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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thoughts on Faithfulness

As I type this, I am sitting in the Hard Rock Cafe Amsterdam, enjoying the free wi-fi and watching the boats troll up and down the canal outside the glass wall. The city is waking up a bit earlier this morning, it seems.

Yesterday, our first day of class, the city seemed to stay in bed much later than I was allowed to. This morning, in anticipation of today's New Year's Eve festivities, the people of the city are out and about already.

I'm excited about today.

Yesterday, the feelings I had included trepidation, fear, discomfort and more. Yesterday, while our first day of class, was also the first day to go out into the city and meet people with the express purpose of engaging them with the Gospel message. For someone who likes to have a purpose, who likes to build relationships, and who is always wary of random people starting conversations with me, this endeavor felt a bit like a dishonest ambush on the people of Amsterdam.

After several attempts, mostly unsuccessful, I was able to meet a girl about my age named Una. Una was Serbian, who had lived in North Holland most of her life and was preparing to move to Germany to start her life over. Getting into our conversation, she quite proudly told me how open-minded she was, and I quickly saw how our conversation essentially followed the map of "ministering to a post-moderns." Although no claim for Christ was made, or even anything close to it, the Lord used the experience with her and with the others whom I'd tried to get into conversation with to open my eyes to some things. Therefore, some conclusions about myself/ministry/God.

1) God does not need me to "do evangelism." The Holy Spirit can draw people to Himself without any successes or failures on my part.
2) What is success or failure in missions? I am only called to be faithful, to share the message, and let the Lord take care of people's souls.
3) My excuses: I like to build relationships, not just start conversations; it's uncomfortable to talk to strangers (Stranger Danger!), I'm being dishonest if I'm not up-front about my desire to share Jesus with them, striking up conversations without having a legitimate "reason" just isn't "me"... These excuses are all just that: Excuses. I have been fearing myself, other people and their reactions, and discomfort FAR more than I fear God. How arrogant and wrong of me.

The Lord has given me this incredible opportunity to serve Him. He doesn't ask me to save the world, he only asks me to tell people how He has saved me. In doing that, I am being obedient. In telling the story of God, I am being faithful. In telling of His glory, He is being glorified by my life. That is where I want to be.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Hitting the (european) ground running....

Hi blog readers! This is just a quick little note to let you know I made it safely to Amsterdam and into my hotel. There was a bit of turbulence on the plane, but the Lord guided us through it and safely to our hotel! I was able to walk around downtown for a little bit this afternoon with two others from the group and get a better feel for the city.

I love Europe. It would be ridiculously hard to live here, financially, but it’s got such a cool vibe. I’m a big fan of bicycles, pink mopeds, history, delicious bagel sandwiches, trams, great fashion, wonderful old architecture, big parks, and over-priced everything….Ok, maybe not a fan of the last one, but everything else, yes.

I’m pretty exhausted with only about 3 hours of sleep (at most) under my belt, so I’m going to take a nap before dinner. I’ll try and post more details later, along with things you might be interested in, but for now, here’s a picture of me and Jen, one of the girls on the trip, as we explored the city! Love the architecture and the canals, don’t you?

I wish you all could be here experiencing this with me, but since that’s not the case for now, please go before the Lord in prayer on behalf of myself and my team! Pray for the Holy Spirit to make a way to talk with people and that He would be softening their hearts even now. Ask for boldness on our parts, discerning eyes to see people receptive to the Word, and rest and good health to sustain us. Also, pray for team unity. There are a lot of different types of people on this trip, and we’ll be spending a lot of time together. Pray we would love each other the way God loves us – unconditionally, despite our faults, and without regard to our amount of reciprocated love. Thanks so much!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Tomorrow begins the adventure...

My flight leaves for Amsterdam tomorrow at 2:30. Am I ready? Notsomuch.

I still am trying to pack, need to do dinner with the fam, pay bills, see a friend, sleep....Plus, did I mention I was sick, sick, sick yesterday? I was. Really grossly sick.

So, as I finish up things here at the house, make a dash for the airport tomorrow, and try to keep all of my food in my body, please pray for me.

As the people of Amsterdam go about their daily lives, many of them lost and hopeless, please pray for them.

This trip, although for work, is also a time I am looking forward to to learn. I'll be taking classes on post-modernism and western Islam, and hopefully learning how to better engage the culture around me with the life-changing message of the Gospel. Please pray I would be filled with the Holy Spirit, and the love and compassion of God for a broken world. Please pray too, that the Holy Spirit would soften the hearts of the people I will encounter and that He will even now, begin drawing people to himself.

Thanks for lifting us (myself, the team, and those we'll encounter) up to the Lord. Please check back here for updates as the journey unfolds... Much love - Lauren

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas gifts and blessings

This Christmas Eve morning, I am enjoying waking up and slowly beginning my day. As I'm lounging in bed reflecting on what stands in front of us, and as I think about the year that lies behind us, I cannot but help be filled with an overwhelming sense of awe and wonder at the glory of God and how bit by bit, it is revealed to us.

In an effort to better understand the implications of "Christmas," that is, the birth of Christ, which we celebrate this time of year, I have been looking at the Old Testament and Luke, to get a better grasp on exactly how it was that the birth of the Lord fulfilled so many hundreds of prophecies. (If you've never studied some of the prophecies Christ fulfilled, around 425 I think, I'd encourage you to do so today.)

I was looking yesterday at Christ's coming as the beginning of the new covenant, and reading in Jeremiah 31. What a BEAUTIFUL picture of the coming restoration Messiah would bring! It is this restoration - the new covenant - that was heralded the night Christ was born.

More than a baby, who would be King, Jesus Christ was God himself clothed in human flesh, come to reconcile humanity to the Holy God. Jeremiah 31:11 shows that "The Lord will ransom Jacob and redeem them from the hand of those stronger than they." Who is stronger than those who believe in the Lord, for "if God is for us, who can be against us?" The answer is that only God is stronger, as his judgment was against us as sinners.

The coming of Christ was more than the birth of a baby, it was the fulfillment of an incredible promise. We were promised death and destruction, as we have all done wrong against the Lord, who, as the perfect Judge, has to administer justice against our sin. However, He also promises that with the coming of His Son, Messiah, he would also intercede for us and stay his wrath against us, and redeem us from his own hand. What a beautiful picture! On one hand you have perfect judgment, and on the other hand, you have perfect redemption. One we deserve, the other we could never deserve or earn. One we can avoid, and one we can joyfully accept.

This Christmas season, rather than focusing on the pretty lights, or time with family, or the newest gadget we want to get, focus on this, the real meaning of Christmas: 2,000+ years ago, our promised opportunity at redemption came as the King humbled himself to become human, offered his own life and sinless nature as the perfect sacrifice for our sins, and became not only our Judge, but our Great High Priest, who lives now to intercede on our behalf.

Praise God!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Preparing my heart for what lies ahead

After tomorrow, life is going to be crazy for a little bit.

Life is always crazy with me, I believe, but circumstantially, it's going to be even more crazy for a few weeks. I'm heading home for a good long rest (I hope) full of good food, good movies, and good times with dear friends.

Then, after Christmas (Christmas shopping? Nope, haven't done it. At all.) I'm leaving home sweet home for Amsterdam! I am getting more excited by the day! I love Europe. Something about all the beautiful architecture, history, coffee, culture....It's such a treat, and I am way excited to spend a couple weeks taking it all in in Amsterdam. In addition to working, taking classes, and meeting some great people, I'm really praying it will be an opportunity for my heart to be broken.

Does that sound weird? I often feel I live in a bubble - one that is insulated from the real world, just because of the circumstances I find myself in most of the time - but one which I must break out of if I am ever going to be effective for the Kingdom. I want my heart to break for the people who walk in darkness. I want to feel compassion and love for the people of God who don't know him, instead of feeling sarcastic and cynical, as I often do when faced with unknown people and situations.

My prayer for this trip is that God would cultivate in me a heart that truly does beat for His people, and an attitude of urgency in sharing with them the greatest news ever - that we are in desperate need of reconciliation with the Holy God, and through his own sacrifice, we can be brought into right relationship with Him.

