Tuesday, October 30, 2012

an apology and a challenge

Okay, so first an apology to those of you who actually look for me to post--I haven't written anything on here since the middle of the month.

Ouch.
So I guess that whole consistency thing went out the window there for a while, huh?
Sorry about that.

Now, since I haven't written on here in so long it makes perfect sense for me to ask you to do something, right?

...Well, we'll pretend like that's not a totally crazy assumption on my part and I'll give you a challenge, anyway :0)

So here's some backstory:
Nathan and I have been looking for a church home since we moved up to Toledo in July. We tried out a few places first, but hadn't really found a fit.

It was one thing trying out churches back when it was just the two of us. We could just find out what time the service started, walk in, and sit down. The biggest struggle would be trying not to sit in anybody's spot (you know what I mean...somehow it seems like we all end up with assigned seats at church...).

With kids, it's a totally different story. 
You have to get there early enough to figure out where the kids go during the service, 
then try and find said classroom, 
then pry a very shy toddler off your leg while convincing him that he'll have lots of fun with all these people he has never seen before (completely contradicting the "don't talk to strangers" lessons),
then get big sister to her class where she proceeds to act like she has never seen another child before in her life (for example, hiding in the corner and not speaking to anyone through the entire service)...
then you finally get to make your way into the sanctuary (or big church, as you explain it to the kids).

So, long story a bit shorter, we've started attending a church just down the road from us called Washington. We've been there for about 3 weeks now, and we're in the middle of what they call "Washington 101." It's a class for new people (well, maybe not "new people" as much as "people new to Washington" since most of us have been around for at least 25 years or more...okay, bad pun, I know) so we can get to know what Washington Church is all about.

That brings us to my challenge for you.
On Sunday, we were given a homework assignment for next week, the last class of Washington 101. They asked us to write out our personal belief statement.

I don't know about you, but I've never been asked to do that before. I've written out my testimony many times, but this is different.

Writing my testimony is one thing. It is based completely on what I have experienced, so when I've written out my testimony in the past it has never included any verses or anything like that.

Just to clarify, I'm not saying anything against writing out your testimony. In fact, I think it's a great thing to do because it really makes you think about what all God has done for you. That's just not my challenge for you...although, feel free to do that, too :0)

This belief statement, though, is making me think in a completely different way. Yes, I'm still looking at what God has done for me (there's a lot...part of which you can read about in the posts that start here). What makes it different, though, is the fact that I'm thinking about what I believe, what makes up the foundation of my faith, and searching out the verses that are the foundation of that foundation.
(Okay, so if anybody knows what that would really be called besides "foundation of the foundation," I would love to know!)

I've started working on it, but I've still got a bit to go before I'm finished. When I do, though, I'll post it. So far, it has been pretty neat to actually see on paper what I believe and why I believe it, followed up with chapter and verse.

Okay, so maybe that brings me to my challenge for you. Let's forget I said that about 6 paragraphs ago...have I mentioned I get a bit carried away with that whole writing thing? My challenge to you is to do the same thing. Take the time to write out what you believe, with the verses to back it up. It doesn't have to be long (although mine is kind of getting that way. People I've just met don't know what they're getting into when they ask me to write...). When you get it finished, come back and let me know what you think. I would love to hear about it!

To be fair, we were given some questions (which, in true Mandy fashion, I've since lost) so we had something to go by. I can't guarantee I remember all of them, but here's the biggest part of the list:
1. How do you see God?
2. How does God see you?
3. Who is Jesus Christ?
4. What has God done for you?
5. If everything else was stripped away, what is the core of what you believe?
6. What is God's purpose for your life?
7. What is God's purpose for the world?
8. What is the Gospel and what are we supposed to do with it?

Okay, so I never said they were easy questions...

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

lessons from 2x4s...

I just got a 52% on my first test in modern physics (which, by the way, was also my first test in my grad school career).

How painful is that?

The crazy thing is, I'm not totally devastated by it like you would think. I know, pretty surprising, right?

I think it goes back to when I went back to school in 2008--my first undergrad test in physics was, coincidentally, my first test being back in undergrad. It was in Dr. Hemmati's Physics II class, the first semester of electricity and magnetism stuff. I got something like a 43% on that test, and I questioned everything I was doing.

I remember telling Nathan I needed to just drop out of school and find a job flipping burgers because there was no way I would make it through.

This time, though, things are different.
Yes, that 52% hurts (a lot).
Mostly, though, it gives me something to overcome.

I have this trait of wanting a fight, wanting something to push me into being better.

Hmm, maybe that's why God has to use a 2x4 to knock some lessons into me...definitely food for thought!

