Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why is it that it takes a massive earthquake or other tragedy to capture our attention of the world, when there are thousands of people suffering every day?
Just because there are more people in one spot suffering, does it mean that their suffering is greater than the one person who cries out for help but doesn't receive any because no one notices?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm realizing that I don't know as much about the Bible as I thought. Mostly Old Testament. I am very familiar with the concepts and especially with the New Testament, but I only know a handful of the stories. My goal from here on out is to start reading an Old Testament Bible story straight from the Bible each day. Today I read the story of Samson. I was already familiar with it, but it's been so long and it happened to be he first one I turned to.

Also, I've been thinking about how effective prayer is. People do not pray enough. We worship, we may read our Bibles and go to Bible studies and talk about God, but so many people forget to pray. It's another thing that's really sad. Worship can be very emotional, and we may lift our hands up and feel moved, but how often do we stop and pray? A relationship with God is not based on emotions. Worship is awesome, but it can be emotional. It's not enough to just worship God. Having a relationship with God means to study his word, spend time with him, pray, spread the word, along with worship. Just something to think about.

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 (Philippians 4:6-7).

The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:16).

"To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable: 'Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: "God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers-or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get." But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, "God, have mercy on me, a sinner. I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 18:9-14).

writing from the comfort of my living room

inspiration is at it's finest at late hours of the night, when i'm half awake, half asleep.
well, kind of.

why is it that when I need to go to sleep I can't because my thoughts keep me awake?

i think part of it is that I feel so unaccomplished today. (yeah i know my grammer sucks right now, but i don't care)
you know, there is always an opportunity that we can help people, but sadly, we don't.

"sometimes it's just as simple as seeing the need and stepping in with what you've got in you're head to do..." (i-heart documentary)

i've been thinking about how blessed we are to live in America. I woke up, took a shower with nice warm water, got to choose what i wanted to wear today, ate a banana and later a home cooked chicken enchilada, got to drive in my very own car to church and spend time with other Christians without any worry, drove back home, enjoyed a homemade milkshake, read part of a book, watched Lost, got on the internet, texted a friend, enjoyed some music of my choice, and laid in bed with a roof over my head in a secure house...
and not once, did I stop and thank God for any of that, until just now.
we take so much for granted it makes me sick.

"You may choose to look the other way, but you can never say you didn't know." (W. Wilberforce)

"How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, "Violence!"
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.

Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted."
-Habakkuk 1:2-4

there are people across the world who don't even have clean water. there are people dying from malnutrition, and at the same time, there are millions of people in America drinking clean water right now.
I ask myself, why does Go allow this to happen? How can poverty and wealth coexist in the same world? it doesn't make sense. i don't deserve this. the people dying from not having clean water don't deserve that.

Also, there are so many countries where Christianity is illegal. There are prison camps, similar to the ones during the Holocaust, for those who call themselves Christians. In China, they have to have underground churches and worship in secret so they are not shot by the soldiers. It's so upsetting to see Christians in America who act like they need to keep their faith a secret just so they won't be made fun of, while in other countries, people are dying because they are not ashamed.

I'm not doubting God. I know He has reasons for everything. He is a compassionate God, but it's so hard to see that with all of this injustice going on. Haiti just got hit by an earthquake. So many children don't have parents anymore. So many missing people. My heart is broken. It's not fair. How can I just sit here and watch on my tv in the comfort of my living room of all the tragedy going on in the world?
I am so blessed to be getting an education and going to an awesome school. I appreciate everything God has done for me, but I don't understand why I'm not the one suffering.

I see injustice in my own city with the issue of homelessness. I know sometimes the homeless are homeless because of their own mistakes, but some people really can't help it. Sometimes teens are kicked out of their house with no help. Sometimes someone may get injured and can no longer work. Things happen. Not only is there injustice across the world, but there is injustice 20 minutes away from my own house.

"I will not refuse to do the something that I can do." (Hellen Keller)

People are not problems to be fixed; real love is without expectations. Injustice is solved by us being justice.

I want to go and serve God. I want to reach out to those in need. I can't just sit here and do nothing. I want to take what I have and use it to glorify God.

"I heard and my heart pounded,
my lips quivered at the sound;
decay crept into my bones,
and my legs trembled.
Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity
to come on the nation invading us.