This Christmas season, praise God for His Son who was born with the express purpose of bringing sinful people like myself into a relationship with Himself where he can show us His love and mercy and grace....forever, and ever, and ever. Praise Him.

May our hearts and our lives be evident of His love, and may we be worthy of this incredible blessing.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Starting new....

God is doing mighty things in my heart and my life, and for that I praise him with all I have! All morning, "How can I keep from singing His praise? I know I am loved by the King, and it makes my heart want to sing," has been going through my head. Later on I'll fill you in on some of the details of how I have seen God working, but for now, just rejoice with me that he makes all things new.

Speaking of new, today is a new beginning for me - the beginning of a new year of life! That's right, yours truly hit "mid-20s" mark today at the ripe old age of 24. I'll be taking donations of gift cards, books, music, and free vacations. Thank you ;) I'm celebrating tonight with sweet friends at the Cheesecake Factory! Yum!!

Anyways - I just wanted to share that God is good....Really amazing, and I am infinitely blessed, both today and forever.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

An analogy for the day

Someone I love once turned me on to the beauty of analogies in conveying concepts and ideas. So, in an effort to more aptly share what it is God has been teaching me, here I go with an analogy...

Just like the opening lines of the song that is playing, "The pathway is broken and the signs are unclear, and I don't know the reason why You brought me here," I am in a place in life where the signs are unclear and I'm not entirely certain where I am supposed to be going or what I am supposed to be doing in the meantime.

I have two turtles (long story....but yes, I am aware that I am weird.). Splash and Scooter live in a 50 gallon tank, and while it is sufficiently big enough for them to happily live, they pollute the water with all kinds of nastiness. As they get fed, they often reject some of the food I provide for them. As they grow, the slough off dead skin cells, which make the water cloudy. And then, of course, the normal everyday waste builds up, just as a product of living.

Sunday, enough was enough. The water was murky enough to where I couldn't even see the turtles in there, much less believe they had a quality of life that was conducive to their growth as turtles. So, I took them out of the tank, put them in a small, dry, high-walled holding pen while I completely emptied the tank, cleaned out the junk of their lives, and then re-filled it. While they waited, unable to see or comprehend what I was doing, they struggled to get out of their temporary holding cell, several times jumping out of it and landing in a place they couldn't survive in. Once the tank was clean again, I gave them the necessary nutrients for a healthy life, fed them again, and enjoyed watching them happily resume a good quality of life.

Maybe our lives are kind of like those turtles. We live in a murky world of our own making - one filled with the remnants of our pasts and the rejection of good gifts. Our Maker desires for us to take everything he gives us and put it to proper use, so as not to "cloud the water," but all too often we reject it and allow those things that were intended as gifts to instead become hindrances to our seeing clearly. Thus, we can only see clearly when God sees fit to remove the muck and junk from our lives - not before and not by anything we do.

In the middle of the cleaning out process, we feel trapped, and unable to see what good this is doing us and where we are to go from here. Therefore, we struggle against the walls of our "safe zone" because it feels like a trap, tiring ourselves out, and sometimes launching ourselves into a place of danger we were never intended to be in - a place that certainly, if we continue to struggle to live in on our own, will eventually be our death. Instead, we must wait patiently for our Maker to place us back into the place we were intended to live in, the one filled with gifts and the necessary things to survive and thrive, and the place where things are clearly seen, knowing He wants what is best for us and will bring us abundant life.

What do you think about my "analogizing?" Maybe it's a bad one, but it has helped me to see things a lot clearer this week. I am left wondering what good things God is trying to give me that I am rejecting or misusing, thus allowing my life to be clouded to a point where I can't see. In the middle of these times of questions, I am learning what it means to trust: Trust that God is doing something good for me, even if I can't tell what it is, and trust that he loves me and desires for me to live an abundant life, His way.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

God, give me faith like this!

There are so many things that make me thankful for the life I lead here, but one of them struck me especially today: I am thankful to be surrounded by "such a great cloud of witnesses."

Both in my job and my classes, I have numerous opportunities to sit under the guidance and direction (even if for just a brief time) of men and women who are spiritual inspirations. Today in one of my classes, I had the opportunity to hear from a young couple not much older than myself who have been through the fire and are living testimonies of God's faithfulness and goodness.

Briefly, and without going into too much personal detail: They were living and working in Asia as church planters. Last year at just about this time, they were pregnant, and discovered their baby daughter had some complications. After being flown to the best hospital available, their daughter was born with a disorder that causes fluid buildup where it ought not be. She lived for about half a day, and then went home to be with the Lord.

This couple stood in front of our class today, with tears in their eyes, and testified to the faithfulness of God. He was with them in that dark time through the ministry of their organization, through their friends, and through His word. After burying her in the United States, they returned to the field to continue the work God had called them to.

The thing that stands out to me from their testimony is this statement, "It was all worth it."

What an amazing testimony! May God give me strength, when I face the dark times of life, to also be able to say that "it was all worth it." Worth it for the joy of seeing people meet Jesus through it, and worth it for the incredible joy of knowing God more deeply and seeing his glory more fully.

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." - Philippians 3:7-11

Monday, December 8, 2008

I would never make it in Hollywood.

I seem to be easily starstruck. By that, I don't mean I become a crazy rabid fan of some teeny-bopper idol, but I have this habit....When I am at a concert, and the opportunity presents itself to meet the musician, I usually try and take it, and I usually make a fool out of myself in the process.

Example A: Weekend Excursion
In high school my group of friends loved this song called "Moving On" by a little underground band named Weekend Excursion. At one of their concerts one night at Blue Cats in Knoxville, I got lucky enough to chat with the band before the show started. I was doing OK until I met the hot drummer, who had a completely normal name that I somehow massacred into "Cas," and then proceeded to call him - to his face - for the rest of the conversation. When he politely corrected me, I did some awkward hand motion and told him I was on a new name kick and was renaming everyone with unique names....Really?
EDIT: I just looked up his name and his name WAS Cas!! What on Earth was I calling him? Daggumit for forgetting and getting stories wrong...Eh, gimme a break - It was like 6 years ago.

Example B: Sister Hazel
At one of the Sister Hazel concerts I went to (yes, "one of" them...I've seen them quite a bit), my friends and I arrived slightly late to the stage area because we were riding one of the rides (the concert and rides were part of a summer festival). Every time they had a pause between songs, the 4 of us screamed out, "Champagne High!!" which was our favorite song...Much to our embarrassment, at the end of the show, one of the onlookers kindly informed us they actually opened the show with Champagne High, so we had been screaming/requesting the name of the first song they sang. When we met the lead singer after the show (duh...We had to get out t-shirts signed!) we apologized "for screaming for Champagne High between every song, but it's our favorite and would you mind to sing it for us now?"

So he did. We were personally serenaded by the lead singer of Sister Hazel with Champagne High. It was awesome.

Example C: Shane & Shane
Let me be clear from the outset here: I was not hitting on them, as BJ insinuated. While I think their music is amazing, they are a) married and b) not my type. Ok, moving on...

Last night, at the Phil Wickham, Bethany Dillon, Shane & Shane concert, I perfected the trifecta of embarresing meet and greets. As I was sitting waiting on the concert to start, I saw the Shanes chilling about 10 feet away and wanted to meet them/get my photo with them. I drug T along with me, even though she didn't want to go, and hovered near them until they weren't talking to any other fans. What proceeded out of my mouth was something like this.... "Um, by the way my name is Lauren. It's been kind of a rough month, and so I've been listening to Psalms constantly. So, I just wanted to thank you for that CD and thank you for writing it. I mean...Iknowyoudidn'twriteit - God did. But thanks for putting the words to music, because, as I'm sure you know, hearing the words in music helps me absorb them better. So thanks. Bytheway - Can I get a picture with you?"

Do I look flushed and embarressed? Because I was.
Hey - I never claimed to be a master at verbal communication!

That's all the stories I can muster up for now...I won't mention my almost-severely-awkward encounter with Dave Barnes...Stay classy, fellow starstruck fans :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Good news or bad news first?

Well, the good news is that I finished my hermeneutics papers and I'm off to go watch Handel's Messiah.

The bad news is Ben just had my living room. Sick.

