Thursday, July 14, 2016

"Becky, I knew you when..."

Recently I have been bombarded with reminders of my past. It's from the most random places, like shopping in our local Dollar General where the lady checking us out was a former bartender and made some comment about my crazy days, or when someone else I knew met up with someone I used to hang out with at the bar, mentioning my name and my former bar days. My Facebook memory feed constantly reveals this former lifestyle and conversations with college classmates always seem to go back to those days. It's going on 10 years since graduating from college and since then so much has happened to change the way I think and the way I live. If you read my testimony you'll understand what I mean about my partying, promiscuous lifestyle.

You may have known me then. You may even have a story to confirm everything I talked about in the first paragraph. But hear me now.

I'm ashamed of what I did. I hate who I once was. Without Jesus I was a selfish, lustful, haughty, boastful, disobedient, foolish, heartless, faithless, worldly, quitting, complaining, gossiping, hater of God. I cringed at the mention of His name and I was proud of my partying - so much so, that I encouraged others to join me in it.

It is through the power of the gospel that I am who I am today and the process of discipleship, where I have grown as a godly woman, and all that I have learned at church as we study book by book, verse by verse, word by word from the Bible. I am not who I once was.

I am reformed. I am being refined. And the more time I spend in God's Word the more I'll change and grow and learn so that in another 10 years I hope to look back at who I am now and say, "I am not who I once was."

I desperately want people to see Jesus when they look at me now. You may have known me then, and I am perfectly okay with that. But as you reflect on who I was way back when, focus in on who I am today and stand in awe of Jesus. Because I am changed, not as a result of anything I've done. On the contrary! It is the work of Christ alone. Read my testimony, understand who I was and what I did, more importantly, know that I want to be a living testimony of the saving grace of Jesus.

I am nothing without Him.

I might hear you tease, "Becky, I knew you when...". I'll smile (and cringe a little) but you'll hear me say, "Thank goodness for Jesus!"

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Lives Matter Debate

The "Lives Matter" debate leaves me frustrated each time the issue arises. It's a two fold frustration. In reality it's a frustration over our ignorance as a whole. It is ignorance when we claim racism is no longer an issue and it's ignorance when we claim police officers are targeting a specific group of people based on the color of one's skin. My earnest hope is that most of us understand there's work to be done on both sides of the issue, but it is the ignorant few who seem to end up on the news or causing mass chaos.

There are two sides to this coin. 

First, the police officers. Recognize their position. While people are running away from the gun shots, they run towards it. While most people call 911, expecting police officers to put their lives on the line, they call home to whisper goodnights. While police officers all across the nation stand side-by-side with their partners in uniform - black skinned, white skinned, red, or otherwise - they are screamed at for being racist. I do not get it. 

The other side of the coin: what I do get is that there are a few police officers who are arrogant, racist, and too authoritative in their position where lives are on the line. We cannot ignore that fact. It's the unfortunate truth. I know racism still exists because in my own family I was advised to never marry interracially. I know racism still exists because I had to advise a dear friend as her family rejected her spouse because he was black. I know racism still exists because of how the black community is treated in my own small, predominately white community. The racial jokes and sneers and exclusion is unacceptable; unfortunately I dealt with the issue many times in my classroom. 

Racism still exists.

Recognizing that truth does not make the situation any better off than it was before. We can spout, yell, blog, and tweet over the issue, but it will not change. It will not change because we cannot change the state of the heart.

The heart is the issue on both sides of the coin. We live in a world that is too hyped up on our emotions, following the course of this world with it's ups and downs rather than using the brain God gave us to think and rationalize. We are ignorant. We are self-righteous. We suppress the truth. We are foolish, heartless, ruthless, and malicious. 

As a whole, humans do not recognize the state of our hearts.  

Instead we advise each other to follow them. 

And so the two sides of the coin are in the same state. The state we've been in since the beginning of time: sinful. It doesn't matter the color of the skin, our hearts are the same. Our hearts are sick (Jeremiah 17:9), in desperate need of a Savior. 

Lives do matter. Lives matter because we are eternal. Look at the soul, spread the gospel

Only God can change the heart.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Tuesday's Top Ten [Things I Love About the 4th!]

Yesterday was a fantastically busy, yet a wonderfully satisfying day. Here's a few reasons I've come to love celebrating Independence Day!

1. Everyone is outside. We spent much of our day walking around from activity to activity and visiting with others who were outside celebrating by shooting off fireworks, grilling, playing games, etc. etc. That's the best part of this holiday is that everyone wants to be outside. It didn't matter were we walked, we had someone to talk to and an invite to join them!

2. Community. Not only does the neighborhood go outside for fun, but community members volunteer their time to give firetruck rides to kids or shoot off the town fireworks display or put on a parade (or take a picture for us).

3. Fireworks. I've learned to love and hate these things, but they are a big part of what makes the 4th, the 4th. I hate them because if you're not careful they are dangerous (example: one of former students lost an eye) and there are too many inconsiderate members of the community. If fireworks are being shot off past the towns cut off time you are having fun at the expense of others who have to go to work early the next morning or children who can't sleep because of them or war veterans or poor dogs like my Quigley who hide under the bed. It's then I hate fireworks because they display the selfishness of some. BUT I also love them. They can be powerfully beautiful, fun, and weird (haha, the black snakes are a perfect example of that).

4. We dress to match! Everyone is wearing red, white, or blue. Or a combination of the three.

5. BBQ. We ate 4 meals yesterday and all of them were with friends. One grilled pork chops, another made hamburgers, and another smoked a turkey. Yum. We were happily and thankfully stuffed.

6. Summer weather. Only once in my 31 years have I experienced snow on this day (and that was in the mountains). Other than a few showers here and there the weather is generally sunny and beautiful!

7. Awesome photo opps! With all those matching outfits and pretty fireworks there are plenty of opportunities to capture the moment. Some of my favorite pictures are from this day.

8. Time with loved ones. Any time with friends and family, is cherished time.

9. A day with my hubby. I love it that this holiday gives me a day with the man I love.

10. Celebrating, as one nation, the freedoms offered to us. I know that wherever I go in this great nation of ours, people in every state, in every town will be celebrating. That's pretty amazing.