Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hi Tray Tray, Where's Matt?

I sure am missing these little pricesses!

This past weekend Matt and I went to Roanoke for my family reunion, which was a lot of fun. I saw lots of other short people :)

We stayed with my parents, and at the moment that also means that we stay with my brother.

Shiloah (the youngest) is learning to talk and for some reason loves saying "Matt". All weekend she would walk up to me and say, "Hi Tray Tray, Where's Matt?" in the same breath. Then when she saw Matt she would walk up to him and say "Matt!" "Matt!".

It was very cute, but I was a bit jealous... she really likes my husband... but who doesn't?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

An easy opportunity to affect lives

If you have been reading my blog for long, you know that I recently read the book Red Letters by Tom Davis who is involved with several organizations to help provide care for orphans in Africa, specifically related to with the AIDS crisis that is so evident there.

Through the process of posting and thinking about what I can and should do with this I have been connected with several other internet bloggers who keep expanding my realm of possibilities to affect social change.

Today, I was reading Mike's post in reflection on Tom's article and found a link to Saint's Coffee. This company is a fair trade coffee distributor that partners with Children's Hope Chest and 5 for 50 to feed children. They do this through the proceeds they receive from our coffee orders. You can find out all the details on their website.

I just ordered one pound of whole been St. George the Dragon Slayer Blend. It is their signature blend. Consider the situation that I may be helping, the next comment may be a bit shallow, but the only draw back I saw when looking at the site was the shipping cost. To ship one pound of coffee it was $6.52 when the coffee only cost $11. I'm not sure how I feel about that. I also recently had a not to great experience with another local/organic food distributor that left me a bit skeptical of selecting products online for consumption. There is just something about touching and seeing thing first...

However, it has been over a week since I chewed any gum, which probably cancels out the price of shipping for this coffee :)

Anyways, if you are a coffee drinker or care about children who are suffering from or who have lost their parents to AIDS then this is one opportunity that seems like a win/win.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Still Musing about Jesus for President

On Tuesday night I went to see Shane Claiborne's presentation on his book Jesus for President. It would take me a long time to explain everything that he said and I think that he had a lot of very insightful, relevant, and challenging things to say... especially to people who profess to follow Jesus.

Afterwards I had some really great conversations with my friends and husband. I still haven't figured it all out and maybe I never will, but its kind of burdening me. (this type of thing usually doesn't leave my head until I come to some sense of balance). I normally operate in extremes, so this is a challenge for me. However, it seemed like Shane was asking us to operate in extremes and when I read the words of Jesus in the gospels I hear the same message... be a radical... live differently... be extreme in your following of another way of life...

So, here is where I am now. I wanted to email someone from their group and ask their opinion on this passage of scripture, but couldn't find an email address... so if you know who I should ask, please let me know.

This morning I came across 3 passages in Romans that are back to back... it left me more confused than ever:

Passage 1) Romans 11: 33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments...

This is probably the mystery part that I will continue to cling to... with hope and faith!

Passage 2) Romans 12 (all of it)

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world...
Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought...
Hate what is evil, cling to what is good...
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse...
Live in harmony with one another...
Do not repay anyone evil for evil...
overcome evil with good...

Seems to be in line with living differently.

Passage 3) Romans 13:1-7

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established...

Their government would have been a Roman government, not a connected to christianity, but these Roman christians were asked to obey them... it even says, For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong..

anyone who has thoughts on how to make sense of this (if you have read his book or went to the talk it would probably be helpful) please post ;)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day 4

I decided on Sunday not to chew any more gum. If you have stock in Wrigley's you may want to get out as I think I have been supporting them greatly over the past 10 years.

I've tried this several times in the past, but it hasn't worked. I'm on Day 4 and its going pretty well. I decided that every time I have a craving I am going to pray and ask God to move in the lives of our church communities and in the lives of those suffering from HIV/AIDS and sexual exploitation. All of my prayers are slightly different, but connecting two things is 1) helping me quit chewing gum and 2) helping to remember to pray.