I thought weekends were supposed to be better than the weeks? What happened to that concept? Instead I'm spending my Saturdays writing papers and cleaning up after my dog....Oh well, it's a character-building opportunity I guess, right? Right....

Friday, December 5, 2008

Broke? He is too....

Just a thought to try next time you don't have money to pay bills....It didn't work out so well for David Thorne, but hey, he's in Australia. Maybe it will work in the US:

Thorne, who lives in Adelaide, Australia, tried to "pay off" his electric bill by drawing a spider, e-mailing it to the company and rendering it as payment. Needless to say, the company wouldn't accept a drawing instead of money, regardless of how good the spider looked or how many legs it had.... Read the whole story here.

Although the drawing may not have been worth the $233.95 to the electric company, some idiot on EBay apparently found it worth $10,000 ($15,000 in Australia) as he "entered into a binding contractual agreement" for that amount for the drawing. Although Patrick Munoz said his bid was a joke, he's legally obligated to pay the seller that amount, regardless of how serious he was in his bid!

My question is: If Thorne still owes the electric company money, and Ebay idiot still owes the picture's seller (not Thorne) money, who is actually ending up in the black?

Who's the joke on now? The electric company, who could have owned the $10,000 spider; David Thorne, who gave the picture to the man who sold it for $10,000; or Patrick Munoz, who is legally bound by the T&C on Ebay to pay that amount for a hand-drawn spider with seven legs....

*ding, ding, ding* Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have a winner. Sheesh.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

One of those days

Today is just "one of those days." I can already tell, and it's only 10:15 in the morning.

Upon waking, I found that I have somehow strained my back, probably from bad posture while sitting at the computer ALL FLIPPING DAY. I have been working on papers, etc., and have yet to actually be really productive at churning out words for them in order to finish. Funny, huh? Lack of things to say is rarely a problem for me.

Also upon waking, I discovered that it was really late....late, as in "I am supposed to be at work in 10 minutes kind of late." Granted, I'm not on time anyways, but this was bad, even for me. Gotta love baby powder for days like this for turning that two-day old hair blond again :)

On my way (almost) out the door, my darling pooch decided to throw a hissy-fit when it came time for him to go to the porch. Nevermind that it was a warmer morning and the porch comes equipped with chew toys, breakfast, fresh water and sunshine....He was having none of it. He throws his body to the ground, rolls on his back, opens his mouth and proceeds to wiggle/bite/claw/scratch my hands away whenever I try to grab his collar. I finally got ahold of him and went to go throw him outside, only to *ahem* forcefully open the porch door, right into my own face. Needless to say - it left a mark.

So here I sit, with work to do and papers to write, with a knot on my forehead and my heating pad on my back...Is it the weekend yet?

Wednesday, December 3, 2008


My office is overrun with ladybugs.

I just counted 30, including a baby ladybug.

Why is my workspace an insect breeding ground??

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Three-Thought Tuesday

Three main things on my mind today:

This website is AWESOME! I downloaded several CDs for free (including Derek Webb's, Sandra McCracken's, Sixpence None the Richer's and Joe Garner's, my former boss at Union). All you have to do is recommend the CD to 5 people and it gives you a code to download the CD! I'm thoroughly enjoying my new, completely free, completely legal musical selections.

2) My grandma
Yesterday, before I left home, I went by with Daddy to see my grandma, who is 92. We looked in the window and didn't see her in her bed or in her wheelchair, so we went inside and asked the nurse where she was. Supposedly she was in her room, so we went to check, and sure enough, she was in her room, albeit laying on the floor, unable to move. She had fallen out of her chair trying to get into bed and couldn't call for help. She said her spine hurt (perhaps her tailbone, she has fractured it before), but her hips (both of which have been broken) seemed OK.

The sad part was that she began asking me why the Lord still has her here, and why she is still alive. I didn't know what to say, except that only God knows why she is still here, but as long as she is alive he has a reason for it, and we have to trust him, because he sees the big picture and we do not. The only thing that seemed to perk her up from my advice was me telling her Brian and I would be home at Christmas and would get to spend some time with her. She mis-heard me and thinks I am getting married at Christmas, so she's excited about that....Haha.

3) God's goodness

Not to sound like a "thus saith the Lord" kind of person, but God spoke so clearly and so sweetly to me yesterday, that I am left in awe. There have been questions I desperately wanted to ask, but realized it is not my place to ask, and not my place to know until/if he decided to reveal it to me...Reveal He did! Last night the veil lifted from in front of my face; the veil which I have felt has been obscuring the lessons I am supposed to be learning and understanding. Yesterday, for the first time, God lifted the veil and gave me answers to those very questions I was refusing to ask. The answer didn't come in the form of a verbal word from God, but from His Scripture, the faithful teaching of His word, and the work of the Holy Spirit in my heart. I'm not saying I fully understand or see everything, but He has given me enough insight to calm my heart and glory in His name! I didn't NEED the answer, I only needed to trust him. However, in this section of my "faith walk", I am learning to trust without questioning, yet God simultaneously is answering those very questions I have had! He is opening my eyes to new truths and new lessons. All I can say is that He is amazing, and oh so good!

That's all for today :) Hope it's been a great Tuesday for you!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Final Stretch....

And so begins the countdown to Christmas break, and all that that entails.

Thanksgiving was really good: Good time with family, good laughs, great food, and some time to rest and collect myself before entering into the homestretch of my year.

Top ten things I enjoyed about my time in St. Louis:
1) Catching up with my family, my cousin Angie especially. It's always good to have girl chat :)
2) All the amazing food we consumed. So stinking good. I only hope some of the Miller cooking talent gets passed down to me....Hopefully it will show itself sometime soon?
3) Watching some good old boys and girls breaking it down at Fast Eddies. They are either fearless or drunk, but man...those dance skills are a force to be reckoned with!
4) Watching my brother dance with my aunt. They both loved it.
5) Watching my Mom dance with some guy MY age, who asked her (During "Brown Eyed Girl") "Are your eyes blue? Smooth operator, that one.
6) The zoo. It's so good, and completely free! I loved seeing the seals and bears get fed and the little tiger cubs run and pounce! It makes me excited to get to Thailand and hold some frisky little "kittens."
7) Sleeping late and naps. So marvelous, and so infrequently done lately in my life!
8) Commiserating with my Dad over our unbelievably sucky bowling games.
9) Getting a strike in bowling....It was no turkey, like I got last year, but hey - I take what I can get!
10) Spending time with the Lord. I have gotten done some reading and journaling, and I am so thankful for who God is and where he has me right now!

So, it was a nice little break, albeit, not so productive on the school front for me :( I'll be nose to the grindstone this week and the beginning of next until finals are over, and then I'll be DONE with my first semester of seminary. So, I'm looking forward to all my fun Christmas events, but learning to enjoy life right now, this moment and this day, because it's a gift from the Lord.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving....Now it's time for CHRISTMAS!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Giving Thanks

I am about to go destroy some turkey, dressing and mashed potatoes, so I'll make this quick :)

Things I am giving thanks for today:
-The One who is my Savior, Best Friend, Redeemer, Lord, King, Comforter, Provider, Great High Priest, and God.
He has given me so many good gifts, including:
-Family, both blood-relations and my Church family
-Friends, both human and canine :)
-Love: What an incredible thing to give and recieve
-A great job in the midst of economic uncertainty
-A roof over my head
-Provisions of food and sustenance
-Technology wich makes things easier
-Discipline, which makes things harder, but makes us holier
-Purpose in life

That's all for now. Those things can be "unpacked" and expounded upon, but you get the idea. There is so much to be thankful for, and none of it apart from the incredible blessings and riches of Christ.

"Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations." -Psalm 100

Monday, November 24, 2008

So much to be thankful for....

It's been serious on here for too long, no? God is good, life is good and here are some of the fun things going on in my life!!

