are two little boys trapped beneath a rockslide just outside the city of Thebes.  It is his first chance to prove to the city that he can be a hero.  The task proves easy enough for the man with supernatural strength.  He lifts the boulder and the boys scamper out.  Hooray, everyone is safe.  Hercules turns, brushes his hands off, and begins to stride away.

However, a noise, a growl, comes from behind him.  He turns and realizes his hero to-do list isn’t quite finished.  From a dark cave comes the Hydra, an enormous lizard/scorpion/dragon-like thing…(aren’t you impressed by my descriptive abilities?).  With a little more effort than the first time and some added sword slinging, it takes just over a minute for the mighty, but now kind of tired, Hercules to decapitate the beast.  Again, he turns to walk away, a little more stiffly this time.

But guess what? He’s still not done.  He turns around just in time to see three heads popping out of the place where the first ferocious one had been.

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Can anyone relate to this facial expression? I know I can.

 

Now, more exhausted than ever, he swings his sword with all he’s got, cutting off one dragon-y head after another.  But with each head that falls to the ground, another three appear.

As I was watching this scene recently, all I could do was nod and say, “I feel ya, man.  I feel ya.”

Every day, I wake up, pull out a sheet of paper or my Notes app on my phone and make a list of Things.  Things that need to get done for the day.  The Things start out as a small group. You know, 5-7 Things at most.  But every time I cross something off, I have to add two more.  It seems like the Things reproduce and grow new heads every twenty minutes.  Before I know it, the Things have moved from a small group to a growing metropolis.  My list of 5-7 Things now houses 5-7 generations of Things.  And they never seem to die off.  They just grow and grow.  The Things are a toxic species that way.

Every day, I plan on how I will accomplish and subsequently mark-off the Things.  How I will slay them all and rest in peace knowing that my life is Thing-free.  And almost every night after a day of school or work (sometimes both), I sit down and stare at my list of Things, watching as they end up slaying me.  I give up, just shrugging my shoulders and laying down to sleep with the Things sitting on my chest and weighing down my heart.

The cycle continues when I wake up early the next morning with the left-over Things and brand new Things merging together to form their own mutant To-do List.  Cue the self-loathing and feelings of inadequacy and helplessness.

Maybe I’m the only one who has this problem.  Maybe I’m the only one the Things terrorize.  Maybe I’m the only one who surrenders far too often.  Maybe I’m the only one who begs the Lord for peace and rest.  But on the off chance I’m not, let me share what God has taught me about the Almighty List and the rest I’m seeking:

1. Our lists do not define us.  Our value does not come from how many heads we’ve chopped off or how many tasks we’ve marked through. However, we tend to put our lists on the throne of our hearts, saying that the Things are in charge of our day.  That is the root of restlessness, ladies and gentlemen.  Because when the Things are in control, they are slave drivers.

2. Our focus on the Things, prevents our eyes from focusing on Jesus. Verse one of Psalm 127 says that “Unless the Lord builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain; unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchman stays alert in vain.”  The Things are just things.  Unless our task list is centered around the Lord with the main goal of drawing closer to Him through our to-do’s, it is worthless.

3.  The last part of verse two in Psalm 127 says “certainly He gives sleep to the one He loves.”  The Lord is our Comforter, the Bearer of our Burdens.  Scripture says specifically that He daily—daily—bears our burdens.  He carries us through all of the stresses of life.  So why do we still feel the need to do everything ourselves.  The rest we seek won’t come at the end of a to-do list.  Because the truth is, there will always be three new heads after we cut off the first.  We will never be without struggle, stress, or strife.  In the first part of John 16:33, Jesus tells us that we will have trouble.  Did you catch that? We. Will. Have. Trouble.  No exceptions.  But check out what He says next: “BUT TAKE HEART! I have overcome the world.” He has overcome everything, including my to-do list.

