Monday, August 31, 2009

Cling to the ONE who gives strength

This passage comes from Psalm 62, written centuries ago, but speaking volumes into our need to cling to God, not just in difficulty, but for identity, purpose, power and meaning.

v. 5-8
For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken.
On God rests my deliverance and my honor; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.
Trust in him at all time, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

I love the part about pouring our hearts out before him... God really cares about us, wants to strengthen us and offer us healing and restoration for the hurt places in our personal lives and in the hurting relationships we may have with others. Its worth it to pour out our hearts and receive the peaceful refuge for our souls.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I thought Matt was the one getting older today?

Today I had 2 experiences where I thought to myself, really?

1) Matt and I went to eat at Amedeos. Its an Italian restaurant near NCSU that we like a lot. I ordered a glass of Pino Grigio and was NOT carded. The boy serving me looked like he was probably a freshman to me...

2) I went to Harris Teeter at Cameron Village and bought some Bud Light to take the Tailgate on Thursday (GO PACK!)... once again I was not carded. Now, this one wouldn't have been as big of a deal, but the cashier has to by pass checking my ID on the computer.

So, my observation... I often am told that I look really young for my age (28), and often do get carded, but today something must have been oozing sophistication or getting older... what is that all about?

Also, I would have thought that being near a college campus they would be more careful about who they carded... maybe I look so past college age that isn't an issue? Not sure!

Oh well, I am embracing who I am. Young to some, Not worth Carding to others... Matt is still older than me anyways!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A potential experiment

Matt's birthday is coming up on Sunday so it is his "Birthday Week" this week. During this week I try to go out of my way to be a little more selfless and considerate of him and am excited that we get to celebrate with a Beer Tasting at the Melting Pot tonight. Fun Times.

Well, Last night we went to Pei Wei for supper (my parents have given us several gift cards upwards of $150 worth to this place) so whenever we don't want to spend money that is where we go. I always get the same thing, Matt tries new things each time. We only have $25 left on gift cards... so probably one more time there...

Anyways we had some great conversation about our marriage. We don't spend that much time analyzing each other on a regular basis because we are generally very happy and love being married. But, there were a couple things that had us talking... anyways, I told Matt that I feel cherished by him because of the way he treats me... like he looks at me like I'm the best and hottest thing in the world and often can't keep his hands off of me. Sometimes I act annoyed by this, but in reality, I feel so very special and loved by him.

But, my concern was, did he feel the same thing from me? Because I don't show my love for him in the same way. He said, no, he actually felt the same way because I do things for him like... laundry, make lunches for him to take to work, etc. These things speak the same sentiments to his soul...

So, then we were joking and said maybe for a week we will trade places... I will oogle over him physically and he will pack me lunch and make dinner and stuff like that. It was fun to think about, but then we decided we would just start with trying it for ONE day first and see how it goes.

Not sure when its gonna happen, but it could be a fun day.

What do you do to express love?
How do you like to receive love?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Disturbingly humorous

I recently added this blog to the "websites I look at" portion of my blog. This site is awesome for people who are interested in combatting human trafficking in big ways and in small ways. They include everything from humorous ways to consider the solutions to very serious news and stories of victims and survivors. They share government stats, opportunities to buy products to help survivors, etc. Please spend some time checking it our add it to your google reader. Its worth it!

A recent post caught my attention. I think you should read their commentary on it because it helps to explain why I would include this on my blog, but I thought it might be eye opening to some of you...

Warning, this video contains graphic language and you might get disturbed by it, but it also may make you laugh out loud.

One thing I admire about this, is the fact that it draws out our realistic stereotypes of folks who we think are pedophiles and traffickers. The reality is that you don't have to wear a pedophile beard or rapist glasses or a trench coat to be someone involved in sexually exploiting minors. Actually fathers, husbands, doctors, lawyers, pastors, school teachers, fire fighters, etc. are among those normal folks who participate in these crimes.

So, what can you do? You can join our team or donate to our team as folks from Jubilee are working to combat child sex trafficking in the US through raising funds for special operative teams who will be able to build cases to catch and convict pedophiles and traffickers and decrease the demand for trafficking victims.

Donate here
Find out more about SCTNow here

An refreshingly-odd picture of God

A few conversations recently have pushed me to question how much we (Christians in the US, Raleigh, who I know, etc.) desire to have God be a part of our lives, of changing us and weather or not we even think that is possible... is being close to God something that is saved for a few people?

I don't think so! I believe that God wants to spend time with each one of us and cherishes us more than we can understand...

So my refreshingly-odd picture of God comes from Song of Songs, chapter 2 v. 8...

Ah, I hear my lover coming! He is leaping over the mountains, bounding over the hills...

So, this could be talking about someone completely different than Jesus, the Holy Spirit, Abba father, but some think that one layer in the complexity of this book we find an allegory of God's love for his children.

I was just thinking about God going out of his way to leap over mountains and bound over hills to spend time with me. Its playful, its inspiring. Do I believe that God loves me that much? Do you?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What a wonderful family!

Sometimes I get a little bogged down and cynical when it comes to my family. Basically, just a little bit feeling overwhelmed or uneasy with too much love... but, after spending the past few days at the beach with them I left feeling very thankful.

While playing in the waves on the beach my mom randomly asks me... "what is your favorite psalm?" like it is a typical conversation starter... it was a little odd at the time, and I kind of brushed it off like I didn't want to have that conversation, but the reality is that I hadn't really thought about it, so I didn't know how to respond.

After a bit more contemplation I would like to say:
1) Sorry Mom for brushing you off (I fee like I do that quite often with you guys and I'm asking for forgiveness)

2) How awesome is it that I can have conversations with my parents about everything from our health care system, legal practices, our favorite psalms, prayer requests and theological debates to our dream vacations to europe! I feel very blessed!

