Christian Fiction: All the Love?

Hi, everyone! Happy very, very belated New Year’s! I hope you guys are having a good 2019 so far. Mine is mixed– super excited for King of Scars, and mixed feels (some excited, but definitely some anxious– more on this in a second post!) on the news Leigh Bardugo and Netflix has announced, on their collaboration for a Grishaverse series (my take? This is either going to be really good, or an accidental nightmare. Depending on a lot of factors). That being said, I’ve been on social media a lot more lately than I initially planned, but then, things always go that way with me.

Couple of announcements, before getting to the post– Rothana’s review should be up sometime tomorrow, super excited about it. The MBTI posts will be on temporary hiatus, due to MBTIGuy dealing with some unforeseen medical complications (but is on the mend, as of right now. Keep praying, guys!). Lastly, there WILL be some minor spoilers in both my Rothana review and my King of Scars review.

And now, to this post.

As stated, been on social media a lot lately, and been following one highly-respected Christian blogger, homemaker, productivity inspiration, writer who is basically the incarnate, 21st century version of the Proverbs 31 woman. (No, I am not kidding!) For the sake of her privacy, unless she requests otherwise, I am going to refer to her by her initials only, “P.M.”. Ordinarily, I agree with P.M. on many, many things (Theologically, etc.  Well-rounded woman of God, been a part of multiple denominations, including Baptist and Presbyterian, and actually does have some Pres, Calvinist and RP friends! 🙂 She provides an SLIGHTLY egalitarian perspective to that of my college’s complementarian one. Me? I see pros and cons to both sides, and am officially somewhere in between– not as a compromise to both sides, but because I genuinely don’t wholly agree agree with either, and see both having very valid points. ). However, I do disagree with her on one major thing– fiction literature, especially YA, is bad for your mind. She especially rags on anything romance-y, due to it vastly raising expectations of real-life people to expect others to behave in a manner similar to, well, fictitious characters. Since she had a past history of coming through struggling romantically, sexually with literature she rightfully says she shouldn’t have read in her younger years (cough… sensually explicit… stuff…), says it actually initially put a damper on her marriage. Now, some fictional literature she is fine with, like LOTR and The Chronicles of Narnia, but she is highly wary of most fiction, especially “Christian fiction”. Why? It’s namely because “Christian fiction” is almost exclusively romantic fiction. I kid you not– when I walk into my growing Church library, the expanding titles are all romance-based, or Amish-romance based. Same with most books in a Christian bookstore catalog. I can think of only three exceptions to this– Ted Dekker, Frank Perretti, and Lynn Austin. Yes, all three sometimes include some romance, when it’s actually relevant, but is usually portrayed fairly realistically. But she’s not overly fond of Dekker, and tends to blanket the rest– secular and Christian–with unfair statements. But say, not all fiction is damaging. In fact, Tolkien didn’t necessarily consider his stories classic “Christianese,” per say, but used his stories to glorify God,

“Are The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Christian stories? The stories don’t mention God or Jesus; but J.R.R. Tolkien, the author, was a Christian. Asked to describe himself, Tolkien gave a quick summary and then added, “Or more important, I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories).” If we pay attention when reading his works, we can tell that Tolkien was a person of faith.

“Philosopher Jacques Maritain wrote, “If you want to make a Christian work, then be Christian, and simply try to make a beautiful work, into which your heart will pass; do not try to “make Christian”.” Too often, Christians think that what they create should have an obvious spiritual meaning. But Tolkien believed that in the act of creating, we participate in the work of God. God is a Creator and has made us to be what Tolkien called “sub-creators,” which is one of the primary callings of the human heart.

“Tolkien did not set out to write Christian stories. He set out to write stories that gave him joy. He wrote to the glory of God; in doing so, his faith shone through.” (Arthur, Sarah. “Following Your Joy: The Hobbit and God’s Call on Your Life”. Once Upon a Time Ed. Devozine. Nov-Dec. 2013.)

