Sunday, December 19, 2010

lessons from edmund pevensie.

I wish I could count the number of people I know who grew up having The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis read out loud to them as children. Obviously, a lot of people I know are confused by this. But for another set of people I know, it's a taken-for-granted part of life.

At (almost) twenty-one years old, these books keep me coming back again and again and again. They're children's stories, but, if you give them a chance, they are so significant. Some of the Christian symbolism that Lewis works in is obvious; other themes are much more subtle. Either way, it's there, and it always makes me stop and think. In light of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie currently in theaters, I started flipping back through the book. I've read the entire series through several times, but it's been a while since I've read this one. One scene in particular gets me every time...

Edmund and his horrible cousin Eustace end up in Narnia, and before long Eustace undergoes a sort of transformation to change him from bad to good. Immediately after the transformation, Edmund and Eustace talk about what happened, and Edmund helps Eustace understand his experience and understand Aslan.
"It's all right," said Edmund. "Between ourselves, you haven't been as bad as I was on my first trip to Narnia. You were only an ass, but I was a traitor."

"Well, don't tell me about it, then," said Eustace. "But who is Aslan? Do you know him?"

"Well - he knows me..." said Edmund. "He is the great Lion, the son of the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea, who saved me and saved Narnia."

For me, two thoughts immediately come out of this. #1. Edmund Pevensie never forgets where he came from. The change he undergoes much earlier in the story shapes the way he responds to others and the way he goes about life. #2. "Well - he knows me..." What a way to put it. God knows us, knows everything about us, inside and out. And, while we do know things about Him, it takes a lifetime to know Him more, and we will never truly understand Him for all that He is until one day we are with Him for eternity. Something about this makes me want to try all I can to learn more and more about Him, and do it quickly.

Seriously, I love this stuff. I could think about it for days. They're good stories that are worth reading anyway, but even more worth it because of what (or who) they point me towards. Not everyone is into "stories" as much as me, and I get that. But I still think you should give Narnia a try, and see what you find. Maybe you read it years ago, but pick it up again. When you inevitably discover brilliant things, call me up. We can be nerdy and talk about it together.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

blog got a major revamp.

This is what happens when I have free time. Finals are finally finished, and I am back in the 39206...for now, at least. There are lots of boxes to pack, lots of places to go, and lots of people to see. I'm not going to lie. It's going to be a long haul physically and emotionally these next couple of weeks. But that doesn't mean it can't be a good couple of weeks.

Somewhere in the midst of the craziness I am going to find time to enjoy the little things. To read, to bake cookies, to hang out with friends, to do completely pointless yet time-consuming things like redesign the blog. And it's going to be great, because it's Christmas, and no matter what is going on in your life, Christmas is always great if you focus on the important things.

If you too are hanging around the 39206 a.k.a. greater Jackson area, come stop by and help us pack a box or two and enjoy some togetherness before we head out. Give me a couple of days and some of these will be waiting for you. :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

friends > finals.

During finals week, everything seems like a good idea, because everything is better than studying. I absolutely love the ridiculous ideas my friends and I come up with. Last year, we agreed/made a bet to get blogs. This year we've been discussing our many plans for our Christmas break and random plans for our futures i.e. how to stay connected when we're married with kids and living who knows where in the country. As the studying becomes more and more frustrating, the conversation gets even better and the plans get even crazier. The frightening thing about this year is that we've already discussed some really outrageous, spontaneous things, and it's only Monday.

Obviously, my friends are a bright light in the midst of finals darkness. If I'm going to be overwhelmed with truth tables and court cases, it's nice to have other people be equally as overwhelmed at the same time. Simply having so many amazing people to constantly keep me smiling is just about the greatest thing I could ever ask for. Of course, the studying is really the least of the things we've been encouraging each other through lately. Just looking back on this weekend is proof that we've all, collectively, had a really intense semester where we've grown in so many ways. One Sunday morning at the Orchard at the beginning of the year, Pat said that "friendship is a celebration of inefficiency;" this has been beyond true all semester, and it's true again right now.