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the LORD,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.

The Sovereign LORD is my strength;
he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
he enables me to go on the heights.
For the director of music. On my stringed instruments."
-Habakkuk 3:16-19

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

paint splatters

Sometimes I get the strangest urge to splatter paint everywhere in an empty room on a HUGE canvas.
Sometimes I just feel like being messy and creative. I guess it's normal.

I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together.

I'm trying to get back into the mode of writing. My previous posts were mostly posts that I forced myself to write, like writing a paper for a class. I made myself do it. I was passionate about what I wrote about, but I still had to put forth the extra effort to make myself sit down and get it out of my head into words.

I want to be honest.

I am going back to Greenville in four days. I am stoked, let me tell you. It's weird having my life in two different places. I feel like I always long to be somewhere. Once I get to Greenville and get over the excitement of seeing everyone I haven't seen in 6 weeks, I'll use the bathroom and miss not having scratchy toilet paper. It's a vicious cycle.

No, but seriously, I am really excited to get back to Greenville. I am hoping for some changes. Mostly attitude changes. I don't want to get distracted again this semester. I want to keep my focus on Him. This semester is going to be awesome. I'll still have fun and have a blast. Having fun is one of the many ways to glorify God, right?

balance. that's what I needed to work on. It's getting there.

I want to be used by God this semester. I'm tired of sitting around doing nothing.

I've been listening to a lot of David Crowder lately. I forgot how much I LOVE that guy.

Take my fret, take my fear
All I have, I’m leaving here
Be all my hopes, be all my dreams
Be all my delights, be my everything
-Only You

painting by Ben Quilty on

check this out

sculpture consisting of a screw-diver, fishing rod and a kite

Sunday, January 17, 2010

cheating on Jesus

Let us remember that [God] is holy and he is righteous, and that a holy and righteous God has the right to say that the blood is acceptable in his eyes and has fully satisfied him.
-Watchman Nee (1903-1972)

I've been reading through The Naked Gospel by Andrew Farley and it has been really faith-challenging, in a good way.
One chapter was about "cheating on Jesus," something that I find myself struggling with.

In the Old Testament, we see that the Israelites have to offer animal sacrifices over and over because no single sacrifice was enough to cleanse them of their sins. Everytime they sinned, they had to offer another animal blood sacrifice.

[The law] can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.
-Hebrews 10:1-2

The Old Testiment makes the statement of a sacrifice that is enough to cover our sins once and for all, initiating the New Covenant. When John the Baptist sees Jesus, he declares, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29).

Because Jesus' sacrifice cleansed us once for all, there's no procedure we have to do to remain forgiven. We depend on this one sacrifice for a lifelong forgiveness. "Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous and the unrighteous, to bring you to God" (1 Peter 3:18).

"Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness" (Hebrew 9:22). No amount of dialoguing with God about our sins will bring us more forgiveness. No amount of asking God to forgive us will initiate his cleansing in our lives. Blood sacrifice is the only action that results in forgiveness and cleansing. This was true in the Old Testament, and it is still true today.

Because there are no more blood sacrifices being made for sins, can we not conclude that Jesus Christ's sacrifice is sufficient to bring a lifetime of forgiveness?

Here is where I find struggle.
Our human pride won't allow us to enjoy this kind of grace. Maybe it's because it feels too easy, not having to do anything.
We feel like we need to activate this forgiveness by doing some sort of procedure, asking God for it. When I became a Christian, I asked God to forgive my sins. But after reading this chapter in this book, I'm realizing that I was already forgiven. The cross is a historical event. We cannot initiate forgiveness; only blood brings forgiveness.

Farley puts it this way:
"Our acts of remembrance, confession, asking forgiveness, and claiming - whether done with good intentions or not - don't cause more blood to be shed...
Realistically, we only have two choices: (1) accept as fact the complete unconditional forgiveness that God purchased through the crushing of his Son, or (2) create some system of our own to feel better about our sins.

What then are we saying about the sacrifice of Jesus when we insist that something further be done to "activate" it? In essence, we're insulting the work of Calvary. We're valuing the Son's sacrifice even less than the people of the Old valued their animal sacrifices."

