Wednesday, December 30, 2009

100 word wednesday: we matter...

We all know the feeling of walking into a room filled with people, yet feel overwhelmed with loneliness. During the holidays these situations are magnified. Isolated car rides, solo shopping excursions, or simply having no where to go for the holidays, thoughts of worthlessness and loneliness creep into the crevices of the mind and have the potential to overwhelm.

But we haven’t been the only ones who have felt this. Oh no, Gen X'ers! These feelings have permeated every culture, race, and generation. To temper and balance the inadequacies, listen to what the psalmist said:

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them they would outnumber the grains of the sand. When I awake, I am still with you (Psalm 139:17-18).

Despite our stations in life, we have a purpose to fulfill, we are not forgotten, and God cares because we matter.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

year verse(s)...

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever--do not abandon the works of your hands. Psalm 138:8

In a conversation with Matt the other day, he asked what my verse for the year was. Uh, what do you mean? Like, out of the 31,103 verses in the bible, I’m suppose to predetermine a scripture to fit my particular theological bent for blahblahblahblahblahblaaaaah. I should have been slapped. Right there. In that moment. The question was simply, what verse do you want to adopt into your year? That’s it. No theological twisting or contortion. Just one verse.

But I’m simply complicated and I make nothing easy. Like nothing. Matt showed me some scriptures he’d written down in his journal the last couple weeks of reading and I, well, wanted some too. Not because I’m uber spiritual, but because I’m competitive and I want a life verse too!

While scouring the scriptures for a totally amazing, fantastically stupendous, earth shattttttering scripture [insert booming voice here], I was gently coddled during my devotions when I came across Psalm 138:8 again. I blogged about it before but this time it was with greater significance. Though this is not my verse for the year, it was a reminder of yesteryear when the Lord used a gentle word to encourage me in a time of forgotteness.

I spoke to Matt today and was very proud to announce that I have my verses. Yes, as plural. Why have one verse when you can have FIVE, I shrieked with excitement. He simply rolled his eyes and said I was complicated.

If you have a verse you’re holding onto or a promise for 2010, would you share it? I would love instead of resolutions, we create revolutions in our heart, mind, and soul. If you share yours, I’ll share mine :)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

incouraging miracles...

As the Christmas trees are taken down and the decorations are put away, I hope Christmas has brought together family, friends, and amazing food. The new year is rapidly approaching and in thinking about what's looming on the horizon, I wanted to seize the opportunity given to me by incourage to talk about miracles. Incourage is a site dedicated to, er, um--well, encourage those who stop by!

I was honored to be asked to write for them again and was allowed to speak about the miraculous. To read the whole piece, you can click here or on the icon below. The comments have been turned off so you can join the conversation there! Thanks for the constant love and support.

I believe in miracles. I know, I know, miracles are a touchy subject for 21st century intellectuals. But I do.

When we read about God parting the seas, providing food in arid places, and liberties to captives, and we walk out of church roused by history, but unconvinced that the God of yesterday is the God of today.

To read more, click the button:

Thursday, December 24, 2009

happy birthday jesus...

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to, cry if I want, cry if I want to. You would cry too if it happened to you. --Leslie Gore, 1966

I'm staring at the plastic Santa, inflatable Snoopy house, and mechanical deers on my neighbors lawn wondering how Baby Jesus didn't get invited to the lawn party. I don't get it. It's Jesus' birthday party and he doesn't even get an invite?!

Please invite Jesus to your lawn parties, family parties, Christmas parties, but more importantly, invite him into your life. Allow him to permeate your life every day, every way. It is then and only then your Christmas will be merry, your holidays happy, and your life purposeful.

Isaiah 9:6, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

weaving benevolence...

Acts 11:29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea.

She sat at the loom and methodically laced beautiful strands of string. Each strand was a different color, yet when sewn together, a beautiful piece of art was composed. The Persian woman with weathered hands used what was in front of her to create beauty.

Each person who emailed me was different. A doctor, a photographer, a homemaker, a dreamer, a student, a mother, an artist. Each person was like a beautiful strand waiting to be knit together, waiting to be used to create a masterpiece of benevolence.

I sat at my computer with weathered hands and aspired to create beauty, not knowing what would come of these ambitions.

Today the masterpiece is complete and thanks to many of you, two beautiful families living under one roof will have a Christmas to remember. Because of your support and prayers, we've raised roughly $1,600 in two days. Each teen will receive a gift card to purchase anything they want, two boys will receive toys, trains, and trucks, AP will receive a $500 gift card and a turkey to a local grocery store, and the rest will be given to the family in need to help them find a place to rent.