Efficiency, this week at least, would mean refusing to get sucked in to the distractions and the randomness. It would mean saying no to study breaks and snack breaks and exercise breaks and all those other breaks that seem essential right about now. Inefficiency, however, means agreeing to the breaks, and being spontaneous. It means stopping to have a long conversation in the hallway or at the dinner table even though it's seriously cutting in to the study time. It means enjoying this week a heck of a lot more than you would if you're merely trying to be efficient.

So here's to inefficiency, and here's to finals. What seems so bad can really be so good - having the right people with you is what makes all the difference.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

lots to update.

So I made it through the final week of classes and made it to Kentucky. But before I get too behind, let me write about the last week of school.

Wednesday. All semester I have wished that I was taking my Sociology 101 class from Asbury rather than Ole Miss; I think this class is so interesting and would love to have it from a Christian perspective. But Wednesday, for the first time, I was glad that I had it from a secular, perhaps even anti-Christian, perspective. We were, ironically enough, discussing religion, and it was somewhat of a wake-up call. Not a wake-up call in the sense that I was worried about having my faith challenged by people who think Christianity is a sham and the Bible can't be true...after almost two and a half years at Ole Miss, been there done that. But it was a wake-up call in the sense that my eyes were opened to why so many of these people are so turned off by Christianity. It was so obvious in their eyes; they aren't turned off by what Jesus actually said or did. They are turned off by how so many people who claim to be Christians are living their lives on a day-to-day basis. Sad, but I see their point. Those of us who believe have got to start living the Gospel and living it out loud. Halfhearted words and actions never changed anything; we must allow our lives to be radically transformed if we are ever going to make a difference in this world for Christ's sake. More on this later, but I had to go ahead and get through some of those thoughts before moving on to the rest of the week.

Thursday. Hello, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (part one) midnight premiere. We - John, Taylor, Louis, BJ, Jeff, and I - were those kids, in costume, being ridiculous. The boys dressed up in Gryffindor Quidditch gear and threw together an impromptu Snitch costume for me. They may have even chased me around the theater on their broomsticks while waiting for the movie to start...true story. Best of all, the movie was brilliant; it had the perfect level of intensity without being too dark. I cannot wait for part two in July. Here's all of us in our celebratory get-up. This may be my favorite picture of the semester.
Friday/Saturday. Mom, Dad, and Wil Kelly picked me up in Oxford and took me to Wilmore. I love the new house, I really do. I forgot how purely beautiful Kentucky is. I'll post pictures of everything soon, but, for now, I am enjoying exploring and spending time with my really awesome family and some really excellent friends. Having an entire week off is so refreshing; I'm excited to see everything that goes down over the course of these next few days. Let the Thanksgiving celebrations begin!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

thank your lucky stars.

I can't stop laughing. Today was pretty excellent, as far as Mondays go. This morning did not seem very promising - cold, spritzing rain that's characteristic of January rather than November. What's more, I woke up wishing with everything within me that felix felicis was real and that I had some. (For those of you non-Harry Potter fanatics out there, felix felicis is a potion also known as "liquid luck." One sip and everything magically works out for you the rest of the day.) Long story short, I found myself with very little time, very much to do, an unfortunate art history test, a sociology quiz, and a 30-minute window to track down a professor who I absolutely needed to find today. I don't know how I manage to get myself into these ridiculous situations, but, alas, such was the state of my morning.

Thankfully, things worked out smoothly even without the liquid luck. I had a straight-up stakeout on the third floor of Bishop and found my professor around 12:05. The rest of the day included a trip to Parking Services to dispute a ticket I legitimately did not deserve, a relaxing nap, a two hour discussion of campus politics, Chapter, Cassie's 21st birthday party, and nice, long chats with friends for the rest of the night until now.

Productivity is such a struggle lately, but the ridiculousness of how I've been spending my time is highly entertaining. Thanksgiving is only four days away, and, while I'm excited, I'm not starved for a break like I have been so many other holidays. I'm sure by the end of this week I'll be ready, but for now I am fine with a few more days of spontaneity. I would love for this absolutely random day to be an indication of the week. I have a lot left to do, and still could use some help from felix, but after the goodness of today I am less worried about how things will work out. All will be well; it always is. And getting to that point is half the fun.