Just like Tolkien, we, as Image Bearers, are called to be what my Humanities classes affectionately refer to as, “culture makers.” We literally make culture to the glory of God, guys. That is our intent. We can show God’s love through a song or a painting, inspire others with our words or a movie, make a change for Him, for better, push and challenge ourselves and others to do our best for our Abba, our Creator. The problem only comes when we factor in our downfall, sin, and our own selfish desires, like greed, pride, lustful desire/fantasy, and purely wanting to make a name. Out of the right context, being a culture maker can be extremely damaging to society as a whole, as we’ve seen so many times. This is why P.M. is against much of the whole “Christian fiction literature” culture– even while being meant well, many romance authors tend to project romantic godly and often unrealistic ideals onto their characters, making them behave unrealistically, and upsetting readers when it doesn’t go the same way in real life. Even non-romance writers do this,  LOT, and I’ve seen first-hand some of the unrealistic expectations/ damage it causes for myself, so yes, we do need discernment. Real people are not whole, perfect– it’s why we need a Savior. The authors may not intend to do that, but it is wise to consciously form a habit of checking yourself while writing, and holding yourself accountable. After all, God could use you to influence and help others to help glorify Him– that is a lot of power and responsibility, and we must utilize wisely.

When all is said and done, fiction, Christian or secular, is like the Force from Star Wars; by itself, it is not good or evil. It all depends on the wielder– and the wielder’s intentions with it.

___________________________________

Works Cited:

Arthur, Sarah. “Following Your Joy: The Hobbit and God’s Call on Your Life”. Devozine. “Once Upon a Time” devotional section, weekend section. Nov-Dec. 2013.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

(Quick updates: This weekend, you’ll be getting two blog posts, one is much anticipated tomorrow– something I’ve been badgering a certain someone over for years–and a special surprise I’ll be hinting at over Instagram; the other will be either a MBTI type post or a Shadow Functions post!)

 

This past Sunday morning, my pastor remarked on the obvious: Thanksgiving was all but dead to America. He joked about once writing a eulogy about how it started off strong in the 18th and 19th centuries, got severely ill and on the verge of death by the 20th century, and finally, died in the 21st century due to being smothered in an avalanche of Christmas décor, and Halloween candy and costumes.

We may joke about Thanksgiving not having much of a say anymore– at least, as far as the American public and most commercial sales are concerned– but it goes far deeper than the surface, to an underlying problem we’ve had for a while. And while this rings a familiar tone in the ear of some of my fellow Americans, I think the whole world could use a good, healthy dose of truth, too.

A while back, in July, I posted again about why I think we should pray for America– not to be blessed, as we are so fervently encouraged to do, but to be humbled and healed. See, we have a similar problem to ancient Israel– when the going gets tough, we turn to our chapels and prayer out of desperation. But the instant everything’s peaches and cream in life, our ego starts to swell. We credit ourselves for our successes, our blessings, and in doing so dismiss our loving Benefactor– before the cycle starts all over again. America often lacks humility, and it lacks gratitude for the One Who founded it to begin with, Who crafted the land with such care, raised flora and fauna into being for nourishment, enjoyment and resources, who provided a way for people to reach the land and settle– He certainly didn’t have to. He did it because He loved them, as He loves us, and because He provided what they needed. Note: NOT wanted. Needed, according to His will.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again and again: We often treat God like a cosmic Santa (oh, sickeningly sweet irony), making a mile-long list of greedy gimmes and things we don’t necessarily need but oh, how we WANTS IT, PRECIOUS.

*Ahem.*

Anyways, I’m inferring by the “we” that I’m certainly not just pointing the finger to America, but to myself, as well. God’s recently been nudging me (pretty consistently, might I add… ) on abandoning “desires of the flesh,” so I can draw closer to Him, and thus help to fulfill what He wants for my life (which I may or may not discuss later on– you guys might think me a bit crazy as it is xD). In that search for a more in-depth revelation on how exactly to “abandon the desires of the flesh,” I stumbled upon this verse, in James 4:2-3, which kind of smacked me upside the noggin:

“…You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (NIV)

(This is the passage that comes directly before saying that “friendship with the world is enmity with God,” too… :/ )

Wow.

It struck me right between the eyes, because lately, I’ve been very much the materialist, for an INFJ. I’ve been buying bookish stuff out the kazoo, and I think this was God’s wake-up call for me to slam on the brakes before I overspent or over-prioritized that, or worse, ASAP.

But, look what it says after calling them out on sin, in James 4:6-10:

“But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says,

“God opposes the proud

but shows favor to the humble.”

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter into mourning and your joy into gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (NIV)

Whoa and whoooooaaaa. Humility. God is calling me to be humble. God is calling US to be humble. God is calling us to repent of our sin, to recognize the depth of the pain that it causes Him and others (and often us), and to be genuinely remorseful about it. I think I’ve only been deeply remorseful about one major sin in my life, sadly, and it wasn’t the materialism that plagues my life now. I believe that America is even more deeply entrenched in materialism than I am, but I don’t think it’s too late. As controversial as I am or seem, I do love my country. Do I hate lies? Yes. Do I loathe propaganda? Also yes. But I care about my country, and I want to help it out of its spiritual mire; I can do so by encouraging it– and others– to turn to God for aid, and humble themselves, seeking Him.