Rest, the kind that makes us whole, doesn’t mean taking a nap or a Gimore Girls break.  Having peace doesn’t mean our task list is empty.  It means that in the middle of our to-do lists, our eyes are still focused on Jesus.  That no matter the outcome, regardless of what gets done and what doesn’t, He is still God, He is still faithful, and He can always be trusted to finish the unfinishable.  To hold the unholdable. It’s about a surrendered heart that sits expectantly at the feet of Jesus while the body draws enduring strength to keep fighting the to-do list.  It’s about a soul that remembers that this life is only temporary and that one day, everything will be made new and we will be face-to-face with the Prince of Peace.

On a Trolley in Charleston

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Aside from the small introductory post I put up last week, I have not blogged since sometime in March.  It’s September now, and I am   both physically and metaphorically hanging my head in shame.  I think the National Blog Association has just put me in an instructive slideshow on how not to maintain a blog.

So, with all of that said, you may need to read with a dose of caution because I’m a little rusty.  The right grammatical mistake or incongruent sentence could put an eye out.

If you were wondering what I did this summer, I would love to show you.  Just drive through the Chick-fil-a on Cox Creek, peek your head inside and take a look around.  And that’s about it.  You’re looking at the bulk of my summer through that little window.

However, there was one particular week that I didn’t spend handing chicken out to the masses.

Back in July, my family and I piled into the Navigator and started on a week-long road trip to Charleston, South Carolina.

Ten hours and many laughs later, we pulled under the awning of our hotel.  Mom’s parents, who had made a last minute decision to join us on the trip, had only beaten us by a few minutes.  We had a quick bite to eat at the neighboring Ruby Tuesdays; we all retired to our respective beds and rested before the EXCITING day ahead of us.

The next morning, we pulled out of the hotel parking lot with our spirits up and our stomachs full-ish.

(In my personal, but correct opinion, you can never get completely full on a skimpy continental breakfast.)

We followed my grandparents into historic downtown Charleston.

Now, this is a point that I feel I need to discuss with you, because I’m still mildly confused about it myself.

Why did the six of us not ride together?  There was plenty of room.  Well, maybe “plenty” is the wrong word—but there was enough. Why did my grandfather always just shake his head when the question was raised and move quickly to his own car?

I have a two theories:

1. He didn’t like the idea of riding in a motorized vehicle that he was not controlling.  Out of all the years I’ve known my papaw, I don’t think I have EVER seen him in the passenger seat.

2. He needed a built-in escape route.

My dad thinks it was a combination of both, but I’ll let you assess the facts and decide for yourself (because I know you are really concerned about this issue).

Our two separate cars pulled into the Charleston Visitor Center about fifteen minutes later.

Okay, let’s pause again and talk about this.

First of all, I learned a few things about my granddad during this trip, one of which being that he has a magnetic pull on his soul to every visitor center he comes across.  And why not? They have such a wealth of useful (or –less, depending on who you are) information.

Which brings me to my next point.  Pamphlets.

In the Charleston Visitor Center, there is a wall: The Wall of Pamphlets.  With a spotlight right above it, it really is as glorious as it sounds. Hundreds of colorful, folded pieces of paper line the shelves with information on the best ghost tour around, where to get the best tattoo in Charleston, or the location of Rhett Butler’s house.  My mother looked like she was in TJMaxx during their annual Labor Day sale.  You know what I’m talking about ladies: snatch and grab, show no mercy.

We exited the building with about fifteen pamphlets. Each.

John and Charm trying to decode one of the very complicated maps of Charleston.

John and Charm trying to decode one of the very complicated maps of Charleston.

After analyzing our material and exploring the surrounding area for a bit, we      decided that in order to get to the main part of historic downtown Charleston, taking a trolley would be our best bet.  But in order to do that, we needed to go back in to the visitor center and get a pamphlet that had a trolley schedule.  HOW DID WE MANAGE TO MISS THAT ONE?

Okay, so the trolley schedule is in hand—what happens now?

Well, first we wait for the wrong trolley on this corner.  Then we wait for the other wrong trolley on that corner. And then we cross the street and wait for the right trolley on this corner.  Pretty simple.