In economic times like these, it is truly more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Whether you gave three dollars or four hundred dollars (or if you donated the turkey), you gave what you were able to give. Merry Christmas, y'all! I love you.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

critics and quotes...

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. --President Theodore Roosevelt

Peter heard the cock crow. Moses struck the rock. Jonah jumped ship. Eve bit the fruit and Adam followed. None of those pillars of biblical narrative would ever claim to be perfect. And neither do I. I have faltered, and sadly, I will falter again. Paul encourages and reminds the Romans that there is not one person who is righteous; everyone has failed and fallen (3:10, 23). But as believers in Christ, we stand before critics as broken vessels yet claim, through His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5); as piles of ash waiting metaphoric beauty, we claim He uses the base to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27).

Dale Carnegie said, Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving. Only listen to a critic if they can be forgiving. If not, be unthwarted by their comments. Like my father always told me, to escape criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.

Monday, December 21, 2009

trails and life...

The sweat. The fall. The doubt. The belief. The sunrise. The trail. The pain. The end.

The sun was calling over the mountains like a siren to sailor's death. The mountain called. I responded. Step by step, minute by minute, mile by mile, I endured the hill. Half way up the trail, I lost my footing and slipped down onto jagged rocks, cutting my hand and shin. I debated quitting. I mean, I had already completed a good amount of trail. What would it matter if I continued? Who would know? Who would care?

But I couldn't quit.

I was surrounded by trees; their limbs were like semaphores swaying encouragement. I had to get to the top. I limped my way to the crest of the peak and my breath was taken away. I saw the entire trail, the sunrise, the doubtful cliffs, the believing trees, and I rested in the beauty.

I had a moment with the Creator and saw Life. Sometimes I've asked myself, What would it matter if I continued my walk of faith in a Divine Creator? Would would know if I quit? Who would care? But as I stood at the peak of the hill I endured and saw the difficult path I emerged from, I realized the end is worth the fall, the doubt, the pain. Press on, fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12), for He shows loving kindness to those who walk before Him with all their heart (2 Chronicles 6:14).

Have you asked if it would matter if you quit? It does. Don't give up. The view is beautiful from the top.

Friday, December 18, 2009

pine tree air fresheners on my mind...

There is nothing more vulnerable than being a female and taking your car into the mechanics. But alas, I'm here because my car is making a grinding/wheezing/ching-ching sound and with every minute that passes I'm seeing more and more dollars drain from my savings account as I insist I really don't need a pine tree air freshener.

I'm no mechanic, but does my car really need a new air filter, tire rotation, oil change, air conditioner fluid, and pine tree air freshener to dangle from my mirror? I didn't think so either.

I totally was ready to discuss the death penalty and the moral implications of death since it's Friday and I post vlogs and all, but the only thing I can talk about is the death of my car... and reasons why I don't need a pine tree air freshener to dangle from my rear view mirror.

I'll record the vlog later today. Sorry--I'm a horrible blogger!

video

Thursday, December 17, 2009

why i'm a horrible facebooker...

The email indicated we had to meet. There were serious issues which needed to be clarified. I set up a meeting and the 40ish father of one of the teens I mentor arrived promptly to discuss the serious issues. Privy to information about the current status of the family, I assumed it was to discuss matter of dire importance. I was SO wrong!

Him: Thank you for your time. I'll make this brief and to the point. Are we ok? Do you not like me or have I done something to offend you?
Me: [blink] Well, um, er [blink, blink, blinkblinkblink], I'm not too sure I know what this is in reference to.
Him: Well, it's just that I friend requested you on facebook over two weeks ago and you haven't accepted my friend request.
Me: [blink... blink]

I was dumbfounded. He could not possibly be serious. Oh, but he was! So serious I thought he was going to rain down fire. I explained to him that facebook was a way for me to connect with friends from high school and college and I don't accept friend requests from parents of my teens since the parents will use it as a way to spy on their children (which I knew he would do). He then proceeded to list the names of other parents who I had accepted friend requests. [blink]

Since then there have been other dramatic facebook situations which frighten me from visiting facebook (accidentally marking the 'married' and 'it's complicated' boxes; spammed with porn to my inbox; long emails from people who don't like me; being a silent voyeur of other people's lives [don't lie, you do it], etc.).