"Luck has a peculiar habit of favoring those who don't depend on it..." (anonymous.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

do what you feel now...electric feel now

Saturday night after the game, Anna and I went to MGMT at the Lyric. It was amazing. And surprisingly calm. And very, very happy.


all along the eastern shore
put your circuits in the sea
this is what the world is for
making electricity
you can feel it in your mind
oh you can do it all the time
plug it in, change the world
you are my electric girl.

(MGMT Electric Feel)

Monday, November 1, 2010

october.

October is my favorite month, and with only forty-six minutes left of it, it's time to say why.

I put this off because I cannot accurately express it. Unless you've been where I've been and walked in my shoes, you can't quite understand. But some of you will somewhat understand, and others of you simply deserve an explanation for why I act especially ridiculous during this particular month every year. All I know to do is to tell you what October is, to me. Maybe that will shed light on the situation.

October is:

family traveling in from out of town
brand new journals
cleaning the house
Chamberlin Holiness Lectures
motor homes
long-sleeve shirts
Votivo red currant candles
cream puffs that are still slightly frozen
football
fresh air
leaves that start to fall in the wind
apples
Christopher Columbus
black cats
street lights that, without fail, always flicker out

October is assorted fall candy in leaf and pumpkin-shaped dishes spread throughout the Smith house. More, October is searching all of those dishes for a Reese's cup and finding that there are no Reese's cups left; instead, there are bunches of candy wrappers left in the Reese's cup's place.

October is finally getting settled. September is chaotic because you're still trying to figure out school and how to balance everything. By October, you've gotten the balance and are ready to soak up the fun.

October is when things happen. You think I'm making this up, but the craziest things, the best things, the most unusual things all always happen during this month. Maybe it's a Halloween thing? Maybe it's in my head. Maybe it's just a bit of fall magic.

Essentially, it all traces back to October 1998 and Dad's inauguration as WBS President. That month was chaos, but I remember it so well for only being in the third grade. That month kicked off all of the crazy adventures that have happened, consistently, every October since.

This October has been a blur, but, like all other Octobers, it's been great. I'm excited about a new month starting tomorrow - or, I guess, in twenty-four minutes now. I just had to acknowledge my obsession with these past thirty-one days first.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

el fin.

I had heard that seeing all of the new baby girls run down the hill to the big white house would be an incredible experience; that everything would suddenly be worth it; that the past ten months - and especially the past four days - would suddenly make sense.

I had no idea it could be THAT great.

I had no idea how excited I would feel when I stood with Emily to read out the names of our NINETY-FIVE new favorite girls.

I had no idea that I would grow this much.

I had no idea how supportive so many different people would be throughout this whole process; my friends, of course, were there for me, but people who I'm not even particularly close to helped in ways I would never have dreamed, and I could not have made it without ALL them.

I had no idea that God could be this faithful.



I didn't think we would ever make it to this picture, but here we are! And while I'm so glad it's finished, it was so, so worth it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

it's a wonderful life.

Recipe for excellence:

1. Perfect fall weather
2. Sunday morning worship at the Orchard
3. Brunch buffet at Lenora's
4. Naptime
5. Dessert extravaganza - pie, cookies, AND cupcakes
6. Nighttime frisbee in the front yard of the Deeg
7. Absolutely incredible friends
8. The 21st birthday of the best roommate on earth

I am so lucky to experience days like today. I cannot imagine better friends, a better roommate, a better Savior, a better spontaneous night. Here's to you Anna D. a.k.a. the one the club can't handle. Thank you for giving us an especially good reason to celebrate.

It's a wonderful life.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

finally the weekend.

One of my favorite things about Ole Miss is this: the weekend starts on Thursday afternoon. Really, it does. I left logic class at 2:45, made some phone calls, and called it a week. I have two classes tomorrow morning, and I'll go to them (probably). But they matter little, and the fun starts tonight.

