The inflammables of life

It was wretchedly ironic, truly it was. There is stood, bold as brass, a billboard stretching 30 feet long, large thick letters proclaiming “Come here to by your new Home! In our new subdivision!”. The truly ironic part was the background this billboard stood courageously in front of; charred mountainside. Blackened broken homes. Dry dead trees. The effects of the Waldo Canyon fire.

As I gazed at the depressingly ironic scene before me, the fragility of life struck. Or perhaps, to be ecclesiastical about it, the futility of life. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t just give up on life, love, and happiness, but there was a dark cloud that came over my heart. I thought, maybe, as the Joker in Batman says “Everything burns”. Sometimes it can seem that way when our lives fall in around us, as life has for many Coloradans in the past weeks. When something you are so familiar with (like your home), or something that has played a large role in who you are (like your town) is threatened or taken away, it can make you doubt the very core of who you are. The very reason you are here. What or who truly matters?

I think often we live our lives like that sign, bold and ignorant to the world raging around us. We build our houses, base our lives on them, not realizing how truly disposable they are. Without meaning to, we live lives that are terribly flammable. And when all we are familiar with is taken away, we are left gasping for air and wondering what this crazy thing called life is truly about.

There is a poster that went up all over my city shortly after the Waldo Canyon Fires began that said “Community Doesn’t Burn Down”. When I saw it, It echoed true in my soul. For I knew that there were truly things that are inflammable in life. And those things are the eternal things. The things we are meant to live for, that will never burn, never fade, never die. They are the things that make a life longer than 80 years, a legacy more than inheritance, a day more than 24 hours.

The key of it all lies here; this life time is not the end all be all, we are heavenly beings on our journey home. The notions that ought to concern us are the true, real, incorruptible, heavenly things. Faith, friendship, love, truth, laughter, family, forgiveness, stories, music. These things do not burn. When die, they don’t die with us. Every day, we choose either to build our lives of wood and clay, or of love and faith. And truly, what is worth laboring for? When we spend our whole life gathering earthly-ness, it is nonsense. What of earth belongs in heaven? And we belong in Heaven. These words have meant more to me in the last weeks, with emergency after emergency, than any other time in my life.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

There is a life, a treasure that is not corruptible. And that is what we ought to be building our lives on. When you labor at your life, to build the things of this earth, then you come to the end and realize “this is it! Nothing else! I have build my kingdom here, and there is nothing more. I have had my reward here.” And what sort of a reward is that when it is so unsure even on earth? No, I want to die someday, knowing that I have built a life, a kingdom, a legacy beyond my years. And I truly want to build that kingdom as the kingdom of heaven, with God.

This is not to say that the things of this world, homes, food, music ect., are pointless. They are not! In fact I think they are types and shadows of what heaven will be like. But the true value in all those things is the love and relationships that they create. For that is what makes the richness of it all! Not the things. And so, as my state has so incomprehensibly proved, Community does not burn. Love does not burn. Faith does not burn.

So, let us live live lives that are inflammable. That no matter what comes, we know in the deepest parts of our souls, that even if we loose everything here, we have lost nothing in the long run. For there is a treasure in heaven if we live our lives in expectancy of it.

To sign off, I leave with you with a quote from one of my favorite authors, LM Montgomery, in passage from “Anne of the Island” as Anne grapples with the death of her friend Ruby, for it’s just like I feel after these last weeks.

“Anne walked home very slowly in the moonlight. The evening had changed something for her. Life held a different meaning, a deeper purpose. On the surface it would go on just the same, but the deeps had been stirred. It must not be with her as with poor butterfly Ruby. When she came to the end of one life it must not be to greet the next with shrinking terror of something wholly different- something from which accustomed thought and ideal and aspiration had unfitted her. The little things of life, sweet and excellent in their place, must not be the things lived for, the highest must be sought and lived for: The life of heaven must be begun here on earth.”

Love and all that.

Joyness

 

 

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Boyfriends, Shootings, and True Love

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“Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”- John 15:13

Last Friday morning I laboriously forced my groggy eyes open, stretched, contemplated getting up, and then decided in the negative. The previous night (or perhaps I should say morning?) I had gone with my family and some friends to see “The Dark Knight Rises” at the midnight premier, and thus was rather exhausterated. Within a few minutes my mother poked her head in my door to see if I was awake, I stretched/waved hello to give her the idea that I was alive, and she crept in. She does this often when her lazy teenager sleeps in, pokes in, smiling, say hello and tells me that the world is awaiting my arrival. But this morning, there was something wrong. I could tell. Her eyebrows were knit.