All this makes me think of times when I was actually blessed deeply by God, and did not take such things for granted. I was blessed all through my college years; God kept me safe and He kept me, for the most part, as sane as any student could be. He gave me the most amazing, knowledgeable and compassionate professors. I met so many wonderful students, and made quite a few friends and acquaintances, who I’ve been deeply privileged to know. He told me at the beginning of my Geneva journey that we were going to tackle this together, one day at a time, when I initially panicked, overwhelmed by it all. Later, in one of my first semesters as a sophomore, I broke down in an anxious frenzy, thinking I was a failure– I was no good academically, socially, and even genetically (I cannot give blood to donate, as I am cortisol deficient, but I have the universal donor type– cruel irony). I would have sobbed for hours those days, if it weren’t for classes to keep me busy. Then, one day, I felt God’s Spirit, Ruach, nudge me. Watch the Prince of Egypt. I frowned. I had no reason why I couldn’t, but saw no reason why He wanted me to. Watch the Prince of Egypt movie. It popped up a couple of times, so eventually I caved at the end of the day, popped in some Netflix in my own private little room (oh yes, I had it pretty made, sophomore year!), and, cuddling up with Eikon (my Zorua plushie), I watched to the part where Moses is almost arguing with God, about how he can’t, he can’t do it, he can’t lead God’s people, and God talks some sense into him, saying, with the beautiful Spirit-music in the background, that through him He’d do His wonders. In that moment, I heard Him speak to my soul, “You are not a failure. I made you. I love you. Through you, Olivia, I WILL work My wonders!” I was so struck, so taken aback, I started crying right then and there. That moment’s still remained with me to this day.

Later on, God blessed me in nearly all my academics, and was with me even as I went on my class trip to Israel. In fact, that was one of the consistent messages He constantly gave me, when I did my devos over there– ” I’m with you. I’m protecting you. Don’t be afraid.”
My usual response? “I’m not afraid.” I was ready, and willing, to go where He led us, where He led ME. One clear instance over there, of thanksgiving, was a total surprise. I was simply grateful and felt so privileged to BE there, in THE Holy Land– it felt so surreal. But God continued to surprise and bless me, even as I did not ask for the blessings outright. This continued even directly right after college, in little ways, and not always in material ways, either. However, I’ve come to realize that some of the material blessings are beginning to get to my head, and I need to humble myself like before, to seek God, repent, and focus on Him, not what He can do for/give me.

You see? If we don’t obsess about it, God does give us what we need. The trick is to take our eyes off our wants and our problems, and focus them on Him.

This is why I cringe about “health and wealth,” gospel; we shouldn’t automatically and constantly ask God to bless us, especially with material things. Our hearts and motives need to be in the right place, for starters, as the above Scripture states. And, like the Apostle Paul states,we need to learn to be content with what God has already given to us; additionally, we should not worry about needs/provisions, God always makes a way to provide for His children and Creations, be it us the Image Bearers or the smallest sparrow.

A Letter To Guilt-Tripped Victims

Dear Guilt-Tripped Victim,

Although it is highly likely you are a dominant or auxiliary Extraverted Feeler (ESFJ, ENFJ, INFJ, or ISFJ), there is also a fair chance you are a dominant or aux Introverted Feeler (ISFP, INFP, ESFP, or ENFP), too. Either way, you’ve been manipulated. Guilt-tripped into thinking things are your fault, when they really aren’t. People take advantage of your caring, good-natured feelery-ness and sometimes, your ability to give others the benefit of the doubt. You want to please them because you care, but because you don’t want to offend them by standing up to them, you doormat, instead. They stomp all over you, taking good measure to wipe their shoes clean of dirt and filth, grinding it both into you and all over you. They accuse you of being selfish if you can’t do something, “do it right,” or at least can’t do it right away, for them, simply because you are preoccupied or have other obligations. Sometimes they don’t even need to say anything, just shoot you a witheringly patronizing glare that breaks you up on the inside. You can’t bear the pressure, so you cave. “Oh, thank you!” they may say, with a hug for affirmation. You hug weakly in return, but only feel a small amount of satisfaction. You do the thing you were asked to do, and in the meantime, focus on trying not to feel resentful and frustrated, because hey, a good person should be entirely self-sacrificing, right?

Right?

Not if you’re constantly being pressured or bullied into things.