Ahhh…  Seated in a cool, air-conditioned trolley, we breathed a sigh of relief.  Tension was dissolved.  Sweat evaporated.  All was right with the world.

Approximately two blocks away from our initial boarding spot, our driver picked up her microphone and began to speak to us.  I assumed that was what she was doing but I couldn’t actually understand her.  The voice coming through the speaker’s sounded like a version of Charlie Brown’s teacher who had been a smoker for the past forty years of her life.

But apparently my dad is fluent in that language so he translated for us:

“She says…that it’s time for her break.  She’ll be stopping for a short R&R and we can either stay here and wait for her or get off here and walk.  And if we choose to get off, there’s a complimentary map of the area at the front of the bus.”

A map? GREAT! BECAUSE THE 35 MAPS WE HAVE IN OUR HANDS WOULD NEVER BE SUFFICIENT.

We said she could keep her stupid map—we would wait.  Though we had been virtually on the trolley by ourselves, the next twenty minutes filled it with Charleston’s finest.  And by finest, I mean smelliest.

But twenty minutes later that woman clamored back into her seat, glowing with her R&R, and drove us to Kings Street.

Later that week we drove to Edisto Island for a little sightseeing.  And let me tell you, we saw a lot of trees, and grass, and very little civilization for a long time.  Our first real sign that the place was inhabited was also our first stop.  Would you like to guess what it was?

Ding, ding, ding! You got it—the Edisto Island Visitor Center.

But this was not just any ordinary visitor center.  No, this little building also doubled as a serpentarium.  You didn’t know that was a real word? Me either. Mainly because it isn’t.  But the people of Edisto Island don’t know that, and I, a mere guest, was not about to tell them.

Are you at all curious what this not-word is describing? I knew you were.  It’s like an aquarium full of snakes.  Sounds like a fun time, huh?

We walked in through the gift shop, intending to just grab a coke and a bathroom break.  As we wandered through the little shop, the lady behind the counter began to give us a full run-down of the serpentarium schedule.

“Now, in a few minutes, we’ll be giving our daily tour of the serpentarium.  And,” with added excitement, “if you folks are going to be here on Thursday, we’ll be having a venom extraction.”

WELL, I DO LOVE A GOOD VENOM EXTRACTION.

And unfortunately, I may have said that last part outside out loud.

So there it is. The Brock Family Vacay in a nutshell.  Go ahead, clear your calendars, and make sure you are ready for next year’s trip!

Welcome to My New Home

I’m sure you have already noticed the change of address and format for this blog.  A few months ago, I decided that it was time to branch out and have a domain of my own.  Now that I have it and I see the dedication and work it will require, I’m wondering what desperate circumstances caused me to make such a terrifying change.  Caffeine? Lack of Sleep? Unprecedented need to fix what wasn’t broken? All probable answers considering last semester.  Whatever the source, the deed has been done, the blogs have been transferred and there is no turning back now.  So bear with me as I learn the ins and outs of what it means to own a website.  Be forewarned, I am an eighty-five-year-old woman trapped in a twenty year old body.  Ninety percent of the time, I have no idea what I’m doing.  The other ten percent is Grandma pretending to know what she’s doing as I push buttons and keys and click on links at random.  So if someday you come to the site and it isn’t working or you have suggestions to make it better, please feel free to contact me either through the comments section of the post or the Contact tab at the top of the page.

 

By His Wounds

When I was registering for my first semester of college, there was a moment when my brain shut down.  For a moment, my most reasonable, most logical brain cells revolted.  And during this brief mutiny, my hands somehow signed the rest of me up for an introductory French class.

That unfortunate event happened almost two years ago.  I am currently in my fourth and final semester as a French student.  And oddly, I still am not even remotely decent when it comes to conversing in this romance language.  So when my professor told our class about a French conversation table on Tuesdays, I decided that I should probably make room for that in my schedule if I ever hoped to be able to speak this language without a text book in front of my nose.