October is my favorite month; one of these days I'll tell you why, but for now you'll have to get used to hearing me talk about my obscure October obsession. These first seven days have been excellent but exhausting. I'm excited for these next couple of days and an opportunity to soak up the fall weather and have some fun. For example, my friends and I are most likely going to Memphis tomorrow afternoon to hit up some shopping and enjoy each others' company. I tried to tell myself that I would only go if I get my work done today and tomorrow morning, but that's obviously a lie. I'll go anyway when it comes down to it; how could I not? I'm responsible, but not responsible enough to miss a day of randomness with best friends. That's why I find myself typing this post right now instead of making lists, reading mail, or calling DG alums. You'd think the fact that rush is 13 days away would help me focus... I guess some things never change. And, after all, it is the weekend.

Go do something exciting to celebrate the fall, and how good the weather is, and how good life is. And when you go, bring Bob with you. I'm not kidding - The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is October music. Hope you enjoy this album, this weekend, and this month as much as I do.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

small successes

Sponsorship. Class. Breathe. Sponsorship. Rinse. Repeat.

This week is a blessing for two reasons (a lot of reasons, actually, but I'll hit on two). First, my tests are finished, and I have some free time. I use the word "free" loosely; in reality, there is very little free time. But there's time enough for a quick trip to WalMart and a conversation with friends that lasts longer than four minutes. Context is everything. And right now, a dash to the store for toothpaste and a six minute conversation is a success. Second, this week has been extremely productive, and it's only Tuesday night. I am an obsessive list-maker, and few things are better than checking off things that are finally accomplished. If the next few days are like the past two have been, we're going to be in really good shape. And that makes me happy.

It's crunch time, but I'm actually excited about that. You have to go through the crunch time to get to the freedom. There are so many moments, so many days lately where I have to make decisions and I find myself at a loss of what to do. Thankfully, I am not alone in this. I have amazing friends and an amazing team around to help me. Better, I have a Savior who has been so faithful and will continue to be faithful, who demonstrates His strength through my weakness.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him." --James 1:5.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

dancing in september

Today is the first day of fall! It is also the day of the Harvest Moon (which unfortunately did not look quite the same as I hoped it would but is exciting, nonetheless).

I like all seasons, but I especially like fall. October is my favorite month, but September is wonderful too. Maybe I like it so much because it leads to October. I can't believe it's already the twenty-second day...I think it's going a bit too fast for my liking. Anyway, I've kind of pretended that it was fall since the first week of school. Glad it's finally official.

Obviously, leaves like this are still far away. But I'm going to soak up every day until they get here.

Friday, September 10, 2010

preach pray or die

Always be ready to preach, pray, or die - I believe that's Ron Smith's favorite tag line. He holds you to it, too. It's somewhat of a joke, among my friends and family who hear it said over and over again. But really, it's best to always be ready. For example...

Sunday morning I wasn't quite ready, but I still found myself behind the pulpit at Wesley Chapel sharing a testimony on about seven minutes' notice. Such is the life of a preacher's kid. (In fairness to Dad, he did try and give me a heads up the night before; I just thought he was kidding...obviously not). It was more scattered than I would have liked it to be, but it wasn't impossible. Actually, it reminded me that I probably needed to be on more on my game than I was, excited to share a reason for the hope that I have.

All this to say - preach, pray, or die. Be ready. You could be next. (Especially if you're hanging around 787 East Northside Drive.)

In other news, I have officially dropped to 12 hours. Spanish 322 was too much to handle this semester with everything that's going on. I really didn't want a break from Spanish because I love it so much, but I was seriously stressing about the GPA. This early on, that's a bad sign. I prefer to only stress about school when necessary, and the nagging feeling in my stomach I had every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon was a strong enough hint that it was time to head out. I can't decide whether I feel relieved or just lazy. I guess we'll see!

Last, but certainly not least...my best friend/sister is engaged!! I knew it was coming but had no idea it would be this great. Morgan has been my best friend since I started school at MRA and Zack is just the best. I wouldn't let either of them be with anybody else. Here's pretty much the greatest picture I've ever seen, taken from Zack's Facebook. I'm obsessed.