Not if you’re receiving threats of any kind to, “do as I say, or else.”

Not if you’re being disrespected.

And certainly not if you’re being persecuted/hounded down for your beliefs.

You see, I’ve been there. With a few certain people I thought were my friends (most are, but a very small handful aren’t). And even my folks. They guilt trip and manipulate to get what they want, and they take advantage of your kindness and wanting to help. Now, this does not mean that you should never be kind to others, or want to help them. And you should still be a bit guarded. But this also means you need to have a healthy sense of yourself in Christ, how you are valued in His sight, and how He never compromised. When the crowds became too much for Him at certain times, He went off to the mountains, alone, to talk with His Father (God). We would do well to learn from His example. Take time for yourself, take time for Jesus, ask Him what to do. And remember, even though God wants us to serve others, He certainly doesn’t want us to be total doormats– and most importantly, when it boils down to it, He wants us to serve Him first and foremost. We often do that by serving others, of course, but when it crosses a line– say, if said others basically grill it into your head that you should listen to them and no one else– you need to be strong and take a stand.

Dear ones, I’ll be praying for you. We can do this, with Christ’s help. And we can make this stand together.

 

Blessings,

L4G

Staying on the Path

Last rainy September, on our way home from Church one Sunday morning, my Mom and I nearly ran into a felled tree, in the middle of the road. This forced us to take a detour onto a back, narrow, very windy road, followed by several other possibly equally confounded and frustrated drivers.  It was extremely tiring, and unnerving because we didn’t know where we were going to end up, and the pressure seemed to only build up behind the long line of anxious drivers behind us. It was so tempting to drive off the main road, take a side road to try to take a short-cut, to put off the pressure of the long line of cars following behind us. And it didn’t help that we could only see a bit of the road, directly ahead of us, at a time– the rest was encapsulated in a dense fog.

But you know what? It reminded me of something.

(Yes, this is where I get up on my little soapbox and start to preach. A tiny bit.)

You see, this is where being an Intuitive is handy– we see unconscious connections, and we connect them all to the bigger picture. In this mini-sermon instance, that bigger picture is life itself, or rather, the Christian Life. We have no idea what the future holds for us, exactly– individually or as a group. Trees block a path God warns us not to go down. The road of Life is foggy, and it is impossible to know exactly where the next turn up ahead is if you can barely make out three feet in front of you.

Imagine this: You’re on a random road trip, one of those terrible surprise trips (I say terrible, being a planner myself) where the person taking you on the trip, the one person knowing the destination and how to get there, won’t tell you how you’re getting there. You have a notion of the destination, but again, it is foggy out, and you barely know which way to turn. Those promising shortcuts off the beaten path are starting to look more and more tempting as you get more and more lost in the middle of nowhere. Your friend, the one who suggested the trip and is riding shotgun with you, is being your human GPS, but it’s hard and is getting harder to hear him over all the noise– your cell is ringing, your artificial GPS is constantly repeating, “recalculating,” confusing you further, and the radio is blaring music. Your friend asks you to please turn off/down the radio, shut off/ignore the cell and the GPS, and simply listen to him– he knows exactly where you’re going, and how to get there. You are reluctant, however, to trust in just him. He asks if you trust him; you say you do. He says to pull over, get out, play “fire engine” (switch seats fast) and let him have the wheel. The wheel of YOUR car. Suddenly, you get nervous. What if he’s wrong? What if you get there late? What if you end up somewhere completely different than what he told you? What if… What if…

Some of you might be making connections already– if so, that is fantastic. 🙂

For those that haven’t, yet… The friend, obviously, is Jesus and Ruach, your Comforter, Savior, Counselor and Guide on Life’s weary travels to your destination, which is to be with God (many say, “heaven,” but technically it’s supposed to be wherever God is– especially since He’ll be creating a new heavens and a new earth in the future for us to live in!). The AI GPS, the radio blasting, and the cell phone? All earthly things, all things that can distract or mislead us from God (if you think about the soil parable, this would be the thorns and the seed). He has the ultimate map, and knows the way well– we need to trust him, and turn off that noise. There will be temptations, oh yes– seeming shortcuts to the top, to your destination, but these will often come at a price, and more often than not get you more lost.

The foggy road is your life– full of potential, but also full of uncertainty. You only see a bit of the road at the time, not the whole thing. The same’s true in life; we often live day-by-day, moment-by-moment, wallowing in simple predictability. We try to make the most of those moments, neglecting to think of what could be or what is to come, rather than what is. God shows us bits and pieces of the puzzle at a time, but when we stand back to see how some of them start to come together, we start to see the bigger picture of why He does things the way He does. We may not completely understand, but sometimes we don’t have to.