I can definitely see what Farley is saying here, and I'm starting to understand the difference between forgiveness and mercy. We don't have to do anything to be forgiven, because the cross already took care of that. However, once we accept this forgiveness, we receive God's mercy, which will bring us closer to Him and fills us with passion and desire to know God more and share this love with others.

1 Peter 2:1-12

Therefore, rid yourselves of all malice and all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and slander of every kind. Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him— you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says:

"See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a chosen and precious cornerstone,
and the one who trusts in him
will never be put to shame.
Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe,
The stone the builders rejected
has become the capstone, and,
A stone that causes men to stumble
and a rock that makes them fall."

They stumble because they disobey the message—which is also what they were destined for.
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


Today, I met a homeless guy living in a tent community in St. Louis. His name is Patrick and he's 20 years old, and he is from Greenville, Illinois (where I go to college!).
He saw my Greenville College lanyard and really liked it. I have an extra one so I told him would come back and bring it to him. After I told him that his face just lit up. He was so happy that I would come back just to give him a lanyard from his hometown.
Sometimes, it's the small things that can be so meaningful to someone else. Seeing him get that happy about something so small was so inspiring and heart warming. I want to continue to serve. Again, I can't stress enough how amazing it is to allow God to use you.
Nevertheless, I think it made both of our days. :)

My Desire

I’m running through the gates of love, as fast as I can
I can’t wait to see You cuz I’m a desperate man
You made the light and sent it down
to show us who You are
Now It’s bursting out my heart

My desire is burning like a million stars
And I’ll keep reaching out, reaching out for You

I’d be nothing without You, yeah I would die
If I didn’t have Your hand if I couldn’t look into Your eyes
Jesus if Your love’s the fuel then I’m the desperate flame
That’s screaming out Your name

My desire is burning like a million stars
And I’ll keep reaching out, reaching out for You
My desire, is burning with the fire You sparked
And I’ll keep reaching out, reaching out for You

This is glory rising, over a new horizon
I See Your love, I feel Your smile
You're in my heart and I will run with all I have to You

My desire is burning like a million stars
And I’ll keep reaching out, reaching out for You
My desire, is burning with the fire You sparked
And I’ll keep reaching out, reaching out for You

- Desire by Phil Wickham

This break was very much needed. I have grown so much these past few weeks by spending time with my mentors, old friends, being able to share my testimony and what God has been doing with my life with high schoolers and doing ministry with the homeless downtown. I have learned that if you just make yourself available to be used by God, you will be utterly amazed at what he'll do.
This song (Desire by Phil Wickham) pretty much sums up my life this past week. I have been filled with a desire to know God more. Before I felt like I hit a wall in my faith. I once had this same desire but it died out because I wasn't allowing God to use me. I tried reading my Bible, but I was having trouble applying it to my life. It took me awhile to regain that passion, and I pray that when I get back to Greenville, I'll be able to hold on to it and not let it go again.
I want to help. My heart is to serve people.

Next semester my goal is to fully give myself to God, and trust in his timing. I want to be used by him, and I don't want to miss out on anything he has to offer. I plan to get involved with Dirty Roots Revolution and serve the homeless in St. Louis. Being home in St. Louis over break has made it easier for me to go and visit them, and I want to encourage everyone to at least try it once. At first, it's intimidating because you don't really know what to say, but afterward you are just in a good mood and want to go back, at least I did. Serving others and spending time with people is what drives me.

I want to serve.
I want to make myself available.
I want to know God more and more.
I want to glorify him in everything.
I want to discover who I am in Christ.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I think I had a nightmare.

So, I woke up from a crazy dream, and I wanted to write about it before I went back to bed so that I wouldn't forget it.