Friday, September 3, 2010

good words from Dr. Kinlaw

"I have come to believe that the mark of the truly sanctified heart is that it cares more about another's salvation than it does about its own well-being. It is not the words you say or the deeds you do that really matter. It is whether deep down in your spirit you have taken the way of the Cross and come to the place where you care about what Jesus cares about and are willing to give up everything so that people will be redeemed.

What do you do for your entertainment? How do you spend your free time? Is your constant concern the welfare of the world? If you get caught up in success, or if you get bogged down in defeat and forget to care about others, you have become sterile. You have walked away from the Spirit of Christ.

The key to every person lies in someone else. You are spiritually responsible for some other person or persons, and your obedience to the Lord Jesus will enable those people to obey. If you want your neighbor to come to know Christ, you have to start allowing Christ to work in your own life so that out of your clean heart He can draw your neighbor to himself. I do not believe that anyone's salvation starts in himself or herself. It began in the heart of the Father, and it should be continued in the hearts of those who love the Lord Jesus. The Father cared more about us than He did about himself, and so He gave us the best thing He had. The Son cared about us more than He did about himself, and so He died for our redemption. When we care more about the people around us than we do about ourselves, the Holy Spirit will be free to win the world for Christ."

This Day With the Master, Dennis F. Kinlaw, September 2, "Mark of the Sanctified Heart."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

here's everything that's happened this week.

Or, at least, here are the highlights...

Art history. Sociology. Latin American culture. Logic. Constitutional history.

That's my lineup for the fall. After a narrow escape from Intro to Contemporary Native American Literature (thank goodness that worked out in my favor), I must admit my schedule this semester isn't half bad. Why? No science or math for the rest of forever, and that just makes me happy.

Lots of good things are happening around campus spiritually; I've noticed, my friends have noticed, people who aren't believers are starting to notice. More details about all of this later, but one particular highlight was the Shane and Shane concert Thursday night hosted by the new Wesley Foundation. You should listen to/think about the words to this song. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70PDuymQ_h0 (Ignore the awkward fire in the background; it was the only video I could find with lyrics.)

Dad and Samuel came to Oxford yesterday for Ajax, Holli's, and a much needed reunion. It was a perfect Oxford afternoon and, once again, reminded me that I am quite obviously Ron Smith's daughter. Additional bonus: my dear father left me with six bottles of Ale 8. So good.

The weather is perfect, so I have spent as much time outside as possible. The front porch of the DG house or on a blanket in the Grove...you just can't go wrong with either of those.

Katherine gave us names and stories of her kids from the Philippines so that we can pray for them individually. I have Danilo. Isn't he precious? I'm becoming slightly obsessed.
That's all, folks.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

it is time.

The mood has hit. (Told you it would happen in a couple of days!). It is officially time to go back to school, and, now that I'm ready for it, I can't wait. I'm not saying that I'm ready for hours of homework and waking up early and never being able to find a parking space. I am saying that I'm ready for campus to be full of people again and food to be readily available and, most of all, for my friends to all be together again.

It's the same every year - two things trigger my back to school mindset. Two of my favorite things in this world, at that. Number one: school supplies. You're laughing, I know. I don't know what it is, I just like shopping for school supplies. I'm very specific about it too. (Ask my mom, who patiently waited in WalMart for far too long while I searched for a red notebook. It had to be red. I was just in the mood for red that day. I have no idea why.)

Number two: Harry Potter. Nothing makes me more ready for school to start than reading Harry Potter. I read some every August, just to make me excited to go back. I've read them all far too many times, but a few days ago I picked up seven again. Seriously, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a masterpiece; J.K. Rowling is brilliant. (I could go on about this for days, but I'll spare you, for now at least.) Something about the fact that all of Harry's adventures take place at Hogwarts makes me excited for my adventures that are on the way here at Ole Miss.

Ridiculous as it sounds, these two things have entirely put me in the mood to be back in school over the course of the past week. Now that I'm officially back in Oxford for the fall, I'm having a difficult containing my excitement for all of the things that are to come. With friends arriving any day now, my adventures just might be beginning sooner than I think...

Friday, August 6, 2010

(17) days of summer left.