When I was 14, in the midst of the Swine Flu Craze, I became quite faint-headed and ill in the middle of the night. Concerned, I woke my mother, and she went to the kitchen to get me some medication; I followed. Next thing I know, I was waking up on the kitchen floor, my mom or dad asking me how many fingers they held up– I had passed out. Shocked, they took me to the ER, and since the docs automatically assumed I had Swine Flu like everyone else (to this day I doubt that was it; they misdiagnosed a lot of random cases that day as S.F.), they gave me what they had been giving everyone else, Tamaflu, and sent me home to recover. The next morning, I found my thighs and parts of my legs had broken out into hives; I had an allergic reaction to Tamaflu. (Now, when I was fairly young, I’d been tested for every common allergy on the market, save for Tamaflu and maybe a couple others, and they had all tested negative, except for extreme amounts of dust/dust mites) I had received a short-term scenario of what God saw, long term: Had I not been sick, I wouldn’t have gotten Mom. Had I not passed out, I wouldn’t have gone to the ER. Had I not gone to the ER, I would have not received the Tamaflu shot under the fairly ignorant assumption that I had Swine Flu, and thus would have never, ever discovered my allergy– which could have had devastating effects in the future. God works in mysterious ways, showing us what to do, piece by piece, bit by bit, but He always leads us out to the other end, just like Mom and I eventually got home safely, that same morning. All we need to do is literally let God take the steering wheel, not backseat drive, and trust in Him.

Trust and Obey?

You may know me well enough.

You may know my fave colors, my fave foods, how I make myself crack up when I fangirl in private (which is fairly often), my unsure status on whether or not I’m autistic (long story, for those that DON’T know…), how insanely picky I am when it comes to men/food/clothing/perfectionism in general…

But most of you probably don’t know, I teach Sunday School for tykes (First and Second graders, to be precise) about twice a month. Yup. Me. Teaching.

(Don’t get me wrong, I’m usually good with kids, but getting them to listen EXTENSIVELY to me? That be the No. 1 reason I am NOT a teacher, folks, haha…)

Don’t get me wrong, they’re good kids, smart kids, even. You can tell which of their parents work with them on stuff. I try to sound invested in their lives, because it’s how I’ve learned to connect with others– ask them how their weekend was, if they’re doing ok in school, if they’re excited about Halloween, Ooo, you’re going as a princess this year? Which one? What’s your costume look like? If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? , etc, etc. They’re actually pretty good at it, and I try to involve and encourage the shyer ones a bit, if I can (and of course, if one helps me do something, they all want to help and seem important, so I try to divvy up the tasks as fairly as possible, so everyone gets a turn.). If they start getting restless, I wrap up the lesson as best as I can (because most kids don’t listen if they’re restless– let’s be honest here), and we play a game that gets them moving, but involves a major theme from the story/lesson, so it’s more ingrained in them. Then we usually wrap up with a small snack, and sometimes the girls will want to color.

So last week, they were relearning a story that was quite familiar to them: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abenego, and the Fiery Furnace. (For those not familiar with the story: Check out Daniel 3:1-30.) They knew it, at least, mostly. They did not know specific details, however (such as the kidnapping of the friends from their homelands, the pagan name changes, and that the furnace was heated seven times hotter than normal– so hot that the guards who were carrying the tied-up men to throw them in died just from being NEAR the heat! ), and when I asked the girls (since it was an all-girls class that day) what they would do, if they were told to bow down and worship a statue, or they would be killed by a furnace, one of them had an interesting answer:

“I’d bow down, but I’d still believe in Jesus/God in my heart.”

This, my friends, is the very profound mind of a simple but sweet child, and one of the reasons I love them dearly. How many of US are like that? Think of the disciples– many of them said to Jesus, before His arrest, “I would die for You, Rabbi,”– but how many actually DID, when that moment came? Instead, they fled the scene, as prophecy had foretold, even the closest of the Twelve denied knowing Him. I think that often WE are like that, too. We think to ourselves, “It’s OK to lie to the world, and for the world, as long as I know what I believe on the inside is true and righteous and–” Uh, no. No way, no how. God does not want half-hearted commitment, He wants all or nothing, and the same goes for His Son.

Now, you might think I’m saying this with disgust. With pure condemnation.

And that couldn’t be more wrong.