There are only three of us who show up on Tuesdays:  a Croatian basketball player named Jere and another guy from my class named Cody.   A few weeks ago, Cody had just returned from Boston where he had been attending his mother’s wedding.  We began to talk about wedding traditions in the U.S. and how they differ from wedding traditions in Croatia.

Being the sap that I am, I asked Jere to walk me through a Croatian wedding, step by step.  He began to tell the story:

The groom and his party are at one house and the bride and her attendants are at another.  The separate parties eat and drink and get ready for about two hours before the ceremony.  When the groom is ready, he and his group go to the bride’s house to join the female party.  They go in and a small band plays a Croatian folksong in an attempt to get the bride to come out of her dressing room.  She coyly peaks her head out the door and shakes her head “no.”  She shuts the door and the crowd begins performing a string of folksongs, trying to coax the girl out of her hiding place.

“Oh wait! I forgot to tell you the best part!” Jere interrupts himself and begins to backtrack in his story.  “When the groom first comes in, he marches up to the bride’s godmother, holds out money (usually fake money nowadays) and says,” he gives a grand gesture, stretching out his long arms and finishes, “I am here to buy the bride!”

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Later that day, with Jere’s story still ringing in my ears, I attended worship night at the Well.  The band was hidden behind curtains and the only thing we could see was a large cross in the center of the stage.  At the end of the service we all gathered at the foot of the cross and the band began to play Phil Wickham’s song, “You’re Beautiful.”  The last verse of that song says this:              

When we arrive at eternity’s shore

Where death is just a memory and tears are no more

We’ll enter in as the wedding bells ring

Your bride will come together and we’ll sing

You’re beautiful

As I knelt below that cross with 100+ other college students, I was reminded that we are the bride of Christ. A shiver sent goose bumps all along my arms.  I had a vision of Christ, like the Croatian groom, bursting through the gates of Hell with His arms held out, His wounds exposed and dried blood still clinging to His skin, proclaiming in a loud voice, “I AM HERE TO BUY THE BRIDE! Look at my hands and my feet! I paid for the guilt of their sins!  I was pierced for their transgressions; I was crushed for their iniquities.  By my wounds, they are HEALED!”

He is our groom, who came to pay the dowry of our sins.  He took our sin and our shame and paid for them all with His blood.  He became sin, who knew no sin, so that we might become His righteousness.  We are His.  Because our cross was stained with His blood, we are called the beloved Bride of Christ.

Confessions of a Preachers Daughter

Everyone loves a good scandal, right?  Well hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen, because I’m about to give you some good stuff.

A lot of times, when I am being introduced to someone new, the friend that is providing the introduction will drop the phrase, “She’s the preacher’s daughter…” Why this is inserted is one of the great mysteries of my life.  But I usually add after that phrase, “Don’t hold that against me.”  Now don’t get me wrong.  My saying this has nothing to do with my dad.  But it has everything to do with the stereotype that comes with being a preacher’s daughter.

For years, PKs, specifically pastor’s daughters, have been the subject of all sorts of tasteless country songs and movies.

Our spokeswomen are none other than Katy Perry, Jessica Simpson, and Condoleeza Rice.  One out of three isn’t bad, I suppose.

Preacher’s kids actually have their own Wikipedia site.  This page talks about the two ways a preacher’s kid can go: obnoxious goody-two shoes or rebellious devil child.  There is no in between.

Now, most of you reading this have already put me in the obnoxious goody-two shoes category; but let me tell you, this PK has had her fair share of near run-ins with the law. Watch out.

I’m going to start you out with a mild misdemeanor, just to prepare you for the worst that’s coming.

I’m a fan of exploring the church–otherwise known as snooping.  Call it what you will, but I know my church from top to bottom.  Literally.  One Wednesday night during my senior year of high school, I was wandering the third floor before the youth service.  I walked past a window, stopped, and slowly backed up.  Cue suspenseful background music. I stood, gaping, at the coolest thing I had seen at this church.  Ever.

The fire escape was open and there was a clear path to the roof.