17. That's all? I have mixed feelings every August because summer always feels so short yet so long. I've certainly been to plenty of places: Guatemala, Ocean Grove, Delanco, Oxford, Jackson, and back and forth, and back and forth some more. And I've done plenty of things. While this seems to be the case every summer, I always wish I had done a little more: read more books, watched more movies, eaten more homemade ice cream, simply relaxed. Because once school is back in session, there is never enough time for the simple things.

That being said, 17 days is still 17 days. I may have to spend them packing, and going to meetings, and moving back to Oxford, and getting ready for class, but they are still good summer days that can be used for good summer things. I will take advantage of them.

I am reading back over this and laughing because I already know what my next post will be. Today I'm in the "end of summer" mood, which means any day now I will catch the "back to school" mood and be elated. I truly, truly love when school starts back, and several things put me in the mood for starting school every year. But I'll leave those things for the next post, whenever that new mindset catches on. For now, "end of summer" it is. Time to take advantage of the time that I have left!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

what do you do...

...with a giant painting of the Great Wall of China? With years of Japanese fans, cups, clocks, and bags? With a Turkish tea set that will kill you if you drink from it? With walls of books, other books, books, and more books? It's difficult to pack up any house - to clean things, downsize, move to a new home, a new state, a new life. But it is more difficult than you can even imagine to pack up the Smith house.

If you've ever visited, you know why. Our house is beyond random, just like we are, and happens to be filled with a bunch of things we can't get rid of. The biggest bonus of moving is that you get to clean and organize, to toss everything you no longer need and, in a way, start fresh. But there's a catch that's holding us back - an unspoken rule; you don't throw out things that missionaries give you, and you most definitely don't get rid of books. So we're packing. And packing. And packing some more. For the day - whatever day that is - that our "official" residence becomes Wilmore again rather than Jackson.

Good news: that whole thing about moving to "a new home, a new state, a new life" doesn't really apply to us. While it is a new home, it's not a new state, and it's definitely not a new life. It's the same life, with the same people, just in a somewhat different way. More good news: we're not really leaving. Living a nomadic lifestyle seems to go hand-in-hand with being a member of the Ron Smith family; we'll be back. Somehow, we always come back.

It is an unfortunate fact of life that humans can only be one place at once. I've been fighting that fact for years (and almost succeeding, might I add). But when it really comes down to it, we can't be in New Jersey, Kentucky, and Mississippi all at the same time, physically anyway.

So like I said, we're packing, and packing just the things we need. For me, that means essentially nothing but clothes, pictures, and books. But for our family as a whole, that means shelves and drawers and cabinets of what my friends refer to as "foreign artifacts," and WAY too many books. Useful? Not particularly. But no questions asked; the Turkish tea set (and everything else unusual) is coming with us.

Friday, July 23, 2010

(not so) perfect attendance

You know those people (maybe you're one of them) that stress if they miss class, because they're behind on the information and constantly worry about what they might be missing? I'm definitely not one of those people. I can skip class on almost any day and not think twice. Yes, skipping makes things more difficult later on, and, yes, I find myself constantly pushing the limits, but hey... If your teacher allows 5 absences, and you can take all 5 and still make an A, then what are you still sitting in class for? As long as you strategically use the absences, you're good to go. If you can afford to do so (those words being the key disclaimer), be spontaneous, take a day off, and enjoy the extra time. It's worked for me the past 14 years, really, really well.

It's still working for me today, which is why I find myself typing a rambling blog post at 11:32 AM while I should be in my 10:00 to 12:00 clase de espaƱol. But after last night's adventures - which I will explain another time and in another place - and my decent grades so far this summer term, I decided I'd celebrate Friday and peace out the second hour of class. Here's how I will be spending the remainder of my now-one-hour-longer day:

Sitting - in the Delta Gamma house.
Working - on rush team responsibilities.
Reading - sponsor forms (see above "rush team responsibilities").
Listening - to John Mayer's Battle Studies.
Waiting - for Morgan to arrive from Starkville.
Wishing - I had the great moments of this summer on video, so I could physically watch them again and again and again.

