Devotion of Faith

Lately, I have wondered why I believe my religion is right. We grow up being told from the moment we are children to believe a certain thing. Our context shapes what we believe in. Often times, our parents tell us what our religion is from the time we are born and we just know that we are to believe that it’s true.

I would say that many a Christian was raised on the notion that Jesus Christ is our savior and that he died for our sins. I was certainly raised up that way and I believe that notion with my whole being. My faith in Christ is not faltering. Rather, what is happening is that I’m wondering what makes me right and even more than that, I am wondering what makes other people wrong.

I strongly believe that the reason Jesus Christ was sent to our world by God was to give each and every one of us a second chance, a clean slate. When I think about what Jesus did for me, I am in  complete awe and I express my gratitude often. What confuses me is whether or not the old testament was discounted by the death of Jesus and if it was, was all of it discounted or were only certain parts discounted? This is how I see it: when Jesus died on the cross (even though this didn’t actually happen), I like to imagine billions and trillions of people (myself included) lining up in front of Christ on the cross. Each person in this line is holding a debt certificate. As Jesus is dying, He is willingly taking each and every person’s certificate and replacing his/her name with His own. 2 Corinthians 5:15 says that Jesus “died for all.” To me this means that some of the things in the old testament saying that people who have different religions don’t get to have eternal life went with those debt certificates and Jesus Christ to the grave. That same verse also says “so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose on their behalf.” This is where it gets wishy-washy. Jesus died for “all.” All means everyone. Everyone means…well…everyone. Then, it says that because Jesus died for everyone, those people will live for Him. What about the people who don’t live for Jesus Christ?

I do have hard evidence that Jesus died for their sins as well as ours. If that’s true, why do we live for Him and why do others not live for Him? I believe it goes back to the context thing. On one hand, I believe that people who don’t believe Jesus Christ came to save us all are wrong about that, but on another hand, I believe that God manifests in different people in different ways and that Christianity isn’t above any other religion. I think religion and spirituality can sometimes be contextual.  Those are  probably bold statements.

I am not losing faith. I am challenging faith. I think faith should be challenged. Note that when I say that, I don’t mean that God should be challenged. We are all on this faith journey through our lives and I am going through a time in my journey when I am feeling connected and faithful, yet lost and confused.

I am of the United Methodist denomination of Christianity and since I was a child I was told that God loves me and everyone else and that we have an accepting God. I was told to always be an accepting person myself and that was part of my duty to my God. I hold fast to that, and I love my neighbor. I love my Christian neighbors, my Muslim neighbors, my Buddhist neighbors, my Shinto neighbors, my homosexual neighbors, my heterosexual neighbors, my White, Black, Asian, Latino, purple, blue, polka dotted neighbors…the list goes on and on. What I know is this: God told me to love my neighbor as he has loved me. That means I love all people with all of my being because that is the way God loves me.

Finally Some Time to Relax!

Wednesday night I drove back home to go to a doctor’s appointment Thursday afternoon. Getting there, as always, is a pain in the butt, but it was the departure that was stressful.

I was all ready to leave; all packed and getting ready to say goodbye to Luke (my boyfriend) when I realized the last time I went home, I only filled my gas tank halfway, meaning I wasn’t sure if I had enough gas to get home. Luke and I went out to the parking lot to check my gas levels and of course my car was not parked in that lot, it was in another one. It was just a short walk away, but this only heightened my frustration. So we took our walk to the car and lo and behold, my needle was almost on empty. Naturally, I burst into tears saying to a frustrated Luke over and over again, “I’m never going to get home! I just want to go home and I can’t even get there!” Of course, this was completely irrational, but the thing is this: I am a poor (poor poor poor poor) college student and I (sadly) must rely on my parents to buy my gas. Just to my dismay, my parents don’t get paid until Thursdays and since it was only Wednesday, my mom couldn’t transfer funds into my bank account. Now the screaming and crying probably makes a little more sense. Luke had a check in his room, but not much in his account, so we had to go to his room, get the check, and cash it. It turned out to be just my luck that the bank Luke uses takes at least one business day to process deposits. This resulted in another crying fit. Luke (the best boyfriend EVER) transferred funds from his savings account back into his checking account and bought my gas and I was finally off for my hour and a half drive in rush hour.