In my dream, my mom had another son with another man before she had us, and we had just found out that we had a step brother. She gave the boy to a lady named Tray, and for whatever reason she was over at our house helping us move furniture.
There was also a man in a wheelchair and they made him take the trash out to the backyard, and he had to go down some steps to do that, which made no sense. But, he turned backwards in his wheelchair and held on to the railing to get down the stairs. I remember watching and feeling really scared for this man, that he would fall backwards and injure himself. I don't remember if he made it or not, because the next thing I knew I was in the kitchen and my mom and my sister come up the basement stairs all bloody. I was so freaked out and I panicked. I asked what happened and they simply told me that Tray fell down the stairs backwards and fractured her back, and somehow she died. It doesn't really explain why my mom and sister were covered in blood, but whatever. So, I started freaking out because the fact of someone dying in my house scares me. In my dream I was thinking that her ghost would come back and haunt all of us. haha

So my mom is bleeding from the nose and lip, and then decides that she needs to go to the grocery store to get food for dinner, and my sister goes with her. So I'm in the house by myself and I get on Twitter and keep updating my status like every other minute. I don't remember what I was saying, but it was about Tray and everything that happened. It was just weird because I kept updating it so many times, and then my sister was there laughing at it and making fun of my updates. Then, I start writing in my diary about what happened. The next thing I know, everyone is in my kitchen and is holding a copy of my diary and they are all laughing. They read out loud my diary and we all couldn't stop laughing, including myself. There's a page of random questions, and for some reason it is written in an Australian accent. And so we're reading the questions in Australian accents and they're really dumb questions too, like "What is for dinna?

We were all laughing really hard, and I woke up laughing and woke up my sister. I tried telling her the story but I couldn't stop laughing. I almost freaked her out by how hard I was laughing, and I started freaking myself out. Finally, I finished telling her my dream and then we got into a discussion about dreams, and how I was probably having a nightmare, but laughing was my body's way of coping with the nightmare so I wouldn't go crazy or have a panic attack or anything. Weird.

Dreams fascinate me. I don't really know what any of that means, but just how I coped with it made it weird. I think that I was having a nightmare with seeing all this death and blood, and it really did freak me out. I remember what it looked like and thinking of that just gives me the chills. Also, I had my sister turn on the lights so I could get up to use the bathroom (because I'm a wuss.) I must have been crying and rubbing my face a lot because when I looked in the mirror my makeup was smeared all over my face. Also, I noticed that I took the pillow case off my pillow, which is weird to do in your sleep. I don't know. I'll probably reread this later and think of how ridiculous it sounds, but right now I'm just fascinated.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Why, God?

"How long, O LORD, must I call for help,
but you do not listen?
Or cry out to you, "Violence!"
but you do not save?
Why do you make me look at injustice?
Why do you tolerate wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Therefore the law is paralyzed,
and justice never prevails.
The wicked hem in the righteous,
so that justice is perverted."
- Habakkuk 1

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


So, I gave a talk to high schoolers last night, and I focused on Jonah, and related that to my story through high school and my first semester at college. It went something like this:

Jonah chapters 1-4
God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach against its wickedness, but Jonah ran away and sailed for Tarshish instead. We don't really know the reason why, but we can assume it was out of fear, or pride, meaning he didn't think the people in Nineveh deserved God's love. God sends a storm over the sea, and Jonah tells the men on the ship to throw him overboard because it is his fault that there is a storm. God sends a great fish to rescue Jonah by swallowing him. Jonah sits in the fish for 3 days, and prays to God. He has no other choice but to rely on God. Finally, the fish vomits Jonah on shore. Jonah goes to Nineveh and preaches that God will destroy the city in 40 days because of their corruptness. The people of Nineveh immediately repent and turn from their evil ways, and God saves the city. Jonah becomes very angry at the Lord's compassion, saying that there was no point for him to go to the city if God was going to be that merciful anyway. He leaves the city and camps out near by so he can watch and see what happens to the city. God made a plant grow over Jonah's head to give him shade, and Jonah becomes very glad and grateful. The next morning, God sends a worm to eat the plant and Jonah becomes very upset and starts to feel faint from the scorching sun. The whole point of this is that God finally gets Jonah to express concern for something perishing, but the irony is that it's only about the plant, not the 120,000 people in Nineveh who "don't know their left hand form their right." God says to Jonah, "Should I not pity the people in Nineveh?" He created them, just like he did Jonah, and loves them all the same, yet Jonah has more concern for the plant than the people in Nineveh.

I tell you this story because I want to encourage you all to not be like Jonah.

