Friday, March 28, 2014

She Shares Truth: Jonah 3 & 4

Wow.  So many thoughts.  The part of this section that I keep returning to is Jonah 3:10-4:4.  I think I'll just write it out here, because it really isn't that long, and it always does me good to "interact," so to speak, with what I'm reading.

10. When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed His mind about the calamity that He had said He would bring upon them; and He did not do it.
1. But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry.  2. He prayed to the Lord and said, "O Lord!  Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country?  That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing.  3. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live."  4. And the Lord said "Is it right for you to be angry?"
Wow.  Again wow.  Jonah is basically reproaching the Lord for being "gracious ... merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love."

Uh, what?

Jonah, in case you've already forgotten, the grace, mercy and steadfast love of God are the only reason you are alive right now.

Bu no, in fact, Jonah doesn't even want to be alive at this point.

This phrase - "Our God is a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love" - is one I heard many times, growing up, from my parents and my church.  I had no idea it was originally spoken out of deep disappointment and anger.

It is very hard for me to relate to Jonah at this point in the story.  Or rather it always was, until I read this. Whew.  So true, and now I can totally relate to Jonah.

I'm this childish way too often.  How many times have I acted like I knew better than the Lord about what He "should have done" in a particular situation?

More than I would like to admit, I'm sure.

It's so easy for us to think of God as our own personal God, concerned with our own personal affairs, ready to do what we want Him to do.  Now don't get me wrong.  God is intimately concerned with our own personal affairs, but He is far far far from being at our beck and command.  The thing that is so difficult for us to understand and wrap our heads around is that our God is equally intimately concerned with the personal affairs of our friends, our co-workers, our teachers, our students, our neighbors, even our enemies!

This kind of one-sided thinking and misunderstanding is what caused most of Israel to miss the fact that Jesus, the redeemer, was in their midst.  They were busy looking for the Messiah who would come and rescue them from Roman rule, and couldn't see that the true Messiah was so much bigger and loved the Romans just as much as He loved them.

He loves His entire creation impartially, because He looks at our hearts, rather than our actions.  He knew that Jonah's heart was just as wicked as those in Nineveh.  And yet He loved Jonah and chose to use him to fulfill His purposes.

This post was written as part of the "She Shares Truth" experiment over at

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Small Town Saturday: Volkswagen Edition

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My mom grew up in a family that always drove at least one Volkswagen, so she has a special place in her heart for them, and they figure in almost every story she tells us of her youth and college years.

Maybe as a result of that, or maybe just as a result of the fact that they are ridiculously cute little cars, I wanted one so bad when I first had the opportunity to buy my own car.  Well, one thing led to another, and I wound up not driving a Volkswagen.  But I'm not mad about it, and I am still absolutely in love with the little car that practically fell into my lap.

And now Baby Sister is barking up the same tree I did, and we'll just have to see where it gets her...

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Mom tells us the smaller the tail-lights, the older the Volkswagen.  This one was from the late '50s.

Needless to say, when Mom, Grandma, Baby, and I got the chance to check out the local Volkswagen festival, we were all pretty happy about it.  Mom reminisced about "Things," "Rabbits," "Doon-buggies," and "Bugs," and Grandma reminisced about the Volkswagen van she and Grandpa used to drive, where they just threw a play-pen in back for the kids while they were going on long road-trips.

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We all enjoyed the vans most, I think.  They all had such personality!  Most of them were out-fitted like campers, some with themes (Peace signs & Tie-dye, Coca-Cola, Flower Power, and Jamaica, to name a few), but the one I liked best was this little Country Chic one.  Seriously, I could probably live in it and be happy.

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In fact, there were some folks who looked kind of like they did just that - lived in their VWs, and travelled all over to these shows.  Several people brought their pets, and, evidenced by this dog snoozing away, this wasn't much out of the ordinary for them.

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What a life!

I'm pretty sure that my little town has more "festivals" than anywhere else.  Some are big, and others are not so big.  This was a small one, but there were people from far and wide (Even as far a Nevada!), because it was tailored to such a specific demographic.  There were lots of fancy restored cars, as well as people doing a booming business in selling parts for Volkswagens of all descriptions.

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This is the interior of the purple one Baby was posing with earlier.  It looks brand new, right?  Somebody definitely treasures that car.  Also, can we talk about this completely uncluttered dash?  I was sort of in awe of it.

There was even a short row of Porsches.

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Were they a Volkswagen product at some point?  I was really confused as to why they were there...

Basically, there was every type of VW you can imagine.  It was lots of fun.

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Stay tuned for the Kite Festival next week!

Yep.  I'm serious.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Small Town Saturday: Farmers' Market Edition

This weekend was crazy.  I had no idea, when I moved back home, that I would have so many plans pop up!  On Friday night, I went to an event on campus, called Pen and Pigment.  It's a wonderful collaboration between the Creative Writing department (a division of Liberal Arts) and the Art department (a division of Fine Arts).  I had the privilege of participating in this event twice during my time at SFA, and loved it both times, so, of course when I heard that it was happening this Friday, I wanted to go.

Well, then a good friend decided to come through, and wanted to have dinner on Friday night, then another friend invited me to Movie Night at her house to watch Frozen (ummmm, YES), then my college basketball team became the Cinderella team of the NCAA championships and had their second round game on that very night...

Yeah, I had to sort of laugh at myself, as I dressed up and went to an art event, while everyone else on campus was going crazy in the Student Center, where the game was being shown on every screen...

Somehow, though, I managed to fit everything into the night including watching our crazy over-time win and screaming with the best of them about it.