Recent excitement includes:
Movies watched:
-Into the Wild (Beautiful, but tragic, and I knew what was going to happen!)
-Quantum of Solace (the new Bond movie...Well done, although I had a bit of a tough time following...haha)
Activities completed:
-Christmas tree lighting/Sip & Stroll at North Hills
Books bought:
-Aw, heck. I bought 26, so I won't list them all, but I bought a box of books at the Wake County Public Library sale for $5! Including some Dan Brown, John Grisham, random fiction books, some devotionals and some travel books!
Position Gained:
-Spot #3 in Fantasy Football. Watchout, gentlemen. Man Eaters moved up two spots to #3 this week! Thank you, Michael Turner :)

Future Excitement Includes:
Family time:
-First, time alone in the car with my Father, praying and singing when I hit the road in a couple of hours
-Secondly, time with my parents in the car on the way to "the Lou" tomorrow!
-QT with the Tuercranian clan for Thanksgiving - eating, laughing, playing cards, and playing ladder golf. "Worm burner" anyone?
Christmas parties and events:
-Girls night Christmas party
-Shane and Shane Christmas concert
-Department Christmas party
-Chocolate fountain Christmas party (hosted by yours truly)
-Office Christmas dinner
-BL College/Singles Christmas party
My birthday and birthday dinners with friends and family
Christmas break
-Spending time with my parents and Brian who is coming home!
-Catching up with friends from high school
-Having an adventure with Justin and Jamie
Future Trips:
-AMSTERDAM! I leave 3 days after Christmas. It's a work/mission/study trip, and I am so excited to get back to Europe, even if it will be frigid!
-What WON'T be frigid is my trip to MEXICO in April! Also a work trip, but on this one, I'll be teaching small children how to play baseball. Ha. But, I'll get to refresh my Spanish! Que bueno!
-Thailand trip is coming up in July! I'll be journeying to Southeast Asia (an region I have yet to step foot in!) for another work/mission/study trip. Have I mentioned lately I love my job? ;)

So, that's the update from here! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, my sweet friends, and remember to be most thankful for the Gift-Giver Himself!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Out of the silence, and singing His praises

Well, I'm back in the blogosphere. If you're reading this, thanks for sticking with me. :)

I don't know how to begin to summarize what has been going on in my life, my head, my heart and my spirit. There has been a lot, and although some of the lessons have been less-than-pleasant to go through, I am rejoicing that God is putting me through the tough times, because it's taking me to a deeper level of faith than I have been in before.

I have spoken the words of David this week when he said, "How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart?" (Psalm 13) and "To you I call, O Lord, my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit." (Psalm 27).

To find myself at a point where God is silent before me has been really hard. As long as I can remember, I have heard the voice of the Lord guiding me, comforting me and giving me peace. This week, nothing but silence stretched out in front of me, at a point when I feel I need it most. However, through the silence and the time of spiritual darkness, God has been good, and has been teaching me. Here are a few things I have learned/am still learning:

- The silence is a beautiful thing. In it, I am forced to stop the "temper tantrum" I am throwing, which is exhausting me, and just listen for the quiet whisper of the Lord.
- Even when I don't hear a whisper from God, I can be confident that HE IS STILL THERE. No matter what I am feeling, or how silent He may (seem to) be, I have faith that His presence is just as near as ever.
- Times of silence teach me to fall more in love with the Gift-Giver, rather than the gifts he gives or the words he speaks.
- When I seek him out of desperation, or because I want out of my circumstances or pain, I am not treating the Lord as he ought to be treated. Rather, I am treating him like a genie who should snap his fingers and change my life, instead of praising him for being God and doing and knowing what will bring him the most glory. I must learn to faithfully seek Him at all times, not only in rough times as a solution to pain, but out of a thankful heart as God.
- Sorrow may last for a night, but joy comes in the morning. He wants to turn our wailing into dancing. Even when we don't "feel" like rejoicing, we must, because He is God, and He is good, and that is enough.
- The silence has shown me those things I have been trusting in more than I trust in the Lord, and thankfully, God is merciful and forgives me for my idolatrous heart when I ask.
- His presence is something I will never lose, will always hunger for more of, and will never fully grasp. How deep the unsearchable riches of Christ!

I am discovering that even when things make me sad, God is using even those experiences to refine me and sanctify me, making me more holy and more fit for Him to use. Using the example of when Jesus broken the 5 loaves and fed 5,000 with it, I'm going to steal a line from one of my favorite books: "If my life is broken when given to Jesus, it is because pieces will feed a multitude, while a loaf will satisfy only a little lad."

Though it's been a rough week spiritually, I am here, and I am thankful. God is still God, no matter what petty issues of the heart come up in my life. I am so thankful He is breaking me, because I trust Him that the brokenness will make me holy, and the pieces will feed many, and more than just me. He gives all, and He asks all. Am I willing to surrender all?

I have spoken with David this week, crying out from the darkness of my heart for the Lord to not be silent and to hear me. He has also spoken to me this week, and all I can now do is echo David's words, "I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths. I called to you for help and you healed me...Weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning."

Monday, November 17, 2008


Three posts in a day. That might be a new record for me.

This one is just a quick note to let you guys know that I'm taking a break from blogging for a bit. I don't know how long, but I need to be quiet before the Lord and try and figure out what He is teaching me. My mind is jumbled and my heart strays so easily, so I need to cut out those things (however petty) that provide solace and comfort for me, including Facebook and blogging, so I can learn how to be comforted by the Lord and seek only Him. So, for now, I am going to try to be silent before a holy God and learn what I need to during this period of my life.

Thanks for reading. I would love it if you would pray for me during this time, that during this silence, God would reveal himself to me in new and fresh ways, that he would teach me what I need to know so I don't have to go through this again, and that my heart would be yielded only to him.

At some point, I will look forward to sharing what I have learned through this. Blessings - Lauren

When cultures collide...

Thanks so much to my boss, Jason, for introducing me to this amazing video.

Check out this "ghetto" church choir. It is amazing how a group of old people can massacre and yet, make SOOOO much better some of these hip-hop classics, all at the same time.

Anyways, enjoy this little bit of amazingness, and I hope it improves your Monday as much as it has improved mine!!

PS - Scroll down just a tad and pause the music player before you play the video!


I am so tired.

This weekend was a good time of celebrating a friend's birthday, helping out with Bay Leaf's Toy Chest ministry, and studying, but I am left just as tired after two days of "rest" as I was before. I have been working my little tail off to get things done for work and school (1 paper down, 3 to go), and I am ready for a break, but I have another week of stress to go before that happens.

At this point, I'd be really excited if I could get my brain to shut off for a little while. Does that sound strange, considering I need it to be functioning to get all of my assignments and papers done? I definitely need brain power to accomplish the things I need to do, but it would be delightful if, in the rare few moments of mental breaks from work/school, I could truly just mentally rest. Instead, I find that at those moments, my mind and my thoughts attack me, until I am even more mentally wound up from trying to sort through things.

I desire rest, and an end to my mental struggles, but I have a sneaky suspicion it's not over yet. I need time to think things through, pray them through and work them out with the Lord, but I don't see that happening for at least another week or so...Knowing that fact then - that I won't be able to diligently pray/think/wrestle these issues for another week - why can I not just be patient in the meantime?

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Lord, I beg you - free me from the prison of my own mind and my thoughts that drag me away from you. Fill me, and teach me to find rest and restoration in you and you alone.

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Here is a snapshot of what my life looks like right now, just in case you'd like to lament and whine with me:

Schaeffer conference article (Done)
Outlook magazine preparations
- Library renovations (done)
- Re-write Patterson Hall dedication
- BOV recap
Alumni newsletter
Re-write Williamson article

-Book review over Cross-Cultural Connections (lots of pages) - due Tuesday
-Book review over Breaking Missional Code (6-8 pages) - due Thursday
-Reading review over Questioning Evangelism (1 page) - due Thursday
-Paper over Jonah (5 single-spaced pages) - due Friday
-Book review over some hermeneutics book I don't even possess right now (no idea how long) - due Friday after Thanksgiving break
-Read Cross-Cultural Servanthood, Cross-Cultural Conflict, and Called to Reach (which I also do not yet possess) by the week after Thanksgiving break

Is it safe to say I've hit the freak out point? I would think so. This means grumpy/stressed Lauren will be out in full force probably for the next week, so I apologize in advance. Christmas break can't get here soon enough.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Wait for it....

Waiting is hard to do for me. I tend to be an impatient person, which, as I am learning, is very un-Christ-like of me and a poor reflection of the immeasurable amount of patience the Lord has. One of the aspects of the fruit of the Spirit is patience, and when I don't have patience, it really is just me being unfaithful to God. Has he not promised to take care of me and reveal all things I need to know in His perfect timing? Of course he has. Now, I must wait for it.

"Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it lingers (or tarries), wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." Habakkuk 2:3

Although this passage in Habakkuk speaks of the coming day of the Lord, it also speaks directly into my heart today, as I find myself in a "holding pattern," waiting and seeking direction from the Lord. Today, I am okay with waiting, for I know that which God has promised to me will happen, though likely in a way and time-frame of which I know nothing about.
Waiting is not a comfortable place for me, but it is in this time that I am finding myself on my knees the most, beseeching God to fill me with the Holy Spirit and patience and faithfulness. As I walk through this "valley of waiting" I am in, I am trying to drink deeply of the One who supplies peace like a river, restoration of the soul, and most importantly - the gift of Himself.

As I wait on answers to some very specific questions, I am realizing that this time is precious. In this waiting, I am coming to know my Savior more intimately, I am realizing His glory more fully, and I am recognizing more clearly how far off I am from worshiping and delighting in Him as I should be.

In the meantime, while those answers as yet tarry, God is keeping my mind and heart busy with others things - school (papers, book reviews, etc.), planning for my upcoming trip to Amsterdam, looking ahead to other work trips (so exciting, more to come at a later date!), looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas and my birthday....

Mostly, during this time, I am focusing on desiring God more, because it is only when I glory in Him will I find joy. More than my joy, though, is the realization that my joy in God is a fraction of the delight He gets as we delight in Him. That's what I want - For Him to be delighted and glorified in me. As Piper states - God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

"For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God...For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." - Romans 4:20-25

And so....I wait patiently, delighting in the Lord...hoping, because it's not over yet.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The little things...

God blesses me with so many good gifts.

Free steak dinners, late mornings in bed to the sound of rain, my darling dog, gorgeous fall weather, exciting excursions with precious friends, (early) Thanksgiving dinners with fun people....and laughter and the reminder of how sweet life is. Thank the Lord for the little things that point me back to Him and remind me of His great love.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

My strength indeed is small

Yesterday I prayed the Lord would hold tightly to me. Praise Him - He is holding onto me.

Today, my prayer is for understanding and wisdom.

"What do I need to learn from this, Lord? What are you trying to show me? Please, teach me in the way I should go, so I don't have to come back through this again. Incline my heart to your words, oh God. Open my eyes to your precepts. Draw me close to you. Satisfy me."

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all."

"Yes, Lord. My strength and my faith are so tiny. Teach me to have faith. Show me how to be patient and draw near to you through prayer. Be my portion, today and forever, and change my unbelief into belief."

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Barely holding on...

I'm falling apart
I'm barely breathing
With a broken heart
That's still beating
In the pain
There is healing
In Your name
I find meaning
So I'm holding on (I'm holdin on)(I'm holdin on)
I'm barely holding on to You

I had no idea how hard it is to surrender something you so desperately want. I guess that's what God calls us to, isn't it? He wants us to surrender that which we most desire, so our desire is only for Him.

Lord, I'm trying to hold on to You, but I am so weak. In Your strength, hold on to me. Carry me through into your marvelous light, Lord.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


It's amazing how in the blink of an eye, things change.

Hearts change, circumstances change, governments change, outlooks change, habits change and desires change.

Today, I'm thanking the Lord that no matter what changes come at me in this life, He is rock-solid. He stands steady in a world of shifting allegiances. What happened yesterday, what happens today, and what takes place tomorrow are all small changes in the grand scheme of things, in which God does not change. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Praise God that though His people hurt, His love and healing is unchanging and is capable of mending all wounds.

May the Alpha and Omega, He who came before and will come after, be our comfort and peace today.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Time for a Halloween poll...

I'm tired. It's been a long week. I went to a party last night, and have plans with people tomorrow night. If I stay in and watch the OC by myself on Halloween, does that make me a total loser?

The Vote
Go to a party
Go to the harvest festival only
Stay home and watch the OC

Ok, give me feedback.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I am at a point of surrender. My hands are up, my will is laid down. Not my desires, but yours, Lord.

I know God is in control, and it feels so good.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

For His glory alone...

Bring the Rain
I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that I've gone through.
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You?
Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord,
My only shelter from the storm,
But instead I draw closer through these times.
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace,
Bring the chance to be free,
Bring me anything that brings You glory.
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain,
But if that's what it takes to praise You, Jesus, bring the rain.

I am Yours regardless of
The dark clouds that may loom above
Because You are much greater than my pain.
You who made a way for me
By suffering Your destiny
So tell me what's a little rain?
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace,
Bring the chance to be free,
Bring me anything that brings You glory.
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain,
But if that's what it takes to praise You, Jesus, bring the rain.

Holy, holy, holy
Is the Lord God Almighty
I have been reading in the book of Isaiah lately, and I am amazed every night when I pick it up what new truths the Lord reveals to me. In the midst of what seems to be like a dark time of confusion and searching, God is revealing to me anew what he revealed before time began.

The reality that I am learning is that no matter what circumstances I find myself in, what things I desire, what hopes are dashed, what confusion I feel - they do not change that God is God.

Before I existed, God knew I would be unfaithful to Him, and He loved me anyway. Before I was unfaithful to Him, He chose to accept the wrath that was due to me upon Himself. Before I walked through dark times of loneliness and rejection, Christ was rejected by His creation, so he knows and understands how I feel, although magnified a million times over.

Why? Why would he go to such great lengths to rescue rebellious and unfaithful people such as I? Why would he willingly suffer the punishment that I deserve? Why would he allow himself to be tempted in all things - so that I know he has gone before and knows my plight? Why do I continue to worship anything other than my God, who alone is worthy of my praise? WHY?

Through it all - his suffering, his resurrection, his pursuit of me, my suffering, my repentance, my bumbling attempts at pursuing His righteousness - through it all, HIS NAME BE PRAISED. Whatever God brings me to, whether it be joy or pain, may I never take my eyes off of Him and His unsurpassed glory. All of it is for naught if His name is not glorified.

God, I praise you in the midst of joy and of sadness. I praise you in the depths of my soul, though my flesh may fail me. God, be glorified in my life, whatever it takes.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Two Roads Diverged In a Wood

Just like Robert Frost in his famous poem, "The Road Not Taken," I feel like I am standing at a fork in the road of my life, looking down two paths.

However, I will not choose which path I take, but I surrender to whichever path the Lord has already laid out for me. Although, to me, one looks more pleasant than the other, I have a sense of peace and calm at whatever lies ahead. Whichever road I walk down tomorrow, in the weeks ahead, and in the years to come, I know the Lord has already walked that road ahead of me, and is walking it again with me, and through it all, there will be peace. Whichever side of the path he leads me down, know that there is peace, and for that, praise God.

"And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

However, of infinitely more value than that poem are the words of the Author of Love and my Sustainer:
"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus...I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength."

Saturday, October 25, 2008


Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.
For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.
They are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills...
Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.
All day long I have been plagued;
I have been punished every morning.
If I had said, "I will speak thus,"
I would have betrayed your children.
When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me
till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.
When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,
I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God.
I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

~Psalm 74

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Always growing....

A wise friend told me it's better to keep blogs short if you want people to read them. I'm a wordy person, so that's hard for me, but here I go:

This has been a highly unusual, and yet "normal," week for me. Things are changing from what they have been, and I am learning and growing. God is refining me and challenging me and teaching me patience and trust. My limits have been stretched, and I have blessedly been brought back to a place of contentment and peace that I haven't been at in a while. I feel like myself again, but with a hopeful eye toward the future and what else God is going to reveal to me.

In other growing news: I'm going to the fair tomorrow with friends, and plan on gorging myself on deliciously awful fried fair foods. Specifically, I plan on getting some hush-puppies, grilled corn in the husk, and a deep-fried Snickers (which I enjoyed more than last year's deep-fried Twinkie.) The only growing I'll do from that is physically growing side to side and front to back. I can't wait. :)

Thank you, Lord for being near. You are more precious than life, and all the precious things it holds. Keep me close and clean, and centered on You alone.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Three "Funnies" from the Weekend

I don't know if I think life is funnier than the average person, or if I find myself in funnier situations than the average person. Either way, here are three quick snapshots of my weekend at home that I found humorous!

