Thursday, April 19, 2012

I joined the fight against poverty: Clemence and Compassion International

“I joined the fight against poverty!” the white-lettered t-shirt seemed to shout from its black canvas, as I pulled it out of the cardboard box, careful not to dump the packing popcorn all over the floor. I had been waiting for this package to arrive for weeks, and it was finally here!

It all began long ago, but in the spring of 2009, I finally took action. I was looking ahead to my one year review at work, my first full-time, "I’m an adult now," job, and I wanted to do something special to celebrate my adulthood and God’s provision for me. That's when it hit me - I was, for the first time in my life, financially stable, generally independent, and actually able to sponsor a child through Compassion International! I had grown up watching the commercials on TV of children in need, their empty eyes yearning for food, for hope. I had even spent a couple summers with the Continental Singers raising sponsors for the organization. I had always wished that I could do something for the poor children of the world, but I hadn’t had a steady income. Now I did! Now I could do something about it!  Now I could change the life of a child!

Praying As Our Fathers: The Book of Common Prayer

*This morning I led the devotional time for my department at work.  Below is what I shared:

I have found that learning to pray is one of the hardest aspects of the Christian life.  Scripture exhorts us to pray, but what do we say?  How do we maintain a balance in our approach between the amiable sentiment of “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” and the sobering “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” both talking to a trusted friend and standing before the throne addressing our almighty king?  The disciples themselves struggled with prayer, and asked Jesus for lessons in how to pray, for in that context of the Gospels is the Lord’s Prayer recorded.

Over the years I have attended many seminars and Sunday school classes on prayer, with advice ranging from “follow these five helpful tips to improve your prayer life,” to “just pray as the Spirit leads.”  Many times I have struggled praying consistently and finding motivation to pray for extended periods of time because I feel like I do not know what to say.  When I do pray, it can be heavily laden with my emotions at the moment such as bemoaning my overwhelming problems, without always clearly clinging to the truth of Scripture in faith.  In the midst of this struggle to find a balance between expressing how I feel to my Father and seeking for my will and desires to become more aligned with those of my Lord, I found a little book, written five hundred years ago by devout clergy and drawing on centuries of the Christian tradition, which has radically changed the way that I approach prayer.  It has brought a new consistency in my daily prayer.  This book does not replace spontaneous prayer, but it has brought a balance to my extended daily prayer life, by equipping me with a language and structure for my prayers.  It has encouraged me to daily confront my sinfulness and to truly be thankful for the abundant redemption that we have in Christ.  It is called The Book of Common Prayer.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Banana Nut Bread Disaster: Learning to Laugh at Yourself

Okay.  I will be the first one to admit that I am easily embarrassed.  I am a reserved person, preferring to put my best foot forward and make a good impression, so I naturally tend to keep to myself, especially those things which are weaknesses or flaws.  Marriage, however, is helping me, well, my dear Clint, is helping me to admit my failings, apologize if necessary, and even to laugh at myself if the occasion calls for it.  He certainly finds some of the things that I find to be embarrassing or mildly traumatic to be cute and funny – like this morning.

Let’s just say that I am not a baker.  I mastered baking the turtle fudge brownie box mix after many bake sales for theatre, but I am a failure with most everything else.  Okay, I'll admit that I even have a hard time with boxed cookie mixes.  In my defense, there is a big difference between nine and eleven minutes in the oven!