Usher had his confessions and now it's my turn. I'm sorry if I haven't responded to your facebook email, lagged in accepting a friend request, or haven't replied to a question. I have a job which I love and would like to keep so spending hours playing Farmville or snooping through photo galleries isn't my thing. I know I'm not the only one with stories from facebook, so spill it! What are some funny/dramatic/horror stories you've encountered?

Here's a video I saw on Michael Hyatt's blog. I love it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

people...

A flux of emails reminded me why I do what I do.
People.
For people, by people, because of people.

There is a woman with a hardly laugh, big hugs, and tender heart. She's been a loyal reader since the inception of this blog but recently made her presence known by leaving comments. I know her story. I know her family. I know her heart.

Perhaps it's the beauty of anonymity, but in an emotional state she confessed her own struggle while reading yesterday's post about the working poor. I felt the black letter words radiate through the computer screen. I know what fear of the unknown feels like. Cavernous. Hollow. Desperate.

The phone latched onto the receiver and for a moment, I felt like the physical voice of God. Last night I received several emails from people who want to help buy food, presents, or donate money to as she houses ten people in a two-bedroom apartment. If I could have recorded her cry of sovereign providence, any skeptic would be wooed by her belief in the God who provides more than we could think or imagine (Eph. 3:20). Through her sobs she replied, I knew God would provide. I didn't know how, but I knew God would provide.

If you would like to join those who have offered to help, whether it's a $5 gift card or 5 million dollar check, please email me at bianca@inthenameoflove.org for more information. I'm BLOWN away by the readers of this blog and I love you more today than I did yesterday!*

*I know I over-use exclamation marks, but I'm really excited! So here are some more exclamation points just to annoy you!!!!!!!!! Merry Christmas!!!!

Edit to post: If you would like to use PayPal, please click here

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

working poor...

If you give the the poor, your needs will be supplied! But a curse upon those who close their eyes to poverty--Proverbs 28:27

In our society homelessness is widely spoken about. On a global level, we are moved by gut-wrenching faces of emaciated children from third world countries. We stare surreptitiously from our car window at a bushy-faced man holding a sign willing to work for food.

What we may not see or be aware of are those Americans who try with all their might to make ends meet, yet come up short every month. The socio-economic label is working poor and they comprise 28 percent of American families. According to data collected by the US Bureau of Labor statistics 21 million children live in low-income working families who parents are categorized as making 200% of the national poverty level.

The report notes that working poor families "lack the earning necessary to meet their basic needs--a struggle exacerbated by soaring prices for food, gas, health, and education. About 60 percent of working families are forced to spend more than one-third of their income on housing, and nearly 40 percent lack health insurance for one or both parents.

The question remains, what are YOU doing about this? I'm not too sure it's the governments responsibility to feed my neighbor, but I am totally sure as a lover of Jesus Christ and a copy-cat of his ways, I am called to do so. While President Barak, bureaucrats, and bankers worry about tomorrow, I will help those in need today. Who do YOU know is in need? Who can YOU help? Will YOU help change the world one person at a time?

*Edit to post: If you would like to help blog commenter "ap" buy purchasing Christmas gifts, please email me at bianca@inthenameoflove.org. This may be your opportunity to help those in need!

Monday, December 14, 2009

christmas eCard...


Dear Internet Friends:

Thank you for being part of my life the past couple months. As we approach Christmas, I wanted to send you my annual family Christmas card. This year has been a wild ride, but I'm grateful you've joined along!

Ho, ho, ho,
B

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday Video Post: cosmetics, christians, and the church

She came up to me with her hair in a slick bun, long skirt, and nothing more than a band of gold on her ring finger. After quick pleasantries, she began to question my worldly clothing and use of makeup while referencing 1 Peter 3:3-4. I was taken back and immediately felt like I looked like RuPaul on a Friday night! Out of embarrassment I simply apologized, thanked her for attending the lecture, and began wiping blush from my cheeks.

I was mortified. But I began to research the texts she quoted and found an amazingly sound biblical explanation and reason for Peter to write what he did. Apologetics Press wrote a great article and after reading it, I felt like I should slap on some mascara and douse my lips with gloss! Bring it on.

I'd love for you to weigh in on the issue of cosmetics, Christians, and the church. What are your thoughts about bridging Old Testament references and New Testament scriptures?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

100 word wednesday: directions in life...

My ever-fabulous sister reminded me of a Sesame Street sketch we would watch as kids. We would laugh until our bellies ached because of a hilarious elephant who uncannily resembled me! No, not because I weighed 172 pounds as an 11 year-old, but because I was never patient enough to listen.