Although I had a rough afternoon, it was great spending time with my family.

Thursday morning, I went to see an old and teacher and friend who gave me advice and perspective. Then, I went to brunch with my mom and then to my doctor’s appointment.

I was so nervous to go in because of the recent stomach pains I have been experiencing. When I got in, the doctor was great.

Here’s the diagnosis as of now:

-Chronic pain syndrome with migraine

-Severe mittelshmerz pain (ovulatory pain)

-Vitamin D deficiency

-Immune sensitivity

Here’s the TREATMENT (I rarely get a treatment I am hopeful about, so I’m pretty excited):

-Hormone therapy (which should help with the stomach pain and possibly the headaches)

-A live probiotic with vitamin D and cranberry

Clearly, I’m excited. I’m very hopeful about this. Pray that it works!

I drove back up to school Friday morning and had a night in with Luke and then today, I was able to have some quality alone time and time to relax and unwind. This was so much what I have been needing lately. I have been feeling so much stress and pressure and it was nice to not have a worry.

What I’ve taken away from the past few weeks is that even through difficult and stressful times, taking care of myself emotionally is most important. I find when I have days or weeks where I’m experiencing a lot of pain, there’s not much I can do for myself physically, so the most important thing is to take care of myself mentally and emotionally.

I’ve had a great last few days.

That’s all.

🙂

Prayers Needed…………

On Wednesday after lunch, I began to feel a dull, but unbearable pain in my abdomen. Now, I have had this pain before over the past two months, but not this intense and not this persistent. As it continued to hurt, I decided I needed to take a trip to urgent care. I went to the on-campus urgent care and waited in a waiting room in writhing pain for almost two hours (I realize I would have been waiting even longer if I had gone to a regular urgent care or the emergency room, but two hours is a long time to sit around in pain). When I finally was called in to see a nurse practitioner, I was in the clinic for about an hour. She wanted to know about my symptoms and of course she saw my consistent widespread chronic pain as an intriguing mystery, so she asked a lot about that as well. At the end, she ordered six types of blood tests and a urine test.

The next day, I had to go back in to get all those tests done and of course my arm wouldn’t stop bleeding as it tends to do when I get blood drawn (I have had many a blood test and for some reason my arm continues to bleed for a few minutes after they suck it out of me) and I just so happened to not have to go pee when I did the urine test. Trying to force urine out when there isn’t much in your bladder is quite the task…let’s not talk about that. The good news was that they said my results would be back by the next day.

So here we are. It’s Friday, a day after I got my tests done and my results were emailed to me.

My blood work looked mostly normal with the exception of slightly low Vitamin D, which is not likely caused by an absorption problem which is a good sign.

My urine test, on the other hand, came back a little wonky. I was instructed to come back for another test next week (this time I will make sure to prepare by drinking a ton of water before-hand so I actually have to go) to recheck that. The test from yesterday makes my doctor suspect a urinary tract infection, but I am not showing signs of a UTI of the urethra (yes gross), which is a bit worrisome considering the fact that UTIs gone untreated can cause kidney problems.

If that comes back negative, I need to go see a gynecologist to see if I have a problem with my ovaries.

Please take a moment to put me into your prayers over the next week or so. I am worried and scared and could use a little extra support. Thank you.

Simplicity v. Duplicity v. Complexity

Each night I read either one long devotion with scripture or I read two or three short devotions with scripture.

Last night, I only read one, but I can’t stop thinking about. it….because I am so confused by it!

I read a devotion about the notion of simplicity that went with 1 Kings 11:1-13.

The scripture was about King Soloman and all his (700, holy crap) wives. It talked about how each of his wives was from a different land than he and worshiped different gods than he. Long before, God had warned that he must not turn his back on his God and worship other Gods. Of course, Soloman marries all these women and builds shrines for them to worship their own gods in. God got angry that Soloman disobeyed him and he said that his son will have the kingdom torn from him as punishment.

These verses are not difficult to understand; however, the devotion had me spinning.

It talked about how the opposite of simplicity is not complexity like we all automatically think; the opposite of simplicity is duplicity. Duplicity, meaning that we try to make copies of ourselves to get everything done that we need to get done.

I do not understand this concept.