High School:
Looking back to high school, I really wish I had done so much more to live for God. We fall into this trap where we feel like everything we do matters. If it's not what everyone else is doing, then we shouldn't do it either. We feel like we shouldn't talk about God because others will judge us, or we might get in trouble. There are so many people who need to hear the truth, and high school is probably your biggest opportunity to share your faith. Don't be like Jonah and close people off just because they are not Christians. It wasn't until my senior year that I started living out my faith. I wasn't perfect, and I know I closed off my faith to people I knew who didn't want to hear it, but to the people I became better friends with, I vie. wed them as friends and as people who needed to be shown God's love and mercy. I learned to be open to them and I had such a passion for other people's salvation that I could not just sit and watch. I was blessed to be the friend that people came to for encouragement or advice, and that's how it started. My friends would come to me with an issue or problem, and I would find scripture to encourage them. Don't overwhelm them with your own words. It's best to let scripture speak for itself. Next, invite them to church with you. I ended up bringing 5 of my friends to church, and 3 of them got baptized into the church. Now, they are out sharing their faith. It's so neat to see what just one person can do. What if everyone who professed to be Christian witnessed to others? Think about how much of a difference everyone can make together. That amazes me. When I think about that and being in high school, I just think, "What if I had opened up to more people? What if I had put God first in every situation? What if I decided not to date and wait on God's timing? What if I didn't worry about what other people thought? What if I had focused on others more than myself?" High school does go by fast, and now I only see a handful of the people I used to see every day. My heart cries out to those that I decided to not share my faith with because it wasn't the cool thing to do. I blew off some of the biggest opportunities to share my faith, and now I'll probably never see some of those people again.

Let your faith speak.

I have learned so much about myself this past semester at college. I've learned that I am very dependent on others to feed me spiritually. I left my security at home. I went to Greenville not knowing anyone, and I had no accountability partners. It was not what I had expected it to be. I was so looking forward to moving on with my life and meeting some awesome Christians at a Christian college, and I just didn't find that. My expectations were so high that I had a hard time meeting such friends. My first couple of weeks I spent focusing on only God and having having quiet times. I wanted my relationship with God to be in a right place, and I trusted that God would bring the right friends when I was ready. Soon after that, I started hanging out with some new friends. It wasn't that they were bad people at all. We just never had godly discussions, and I eventually replaced having quiet times with hanging out with friends. Yes, I was having fun, but I was not growing spiritually. In fact, I became so far from God, and I knew I was far from God, but I just didn't do anything about it. I relate this to Jonah because he was very judgemental of the people in Neneveh, saying they didn't deserve God's love. It wasn't that I didn't think people in Greenville deserved God's love, but I did become very critical of everyone. I wasn't finding people I could talk to and share my spiritual life with. I got the impression that everyone was acting fake, which was totally wrong. I just couldn't find truth in anything, and I was so bothered and angry at God that I just stopped wanting to spend time with him. I became stubborn, and just wanted to run.
I came home Halloween weekend, and met up with Linnette, my spiritual mentor and one of my best friends, Haley, and told them what I was going through. I missed having accountability partners, and I missed having godly discussions with my friends. They prayed for me, and as I was driving back to Greenville, something inside of me changed. I got back to school and things started getting better. I opened up to one of my good friends on campus, and we had a really amazing talk. I also started talking to the girls on my floor, and got to know them a little better. I started meeting other really awesome people, and it was very encouraging. One night at Vespers, there was a man talking about how he used to be passionate for God, then went down the wrong path and started drinking and partying. When he got hit by that train in Greenville, it was a miracle that he survived. He felt that it was a wake up call from God to repent and get back on track. After hearing that, I knew that God was speaking to me as well. My life was so unbalanced, and I needed to make things right. If you try to spend only time with God, you end up relying on yourself too much. God made us relational so we can have fellowship with others. I can't stress enough how important it is to talk about God and your spiritual life with others, and find friends who will hold you accountable. Find someone you can trust and who can challenge you in your faith.