Fifteen years later, Jasmine reminded me of my elephantal resemblance. I don't take the time to listen. I'm impatiently pushing and striving and aiming to get to the next place quicker, faster, and smarter. B, you just need to stop. You want to run, but you need to listen to the directions, she gently said. God will show you where you need to be, but until He does, just wait and listen.

Um, when did SHE become the holy one? That was always MY role in our relationship (I'm kidding, Jas... well, half kidding). When I hung up the phone, I immediately thought of my self-imposed mantra stolen from Psalm 46:10, Be still and know that I am God. I'm asking for directions, but I'm not taking the time to listen.

Am I the only one? What are the things you're asking for, yet not listening for answers? We all have them... don't make me feel like the elephant in the room!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

be a star...

Our society is inundated with a fascination with stars. From movie stars, to music stars, to television stars, to now even reality television stars. With the invention of reality TV, talentless people can become wildly popular.* But the attraction to stars from a biblical perspective can shed light on how we are to interact with friends, family, and frienemies this holiday season.

Matthew 2:1-2, 9-11. A simple light hanging against a bruised colored sky led wise men to the truth. From this passage we learn these learned men were from the east, educated and wise, had political clout, knowledgeable in prophesy, indifferent to status (yet were of great wealth), and divinely in tune to spiritual matters.

Compare the wise men to the shepherds in Luke 2:8-12. Shepherds were lowly, base men who were looked down upon in society. They slept for several nights on end with sheep and probably smelled like sheep. Yet as non-entities in society they were endowed the privilege of worshiping the son of the Living God. Against the darkness of the night, both groups witnessed luminous, bright testaments to the coming birth of our Lord.

Society is telling us to be a star, act like a star, dress like a star. I would like to modify this thought. Be the star that leads wise men and simple men to the cross. Be the star that has answers and gives hope to those who are searching. Be the luminous voice from heaven that encourages even the lowly that are blessed and the Christ child has come for them.

Be a star! You never know--someone might ask you for your autograph ;)

*See William Hung and every show on E! entertainment channel.

Monday, December 7, 2009

if i perish, i perish...

Queen Esther had a choice to make. The annihilation of her people hung in the balance in which she could tip. Esther was full of excuses as to why she couldn't do what was being asked of her. Truth be known, they were pretty good excuses (you know, like not being put to death and other minor details). In verse 11 of chapter 4, Esther sandwiches her excuses neatly in between a slight possible hope, but sends it off as reasons why she is not the girl for the job.

But something happened. Something changed. Someone simply asked if perhaps she was brought to this position for a intended purpose.

Like Esther, I have a choice to make. I don't have a wise uncle by the name of Mordecai, but I have a wonderful mentor who I bug all the time. She questioned my faith in a recent email and I've been reading her email over and over everyday:
Esther went from being full of excuses to full of faith. Not full of wisdom or full of confidence, but full of faith. In one question asked of her by a dear mentor and friend, she acted valiantly. The question was simply, What if you come to this position for this exact purpose?

Excuses exists because they are legitimate reasons for not doing something. But does that mean we can't do it? Or does it mean we don't think we can? My mentor asked me why I was so fearful of making a certain decision. Oh Blog Friends, I listed a host of reasons really good reasons and excuses! She didn't combat me or convince me, but reminded me about faith in a Living God.

Are you struggling to make a decision? Have you made a decision you're proud of? In a myriad of choices, how do we choose? Esther made a decision with such brazen courage--let's do the same.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Video Post: convince me to have a child...

Instead of moderating the discussion or answering questions, I'm asking a question.

Share stories, provide insight, break down some theology--I'm asking with all sincerity.


If Paul is right, please convince me to find salvation ;)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

disney, dating, dreams, and dark romance...

Kisses to break sleeping spells, glass slippers and fairy godmothers, cursed apples and magic spells conjure up sweet Disney tales. If we're honest with ourselves, Walt's appropriation of fairy tales have formed Generation X's ideal romance. White horses, princes with kingdoms, harmless [yet difficult] obstacles to overcome are part and parcel of most young women's fantasy with love.* There's nothing intrinsically wrong with loving love, but it's very important to recognize the commodification of fairy tales and mass marketed romance that has pandered to young girls for the last thirty years.