Let me tell you, a test grade like that (especially when it accounts for 25% of my final grade) does more than give me a push.

It's more like a kick in the seat that sends me sprawling into the dirt.

The convenient thing is, when you're face down on the ground, the easiest place to get to is your knees!

Friday, October 12, 2012

something that has tugged at my heart...

Things are crazy right now.

Classes are insanely hard (when Dr. Musser told me grad school would knock me off my feet, he definitely knew what he was talking about...).

Nathan is sick, and has been for about a week.

Kids are just plain crazy, as would be expected of a 3 year old and an almost 6 year old (hard to believe my baby girl is going to be 6 in 2 months!).

 I crochet anytime we're watching t.v. (in part because it keeps me awake).

When I get a spare minute, I try to write on the second part of my Sons of Tundyel story.

I'm attempting to put together query letters and submissions to send out the first part of my story.

     As an aside, according to his biography on Acheivement.org John Grisham's first novel, A Time to Kill, was rejected by 28 publishers before being given a chance by an unknown publishing house. It sold 5,000 copies. His next book was The Firm and it sold more than 7 million copies and spent 47 weeks on the best sellers list!
Map for my story--Nathan painstakingly transferred my hand drawn one to paint!

In the middle of all that, though, I've started working on something else.

Yes, I know I'm crazy. I know there's something called having too many irons in the fire. I know all the arguments against it, believe me--I've argued most of them to myself.

The thing is, though, there's something that's been tugging at my heart for a while now.

I write to work through emotions. I always have, and I imagine I always will. Actually, I write to work through everything. My Bible is full of notes written in the margins because when something sticks out I have to make myself a note or I'll forget it. I've tried having notebooks reserved for that, but they get lost. The notes in the margins stick around a lot better, especially if you're as unorganized as I am!

This blog was the first step in me living faithfully, trying to step out in faith to do what God wants me to do. The next step, apparently, is writing down my story.

I have so many conflicting feelings about doing this. The biggest part of me is saying, "Why in the world would anybody want to read a story about your life? What makes you think there is anything in the story of a 28 year old girl's life that is worth other people reading?"

If you know me, you know how much I keep to myself. You know how incredibly painful this blog has been for me at times.
Which means you also know how hard it is for me to say yes to writing my story down.

I'm not saying that it is going to be something that I try and get published or anything like that. Most likely it will simply be something my kids can read one day when they are trying to understand the crazy woman that is their mother!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

awesome!

How often do you hear people say that something is awesome?

It seems everything is awesome these days:
pizza
the weather
a t.v. show
books
the new quarterback
a rollercoaster...
The list goes on--just about anything and everything is described as being awesome.

There's even a cheer:
A-W-E-Some, Totally Awesome!

Are those things awesome, though?
What, exactly, makes something awesome?

Webster says that awesome means "inspiring awe."
Thanks, Web, but that definition doesn't do us a whole lot of good. Digging a little deeper, then, what is awe?

awe: n. fear mingled with admiration or reverence. synonyms: fright, wonder, reverential fear

Looking back at that list, how many of those things actually inspire awe?

I used to use "awesome" to describe all the things I listed and a whole lot more. A few years ago, though, I heard somebody talk about the true meaning of "awesome." They argued that we should rethink the use of the word, reserving it for things that are truly awe inspiring.

Namely, God.

I don't know about you, but when I eat a pizza, no matter how good it is (and we've found some great pizza places here in Toledo--one of the best things about a big city!), it has a hard time inspiring reverential fear in me.

Since that day I've tried to be a lot more conscientious about my word choice. Awesome is now a word I do my best to reserve for God.

God is wrathful yet merciful.
He is our judge, yet He lets us call Him "Abba."
He is all powerful and rules the universe, yet He listens to our prayers and counts the hairs on our heads.

Those are definitely reasons to both fear and revere someone in my book!  
 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

just one of those moments...

Have you ever had one of those moments that make you question everything you're doing?

I'm in the middle of one now.

This is one of those times where I start questioning why in the world I ever thought I could get a PhD in physics. My homework grades are pretty dismal (in the classes I've had homework from), and I'm not understanding half of what's being said in class. This morning, I couldn't even do a few simple derivatives...

To top it off, I haven't been able to write since Friday.

The (possibly incredibly telling) thing is, what I'm the most frustrated about is the fact that I haven't been writing--probably not the best thing when I'm attempting to get a PhD in physics, huh?

I'm a bit stressed at the moment because I really don't like the idea of not being able to do something...and that's what I'm facing right now with this degree.

Guess I'll just hang in there and wait and see what in the world I am doing in Toledo...