I think it means that people are always hoping for more of anything (e.g. time, money) and that is not what God is calling us to do. God calls us to be the truest, most simple version of ourselves we can be.

We get too caught up in the stresses of our everyday lives and we always want there to be more. God wants us to see that what we have is enough.

He wishes us to accept a more simple life and be thankful for having enough. Now, when I say “a more simple life,” I don’t mean move to the country and start a farm. Rather, I mean take a step back and enjoy what you have and stop asking for more. In the end, enough is enough and I mean that in the most positive way.

Plan accordingly and you will be alright with what you have and the way your life is at this moment.

It’s so interesting because last night after I read this devotion I said to God, “Well, that really isn’t what I was looking for tonight,” when in reality, it probably was. The fact that I was stewing over it all night and all morning means it was what I needed.

Don’t speak too soon when it comes to God. He has a way of smacking us in the face with something we don’t think we want or need.

SUCCESS!!

Ahhhhhh!

Going home this weekend, as suspected, was just what I needed.

I was so desperate that I skipped my 2:00 Psychology class so I could get home earlier on in the day on Friday. I got home around 2:30 Friday and I spent time with my sisters then watched my favorite guilty pleasure, Dance Moms. When my mom got home, we went to get my hair cut (7 inches later, I had a bob) and went to dinner with her best friend, Kari. We talked for probably two hours over dinner and where I was happy, I was sad thinking about how much I missed doing that.

Saturday morning, I went to talk to my mentor, Bobbie, and that, too, was something I have been missing so much. She is my out. She is the one person I feel I can go to with literally anything and not receive any judgment. After that, I saw my brother play baseball and then my mom took me shopping.

Sunday, I went to church and then back up to Fort Collins and met my partner in crime, Luke, and his family for his birthday.

For our music, his parents and uncle bought him/us a new microphone and audio adapter so we can record our music.

Last week, I was having such a hard time. I was so depressed, stressed, and just overall upset. Beginning this week, I am feeling so great. I feel so ready to face the next few weeks head on.

I realize that I have so much more to look forward to than to dread.

It’s October, my favorite month of the whole year.

The next time I go home, I get to see some of my best friends that I missed this time.

November will have come and gone before I know it and I will get to visit Texas to see the some family who I miss incredibly and it’s Thanksgiving, which is probably my favorite holiday (maybe just behind my birthday…).

After Thanksgiving, December will come and go before I know it and the semester will be over and I’ll get to be home for a few weeks with all of my great friends who I miss!

Above all, though, is the fact that I absolutely love Fort Collins and feel so blessed to have the opportunity to be here.

I love and miss my friends and family dearly, but I know that this is where I belong and where I would like to be for a long time.

Thanking God for this day, this week, this month, this year, this life! I am feeling so blessed today.

Before you go to bed tonight, try to think of at least three reasons you have to be thankful.

Wanting to Feel Refreshed

Today is Friday: The best day of the week; the day when the end of the week seems like it is going to be so easy and the beginning of the weekend is so exciting. This past week, I had one of the most emotional breakdowns I have ever gone through.

The transition to college is tough because it’s exciting, fun, and new at the same time as being daunting, scary, and emotional.

I’m not feeling upset because of school. In fact, school takes my mind off of it. All my classes challenge me, but I enjoy them. They help me to focus on the reason why I came to college in the first place and not all the other side factors. The only problem is that although I am here for an education (which I believe I will get here), a very big part of college is social.

So my next point makes sense to me so let’s put aside the fact that my PSY210 professor told me that personality tests are neither valid, nor reliable because I found this and all other tests I’ve taken to be quite accurate and if I want to ignorantly feel like a website is telling me about my life so that I can feel better then I will.

Now, I took one of those 16-Type personality tests yesterday. I was classified as an INFJ where I am introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging, and turbulent. Basically, I like people, but I need my alone time at the end of the day (which is tough to get when you have a roommate so let’s make that emotional freakout factor #1). I am very intuitive, which I agree with wholeheartedly, meaning that I can sort of tell how a person is feeling and why. This makes me a feeler…I would say that means that I take on the burden of other people’s feelings so that maybe they won’t have to feel so bad. Sweet, right? No. Try exhausting (emotional freakout factor #2). I am judging and that doesn’t mean what one would think it means. I’m not judgemental toward other people (not any more than the average person, of course, but not any less either). It means that I’m a control freak. I like to exert control by planning, organizing, and long-thought-out decision-making. I don’t think this contributed to my emotional freakout at all…rather, I think it helps me and makes me feel better when my life is completely organized. That turbulent part means that I’ll fly off the handle at any time…in other words, I have a low tolerance for stress. That is definitely factor #3 to my emotional freakout.