A question

Is there a difference between judging someone and speaking truth to them?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Breaking News

Guess What! Visio Dei's new website is live :)

Check it out Here.

Out staff pages are really entertaining.

Thank you to everyone who worked really hard to get this thing done.


I just got this forward from my grandma... its a sample menu from Woolworth's in the 1950's.

We used to have one of these in Roanoke. I remember going to it as a kid, and I think the prices were only slightly higher in the 80s.

I want a 25 cent two scoop ice cream sunday :)

Looking for a good book

Recently I have been struck by how fascinating the Bible is.

Jeff taught on Sunday about the lens with which we view the world. Its worth a listen...

Anyways, this week I have read the following stories:

A woman leading others in singing and dancing

A woman who lead her people through a difficult battle (including directing a prominent soldier named Barak)

The rise and fall of a prideful warrior and the rewarding of a humble queen and her friend who took a huge risk

The traveling saga of a tent maker who was facing death at every turn

There are moments when scripture is uplifting and necessary for my soul
There are moments when stories are confusing and troubling
There are moments when I feel like I'm reading a really good novel

This Book comes highly recommended.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A mini thesis on Faith and Works

This post is going to be pretty long, but I really would like to hear some feedback on this stuff... the age old debate in the Christian Church. All perspectives are welcome.

I am reading the book Red Letters by Tom Davis. As part of the required feedback for the free book I am giving some commentary, but I think this post is a little more than what he is thinking and I would probably post it with out solicitation.

On p. 104 Davis shares a story from Matthew 25 about when Jesus separates the sheep and goats due to their caring for the poor, hungry, outcast etc.

Davis then goes on to pose the question, "What if there is a huge secret about what it means to "work out our salvation" in this verse? What if a life of faith is all about what Jesus was saying here?"

For some reason I stopped in my tracks while I was reading this (while working at NoFo on the deck... slow day). I seems like this was taking the works thing a bit too far. I've read and heard other arguments throughout my life that I think take the faith alone thing too far as well in ways that help to justify lifestyles that don't reflect Jesus at all, but now I'm stuck... so which is it? Faith? Works? Both? What really matters?

In order to move forward I asked the next two questions:

1) What does this debate in my head matter for?

Salvation, sanctification, the Kingdom of God, eternal security, life to the full on the earth...

2) To whom does the answer matter?

To God, to Jesus, to you, to me, to scholars out there, to the people we serve or fail to serve, to the people I lead...

All of these seem like valid perspectives and points of view to consider, but for me there are 2 reasons why I think its so important:

1) It matters to me personally for the way that I view and life my life. Basically for my internal battles and ability to live a healthy life style. Let me explain...

I lean most naturally towards perfectionism and go towards works when pursuing my value, worth, and identity. But, doing this has contributed to an eating disorder, unhealthy family patterns, and unnecessary stress because I am artificially taking on what I believe to be Jesus' role. Its only when I truly fall head on into God's grace (by faith alone) that I am free to live and act and serve.

I don't want to do or say anything that would contribute to others having to face the same internal turmoil that I have because I put too much emphasis on my works.

2) It matters to me as an evangelist because I believe that I am called specifically and all Christians are called generally to lead other people to following Jesus .

I don't want to lead others towards following something that does not reflect God's heart. If there should be more of an emphasis on works, then I want to help people discover that... if its faith and nothing else, I want to hold fast to that... if there is some mysterious mixture, I want to help people uncover that in their lives.

So, this leaves me attempting to put these ideas together. Here is where I stand:

Its both! In some mysterious way it is impossible to separate the two. I say this because Christ called us to follow him... he healed people, he sacrificed, he changed the world, he "worked". However, following him can't happen apart from trusting in him. That has to happen by faith. Following Jesus also means believing the things that he said about himself are true.. that he is God, that he died to redeem the world, that he rose from the dead, that he forgives us, that without faith it is impossible to please God. That he railed against the Pharisees and teachers of the law during his day because they put heavy burdens around people's necks that they could not fulfill without his grace and power. That he cares about our hearts more than our actions.