But Generation Y is tired of Prince Charming and his polished savoir faire. There's a new hunk in dreams and he doesn't need pixie dust to sparkle. Edward Cullen is taking over dreams... yes, even mine.**

Disconcerting as it may be to some, Twilight and the umpteen books in the series are forming a new wave of fairy tale dreamers. Except, I have some qualms and issues needing to be addressed in regards to dating and romance via the philosophy of Stephanie Meyer. And yes, I'm the perfect person to address dating! Okay, okay, maybe the single girl in the last stages of her 20s isn't an expert on dating, but I'm an expert in identifying social trends and philosophical influence of mass media. So--cut me some slack!

I'm not bashing the series. Nor the movie. Nor Kristin Stewart and her very odd, singular Bella expression of I'm-confused-yet-sexy-and-breathy which bugs me to no end. All I'm saying is beware of the poison in the apple--it may look shiny and tasty, but when eaten, there is danger deep within.

Few cautions to pass along to young/dumb/innocent readers:
  • Tell young girls it's not cool to stay with someone after they've abandoned you in a cold forest and told you they don't love you nor want to be with you. [What Bella really needed was a friend to tell her, He's just not into you.]
  • Tell young girls it's not cool to flirt with a friend who likes you just because he can help you with things like building a motorcycle. [Which, by the way, what 15 year-old can build a motorcycle?! Come on, Stephanie!]
  • Tell young girls it's not cool to put yourself life-threatening situation even if visions of the pale man who dumped you in a forest occur. [Duh! He dumped you. He's just not that into you.]
  • Tell young girls it's not cool when your life is threatened or in danger in the presence of a man who can throw you across a room. [Yes, even if he says he's sorry and will never do it again.]
  • Tell young girls it's not cool to steal a sports car in a foreign country and drive recklessly in attempts to save a man who said he didn't love you from committing suicide.
Have I read Twilight? Yes. Have I watched the movies? Yes. Did I enjoy them? Yes. All I'm asking is for people to recognize the underlying messages and sudden philosophical, ethical, and metaphysical subtleties in popular media.

If Hosea's warning is true, then consider me your romantic life-line.

*I have friends who to this day dream of getting married in Snow White's castle in front of Fantasy Land. One girl I knew rented Cinderella's stagecoach and eight white horses to pull her up to her ceremony. [Note: It cost $6,000 for her 3-minute entrance.]
** I read Twilight in one day. Er, more like 9.73 hours. And yes, I dreamed I kissed Edward Cullen in Forks. I'm serious. Like, dead serious.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

100 word wednesday: laws of the land...

Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it's God's order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you're irresponsible to the state, then you're irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. (Romans 13:1-2, Message)

Six months have elapsed since the genesis of this blog and I’ve been pulled over four times by the California Highway Patrol. Allegedly I can’t stay below the speed limit. I’m trying to really follow street laws now. To the letter.

On the freeway I’m the only one without a "World's Best Grandma" bumper sticker putt-putting along at fifty-five. I should probably have my hazards on as cars whiz by me. They honk. They swerve. The drivers look at me like I’m the lone Red Sox fan at a Yankees game?!

But I do this for two reasons:

1. I can’t afford to pay more than the price of freedom for my insurance. I just refuse!

2. If I really claim to follow Jesus, then I need to be subject for the Lords’ sake to every human institution (1Peter 2:13-14). Here’s the best part: so do you!

Food for thought,
B

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

beautiful disaster...

Third year art students were required to scour the corridors of LACMA and find a piece to discover, unfold, reveal. Fully researched and prepared, a piece had been chosen because of it's beautiful perfection. It was neatly framed and cohesive and palatable to all viewers. It was perfect. But something paused the Hunt for the Perfect Art Piece. Overwhelmingly massive and jetting out from the wall was a large wooden assemblage art piece.

I had studied assemblage and the Dada art movement, but it was disastrous, heinous, and riotous to me. Really? Slapping junk together was hardly creative, let alone beautiful, I said to myself as I flipped through my Gardner's Art Through The Ages textbook. Finding redeeming qualities in chairs, boxes, poles, and crates was difficult--even for an neo-art snob like me.

Standing in front of this piece, however, brought to life the ugly, unsettling, unnerving beauty in the undone. It was a beautiful disaster.

When examining life, sometimes the neatly framed, cohesive, and palatable is over taken by the assemblage of the life's circumstances. Ephesians 2:10 says we are his workmanship. We are his art piece crafted according to his good purpose. When Life looks like a beautiful disaster, God has crafted us in his great beauty for his good works.

What is disastrous in your life? How can you find the beauty in it? Revel in being a beautiful disaster :)

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