Free :: Alive :: Grateful

I am sitting here at work updating my blog and feeling very blessed.

Thanksgiving has already passed and I already stated very clearly in my last post what I am not thankful for.
But this morning I found myself feeling free, alive, and grateful.

Free because yesterday I finished my Capstone presentation and it went extremely well. I feel very nostalgic already. My very last English class as an undergrad is 98% complete, but all the writing, reading, researching, etc is over. As happy as I will be to not have homework to do nearly every night, I am very sad to be just a few weeks away from being a student. I love school! I love learning! I love being an English major! I am nearly FREE, but it is bittersweet and that is a good thing.

Alive because am blessed with so many things that make me smile and laugh. My husband is the absolute funniest person on the planet. My friends are so thoughtful and so caring. My new coworkers are so welcoming. My old coworkers make me feel very special by how they will miss me and already do.

Grateful because I have a husband who loves me so much and is constantly saying how proud he is of me.
And grateful for little things like being able to keep my car in a warm garage all winter, our kitties being overly needy for love, a great cup of coffee, Christmas decor, scarfs from Italy, etc.

This may turn out to be a rambling, random, and nonsensical post – but I just wanted to write out how I am feeling today while I still have  enough down time at work to do so.

I am also technically getting paid to write this. Be jealous. 🙂

 

 

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What I am NOT thankful for.

So we went camping over a month ago with some of our good friends, but writing a blog about it has been fairly low on my radar between everything else I seem to be juggling these days. At the top of that radar is typically work. At the bottom of my radar is typically sweeping and mopping my floors because that would require picking everything up off the floor that we’ve thrown there during the week and that would require doing laundry since some of the stuff on the floor is dirty clothes and that would require not having as much homework as I do and…. well, you get the point. 🙂

So we went camping.

I gotta say it was a bittersweet experience for me.
I LOVED camping as a kid the few times we actually did.
I love our friends and spending time with them.
I love being outdoors.
I love cooking over a fire.
I love fire in general, especially burning things. (ask Chad. I am a total closet, or not-so-closet pyro/arsonist)

But I hate, hate, hate being cold.
Not THE COLD, but being cold.
I don’t mind THE COLD because with it comes scarves, seasonal coffee beverages, staying inside with a good book in front of a fireplace with actual fire in it (<– Fire! Yay!).

But feeling like my bones are about to snap in half from all the shivering and teeth chattering is not my favorite thing.

Thankfully, we were very active – for the most part – during the day going on walks, playing frisbee, having wood chopping tournaments, building bigger fires (OH YEAH!), etc.
It was the nights that were difficult.
I did not sleep, despite my 25 degree weather approved new sleeping bag, the 3 layers of pants and tops I was wearing, the blanket wrapped around me while I was inside my sleeping bag, the padding and blankets underneath me, the blanket on top of me, the hand warmers stuffed between my 2 layers of hunting socks, and the snow hat on my head. ALL OF THAT DID NOT KEEP ME WARM!

Leave it to Missouri to have an unseasonably cold weekend and the first 2 night FREEZE the very same two nights we chose to go camping. 🙂

Alas, the days were a blast and we have the best friends for camping!
The nights were long and cold and I questioned my sanity, but we made it through and when we got home I enjoyed a hot shower, clean clothes, and a warm Temper-Pedic mattress.
I have so much to be thankful for.
I am not thankful for sleeping in a tent when it’s below freezing outside, but otherwise God has blessed my life and I am thankful. 🙂

PICS!!!

Our awesome tent:

Wood cutting/chopping contest!

Video of competition! 😀

Our friend Patrick:

Our friends Rachel and Andrew:

Chad playing with our friend’s Great Dane: Chief – who is HUGE!

  

Chad survived playing with Chief:

Chief leading Ryan around. 🙂

CHIEF!

In the freezing cold water:

Eskimo Ashley. 🙂

FIRE!!

Congratulations, Obama.

The election this year was a dramatic one. Tensions heightened the closer we got to Nov. 6th and understandably so.