Feisty Grandma
1. I went and saw my grandmother while I was home. She's 92, and although mentally fuzzy at times, has been quite sharp the last few times I've seen her. This time, as one of the male orderly's names was brought up, Grandma said, "I don't care for him at all."
"Why not? He's nice to you, isn't he?"
"Yes, he's nice. I can't really say..."
"Has he done anything to you? I thought he seemed very nice."
"He is nice...TOO nice. Some gentlemen...He's always hovering around waiting to ASSIST me."
Haha, for a 92 year old, you would have thought assistance was a good thing. Maybe she was quite the looker back in her day, and his assistance brings back those uncomfortable feelings!

2. I went to a gun show this weekend, and I'm not talking about the kind I see around Adrian ;) This was a real, live redneck-fest and it was gloriously entertaining. The first conversation I heard went something like, "Yuh, the only thing keepin' her head on wuz a strip o' skin."

I hope they were talking about an animal.

The experience was neat though, as I got an education in guns, camo and exactly how far a 50 caliber rifle with its own collapsible stand will shoot into enemy lines... Oh, the things you learn. After the gun show, my mom wanted to try out her new gun (who am I kidding? I did too). We went to the shooting range and I shot her new little Kel-Tec, but after seeing how scary and how much kick it had, declined to try shooting her (even bigger) Sig Sauer.

Flying Bicycles
3. On the way to M., I was alongside a little pick-up truck that lost one of four chairs that were (evidently) not strapped down very well. I was thankful it didn't hit my little Lily-car, but tried to do my civic duty and alert them that they had lost some cargo. After much honking and waving with no response from the driver, I went on my merry way.

On the way BACK, however, Lily-car was not so fortunate. As we were chugging merrily along at about 65, the car in front of me suddenly lost one of the two bicycles (not) bolted down to the roof rack. It hit the interstate in front of me, broke in half, and then shot towards my car. Luckily, it wasn't the main bicycle part that hit me, but what I think was the handlebars. A piece definitely hit my antenna, hit the plastic windguard on the roof, and bounced off. I stopped to check for damage, and restore Ben's barrier in the back-seat, and all seemed OK except for my antenna. I'm thankful it wasn't worse, but seriously, who gets hit with a flying bicycle on the interstate??? Me.

Welcome to my life :)

Another Anti-Obama Perspective

This was sent to me via e-mail, and I think it's worth a read! It's an opinion piece by Huntley Brown, a Christian concert pianist. I admire and applaud his stance, however unpopular with his peers. Just wanted to pass along another perspective on the damage that could/will be wrought under and Obama presidency. (This is my last political blog for a bit, too :)

Why I Can't Vote For Obama......By Huntley Brown

Dear Friends,

A few months ago I was asked for my perspective on Obama, I sent out an email with a few points. With the election just around the corner I decided to complete my perspective. Those of you on my e-list have seen some of this before but it's worth repeating... First I must say whoever wins the election will have my prayer support. Obama needs to be commended for his accomplishments but I need to explain why I will not be voting for him. Many of my friends process their identity through their blackness. I process my identity through Christ. Being a Christian (a Christ follower) means He leads, I follow. I can't dictate the terms, He does because He is the leader. I can't vote black because I am black; I have to vote Christian because that's who I am. Christian first, black second. Neither should anyone from other ethnic groups vote because of ethnicity. 200 years from now I won't be asked if I was black or white. I will be asked if I knew Jesus and accepted Him as Lord and Savior.

In an election there are many issues to consider but when a society gets abortion, same-sex marriage, embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning - to name a few - wrong, then wrong economic concerns will soon not matter. We need to follow Martin Luther King's words, 'don't judge someone by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.' I don't know Obama, so all I can go on is his voting record. His voting record earned him the title of the most liberal senator in the US Senate in 2007. NATIONAL JOURNAL: Obama: Most Liberal Senator in 2007 (01/31/2008) To beat Ted Kennedy and Hilary Clinton as the most liberal senator, takes some doing. Obama accomplished this feat in 2 short years. I wonder what would happen to America if he had four years to work with. There is a reason Planned Parenthood gives him a 100 % rating. There is a reason the homosexual community supports him. There is a reason Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro, Hamas etc. love him. There is a reason he said he would nominate liberal judges to the Supreme Court. There is a reason he voted against the infanticide bill. There is a reason he voted 'No' on the constitutional ban of same-sex marriage. There is a reason he voted 'No' on banning partial birth abortion. There is a reason he voted 'No' on confirming Justices Roberts and Alito. These two judges are conservatives and they have since overturned partial birth abortion, the same practice Obama wanted to continue.

Let's take a look at the practice he wanted to continue. The 5 Step Partial Birth Abortion procedures:
A. Guided by ultrasound, the abortionist grabs the baby's leg with forceps. (Remember this is a live baby)
B. The baby's leg is pulled out into the birth canal.
C. The abortionist delivers the baby's entire body, except for the head.
D. The abortionist jams scissors into the baby's skull. The scissors are then opened to enlarge the hole.
E. The scissors are removed and a suction catheter is inserted. The child's brains are sucked out, causing the skull to collapse. The dead baby is then removed. God help him.

There is a reason Obama opposed the parental notification law. Think about this: You cannot give a child an aspirin without parental notification but that same child can have an abortion without parental notification. This is insane.

There is a reason Obama went to Jeremiah Wright's church for 20 years. Obama tells us he has good judgment, but he sat under Jeremiah Wright's teaching for 20 years. Now he is condemning Wright's sermons. I wonder why now? Obama said Jeremiah Wright led him to the Lord and discipled him. A disciple is one in training. Jesus told us in Matthew 28:19 - 20 'Go and make disciples of all nations.' This means reproduce yourself. Teach people to think like you, walk like you; talk like you believe what you believe etc.

The question I have is what did Jeremiah Wright teach him? Would you support a White President who went to a church which has tenets that said they have a:
1. Commitment to the White Community
2. Commitment to the White Family
3. Adherence to the White Work Ethic
4. Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the White Community.
5. Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting White Institutions
6. Pledge allegiance to all White leadership who espouse and embrace the White Value System
7. Personal commitment to embracement of the White Value System.

Would you support a President who went to a church like that? Just change the word from white to black and you have the tenets of Obama's former church. If President Bush was a member of a church like this, he would be called a racist. Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton would have been marching outside. This kind of church is a racist church. Obama did not wake up after 20 years and just discover he'd been going to a racist church. The TRUE church can't be about race. Jesus did not come for any particular race. He came for the whole world. A church can't have a value system based on race. The church's value system has to be based on biblical mandates. It does not matter if it's a white church or a black church based on racial values, it's still wrong. Anyone from either race that attends a church like this would never get my vote.

Obama's former Pastor Jeremiah Wright is a disciple of liberal theologian James Cone, author of the 1970 book The Goals of the Black Community. "If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him." Cone is the man Obama's mentor looks up to. Does Obama believe this?

So what does all this mean for the nation? In the past when the Lord brought someone with the beliefs of Obama to lead a nation it meant one thing - judgment. Read 1 Samuel 8 when Israel asked for a king. First God says in 1 Samuel 1:9 'Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.' Then God says in 1 Samuel 1:18 ' When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day. But the people refused to listen to Samuel. 'No!' they said. 'We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.' When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, 'Listen to them and give them a king.'

Here is what we know for sure. God is not schizophrenic. He would not tell one person to vote for Obama and one to vote for McCain. As the Scripture says, a city divided against itself cannot stand, so obviously many people are not hearing from God. Maybe I am the one not hearing but I know God does not change and Obama contradicts many things I read in Scripture so I doubt it. For all my friends who are voting for Obama can you really look God in the face and say, "Father, based on your word, I am voting for Obama even though I know he will continue the genocidal practice of partial birth abortion. He might have to nominate three or four Supreme Court justices, and I am sure he will be nominating liberal judges who will be making laws that are against you. I also know he will continue to push for homosexual rights, even though you destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah for this. I know I can look the other way because of the economy."