I propped the door open, leaving a way for me to sneak back inside and hoped that no adults would stroll past as I was scaling the ladder.  I spent the next twenty minutes basking in my new found freedom and startling incoming church goers as they glimpsed me walking across the roof.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking like you don’t even know me anymore, right? Well, allow me to blow your mind even further with my other crimes.

One day, I was driving home from work in the encroaching darkness.  As I approached my street, I saw a little dog wandering around in the middle of the road.  Now normally, I leave the strays to themselves and let their owners take care of runaway issues.  But, for whatever reason, I took pity on this ugly little furball and stopped.  I opened the door and picked him up.  As I shut the door, I checked the tag and realized with disappointment that it did not have his address.

Great.  I was stuck with this smelly dog, and I had no idea where it belonged.

I decided to ride around for a bit and see if I ran into his owners searching for him.  I cruised through the neighborhood, imagining the delighted and grateful looks that would be on the faces of those who had lost this short-legged hairballcherished pet.

Finally, I see a older woman walking back into her driveway.  I slowed down, very creepily, and said in my sweetest, most syrupy, I-just-saved-your-dog’s-life voice, “Ma’am, is this your dog?”  She walked over to my car, looked in, and said, “No, but I know who he belongs to.  He’s so-and-so’s dog.  Her house is right over there.”  As I followed her finger to where she was pointing, I realized that that was the very house where I had picked up Fido in the first place.

I had stolen Mrs. So-and-So’s dog!  I had literally been riding around my neighborhood with a stolen canine.  Talk about your wayward child.

I thanked the lady and waited until she got back in her house before pulling back over to the dog’s home.  Instead of going to the door and admitting my mistake or pretending like I had rescued him from another part of the neighborhood, I just stopped, set him on the sidewalk, and drove away.

My ultimate example of lawlessness is a little more edgy.  I know you’re probably gripping the end of your seat with unequaled suspense, thinking, “What could possibly be more edgy than stealing a puppy?”

Last Tuesday night, I came out of the gym at UNA and made my way through the parking deck after an excruciating loss in intramural basketball.  I had parked facing the gym, close to a set of stairs.  I walked up, shoved the key in the lock and tried to turn it–to no avail.

Confused and frustrated, I did the only logical thing: I called my dad.

As I waited on him to come rescue me, I called a friend of mine to come wait with me.  Alone in the parking lot at ten o’clock at night is not the best situation to be in.  I hopped up on the back of the car, perched cross-legged, so my dad could easily spot us.

My dad pulled up about twenty minutes later and my friend went back to the gym.  Dad whipped out his can of WD-40 and sprayed my key not once, but twice.  After the second try, he paused, and started walking to his car.  He turns to look at me and says, quite forcefully, “Get off the car!”

“What? Is it still not working? Are we just going to–”

“Elizabeth, get off the car!”

I was affronted that he was snapping at me for something that clearly was not my fault.

“Elizabeth, sweetheart, get off the car. Now! That is not your car.”

Sure enough, I had been sitting on top of someone else’s car, moreover, trying to break into someone else’s car for over half and hour.

So there you have it.  My scandal.  A pastor’s daughter who has mastered the art of trespassing on roofs, stealing puppies, and (almost) breaking and entering into other people’s cars.  Now you know the truth: I am a genuine delinquent .

Sign me up for a record deal.  Lookout Jessica and Katy; there’s a new preacher’s daughter in town.

Paper Hearts

Until I was ten, my thoughts on love consisted of pink construction paper and empty shoeboxes.  Love equaled a day without learning and schoolwork.  And I was all for love if that was the case.  It was a competition to see who had the best, cutest, most awesome Valentines.  I usually didn’t win but I liked mine all the same.  Love also meant I had to “love” everybody.   Everybody got a card, everybody got a sucker, which was probably the best unspoken rule of the day.   It was a conflicting emotion of wanting someone to notice me but also wanting to be utterly invisible.  Love was made with tape and glue and paper hearts that were always crooked.

When I was eleven, love was the thing that we talked about a lot in Sunday school.  “God loves me” was still explained with arts and crafts that did nothing but make my fingers sticky.