Quote of the day (a shorter one this time!):

"I'm sorry you can't stay longer," said Alec sadly. "There's so much more to see in the Forest of Sight. But I suppose there's a lot to see everywhere, if only you keep your eyes open..." --Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

Thursday, July 15, 2010

quote of the day

I know, I know. Most people don't like reading long quotes; they see a huge block quote, stop really reading, and start skimming. But I'm about to post a block quote anyway.

I'm reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship. The start of the book sets the stage for the rest of it; Bonhoeffer discusses the difference between "cheap grace" and "costly grace." In this case, cheap grace is bad and costly grace is good. But grace is supposed free, right? That's what they teach in 4th grade Vacation Bible School anyway. So how can "costly grace" possibly be a better thing than cheap grace? Read on - really, read - and see Bonhoeffer's beautiful description...

"Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble. It is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us...

Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light."...

For those still reading, it looks like costly grace is better than cheap grace after all. And yes, it's still free, just like our VBS teachers told us. But it's costly...very costly. What, then, are we going to do about it?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

freedom is not free.

The dorky history-major side of me comes out in full force on the 4th of July. It's inevitable. Have you read the Declaration of Independence? The words are beautiful, and were painstakingly written in the midst of years of fighting and hundreds of sacrificed lives to get us where we are today. Look at the land outside of your window; look at the floor under your feet. Someone died for you to have that.

Most 4th of Julys I am in Maine at the cabin. This year, however, I found myself home alone in Jackson while the rest of the family was still in Jersey. Luckily, I was not really alone. As an "orphan" for the weekend, I became an adopted member of the Kelly family. My friend Scott Brabon was there too; his family is on the mission field in Taiwan, which obviously makes him way more of an orphan than me this summer! Anyway, the Kellys are wonderful and took both of us in for a couple days of food, fun, and fireworks.

(American flag cupcakes confession - not actually made for the 4th of July. Made for the USA/England World Cup game a few weeks ago. But it captures the patriotic spirit of this post nonetheless...)

(Me, Gracie, and Scott with some celebratory sparklers.)

It was a great weekend. I am now back in Oxford and currently find myself, once again, in the Union watching the World Cup. Uruguay 1 - Netherlands 2 in the 72nd minute. Let me also mention that I am the only caucasian here; literally, it is me and 20(+) international students. I can understand a bit of the Spanish being spoken behind me...wait...GOOOAAALLLLL! Uruguay 1 - Netherlands 3. Looks like the Dutch are about to take this one. Better go watch the rest of the game with my new foreign friends! Until next time.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

it's been a while. (part 2)

More pictures from the last three weeks. I'm glad to see my Mississippi friends again but, oh, how I miss these places and these people...


Of course, pictures and words aren't really enough to sum up all of the randomness, which - at bare minimum - involved long walks and talks with the cousins, Jersey corn, Wawa, tents, beach tags, Maplewood, midnight diner trips, Boost, midnight Italian sub marathons, and reunioning with some of our best family friends. People headed to the mission field, people temporarily back from the mission field, other preachers' kids, Laura's and my adopted big brothers and sisters, and countless other people we have literally known for as long as I can remember.

I love Mississippi with all my heart, but it's so good - and so necessary - to remember where I come from.

Friday, July 2, 2010

it's been a while.

Here's where I've been...

1. Jackson. For a few days after the return from Guatemala, I was hanging out in Jackson, catching up with friends, and obsessively watching the World Cup. (Side note on the World Cup - sad day that the USA lost to Ghana, but I've been super excited to see how many people here got into the games.

2. Ocean Grove. AMAZING place. Dad preached here for a week. It's the oldest continuous Methodist camp meeting in the country and right on the beach. We made tons of new friends, played on the beach, had bonding time with JD, and got some much-needed, quality time with the cousins.



3. Delanco. Another AMAZING place. Not so much for the beach, or the facilities, or any type of factor that would make a camp appear worthwhile to an outsider, but the people and the presence of the Lord are unlike most other places I've ever been. Trust me. It's holy ground.