3) My favorite psalm... if forced to pick one would be Psalm 139, maybe because its one that I have memorized since my teenage years, or maybe because its something that I need to remind myself of on a daily basis.

4) One of the coolest things about the psalms from my perspective is that they encompass the vast array of emotional expression available to the human race. The Psalm writers were raw with emotion, questions, longings and reality. But, in the beginning and ending of all of the angst, somehow comes back to praise... I wonder if there is a lesson there?

Do you have a favorite psalm?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

World's Collide

Thank you to everyone who came out to Guest Host Night at Nofo last night. I think it will go down in my history books as one of my favorite experiences, at least in the top 15...

So what was so awesome? My world's colliding together... Almost all of the things I am passionate about were smashed into one experience.

1) NoFo: The cafe I work at and love, the people I work with and are becoming more than just co-workers, but friends, the business being willing to support something that is difficult to talk about, but important to me and Emily, Jubilee

2) All of the Visio Dei peeps that came out to represent! We had a great crowd and lots of positive energy. We were in a different setting and you all supported a great cause... our trip to Cambodia with Transform Asia. Thank you so much for everyone who came out.

3) Raising awareness for human trafficking victims locally and globally. Several tables came in and heard about sex trafficking for the first time. Most of them were willing to talk and even had some eye opening experiences.

I'm not sure what will come of it... will it start more conversations and action to combat slavery? will it get more folks interested in Jubilee? did it build a bigger client base for nofo? did my co-workers get good tips? will new conversations and deeper relationships happen?

What ever happens, I experienced a glimpse of the Kingdom of God last night and loved every minute of it.

Please Lord, use us despite ourselves. I have worry and doubt that I didn't talk to enough people or got too overwhelmed to really connect with folks, but I trust that you are in control. Grow opportunities to help individuals in Raleigh fall in love with you. Grow opportunities for safety and healing for victims of trafficking. Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your movement to bring justice and freedom to the oppressed.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Bazaar--o-days at NOFO Cafe

Today was one of the most bazaar days I've had in a long time. One of those where you feel like you are in the twilight zone and are caught between thinking skeptically about humanity and also wishing for the best in people.

I work at Nofo Cafe in 5points, Raleigh, NC. It is a cute little restaurant with lots of neighborhood regulars and a unique mix of folks who dine for business, with their families and little children... well, today was one that will go down in the books...

A middle aged man with quiet and calm mannerisms came in and asked for a table for 6 people. It was about 5 after 1 and I wasn't sure if I wanted to stay any longer, but my section had the room... so, there he sat, alone, waiting on the 5 others.

He asked for a screwdriver and a bowl of soup. I made them... the others were surely on their way soon. "They were banking at Cameron Village"... okay, I thought, no big deal, I'll just give the table to Tasha and forgo my two bucks if I want to get out of here... then, he proceeded to ask me if there was anyway he could pay for the entire bill for the cafe.

At first I thought he meant for his table, lots of people come in and do that. Ya know, make sure that they are the one who gets the check before any of their guests have a chance to protest, but NO, he meant, EVERYONE eating in the cafe. hmm.... not sure what to do...

We weren't that busy and there were only a few tables, and I didn't want to turn down his generosity, so Tasha and I figured out how to combine the rest of the open tickets and send them his way. It was pretty fun watching the faces and responses from people when I told them that a gentleman had already taken care of their bill... people were shocked at the generosity... some people even refused to accept it from a total stranger...

It got a bit sketchy after it was 2:39PM, we close at 3PM and none of his friends had shown up yet. He said that Don and Preston from Wachovia would be over shortly... I wanted to believe him.

Then he ordered a burger and fries and a second screwdriver, we were out of orange juice, but I figured I could squeeze some more if he was buying for everyone there. When I dropped off the second drink he asked me to get him the names of all of the wait staff. There were 4 of us on the floor today and I did as he asked. When I came back to bring him the $153 bill left over from the rest of the open tickets he handed me 4 $3,000,000.00 checks to hand out.

I passed them out the rest of the wait staff. At this point we knew his friends were not coming and it felt a little odd. Of course, I wanted to believe that this was legit... there are a lot of things I could do with that much $$$...

I asked him why he did it, and he said "standard practice"... I said, "That is hardly standard!" and I think it took him back, he just smiled and shook my hand and proceeded to tell me that he is related to the Kennedy family and wanted to share.

Okay, we'll see...

There was no way this could be possible.
He said that he will be getting wired $20 million tonight and that the bank folks should know who he is and that cashing the checks should not be a problem.

Well, when I went to the bank afterwards, I talked with the tellers. Unfortunately, he has a mental problem of some sort and only has .64 cents in his account right now. They don't think the money is coming... I am still holding on to a smigin of hope... we'll see tomorrow :)

I didn't cash it, but came home and took pictures of it.
The day that I got a $3 million tip! It will go down in the history books.

The bank tellers also said that the most I could get out of the check is $3 because of the way he wrote the hand written portion. I think he meant to write million though... if its real, we will work out that little detail :)

So, here I am debating on what to think. Should generosity shock us as much as it did today? Why does it? Many of us automatically go to "insane" or "sketchy" in situations like this... it was the case this time, but do we have it in us to be this generous? I want to believe we do...

Regardless, I hope that Mr. Winters has a great rest of the week and in his heart he believes that his generosity was able to change lives. It means a lot that he would consider blessing those he doesn't even know. In a way, even if I never see a dime and end up paying to cover the $153 food cost I will be better for experiencing this reckless giving.