Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Matthew 25:40 (New International Version)
40"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.'
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Excerpt from “The Heart of the Artist” by Rory Noland, found on pages 64-65
“First of all, stay focused on ministering to people, as opposed to gratifying yourself artistically. Ministry is not about us and our wonderful talents. It’s about people. It’s all about serving others. First Peter 4:10 says, “Each one of us should use whatever gift he has received to serve others.” If you’re trying to gratify yourself artistically and forget all about ministering to people, it will be a very empty experience. We artists spend so much time on technique and style that we often lose sight of the people we’re trying to reach. [...] We need to come to a meeting, to a rehearsal, or to a service ready and willing to serve. Instead of always asking, “What’s in it for me?” or “What can I get out of this?” we need to ask, “How can I serve? What can I give?”
My mentor and friend read this passage during an arts-retreat-planning meeting, and it brought me to tears. Suddenly, I realized why I had become so empty while at Villanova and why acting turned from something so full to something so empty. When I was at Eastern University, we were trained not only in technique, but also in serving our audience. Acting was not about ourselves, but about the community and the communal experience—not just between actors, but especially between the actor and the audience. At Villanova University, acting was no longer about serving, but about mastering my own technique. It became so focused inwards, about self, and it left me completely empty. There was virtually no community of actors taking care of each other. I don’t think anyone at Villanova would want to hear this or necessarily promote this style, but even if it’s not what their mission is, it is still evident from their actions. Professional and academic acting, from what I witnessed, is so much about SELF. No wonder I couldn’t see where my acting fit into the kingdom of God; while at Villanova, there was nothing kingdom about it.
This isn’t to say I am about to jump back into theatre, but it just clicked in my mind and made sense. Whatever gift we have, it is meant to be given and not kept to ourselves.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
The other day, I was speaking with my brother about Bernard of Clairvoux. I told him I wanted to read more of his work. Matt told me he is known as the theologian of love. Conversely, however, he was also the theologian of the crusades.
“That’s weird,” I remarked with a crinkled, confused face.
“It was his culture,” Matt astutely replied. “We are all susceptible to cultural blinders. We have them too.”
It makes me wonder: what are my cultural blinders?
Just now I started reading the book “The Heavenly Man” about Brother Yun. When he was a teenager, he fasted for 100 days for a Bible, only eating one bowl of rice at night. This story made me think of two things: 1) What should I be fasting for? Why am I not in more earnest for Christ? 2) Is the over-consumption culture in which I live blinding me from truth?
1) What would cause me to earnestly fast after the Lord? I am inspired by those who are seeking so much that they sacrifice so much comfort for the Lord’s benefit. I have often tried fasting before. For about a year, I fasted once a week, but it turned out to be a diet tactic shrouded by holy piety. I also feel that because of my particular struggles, fasting seems to be a stumbling block for me; I get so focused on NOT eating that again, my thoughts become about food and not about God at all. What is it like to give up everything in order to hear from God?
2) To go back to a common, early theme, my struggle is vanity, and I believe consumption (or over-consumption) has a lot to do with it. I believe I have too much of everything, but especially clothes and food. I am also led to believe that I need this much stuff. I need ten pairs of shoes, ten different hoodies, five jackets, etc. I need a variety of foods, lattes, hot chocolate, etc.
As far as food goes in my life, I would say that I have a very limited and simple diet, but it often leads me to believe I am hungry. I get discontent with my simple food. I want more, I go out and get more, more, more, more. It’s so readily available that I consume without thought. I feel as though I am constantly in consumption.
As for clothes, I have wanted to purge myself of my stuff, but I need a reason why. A clear reason why. Right now, I just have this small inkling that perhaps it would be better to have less, but I don’t know what God means by this inkling. Does he want me to give up so others can have what I have had and do not wear often? Does he want me to give up so that I learn to sacrifice? Both? How much? What do I give?
I want, as much as possible, to be aware of cultural blinders and eradicate their ensnaring powers in my life. I want Jesus to have all of me. Besides, all this “stuff” I have accumulated belongs to him and him entirely. I am a guest here; everything is his.