“Morning sweetie. There’s something I need to tell you. Last night, a shooter came into one of the midnight premiers, opened fire, killed 12 people and injured 58.” She said.

The words hit me like a ton of bricks. I sat up. I immediately thought of my friends that had gone to another theater, I panicked. Which Theater? Where? WHY?

“Which theater?” was all I could choke out.

“The one in Aurora.”

Selfishly, I was glad that none of my dear ones were hurt. But suddenly tears welled up in my eyes at the tragedy, the sadness, the unexplainable, incomprehensible evil of it. Later I found out that a girl from a speech and debate family I knew had been shot in the arm 3 times and once in the head, her recovery is miraculous (read here for the whole story… here ) Even then, it was so close to home. Someone I’d seen, my dear friends cousin. These evil things are the sorts of things that happen on movies! On the news! Not so close to home, so close to my life. It was too evil. I couldn’t grasp it. Just like many many others, I found myself grappling with a Joker like evil, that stared me right in the face and laughed.

As the week has worn on, the nastiness of it still surprises me. A few days ago, however, I saw this article ( here ) and was struck by something. The article tells about how 3 boyfriends laid down their lives to protect their girls. Something about this struck home with me.

I imagined myself into their skin. I imagined MY boyfriend dying for me, taking a bullet instead of me. For one thing, it would break me, beyond what I can even imagine. But, there’s something else… Each one of those men protected the life of their women, and in doing so, showed the value of their women’s days. If I were those girls, I would feel like every day that I lived had been bought with a high price; the price of their lives. A price I could never pay back. A price that would give every day a special value to it, because I was honoring their sacrifice with living the days they had given me well, with love,  and with purpose. Being thankful, because they bought MY days with their blood.

Through the gloom of all this evil, I see in this a shining light of nobility in those men’s actions.

As I thought on the value that a life lived because of someone else’s sacrifice, It hit me. As a Christian, I believe that Christ died that I might have life. I am in the exact same place as those girls. MY days have a price on them, they are precious. To be lived with a sense of urgency, gratefulness, and excellence, because I have been bought by the blood of my beloved. It makes me think of this.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:10

The shooter that night came to steal kill and destroy, those men gave their lives so their women could live, and have life to the full. How beautiful is it to realize that God has given his life to us in the same way. It is noble. It is beautiful. It is sobering.

Today, as I think on this, it makes me want to live my life in a way that speaks to heaven “thank you. Thank you for what you did”. I want to live my life to the “full” with a deep sense of gratefulness.

All this has saddened me, but strengthened me to live every day in the grace of God, with the realization that today is a gift, not a right. I want to continue praying for everyone effected by this tragedy. And mostly to live the days I have left, be they many or few, with the intensity of understanding their worth.

“Teach us to count the days, teach us to make the days count, lead us in the better ways, for somehow our souls forgot. Life means so much, life means so much, life means so much.”- Chris Rice.

With Love,

Joyness

Learning to Love the Right Things (like Neo Pets and Anne of Green Gables)

I have a friend named Christie. Maybe the word “friend” doesn’t sum it up. Perhaps these would be more along the descriptive lines.

ImagePartner in Crime

ImageFellow Face-maker

ImageLazy buddy

ImageFashionista hairstylist

ImagePouting partner

ImageAdventurer

ImageBasically… We’re really good friends. 🙂

We have been friends for a long time, and are rather fond of each other. Everywhere we go, people assume the other one is close behind. I’m really thankful for my bosom buddy, and will miss her somethin’ awful when we go our separate ways for college. We have alike souls, and love the same things.

BUT! It wasn’t always that way.

When I met Christie at the tender age of 9, we did NOT get along. She like neo pets, I liked pretending. She liked dragons, I liked Anne of Green Gables. I danced through life in a constant flurry, with fuzzy wavy hair and far too many freckles, never quite in the real world, naming rose bushes, and having imaginary friends. Christie walked through life in a competent way for a ten year old, hair neatly pulled back or parted down the middle, a committed martial artist, who sewed her own costumes, and had exceptional grammar. All this to say… we were quite different.