In the very next section of Matthew a woman pours purfume on Jesus' feet. This "waste" according to the disciples was responded to with great praise from Jesus.

I will finish this off with a quote from the book (p.105) Davis quotes Richard Rohr;

We don't think ourselves into new ways of living, we live ourselves into new ways of thinking.

I am going to choose to live with the assurance of Grace, that I am valuable because Jesus loves me and created me. When I mess up, am selfish, desire to control every aspect of my environment... I turn to Jesus. I will turn to scripture regularly to help me frame my outlook on the world. I will continue to struggle with tough questions. I will have faith.

I am going to choose to live with an open planner and wallet and will so that I can respond to needs. I am going to look at people as if they are Jesus and hopefully respond accordingly. I am going to hold onto my stuff loosely and place myself in situations where I will see needs that I can respond to.

I am not going to do this alone, but commit to being part of communities where there are other people who ask similar questions and are committed to seeing truth and participating in God's kingdom.

Please give me your thoughts if you have them.
If you made it this far... Thanks!

A thought

I'm eating black berries this morning as part of my breakfast. They made me think of my dad. When I was little I always used to enjoy eating fresh fruit with him for some reason.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Prayer Request

I don't pretend to understand war and am not attempting to make any type of political statement through this post. But, I do trust that somehow God hears us when we pray to him. I got an email forward today asking us to pray the following prayer for our troops. I don't like sending forwards so I am posting it here.

If you pray, will you pray for those men and women who are serving our country today?

'Lord, hold our troops in your loving hands.
Protect them as they protect us.
Bless them and their families for the selfless acts they perform for us in our time of need.

Board to Death?

I think the saying "I'm board to death" originated in the Bible... Read the end of Acts 19.

Paul (the guy who helped to start and spread Christianity) was leaving the city and it was his final night there so scripture says he "went on and on" all through the night.

At one point a young man who was listening fell asleep, and fell out a window (3 stories) to his death. Can you imagine the sorrow and panic?

At first I laughed a bit because it seemed to fit with the above phrase so well, then I read on... Paul went down and threw himself on his friend and brought him back to life. The people left encouraged because of the great power that was shown on Paul's last night with them. After saving the young man Paul continued to teach the people into the early morning hours. Then he left for the next location.

I wasn't sure why people would stay up all night long listening to one person teach, but then I read on some more. In Acts 20 it talks about the relationship that Paul had with the next city that he went to. He brought passion, power, prayer, was filled with the Holy Spirit, he taught them, he encouraged them. They were built up and prepared for giving of themselves through his presence with them.

I'm amazed by the details of scripture. I'm amazed by the power of God. Thanks be to God that He is the same one we serve today.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A petition to sign

If you have been following my blog for long you know that I am part of a group called Jubilee, standing for justice and rejoicing in freedom. We have recently become connected with On Eagles Wings in Asheville, NC that is working to establish a home that will care for survivors of human trafficking.

They have started a petition and are attempting to get 15,000 signatures by the end of 2008. You can be one of those people.

Getting people to sign the petition is as an act of stating you are aware of the problem of human trafficking because along with restoration they are also working on education.

Moving Adventures

To most people packing up and moving entire houses is not a highlight, to say the least. But, last night I was reminded of a couple reasons why I love it.

I wish I had a picture to better describe the first one, but my words will have to do.

#1: I get to feel like Catherine Zeta-Jones in Entrapment.

Corey and Matt had packed the Budget Van within a foot or two from the ceiling and then they called me in for a special operation.

I got to crawl back in a hole and help pull the mattress over the corner that it was stuck on and then proceed to fill in the gaps with boxes they slid to me one at a time.

One day I will pass this opportunity on to my niece Hannah.

#2: I am reminded of one of the many reasons my husband is a blessing to my family.