And then I fell into bed at something like 1:30 am, with plans to get up for the Farmers' Market at 9 am...

I waffled significantly the next morning about whether or not I should go, but I did, and, boy am I glad I did.  There is nothing like a small town on a Spring Saturday morning.

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Be aware, I'm testing out larger pictures to see if they'll fit in my template, so things my be a bit wonky for a little while...

You guys, It's been so long since I picked up my camera, I'm afraid I may be losing my touch!  My two favorite pictures from the farmers' market were blurry, and I wasn't particularly impressed with the ones that were focused either.

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I guess this means I'd better pick up my camera more often.

I ended up getting to the market toward the end of the time that it was open, so most of the booths were closing down by the time I got there, but there was still quite a bit of fun stuff to check out.  We got to chat with a local peach farmer, and he told us this year was shaping up to be a bumper crop because of the crazy long winter, and there was a man selling home-made cheese.

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Also, someone was selling Kale.  I've never actually used fresh Kale in anything, so I had no idea it was such a lovely little plant.  I love the contrast of the yellow against the green.

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Also, did I mention this was the "Spring Fling", so there were added attractions, like american flag themed pony rides...

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My favorite part about living in a small town?  Views like this, even in the middle of town (literally two blocks from Downtown...)

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Then, as we were leaving the Farmers' Market, we realized the Volkswagen festival was happening just down the road.

Nope.  You can't make this stuff up...

Photos from that event coming soon.

Friday, March 21, 2014

She Shares Truth: Jonah 1&2

Hello friends,  first of all, let me apologize for falling off the face of the earth, but when you move, and get a new job, and your best childhood friend gets engaged all at the same time, suddenly people and life become a little more important than the internet.

But, I'm back now, and hoping to continue somewhat consistent posting on here.  We shall see what happens.  As a kick-start, I'm bringing in a new Friday tradition.  (I've enjoyed High Five for Friday, and it may return, but for the meantime, I'm thrilled about this new link-up!)

Back in January, I joined a fantastic online community called She Reads Truth.  I cannot begin to tell you what a blessing this little space has been in my life - it is so loving and uplifting!  About two weeks ago (conveniently coinciding with the new job, my aunt's wedding, and the afore-mentioned engagement and ensuing dress-shopping/planning flurry), She Reads Truth started a new thing called She Shares Truth.  Basically, every Monday, we are assigned certain scripture to reflect on over the week, and write about on Friday.

Friends, I'm a writer.  Can you imagine my joy at hearing about this new plan?  Honestly, I hope it stays forever.  Obviously, I've already missed out on two weeks worth of writing, but that doesn't dampen my excitement about it by any means.  I'm thrilled to be able to join in today!

Currently, we're reading (and sharing) about Jonah.  Yep. you heard that right.
I'm sure I've read through Jonah in my adulthood, but I've certainly never paid attention to it as an adult.  I mean, really, it's a story about a man who gets swallowed by a fish and then regurgitated three days later.  Good material for Sunday School, and keeping the kids' attention, but not really that important for my spiritual journey now... Or so I thought

Our study basically started out with this sentence: "It's not about the fish."
So true.
It is not about the fish.  Did you know there are only three verses in Jonah that even talk about "the fish"?  This is actually a story about a man who thought he could out-smart God, and had to learn his lesson multiple times. (One of those times just happened to involve a fish swallowing him - minor details, really.)
Sound familiar?  Oh yeah.  Only like what I've been doing for years...

The thing that really struck me in my reading through Jonah 1&2 (and which I remember noticing as a child, too) is that the sailors cast lots to find out whose fault it is that they have this giant storm on their hands, and the lot happens to fall on Jonah. Hmmmmmm.

Casting lots was a pretty common form of divination, as well as a way to make a fair selection for any job that nobody (or everybody) wanted to do.  It was not only prevalent in Israel.  This was a widely known practice throughout ancient cultures.  It was similar (in principle, not necessarily in practice) to drawing straws.

Now, in summary, so far, Jonah has made a decision to "get away from the presence of the Lord," and boarded a ship going as far West as he can go.  This sort of makes me wonder if he is at all familiar with Psalm 139:7&8...
Maybe that was after his time.  I'm not entirely sure where Jonah falls chronologically.

So Jonah thinks he's gotten away, then a huge storm comes, and the sailors cast lots, etc.

You guys.  I'm pretty sure that lot-falling-on-Jonah thing was not accidental, or luck, or what-have-you.  God came right down and put that lot exactly where he wanted it.

Yeah, Jonah.  You thought you could get away from ME?  Well, here I am, in the middle of a storm, on a boat which is swaying and tossing on the waves like crazy, totally in control of not only the storm and the boat, but even this lot-casting.

In my Study Bible, there are a lot of C.S. Lewis quotes sprinkled about, and one of them in Jonah (which he wrote regarding Jonah) says this - "We misread much of the Old Testament because we start with the assumption that its sacred character excludes humour."

Honestly, though, the whole situation Jonah got himself into must have been kind of comical to God, don't you think?  I can imagine God shaking his head and chuckling, knowing how this is going to turn out, thinking "Really, Jonah?  You're really going to make me throw you into a fish before you learn that you can't get away, because I am everywhere, not just in Israel?"

It's comical to me, until I start realizing how many times God has probably had that same inner dialogue about me and my stubborn will.  I can assure you that it's been more times than appear in the book of Jonah.  I am so grateful, though that, no matter what sort of predicament I will myself into, He is still in control and will provide a way out for me, even if I seem to be drowned in a storm at sea.