I could not see Jesus agreeing with many of Obama's positions. Finally I have two questions for all my liberal friends. Since we know someone's value system has to be placed on the nation,
1. Whose value system should be placed on the nation?
2. Who should determine that this is the right value system for the nation?

Huntley Brown

When questioned about the truth of the e-mail, Brown confirmed that he did in fact write it, though it was only intended for friends who had asked him to vote for Barack Obama. He added that although he has problems with both candidates, his differences with McCain "pale in comparison" to those he has with Obama. Brown, who says he is not registered as a Democrat or Republican, said he is looking forward to voting for a black president, however, it will not be Barack Obama because their views are "diametrically opposed." Furthermore, Brown expressed sadness that although "our beautiful black women constitute only 6% of the population, they comprise 36% of the abortion industry's clientele. Obama has done nothing to stop this. Most people don't know that the leading abortion providers have chosen to exploit us blacks by locating 94% of their abortuaries in urban neighborhoods with high black populations. Obama has done nothing to stop this. To be honest, I can't wait to vote for the first black president but it has to be someone who shares the values I read in the Bible."

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

3 Weeks Out: Why I'm NOT Voting for Barack Obama

Let's face it: This election is unlike any we've ever seen before. We have new issues to deal with and new fears on the horizon. My greatest fear at the moment is seeing a man who is so frighteningly unknown, with so many dangerous ties running our country. At the beginning of election season, I made the statement that I "was OK if Obama won." Not any more. The more I have looked into his past, the more clear it is to me that he should not be president of the United States. His history speaks louder to me than his smooth-words. Regardless of the fact that McCain isn't perfect, also has weak spots and isn't as good of an orator, he will get my vote on Election Day.

1. Obama's stance on abortion.
This article by Robert P. George of Princeton University is gaining a lot of attention here at Southeastern. While long, it's worth a read. Some of the most startling things to me are:
-"He has promised to seek repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which has for many years protected pro-life citizens from having to pay for abortions that are not necessary to save the life of the mother and are not the result of rape or incest."
-"As an Illinois state senator Obama opposed legislation to protect children who are born alive, either as a result of an abortionist’s unsuccessful effort to kill them in the womb, or by the deliberate delivery of the baby prior to viability...But Barack Obama opposed it and worked to defeat it. For him, a child marked for abortion gets no protection—even ordinary medical or comfort care—even if she is born alive and entirely separated from her mother. So Obama has favored protecting what is literally a form of infanticide."
They tell us not to worry that Obama opposes the Hyde Amendment, the Mexico City Policy (against funding abortion abroad), parental consent and notification laws, conscience protections, and the funding of alternatives to embryo-destructive research. They ask us to look past his support for Roe v. Wade, the Freedom of Choice Act, partial-birth abortion, and human cloning and embryo-killing. An Obama presidency, they insist, means less killing of the unborn. This is delusional."

2. Obama's faith background
-Obama's church, up until spring of 2008 when things got sticky for him, was Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Looking at the tenets of this church, their focus, and their mission scares me, because ostensisibly, those same ideals are shared by Obama, who was a member there for many years. Maybe I'm more stupid than I thought, but I thought the purpose of church was to meet with other believers, encouraging one another, spurring one another on toward Christ, and living as salt and light in a world of darkness. Somehow, reinventing Africa didn't seem to be on the list of priorities for the early church fathers. As a Christian it appalls me that his "faith" rests on such shaky spiritual soil. If that's what he learned in 20 years of being in that church, it is frightening to think what might come out of him when he's not campaigning.
-"We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community." ~Taken from the church's website
-Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of that church, has been called a "father figure" by Obama and a radical by others. His sermons often attacked the government, America itself, and the actions done by those parties, which, he said, were the justified reasons for the attacks of September 11, and more.
-"Initially Obama argued that Wright's statements were taken out of context and played in a loop for heightened effect. But when it was discovered that there was more, Obama took a different line. He claimed that he had personally never heard Wright speak like this and that he knew nothing of his father figure's virulent anti-Americanism...It is completely unbelievable he would not know about the belief system of the person who was his confidant for nearly 20 years. After all, Wright did not even try to conceal his views, but propounded them openly from the pulpit of his church. Yet Obama wants us to believe that he was the only one in that congregation who knew nothing of Wright's disdain for his country." ~ "Why Islamists Cheer for Obama" by Vasko Kohlmayer
-Do we want our president to be a man who - for 20 years - sat under, honored and regarded highly a man like Jeremiah Wright, who so clearly and unapologetically disdains this very nation?

3. Obama's connections with Islam
- Regardless of whether or not you think Barack Obama is truly a believer in Christ (I don't know and it's not my place to decide), his coziness with Islam has many a person in this country worried. Lest we forget, it was Muslim extremists who were responsible for 9/11. Surely I'm not the only one who hesitates to put someone in office who has so many ties to Islam.
-Obama wrote that he attended a Muslim school, where he studies the Quran. His 1/2 brother calls his background Muslim. His college roomies at Occidental were Pakistani. I'm not saying upbringing is everything and that he's "guilty" by association, but the fact remains that he has been more exposed to and raised in Islamic thought processes than the average politician, a fact which makes me uncomfortable about his motives.
- Some of the loudest supporters of Obama's campaign have been radical Muslims. Louis Farrakhan (The Nation of Islam leader) and Ahmed Yousef (a public relations man for the terrorist organization Hamas) have both been vocal in their support of Obama.
- Obama has made several "mistakes" that could easily be explained away, or they could easily be slip-ups that he is covering up a Muslim background. For example, he "misspoke" by saying, "John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith." Muslim faith?? If, as a true believer in Christ and a worshiper of the Creator God, you "slip up" and mention a contrary faith as your own, you're either a blasphemer, an idiot, or a liar. Maybe all three.
-In his book "Audacity of Hope," (the title of which was taken from one of Jeremiah Wright's sermons) Obama wrote, "I will stand with them (Muslims and other groups) should the political winds shift in an ugly direction."

Although I've touched on a few issues, there are a lot of questions and accusations left out there. Do some research and look some of this stuff up. Look at the historical facts, not at the charismatic talk coming out of his mouth today!
-Muslim Fingerprints in Obama's History
-Obama's ACORN tree
-Why Islamists Cheer for Obama

I realize I am probably going to be absolutely bombarded with crap for writing this, and honestly, that doesn't concern me too much. What DOES concern me is the American people putting a man into office who has so many shady connections, politically and religiously. I believe Americans truly desire positive change. That change will not come from a president or his policies, but only through the transforming power of Christ in people's hearts and lives.

However, it only takes one man in a position of power to effect negative change. Take Lucifer, for example. Not trying to compare the two but....Please, think about the reasons you're considering voting for Barack Obama. There are a whole lot of issues at stake in this election. Please look beyond the hype and the smooth-talking Senator and vote based on character.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Shining Like Stars, Reflecting Like the Moon

The sky can teach us a lot about theology, I think. Granted, I'm no theological expert by any stretch of the imagination, but even in my simplicity, I see valuable things to be learned by observing the celestial bodies.

(Stars) Stars can demonstrate for us what it means to be a light in a dark world. Chad (our minister at BL) spoke last Wednesday on Philippians 2:12-16, which in many translations is sectioned off under the title "Shining like stars."

"Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out (or hold onto) the word of life."

Just like stars, I (and every other person who professes Christ)am called to live my life as a star. What does this mean? Just as the stars, although small, pierce the darkness of night with hope-filled points of light, I am called to be a piercing light in the darkness of this world. Although hard to live like that, it's such an INCREDIBLE privilege to have that calling to shine with the light of the Lord in a world that is black and often seems void of him. Also, just like stars, even when smog or clouds cover the light of the stars, they are still there. When clouds come my way and it is hard to see the light of the Lord in me, know that it is still there, but that I am allowing something temporary to (wrongly) obstruct my light.

(Moon) The moon can also teach us something. It wasn't until high school at some point that I think I became aware of the fact that the moon does not actually shine, it only reflects the light given off by the sun. Did you know that? It's pretty elementary, apparently (I never claimed to be a theologian OR a scientist! ;) However, when you think about it, this is a beautiful analogy of our relationship to the Lord.