Matt is one of the most patient and engineering minded people that one can find. My family... not so big on the patience and think through-it-ness when it comes to the practical; i.e. moving. (We are really good at the spiritual, emotional, and intellectual, but the practical...hmm)

Anyways, Matt first got instated in my family by helping to move me 6 times during our first year of being together. Then the real bonding came when he helped my Dad move a family in South Carolina in the middle of the summer. (I also got to be Catherine Zeta-Jones that time :)

And, just last night Matt and Corey were moving together. I am so thankful for my husband, his patience, his ability to bare with us in our frustrations, to bring humor and calmness to the some times so hectic and emotional Paxton family.

I believe that our family is growing in many ways and my husband is contributing to our growth. Its cool how God brings people together in new ways.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Its amazing what a little time with Jesus will do

I woke up this morning feeling like I was going to puke. I had to cancel on a friend for walking (one of my favorite things to do) because I knew my mind and heart were not in a place be who God called me to.

The first thing I did after I woke up was brush my teeth and then weigh myself... seriously, you might think thats not a big deal if you don't know me that well, but for those of you who do, this is not a common occurrence. I'm thinking to myself, what the heck is going on?

Well, I was craving some time with Jesus to center and reframe. This is what I read.

Colossians 3:12-17

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in our hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Once again, allowing the peace of Christ that is already there to wash over me is more powerful than anything that I can say to myself or do.

Thank you God for your peace and bringing it to me so quickly today. You really to hear us when we pray. You really do give us what we ask when we ask in your name. You are truly amazing.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

deep breathing required

this week is a a great week and a tough week for me...

Great because I'm getting to participate in a lot of meaningful things with Visio Dei;
Great because my brother and his family are pursuing opportunities that God has for them;
Tough because they are moving;
Tough because I put a lot of pressure on myself.

I think it would help to cry, but for some reason I'm having a hard time...
There are just too many new ideas and thoughts and emotions right now. I want to scream....


Oh, now I feel better :)

At some point I'll be ready to process all of this, but now, I'm off to work...
Breathe in 1, 2, 3.... Out 1, 2, 3...
Here we go!
Fun adventures with a full life.

Monday, July 7, 2008

today's meditation

In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will-- to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Ephesians 1:5-6

Friday, July 4, 2008

How do you arrange your life?

This morning I was reading and came across this quote,

You can not run a marathon simply by going out and trying-- not even by trying very hard. Instead, you must arrange your life around activities that will enable you to eventually do what you cannot (even with great willpower) do now.

I have to ask myself. Do I arrange my life around the things that help me do what I cannot do now?

In a lot of ways I think I do.
In a lot of ways I think I don't.

Spiritually: I desire to live in God's grace. This is probably the hardest thing for me to continuously do on spiritual journey. So, today I am going to meditate on this...

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love...

At work: I hope to become more proactive rather than reactive. So, next week I am going to work on the things I need to focus on before checking my email.

These are just two areas that I am going to work on.
Anyone else care to try something new?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

steps towards my personal mission statement

Right now I am reading about 6 books... that is probably too many for any of them to make a lasting impression on my brain because they are all twisting together, but I am attempting to see how they connect.

One of the books is The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey. In his second habit he challenges the reader to make a personal mission statement, basically the values and principles through which you will center your life and decisions. I had a hard time figuring out where to start on that and have a few drafts going...

Then last night I was reading Habit 4 "Think Win/Win" and came across this quote:

Most people tend to think in terms of dichotomies: strong or weak, hardball or softball, win or lose. But that kind of thinking is fundamentally flawed. Its based on power and position rather than on principle. Win/Win is based on the paradigm that there is plenty for everybody, that one person's success is not achieved at the expense or exclusion of the success of others. p. 207

Another book I'm reading is Red Letters: Living a faith that bleeds by Tom Davis. I recently posted my thoughts about Jesus' perspective on living with "what can offer mentality".

When I was in grad school I read some books by Parker Palmer and one of the ideas that we discussed was living a life out of abundance vs. out of scarcity. I started thinking about that again this morning...

One of the fundamental things that I want to base my life on is living my life with an abundance perspective. This will challenge me to be less rigid with my schedule and my "to do" lists, but I think that its something that I already try to do and want to cultivate further.