Yet, the thing that makes me more upset than anything else is Christians name calling, allowing strife between themselves and others, and the incessant and completely ridiculous proclamations that we have now entered into some kind of Armageddon. That Obama getting reelected is a sure sign that Jesus is coming any day now and that we all will be judged for voting for another term a President who doesn’t align himself with Biblical principles.

Where do we get off? I mean, where in the Bible does it say that the leaders of all nations would align themselves 100% with Biblical standards? Where in history has this EVER happened? Who are we to think that we’re some special generation that will be entitled to and endowed with a President that makes everything easy and comfortable for Christians and then punishes anyone else accordingly for not having Christian standards.

We are supposed to not be of this world.
We are supposed to love one another ABOVE ALL things.
We are supposed to trust in God and God alone for our future.

I voted for Romney.
But I also voted for several Democratic candidates for the Senate and Congress.
I don’t think Obama stands for everything not Biblical, just like I never thought Romney stood for all things Biblical.

The political party systems are not the polarities of Christians vs everyone else.
This us vs them mentality has led to countless acts of hate, strife, anger, and injustice all in the “name of Christ” because we are mad that someone doesn’t believe what we believe and, therefore, validate us in our beliefs.

Show me in the Bible where Jesus cared at all about the Christian ideology of the Roman Emperor?
Show me in the Bible where Jesus advocates for any of his 12 disciples to gain political power in government?
Show me in the Bible where Jesus said the world would be brought to Christ by upholding a man-made constitution or by passing laws that make Christian ideals a mandate for everyone?
Show me in the Bible where Jesus seemed to endorse a capitalist mindset where everyone gets to keep and hoard what they worked hard for?

My point is to not be hostile or even infringe on anyone’s rights to vote based on their belief systems.
As Americans, we do have the right to vote based on our beliefs.
But as Christians we are supposed to give up our right to allow anger or hatred to create strife between us and others. We give up our rights to amass wealth for our own pleasures, while there are millions of starving, destitute, orphans in need of homes, etc. We give up our right to control everything, as if we were in control of our own destinies to begin with. And we give up our right to dictate for others what they should do when our own lives are full of equal amounts of brokenness and depravity.

Obama is not Armageddon. And like a dear friend of mine said, voting for Obama does not forfeit your salvation. Ultimately, we vote in good conscience for the candidate we believe is best suited for office based on our belief systems and IF our candidate does not win we are to pray for our President, get involved as best we can to help ignite change on the social and political levels, and trust God with the outcome, our future, and our country.

This is not a “Congratulations, Obama” followed by a “may God have mercy on us all.”
This is a plea for humility before God. TRUSTING him with control of our lives, not the democratic system.
Trusting God that His plans and His ways are HIGHER than ours.
Trusting God that despite our potential disappointment with the election that He is on the only throne that matters.
If God chooses to deliver America to Hell in a hand basket, HE IS GOD.
Not you.
Not me.

May we all work out our salvation with more fear and trembling before a God that is mightier than we give Him credit for.
May we love our neighbors.
May we begin looking into things like foster care for lonely, troubled orphans despite the inevitable loss of the comfortable life we have built for ourselves.
May we serve others like Christ.
May we donate our time, money, and other resources to feeding the homeless, protecting the innocent, counseling the broken, etc.
May we be Christ to others, as best we can, no matter who is President of this country.
The President does not affect how we as citizens operate for the betterment of society.
Our President being Christian or not does not affect our ability to be Christians in a world that needs more love than it does politics.

Because in the end, the political state of America is just a blip in the timeline of history and eternity.

PLEASE FELL FREE TO COMMENT YOUR THOUGHTS! I WELCOME THEM ALL, EVEN IF YOU DISAGREE WITH ME! 🙂

– – –

What the Bible ACTUALLY says:

Romans 13:1 – “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”

Matthew 24:6-14 – “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

1 Peter 4: 7-11 – “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. 8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

Matthew 22: 37-39 – “Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.‘”

Job 23: 13-15 – “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases. He carries out his decree against me, and many such plans he still has in store. That is why I am terrified before him; when I think of all this, I fear him.”

1 Peter 2:17 – “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king.”

1 Timothy 2:1-3 – “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holinessThis is good, and pleases God our Savior.”