When Jonah was swallowed by the fish, he had no other choice but to fully rely on God. I had so much security at home, and when I got to Greenville, I too had to learn to depend on God. I went from one extreme to the other, and now it's balancing out. I am working on opening up to others, and finding people who I can trust and be honest with about my spiritual life. My desire is to know God more, and I am looking for people who share that desire. I asked God to fill me with a compassion for others. The last few weeks I was at Greenville were rocky. I was working on balancing my life out, and now I am just ready to go back and start a new semester. I plan to open up, share my faith, be honest, and find accountability. I want to encourage everyone who is reading this to do the same. There is nothing more important than your faith, and speaking from experience, you will be amazed at what God can do through you if you just make yourself available to Him.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

"whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me"

He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God. - Micah 6:8

Growing up in St. Louis, I am so used to seeing homeless people everyday. It was so easy to just ignore them and pass by. Most of the people I was raised with taught us to avoid the homeless, because they are all “making up stories to make you feel sorry for them.” Also, they might just spend their money on drugs or cigarettes. My old youth group would go on youth retreats downtown and our sponsors would tell us to stay away from the homeless and to not feel obligated to give them anything. I even remember one of our sponsors telling us to not make eye contact with them. They acted as if the homeless were not real humans and I remember being so bothered by this.

One year, when I was in middle school, a homeless man wanted to volunteer at our live nativity scene around Christmas time. He just happened to be near by and wanted to do something productive with his time. He played the role of Joseph and my brother and I both were shepherds. At first, we didn't say anything to each other, and honestly, I felt really uncomfortable being around a homeless man. We stood in the cold next to the manger in silence. Even the others who dressed up with us didn't say anything. My younger brother then let out a loud burp. We all couldn't help but laugh, including the homeless man. After that, he joked around with me and my brother and turned out to have a great sense of humor, and honestly, it was then that I started to view him as human, and not just homeless. My perspective changed so much and I was so inspired that I thought I would go into homeless ministry as a career.

Years passed, and I never got involved with homeless ministry. I can't even count how many times a homeless person has approached me asking for money. I have been to Chicago multiple times to visit my sister at her college and have been downtown St. Louis so many times with friends, and every time a homeless person would ask for money to buy a bus ticket to get back to their family, I apologized and with guilt said I did not have any extra change. Besides, they are just going to spend the money on drugs - how could you trust them? Plus, everyone was telling me that it was okay to not give them anything.

This past summer, I was at a Bible study and someone asked the question, "Is it okay to give someone money when they beg for it, even though you know they will just spend it on cigarettes or drugs?" We thought about it for awhile, and I remember thinking, it doesn't matter what they spend the spend the money on; we are called to give and God sees that we gave and that's what is most important. Even though I knew that giving is important, I didn't apply that to my own life. I kept avoiding it.

When our COR class went to St. Louis this past semester, my perspective completely was turned around. Instead of being scared of the homeless and being in the city after dark like most of the students, I was more nervous of how I would react. I am already familiar with the city, but I am not familiar with spending time with the homeless. I once had a strong passion for them, and I felt as if I had lost that. It wasn’t that I didn’t care - I was just bitter about giving them money to spend on mostly drugs.

We went through a tunnel under 12th street, which was really muddy and dark and we had to use flash lights to see where we were going. As we got closer to the end of the tunnel, we saw a small campfire in the distance. As it started to get lighter in the tunnel, we saw tents set up on the sides. No one came out of the first set of tents, and we kept moving forward. We ran into a second set of tents. There were chairs set up around the campfire, along with a lot of stuff that the homeless had collected from dumpsters, including a wooden door. They also had their own pantry. We got to talk to a few people who had called this area their home and listen to their tragic stories of how they became homeless.

I thought it was so interesting how they called themselves a family, and how humans have a natural instinct to bond with other people. They each took on the roles of a family. The lady was called, "mom," and there was a man that was called, "dad." There was an elderly man who did not talk to us, but just sat at the fire the whole time, and he was called "grandpa." There were also two teenagers living there that played the role of the kids. The mom and dad of the group took care of the children. That is what struck me the most. Even though they really had nothing, they were happy to have each other and fulfill that need for a family.

Christians should be known for giving, and not being judgemental. Even though they really had nothing, they were able to appreciate everything they had. This is the type of faith we all need to have. We need to remember that God does not owe us anything, but we owe everything to God.

Matthew 25:41-46

The Sheep and the Goats

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

something Sarah wrote

This is something my friend Sarah wrote, and I couldn't agree with her any more.