You see, even when we turned our backs on Jesus like cowards (yes, I most certainly said WE), when we humbly came crawling back to Him, apologizing and asking forgiveness, to make a commitment to start afresh– He forgives. He heals. He cleanses us of unrighteous, of cowardice. He makes us bold, for His sake. For His Name’s Sake. We only need to place our faith in Him, not ourselves.

Before I started teaching, I doubted. I doubted what God could do through me. I doubted the abilities He’d given me. I had seriously doubted that me, of ALL people, could be a POSITIVE influence on these precious little ones, when I had messed up so badly in the past. I still struggle with devos and reading my Bible frequently enough.

Guess what? God said, “I want you to do it anyway.”

And, as always, He is right on the dime.

The bigger question is, when (not if) you eventually screw up majorly (if you haven’t already), will you bring your broken, humbled heart and allow Him to fix it, make you new and whole inside? Or will you keep your distance, in either pride or humiliation, too disgraced to look upwards to heaven, or too “independent” and confident of your own abilities, and not God’s, to help lift you out of the mire? (And, let me assure you, that that mire turns to quicksand mighty fast)

Our words may say one thing, but our actions ultimately reflect who we are, and what we believe. To quote Blanca, “Cause if you don’t stand for nothing/ You always fall for something/This isn’t how it’s meant to be/So Imma keep on Walking/And let Him do the talking/ Imma have to make a scene.” So, what’s it going to be– the world, or God?

Humble Thyself in the Side of the Lord: He Will Lift You Up

Humble Thyself in the Side of the Lord: He Will Lift You Up

(Disclaimer: Note– this is NOT a trigger warning. People had allll last month to post trigger warnings on PC posts. Anyways. I do love and respect my pro-choice friends and even fam, but since I love them, I cannot bear to look them in the eye and lie to them, sugarcoating the Truth I know to be absolutely REAL, or worse, completely denying it, outright lying and pretending I agree with them, when the opposite couldn’t be more true… Leaving the inner thoughts and Truth to boil inside of me, like scalding lava, ready to explode out of the volcano. Well, fear not, readers– no explosions today. Just a casual river of lava flowing out of a side opening. 😉 )

Hey, everyone!!

I know, I know, it’s been ages. I initially planned on releasing this yesterday evening, but was so exhausted, I only focused on typing up about the first half, before calling it quits for then– leaving the remainder and the edit for today. (I still have to review the Illuminae Files, Caraval, the Selection Series, Warcross, the Sowing and do some MBTI posts and– GREAT SCOTT LOOK AT THE TIME! Need to get started, here!) I feel like I’ve aged so much since graduating back in early May, but it’s only been a couple months of my whole 23 years of living.

Speaking of past experience… Some of you might recall that from last, around this time or so, I did a poem based on God healing America, not blessing “her.” Today, I still do not retract that statement, but continue to firmly verify it; nay, add to it: I’d like to ask God, my Abba (Hebrew for “Father,” or more specifically, “Daddy”– I’ve taken to calling Him that a lot more lately; it’s my special name for Him 🙂 ) to HUMBLE America. From the President to Hollywood actors and actresses, to activists, we ALL NEED THIS. BADLY.

This is actually a thankfulness post in disguise. See, I’ve noticed a recurring pattern here. Two things often happen when God blesses someone: They either A., take it for granted, lounge in the blessings, disregard God/forgot He gave it and can just as easily take it away, or B., humble themselves and are deeply thankful for everything He’s done, and has been doing for them. Likewise, the two have two different reactions when God takes away the blessings, and bad things start to happen: A often either curses/denies/blatantly ignores God, or, just as bad, promises to recant, etc., then, when things go back to smooth sailing, takes back this promise, and returns to the behavior that probably got them stuck in the pit to begin with (aka, the very yo-yo relationship that God had with the Israelites back in the good ol’ days. Nope, nothing new under the sun– just different century, different packaging, same product here). B, on the other side of the fence, is your typical Job: Either is asking God why, but knowing their place, and never directly blames God, retains righteousness, and comes out of that fiery testing GOLD– aka, blessed even more than before.

Guess which America is? (Hint: It’s not B.)

Now, I’m NOT discounting the people who are continuously resisting and yanking ‘Merica back by its coattails to prevent certain disaster. No, in fact, I applaud such people for their effort. But if America becomes any more blessed at this point, I honestly believe it will go straight to our heads even more than it already has. We have become so blessed that we are often led to believe, solely by our OWN designs, no less, that it is our own actions that have caused the blessings to occur– no God, thank you (Oooo… hurt to write that… ). We pull an Eve, straight out of Genesis, wanting to become our own “gods,” masters of our own fates, captains of our own ships. But it is extremely dangerous to let a captain pilot a ship he has no idea how to sail. And it is equally dangerous that we have let God’s blessings (a very good thing) lead to us wanting to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, chests “puffed up” in pride, and neglect entirely the thought of thanking or even acknowledging Him (a very bad thing).