Aside from my personality, I left a very close church home a few months ago and I miss my friends. In addition, I miss my mommy and my sister and I had two papers due, a midterm and a final over the last week going in to next week. Those things likely contributed to stress.

After my emotional freakout, I decided I really needed some Jesus to fill my cup. I have not gone to a bible study or even a church because I don’t want to be disappointed. I am in the mindset where I feel like nothing is ever going to be as good as my old church home and none of the people are going to connect with me that same way again. In a sense, this is absolutely true, but my wording is off. Instead of comparing two groups as “better” and “worse,” I have been trying to think of them simply as “different.”

So I built up the courage to go the a weekly bible study with the a United Methodist Church close to campus. As it turned out, the discussion didn’t seem as in-depth as it did at my old church, but it was quite different in nature. All the people seemed very nice and extremely welcoming (I hate to admit it, but probably more welcoming than my old church home was when I first came a few years ago). The conversation was more bible-based and less God-based or spiritual-based, if you will. At that I was disappointed, but I realize that there have been times back home where we talked about bible stories and more logistically what God meant. For me, that isn’t as fulfilling as enlightening, but I know that this group will not always talk about only that and things similar to it.

I am really trying to take a step back and open my mind because although I love dearly my church home, I am not there anymore and when it comes down to it, praying, bible study and meditation all on my own just doesn’t quite cut it. I need discussion to really fill that cup to the brim with love of/for God.

This weekend, I am going home. I am going to spend some time with my mentor in hopes that I feel like all is well with me soul (as she would say), I am going to spend time with my mom and my sister, I am going to cut my hair, and I am going to take a chance to appreciate what I have at home, but approach what I have at school head-on.

I hope you all take the opportunity today to breathe deep the breath of God and feel refreshed.

Are My Friends Replacable?

I am in my seventh week of my freshman year in college. So far, I have been adjusting well and haven’t had trouble with that “childhood to college” transition. I am involved, I hang out with new people, and I have a routine set up for myself (which is good because I’m a crazy person who absolutely needs everything in my life mapped out to not feel completely out of control). I have been seeing people all around me missing home and having a really hard time getting used to being away from Mom and Dad and I was just sitting back thinking about how well I am doing.

Well, today, I was the kid crying on the phone to my mom about being home sick. I was reading my very good friend, Amanda’s, blog here on WordPress and listening to music and I just burst into tears.

I miss my friends.

The people I met at my church back home became the most influential people in my life during my years in high school. That goodbye almost two months ago now was the hardest one I have ever had to do. I have a big family back home that loves me and that made my years in high school worthwhile.

I called my mom in a panic saying that I couldn’t do this and I needed everything to go back to the way it was. Of course, that is absolutely not going to happen and I don’t truly want that, but there is an immense pain in missing not just one person, or a few people, but a whole community of people.

I took a step back to look at my life as it is right now. I have my wonderful boyfriend here at school with me and I spend a lot of time with him. I have my roommate who I spend a bit of time with, but I haven’t made any great friends here at school. I finally realized that I am afraid to make new friends.

I am afraid that if I open myself up to new people, especially a new church home, that I will be replacing my friends in my life.

I think about the great relationships I have with the friends and family back home and I don’t think I will ever form relationships anything like those again. What I need to really need to realize that it is a good thing to never make relationships the same as the ones I have. I am going to be so much happier to maintain the relationships that I have back at home and to make new kinds of relationships.

I don’t want to replace the people I love the most in my life. No matter how many new people I let into my life, I will never be replacing the ones that already hold a place in my heart.

I suppose I will just have to continue to allow my heart to get bigger and bigger as to make room for each person that enters my life.

Thank you, Amanda, and all my other Smoky Hill friends who inspired me to write and to put no limit on the love I accept and give. I love you guys.

Here’s to letting new people into my heart.