For me, who tries to do so much on my own, remembering that I cannot shine on my own, win people on my own, survive on my own, or obtain salvation and the gift of God on my own, is a HUGE struggle! I am a prideful person, and I often try to rationalize attempting things for God on my own as being a "good Christian." There is no such thing. There is no good in me apart from God, and there is only his goodness and glory reflected in my life.

The sun is the source of the light. When the world gets in the way of that light, the moon reflects less than it is fully capable of, as is seen in an eclipse. Likewise, God is the source of light and truth, and when we put the world in front of him, we reflect less of his light than we were designed to. We were intended to fully reflect the radiance of his glory in our lives.

(Sun)Just as hinted at above, the greatest thing in the heavens we can look to is the sun, and the greatest thing of all is God. He is the source of light and warmth. He gives life to all living things on Earth, and he alone is worthy to be worshiped as sustainer of life. God is the one whose light shines, revealing all things that desire to be hidden in darkness.

I believe it was CS Lewis who said love was like a ray of sunshine. He said that love is not meant to be worshiped and exalted as the highest goal, but rather that love was a ray, pointing those who have experienced it back to the source: The sun. God is the sun. His love is a million rays bearing down on us, drawing our faces upward toward him. Through my relationship with Adrian, I see love in that light. Although it could be tempting to worship love as the greatest thing to strive for, I know that love is only a ray, pointing back up to God. Adrian's love for me is only a ray of sunshine, representing the tiniest fraction of the incredible power and love of God himself.

If you're a Sara Groves fan, you'll recognize the song playing on my playlist. It's a personal favorite of mine. She says this in a more eloquent (and succinct!) way. I encourage you to listen to it and the words and be challenged. How do you view yourself in relation to God? Do you reflect his light, or try and fail at creating your own? Do you effectively shine as a star in the darkness of the world? Most of all, are you worshiping God himself? Not his gifts, which reflect him, but HIMSELF? It's not easy, but what an incredible challenge to rise to!

Monday, October 6, 2008

So long, sweet Lucky

I lost a family member today. Our dog of 14 years was put to sleep this afternoon. Lucky was the best dog I could have grown up with - seriously.

There are so many things about him I'll miss: His black fur all over everything, his tail wagging in the morning when I come out into the hall, watching him scrounge the riverbed for rocks to dive for, taking him on long car trips and trying to force him to sit down so we could watch movies without him in the way, feeding him cat food these last couple of years, since he loved it so much, taking him to the Maryville College woods for walks, the way he'd walk expectantly around a room and lean into every person - giving them a "hug - until he found someone to pet him, taking him out to the barn when I would go see my horse Shadow, snuggling up on the floor with him, just because I needed a hug...

I am so thankful for pets. They teach us about how to love without reserve, to be jolly in all circumstances, to always look for the best in people, to ask expectantly, and to find joy in the simple things in life.

It may be simple to love an animal, but it's not easy to lose one. I am so thankful the Lord blessed my family with such an amazing dog for 14 years of my life. His life was truly a gift.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sad day :(

It's our 2-month anniversary today.

Adrian and I had planned on spending the weekend together, complete with a Martina McBride concert Saturday and big church service on Sunday.

It's not happening now :(

Stupid sickness - destroying plans. Time to make new plans and enjoy this time the Lord has given me to myself, I suppose, right? Right.

Edit: My boyfriend is amazing, and whether he's here or there, I am blessed beyond belief by him. Thank you, God for such a gift.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Tagged: You're It!

1. What time did you get up this morning?
7:10 am
2. Diamonds or pearls?
I like both. It depends on the piece of jewelry :)
3. What was the last film you saw at the cinema?
The Dark Knight and right before that was Mamma Mia!
4. What is your favorite TV show?
Hands down it would be LOST
5. What do you usually have for breakfast?
Cup of coffee with 2 creams and 1 Equal, sometimes oatmeal
6. What is your middle name?
7. What food do you dislike?
Pork and nasty pieces of meat
8. What is your favorite CD at moment?
I have been listening to my “spiritual songs” playlist a lot when I’m at the computer. Does that count?
9. What kind of car do you drive?
Nissan XTerra
10. Favorite sandwich?
Hmm…When at home I make a turkey sandwich on fancy bread with cheese and hummus. At Subway I usually order a tuna sub with cheese and black olives.
11. What characteristic do you despise?
Honestly? It really bothers me when people take themselves too seriously, either in a really self-conscious way or an overly-cocky way.
12. Favorite item of clothing?
A good pair of jeans
13. If you could go anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go?
I’m really itching to get to Europe right now!
14. Favorite brand of clothing?
I shop at Express a lot….Their clothes tend to fit well, hold up well and I almost always have coupons!
15. Where would you retire to?
Who knows if I’ll retire! That’s a long way off.
16. What was your most recent memorable birthday?
Probably my 21st birthday. I went to Cheesecake Factory with friends and then spent time in the hot tub in the middle of December!
17. Favorite sport to watch?
I like football and basketball mostly, but if I’m rooting for a certain team, any sport can be fun!

18. When is your birthday?
December 16

19. Are you a morning person or a night person?
I’m more of a night owl. Mornings are….difficult.
20. What is your shoe size?
7 ½ - Abnormally small for my height!
21. Pets?

I have a crazy dog named Ben and 2 turtles named Splash and Scooter. I’m weird, I know.
22. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us?
I am incredibly blessed. The Lord is soooo good to me! This isn’t new, but it’s very exciting!
23. What did you want to be when you were little?
A cheerleader and a waitress. I know, my ambitions were startling! Actually, I can remember “playing vet” as young as 9, and wanted to do the vet school route up until junior year of high school
24. How are you today?
Much better than I have been. Things feel right again, on many levels.
25. What is your favorite candy(lollie/chocolate)?
Peanut butter M&Ms and Reese’s
26. What is your favorite flower?
Lilies – Calla and Easter
27. What is a day on the calendar you are looking forward to?
November 27 – Thanksgiving with my family and Adrian!
28. What is your full name?
Lauren Ann Crane
29. What are you listening to right now?
The noisy air conditioner….Surprisingly, I’m not hearing Courtney at the moment.
30. What was the last thing you ate?
A rice krispy treat
31. Do you wish on stars?
Nope. I look at them and think about how amazing my God is though!
32. If you were a crayon, what color would you be?
Hmm....Maybe chocolate brown. I’m thinking it’s a beautiful, deep, rich color that is natural and goes with everything. Haha, wishful thinking!
33. How is the weather right now?
71 and cloudy. Is it sad I looked it up on because I didn’t feel like standing up and looking out the window?
34. The first person you spoke to on the phone today?
Shae about concert tickets!
35. Favorite soft drink?
Dr. Pepper
36. Favorite restaurant?
I do love Cheesecake Factory. Also, any good Hibachi restaurant is a very close second!
37. Real hair color?
Dark golden blonde.
38. What was your favorite toy as a child?
My stuffed animals and Barbies. They all were “friends” and acted out scenarios I had in my head. I was creative, I suppose.
39. Summer or winter?
How about the wonderful seasons known as fall and spring? I like the lack of extreme temperature during those times :)
40. Hugs or kisses?
I suppose it would depend on who it’s from…. ;)
41. Chocolate or Vanilla?
Chocolate, everytime!
42. Coffee or tea?
Coffee. Tea has yet to impress me in the slightest.
43. When was the last time you cried?

Umm… Last night.
44. What is under your bed?
Toys Ben has knocked under there and I can’t get out.
45. What did you do last night?
Talked on the phone, wrote a reading review, cried, prayed, took a bubble bath and talked more on the phone
46. What are you afraid of?
Not living in the Lord’s will for my life.
47. Salty or sweet?
Usually salty, although I have been gravitating toward brownies a lot lately!
48. How many keys on your key ring?
About 5. 2 of them are old and pointless, but I haven’t tossed ‘em yet.
49. How many years at your current job?
Just over a year now!
50. Favorite day of the week?
Saturday and Sunday, depending on the activities of the day.
51. How many places have you lived in?
4 – Florida, Tennessee, Ecuador (study abroad. It counts!), and North Carolina
52. Do you make friends easily?
I think so. I have been told though that I am intimidating when people first meet me, so maybe I’m not doing as good of a job as I thought!

*I tag Shae, Allison and Adam!