And let’s not forget last month’s little theme: #PrideMonth.

So, it is with a very sad and solemn heart that I look to Abba and ask Him, no, beg Him, to not bless my country. It grieves me to beg this. My own country. My physical inheritance, descendants, and progenitors. I beg Him to humble America. To remind us that we could lose EVERYTHING materially– hobbies, health, objects/trinkets we feel we cannot live without, family, friends, the world, power, wealth– and none of that would matter, so as long as we have Him. If we have Him, we have everything. If we have everything BUT Him, we will have nothing. (And trust me, when I say “nothing,” I mean, “NOTHING”. You can’t take that iPad, that BMW, or that book boyfriend, with you up to Abba. One throne in your heart, for ONE King. God doesn’t do sharing. 😉 For reasons specified in the Old Testament… Israelites had their trinkets they couldn’t let go of, either…) But until we get over ourselves, and turn to the One Who truly deserves our praise, I will not in good conscience ask Him to bless us, as a nation. America likes to play the victim at times, but judging from our past, we’re often very similar to Israel. We all need a serious Reality-God-Check; He’s supposed to be in charge here, in charge of our lives, helping us govern ourselves and our nation. Him, not us. We need to stop backseat driving. And we need to accept that.

But for those who probably wrinkle their noses in disgust at my proclamation, I do not only ask for humility for my nation. No, it is also healing, for we are a very, very broken nation of splintered people. Fractured families of all kinds. Broken hearts, lost souls, floating about aimlessly, searching for something, someone, anyone to fill the void left in their heart. Drugs. Abuse. Perversions of many, many variations (I lost track, and am not bothering to keep track any longer). Deaths of many variations. If that breaks my heart, I can hardly begin to imagine how badly it breaks Abba’s. (Probably comes pretty close to utterly obliterating it due to pure pain, I would wager) We are so lost in ourselves, so lost to sin, it is as if we are wandering around in a sea of obscure fog, taking whichever direction the first signpost we spot may point out to us. Even if it is straight off the cliff. Into a sea of ravenous sharks. Straight into the enemy’s waiting jaws.

It is too easy for that vermin to get away with such treachery, and the very thought of it not only makes my skin crawl, but it makes my blood SIMMER. It is just like Lucifer to deliberately calculate and manipulate people’s pains to make them sin more, and drive them away from the One True and Only Permanent Relief– Jesus. We need to fight him. We need to have humility, healing, and a genuine movement of repentance to God and His SON, if we are to make it as a nation, and not fall apart at the seams.

So please… pray with me now…

Abba,

We know we have sinned against You, and against Your Beloved Son, when all You ever wanted was to heal us, to help us, to draw us closer to You and for us to reciprocate Your love for us. Please forgive us of our sins, as we know that does nothing but drive a wider wedge between You and us. We know You want desperately to abolish said wedge, and can do so faster than the bat of an eyelid, but want us to willingly disperse of the wedge. And so, we humbly turn that wedge over to You to destroy, closing that gap. All the sin, all the false idols… We lay them all at Your feet, Abba, and ask You to deal with them as only You see fit. Thank You for blessing us with what we already have, but we know what we really, truly need is You, and only You. Please humble us, and help us to see that. Forgive our pride, show us how to let You take the wheel. Heal us, fix the brokenness, show us the way to go. Be our lighthouse on a hill that we can see clearly through the dense fog, for with You, oh Lord, all things are possible.  

 

“Humble thyself in the Side of the Lord…

Humble thyself in the Side of the Lord…

And He… Shall lift.. You up.

Higher and higher, and He

Shall lift

You up.”

 

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” James 4:10, NIV

“Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD, and humility comes before honor.” Proverbs 15:33, NIV (Prvbs. 18:12 says something extremely similar)

 

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Image Credit: https://www.istockphoto.com/photos/american-flag-cross

 

 

To My Future Husband

To My Future Husband

To my Future Husband,

I know that we do not know each other yet, but I want you to know that I know you’re out there, somewhere. I don’t know where, but I know somewhere. And I know this because God told me so.