When I was thirteen, I saw love when I walked past my mother’s bathroom mirror and found words written in lipstick: “I love you, baby.”  And it was just a plain old Tuesday.

When I was sixteen, love was real sometimes and other times it wasn’t.  It became a more fickle creature than I had ever known it to be.  I noticed that it seemed to evaporate left and right and I decided I wanted nothing to do with it.

When I was nineteen, I changed my tune.  I didn’t mind it for other people, I just wasn’t a fan.

Now I am twenty and I think maybe love is not so bad.  If my parents and my grandparents and my great-grandparents and countless others can do it, so can I.  Sure, the tape loses its grip and the pink construction paper fades to mauve, but I think maybe, if you’re willing to accept that, love can last forever.

Light

Whenever the human eye comes in contact with a bright light, it takes a picture.  According to my ophthalmologist friend, Dr. Keith Thompson, this effect is called “afterglow.”  Basically, that means that when the eyelid falls like a curtain over the retina, an imprint of light remains.

I remember the first time I noticed this phenomenon.  I was sitting in the backseat of a gray Cadillac parked next to a gas pump.  My seven-year-old body was sweating in the Arkansas summer heat.  I remember looking up through the window and catching sight of the sun.  No shades.  Just my eyes and the sun meeting for a millisecond.  I blinked and looked away quickly.  I closed my eyes but inside the darkness of my closed lids, I saw the outline of the sun as clearly as if I were still staring at it.  I opened my eyes and noticed that the spot stayed.  It rudely interrupted my line of vision and no matter how many times I opened and closed my eyes it was still there.  It both annoyed and fascinated me.

 

“Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.”

Psalm 119:105

Just as the sun leaves an impression on our eyes, the Word of God leaves an imprint on our hearts when we study it.  His Word is the spiritual sun that shines light into our souls and when we look full-on at the pages of Scripture – no distractions, just our eyes and the Word of God meeting face-to-face – it burns and brands itself onto our hearts.  Even when we close the Book, we can still see it.  It interrupts and adjusts our line of vision so that we start to see the world as He sees it.

A few months ago, I again caught sight of the sun and the spot was again implanted in my vision.  But this time, the Lord was birthing this post in my heart and I had a thought.  Will the eye do the same when it meets with a man-made light?  So, like any genius suffering for a theory, I decided to test it out.  (Kids, don’t try this at home.)  I looked directly into a nearby light bulb for half a second. I looked away and found that, though it left a similar imprint, it did not last as long nor burn as brightly as the imprint of the sun.  When you look at something that is reflectingor imitating the sun, it does not leave as deep an impact as when you look directly at the source of light.

So often, as Christians, we do this to ourselves spiritually.  We feed off of the limited imprint of spiritual light bulbs: church camps, weekend conferences, or the faith of those around us.  But when the lights go out and things get dark in our lives, the electric imprint just doesn’t seem to satisfy.

We forget to look at the source of all light and energy.

Just as He is the one who created physical light, the Lord is also the one who creates a light inside of us when He comes to dwell in us.  And when we, during the lighted times of life, stare intently into the Word of God—soaking it up, memorizing it and meditating on it—we ensure an imprint that will last even in the darkest moments of our lives.

Trust me when I say, the man-made lights can’t last forever.  Even the bulbs with the most energy still need to be changed.  And when that happens, darkness will come.  Jesus told us in John 16:33 that “in this world we will have trouble.”  It isn’t a “maybe” or a “possibly.”  We are assured that at some point, the lights will go out.

So wherever you are, night or day, go to the source of light, the God of the Universe.  Seek out His lantern, the Word of God.  Read it. Memorize it. Stare at it. No shades. No bulbs.  Just you and the Son of God.  Face-to-face. Because when the lights go out, and the world gets black, the Word of God will be carved on your heart and will guide you through every part of your life, dark and light.  He will be the Lamp to your tired and dirty feet and the Light to your rough and bumpy path.

 

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.’”

–John 8:12

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