Soon, Elliott and I will be embarking on an adventure to Urbana. On this conference, we really hope and pray that we will have time to seek the Lord together, free from the distractions of our lives here at home. We will be forced to live very meagerly—on canned goods, beans, veggies, peanut butter, and rice cakes. For a week. It’s a sort of a fast, don’t you think? Maybe I will learn that we can live with very little. And as for packing, I do not need much. I should use this opportunity to leave with as little as possible, to escape distractions, to focus on the Lord.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.
"As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Victoria tagged me for this thing where you write down ten things you love about yourself. I have to say that I was really hesitant to do it, and honestly really didn’t positively intend on filling it out. As it is, I don’t feel exactly comfortable posting it on my own blog 1) because my blog is focused on my walk with God, and 2) because well, it’s a vulnerable thing to post. However, as I struggled this morning to love myself and found myself saying the same disparaging things in my mind, I thought, “You know, it probably would be a good exercise for me to fill it out. It might be a healthy thing for me to do.”
Also, I was thinking about Bernard of Clairvoux’s four stages of love: 1) Love of self for self’s sake. 2) Love of God for self’s sake. 3) Love of God for God’s sake. 4) Love of self for God’s sake. I’m not really sure what number four looks like in reality, but I am striving to get there. I certainly have had number one mastered for the majority of my life, and I feel like now I’m fluctuating between two and three, though Lord-willing I hope I am settling in more cozily in number three. But love of self for God’s sake? What does that look like?
I spend most of my days not liking myself. I feel ugly, slobbish, heavy, imperfect, unsuccessful. I know these are all human-measured adjectives, and I want to get to a point where I just spend most of my days loving the Lord, expending my thought-ly energies on Jesus and loving him and others around me....and yeah, loving myself too....with a love that is right and in a good place.
So here goes: 10 things I love about myself.
1) I love where I came from, in all senses of the word. I love my family and the people they are and how they raised me. I love the mountains of North Jersey and the Narnia and Middle Earth we created there. I love my childhood and what made me the person I am today. I love my friends who grew up with me, and are growing up with me.
2) I love where I am currently. I love being married to my best friend, I love living in community with my brother and his family, I love working at Starbucks and going to school to become a teacher, I love getting to know God more fully and in deeper ways, and I love that Elliott and I are in a place where we can honestly say, “Here we are Lord. Send us.”
3) I love that God gave me an incredible gift of singing. I love floating in the air with the tone of my voice and finding out all the different ways I can use it to make all sorts of pretty and interesting sounds.
4) I love that God has given me the gift of empathy and love for other people, especially those who are downtrodden and outsiders. I like living in that openness and love for others. It’s truly a gift from the Lord.
5) I love that I enjoy being healthy. I like exercising, I like healthy foods, and I like learning about what I can do to become healthier. I like encouraging others to be healthy as well.
6) I love that I have the ability to run. I was never athletic in high school or college, so this new-found challenge of running, though at times difficult, as been exploratory and exciting. More than anything, though, I’m just thankful I have that ability and I love that about myself.
7) I love that I have the ability to act and have gotten to play all sorts of different people in the past. I love especially that I got the chance to be Maid Marion at the Renaissance Faire and got the chance to pursue acting professionally through Villanova’s scholarship. I also love, though, that God had me wake up and realize acting doesn’t have a true place in my life right now. It wasn’t healthy for me, and I’m glad God got me out of it.
8) I love that I enjoy reading and grew up reading books. I love that I like to think and dissect different books with literary theories and such. I love that I got to major in English. I still can’t believe I received a degree for reading books and discussing them.
9) I love that I married Elliott. I love our relationship and that we get to work on that relationship forever. I love our adventures. My life is so much richer.
10) I love that I know I like being around people for my job but also that I know I am an introvert and need time to myself. It’s good to know where the balance is and be aware of it.
So I will tag: Nora and Kate.