The first time I went to Christie’s house, we jumped on her trampoline with her brother Jack. We argued over what game to play, neither giving way as we were both rather head strong, and finally ended the day drinking tea at each other in a malicious manner. I didn’t like her, and the feeling was mutual.

However, our parents decided to be friends, and so we were tossed together a lot over the next few years. Our mom’s started a homeschool history group with us and another family. The Weakly’s started traveling with us to conferences. Alltogether, I started seeing a lot of Christie.

As fate (or the Lord) would have it, Christie and I slowly but surely began to be friends. We began to learn to mesh. I made allowances for her, and she for me. As we got older, we began to like some of the things each other liked, our interests began to become similar. We were still the different as could be friends. The ISTJ and the ENFP… But through our friendship we grew to love the other person, and in turn, love what they loved. Since then we’ve walked through hellfire and heaven together. And after 8+ years… I couldn’t be more grateful for such a fast friend.

Being friends with Christie has taught me something about God. Oftentimes, I have felt a failure to God because I can’t DO all the right things. I would go to youth groups and hear great inspiring messages like “You need to be HOLY! You need to drop everything you like and sacrifice it!” “Share your faith.” “Start a prayer group.” “Be like Jesus.” I wanted to be a good Christian, I really did, but Christianity started feeling like a duty, a checklist. Like all those things we were what I had to do to get my “get out of hell free” card. When I say it that way, it sounds rather heretical, doesn’t it? But I think we have all been guilty of that at some point.

That’s not what God really wants, though. It says in Hosea 6:6

“For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the Knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings”

God created us for relationship with Him, first and foremost that is what he wants. Even in the Old Testament full of laws and rules, he first established that the Israelites were His People, aside from their actions or sins. “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people” (Leviticus 26:12). God wanted to walk beside them as their God.

However, if you’ve ever read the Bible, you’ll remember that Leviticus, where that very verse is found, is a whole book of laws about everything. From the grand scheme of things to itty bitty minutia, it seems that God has a way that everything should be done, and not done. It doesn’t seem one could be a Jew under the law for just one day without breaking some law or another.

Now, luckily, we no longer live under the levitical law, however Jesus the Bible is still full of commands on how we ought to live our lives. God still doesn’t like sin. So, which is it? Does God want relationship? Or does he want us to DO all the right things?

Here’s where my relationship with Christie comes in. When I first met Christie, we did not mesh, we were different, and liked different things. I could not have forced her to like Anne of Green Gables, and she could not have cajoled me into Neo Petting (is that even a thing? Is that what you call it?). We were too drastically different and there was no relationship there. However, the closer I got to Christie, the more we sacrificed, moved, shifted and changed to suit each others lives. I played her games because I loved her. I learned to love what she loved, because I loved her. In  the same way, when we enter a relationship with God, we are drastically different from Him. He is holy, we are sinful. There is no way that we can expect our sinful dirty self to just up and start liking be really good and doing all kinds of good deeds. And that is not the heart God wants from us. He wants our “loyalty” and a “knowledge” of him. First and foremost, we must know God. Learn to love Him and be in relationship. The closer you are to God’s heart, the more you learn to love what he loves, and hate what He hates. It is from that relationship that good works come. Not from just trying really hard, the Bible is pretty clear that our attempts of Righteousness are pretty useless. Our lives will only be transformed by a relationship with God. The longer we walk with Him, the more we become like him. “For it is God who is at Work in you, to will and to work for His Good Pleasure.” Phillipians 2:13

And that is what Christie has taught me about God. That before I can ever be like God, I must know Him. The more I love Him, the more I love the things he loves. The right things. Because It’s not only about doing the right things, but loving the right things. And finally… that there is Great Joy in a close relationship.

Blessings and all that!

Much Love,

Joyness

The Brother’s Grimm Mistake

Hello, World!

Someday I will post deep thoughts again… but for today, I encourage you to be amused by this ten minute Original Duo Interpretation that me and my speech Partner Benjamin Griffith wrote and performed for the Speech Season. We got 3rd Nationally. It sure was fun. I hope you laugh!

Cheers!

joyness