(Woooowww… That was a LOT of “knows”! Forgive me if I seem arrogant in that sense)

I just wanted to let you know what you’re in for, if you decide to try to pursue me and win my heart. My heart is NOT something easy to get to, at all. I give my whole heart to God, to Jesus, and only chunks of it to animals and people I love, including friends and family. Yet I am a passionate, deeply caring person. I am just not won over easily.

By “not won over easily,” I do not mean, “playing hard to get”. In fact, I don’t trust flirting all that much, or even know HOW to flirt, myself (or recognize it, unless it is outright obvious– I mostly think people are being friendly/polite). By “not won over easily,” I mean you are going to have to make some effort to get to know me, and win my trust. I do not trust all that easily. Being a sensitive person (understatement of the century), I have been hurt emotionally and mentally (and almost physically, once or twice) multiple times. I instinctively have built a strong fortress around my heart, my soul. If you want to get in, you need to be willing to scale some walls. Make some effort. Get to know me on a deeper level. I have no tolerance for manipulation, which loses my trust almost instantaneously, setting you back to square one (if you’re the lucky one). Most of all, I need understanding. Not necessarily sympathy, but understanding.

I want you to understand that I can be moody, and why I’m moody. I want you to understand that I have a weird, emotional, fangirly side, a sweet, caring, counseling side, and a serious, academic, smart side. Often, the last wins out a lot in my life, and I am forced to make hard choices (such as “Do I go visit my dying dog during her last days, knowing I probably won’t see her again, or do I get a jump on periodicals, which are due in a couple weeks?”). I am often forced to neglect personal things, like writing, friend time, me time, etc in favor of homework and other obligations; this typically has a negative effect on me. If I do not have a healthy outlet to express my frustrations, it slowly gnaws away at the core of my being; I feel helpless and depressed– like I just want to curl up into a ball, cry myself to sleep, and not do ANY work. Like at ALL. I am one of those people who has to lie and go to the answering machine response when most people ask how I’m doing (but don’t usually care); note: I hate being inauthentic with my feelings, as I feel it is being untrue to myself. But most people don’t care, or have problems of their own, so for their sake more than mine, I tend to push that all inward, driving me even battier than normal. People often, though not always, take advantage of my seeming stability, my warm openness, and come to me with emotional needs or problems. One or two problems I can help them handle. But the more that flock to me, the more overwhelmed I become, and the more my brain feels like exploding, or my emotions/mouth, snapping– like a twig. (You don’t want to be on the receiving end when that happens, trust me. Although the good news is, it seldom shows outwardly, and it is happening less.)

Additionally, I’m sure you’ve realized by now that I am not a shallow kind of gal (at least, I try not to be). I value the person inside, not the outside. I recognize that these bodies are only God’s temples, shells to temporarily house our true selves, our souls. While physical beauty does have some value, granted, I grow angry when/if people are only drawn to me only because of how I look. It gets to the point where I almost want to (if I could only be so horribly audacious; again, this is GOD’S temple, not mine, and I have no right to desecrate it, just as others have no right to desecrate it) take a knife and scar up the face I was  given, cut chunks of  hair out, and scar or deform the rest of my body, because people place so much value on it over the soul. It makes me want to openly defy them. When will they see or understand? It is not the physical that TRULY matters, in the long haul!

(I apologize for the rant… I’ve been through a lot, as you can see)

I do not go for flings, one night stands, online dating, etc. I want true commitment. Marriage. I bought myself a purity ring when I was 18, and on my finger it shall remain until that special night (which, by the way, I AM looking forward to just as much as you). In return, I will promise you love, loyalty, devotion and commitment as your helpmate in Christ. We can work together in Him for God’s glory, looking forward to heaven as one. I am open to both giving and receiving advice, as long as it is constructive and not critical for the sake of being critical (I’m toughening up a bit in that area). I have been anxious about seeing anyone, though,  due to my many trust issues, and my persistent fear of manipulation, deceit, or, worst of all, being taken advantage of due to my emotional, mental, spiritual, and even physical inexperience. That is why dating/courting is simultaneously one of my greatest desires, but also one of my greatest fears. I do not want to date an unbeliever, most of all. The thought, along with my experience in that department, utterly terrifies me. I want someone who is truly dedicated to Christ, and has a solid, strong relationship with Him. I want to grow together with you, in Him. And if that means I’ll need to wait longer, because we all know God runs on His own time, so be it. I’ll wait for hundreds of years, if it takes that long. I’m willing.

I’ll be praying for you.

Yours,

Olivia

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Image Credit: https://gallery.yopriceville.com/Free-Clipart-Pictures/Valentine-s-Day-PNG/Heart_Print_PNG_Clipart