"Maybe I'll run away. To another country. The immaturity in me wants to deal with my hatred of consumerism by escaping it, wants to shirk the guilt I feel for American pettiness by disassociating myself from the whole system. When I was a kid, I prayed that God would send me to Narnia even though I knew it was all fiction. He was all-powerful; He could make it real for me and send me there, just for a minute or two of earth time. I promised it would be beneficial to Him because, like the Pevensies, I would know Him better through my interactions with Aslan. I'm nineteen and I still haven't grown out of that because I tell myself I can find the mysterious land I've always loved by flying across a border or two.

Many of His teachings make no sense to me, but I know exactly what He meant when He said we'd be foreigners. I know what it is to be homesick for a place I've never seen, remembering customs I've never imagined.

Maybe I'll hide for a while. Live by myself in a field. I'll be dreadfully lonely, but I will reach it: I will exist for existence. No one will know what I am doing or what I look like. I will not know what anyone is doing or what anyone looks like. And I will not have to meet anyone's standard. And I will not despise myself for not equaling someone else's grandeur. I will not do something because it will make a good story or please someone. I will discover what it is that I like to do for the sake of doing it. I will talk (I will shout!) with the wind without bundling my words in social graces and unspoken messages. I will live and not just act.

I think it's wrong to judge people based on what music they listen to. We don't judge people for enjoying McDonald's fries once in a while, but we think ourselves entitled to berate them for singing along to any style not refined enough for our superior tastes. Why don't we love our music for its own sake? I should be able to enjoy my music without feeling the need to hide it, brag about it, or mention it at all. If I truly like my music, I don't have to compare it to yours to make me feel good about the fact that I am listening to it.

Dear Everyone,
You are not the music you listen to.

And you were unanimously voted the best musical critic of your own ipod. It doesn't matter how many millions have defined their lives by the Beatles if you just don't like the Beatles. It's your right not to like the Beatles and not to be ashamed of that. (It's your friends' right not to be ashamed of liking the Beatles, either, so don't hate.) Yeah, it's true: I'm a musical relativist. I'm sick of the prejudice we throw at beautiful people because God made their ears in different shapes than ours.

(Dear Parents,
I'm sorry for criticizing your music.

(I still don't like it. Personally.))

I don't think facebook profiles should include our favorite music, TV shows, movies, and books in the one-page summaries of ourselves. That has nothing to do with us! At best, it shows some of the ideas we agree with, particularly in the books department. But usually it only proves that we exist to consume the mainstream junk food mass-produced to give us something to measure ourselves by (or obscure music and movies, if we long to be defined as free spirits). Yes, the style of clothing covering the body does tell you something about the person beneath, but it! is! not! the! person! What does a jacket have to do with the lungs, with the heart, with the kidneys quivering within? What does a synthesized beat have to do with what you daydream about or how you respond to rude supermarket employees?

I think it's wrong to judge people based on their grammar too. I used to correct grammar in conversations, and I'm sorry: I was being a jerk. I don't even care anymore if my own grammar is flawless unless I'm writing something serious; I think people should have the freedom to talk to one another without having to sound perfect all the time. Grammar is tricky; it's like calculus. Some people have struggled their way through algebra, others still can't add, and no one but Grammar Girl has mastered every equation. In my opinion, it is writers' responsibility to learn their language and companies' responsibility to hire editors who already have. But the people themselves, the speakers of the language, are more than the competence of their high school English teachers. I promise you they know something you don't, whether it's programming computers, fixing car engines, or making crabby toddlers smile. What makes your area of expertise loftier than theirs?

I want to paint a picture just because it's a wonderful picture in my head, and I want to love it with all my heart no matter how it turns out. Art is probably my biggest insecurity. Before I graduated, I refused to even minor in art simply because I wasn't as good as other artists I knew. I told my friend this, and she was so adamant that I study art that she screamed her first curse word at me. She was right: I am an artist. Not because I am half as good as half my friends but because sometimes just thinking about painting makes me so happy that my ears wiggle. And I need to be true to that; as long as I'm painting bland pictures because they look somewhat like other people's pictures, I'm hardly painting at all. I need to stop painting as if every canvas is a competition and just let my hands create what they will, with joy.

Do you love me more or less for writing this? For posting it so publicly? For admitting weaknesses you share or you despise? For confessing that some of my music is utterly uncool and then turning my nose up at your upturned nose?

The whole point of this is: I don't care, I won't care, I won't care, I won't care."