4. Oxford. For two nights I have been back at school, starting Spanish class and back to obsessively watching the World Cup. I am currently sitting in the Union with a bunch of foreign kids watching the first half of Brazil/Netherlands. I actually need to quit watching ASAP because class starts in 12 minutes... Anyway, I'm going back to Jackson for the weekend, where I will stop being such a slacker with the blog. More pictures of the New Jersey adventures to come!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

check these out:

Where God sent me to an orphanage for just a little over a week, He has sent two of my friends off to orphanages for the entire summer. Katherine is a dear friend, and I miss her terribly. Everything I see reminds me of her and it's killing me to not be in constant communication with her. Lacey is going to be a dear friend, and I miss her too even though our friendship has just begun. She is transferring to Ole Miss in the fall, and, from the time we have spent together, I know that I am going to be a better person for having her in my life these next two years!

Katherine is in the Philippines, and Lacey is in Peru. Both have limited internet access but are going to try and post over the course of the summer. Whether they can update their blogs or not, pray for them with me and be excited! The world is going to be a better place in August because of what they have set out this summer to do.

Here's Katherine - http://withallyoursoul.wordpress.com/ and Lacey -
http://alwaysbeforeme.tumblr.com/.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

guat-e-mal-a

Obviously, I never posted while in Guatemala. This can be attributed to a number of things:

1. Lack of time
2. Lack of internet connection
3. Being absolutely exhausted at the end of every night with no energy left to type a blog post

#3 is, in case you were wondering, one of the greatest feelings ever.

What words can I use to describe a week at La Senda? Love, joy, peace, faith, hope - all in their purest forms. Details about what we did at La Senda and our travel mishaps i.e. natural disaster experiences can be found on the team blog (www.wesleychapelguatemalateam.blogspot.com). Besides that, pictures will express our experience best. Pictures will be posted in the next day or two.

Until then, when you think about a week at La Senda, think about those words. Love, joy, peace, faith, hope. Think about piggy-back rides, soccer games, birthday cakes, painting, digging, sweeping, mopping, bleaching, singing, dancing, teaching. Think about pure happiness that comes only from the Father, and there you'll be.

Friday, May 21, 2010

24 hour rush

The 24 hours before a trip are so. darn. crazy.

I've spent today packing, going (back) to the bank, going (back) to the Seminary, etc. Everything I do to prepare in advance ultimately un-does itself, resulting in me running around like a chicken with my head cut off. Luckily the 24 hour rush does not stress me out; it just makes me more excited about the trip.

Random diversion... Laura and I did take a much needed break from trip preparations to visit with our wonderful friends Scott and Meg who are headed to Uganda next year! I am blessed to know awesome people like them. We had fun visiting and learned two valuable things. 1. Chick-fil-a is getting a Spicy Chicken Sandwich. 2. "Regular"-sized Icedream cones are massive. Be prepared to really want an Icedream cone, or order a kid's size.

Back to reality. We're getting to the airport at 4:30 AM, briiight and early. I cannot wait to pull in to La Senda and break out my soccer skills, or lack thereof. Pray for us, and check out our team blog for updates! www.wesleychapelguatemalateam.blogspot.com

Paz y amor.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

cinnamon raisin bagel please

What is it about breakfast that makes it so darn good? Conversation with friends seems to be so much richer, so much more focused on the important things of life. Maybe it's because by lunch and dinner our days are already in full swing; we are already halfway through our to-do lists and we just want to hurry up and finish them off. But there is no rush with breakfast.

In Oxford, it's Bottletree that makes my week. In Jackson, it's Beagle Bagel. I love coming to Beagle Bagel just a few minutes early, to get started on a cup of tea and get in some reading before my friends arrive, which is exactly what I'm doing right now. 8 more minutes before the rest of today's breakfast group gets here. I'm already excited to see what the conversation holds.

Quote for the day: "Don't let what's wrong with you keep you from worshipping what's right with God."

Excitement for the day: Guatemala in FOUR days. :)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

(114) days of summer

There are not, unfortunately, 500 days of summer. There are, however, 114. I intend to fill these 114 days with things that make me happy. This is a long list - most things in life make me happy in one way or another! But here are some of the fun summer things that I am especially looking forward to...

Reading books of my choosing.
Playing the piano.
Being with friends from home who I only get to see in the summertime.
Making lots and lots of friendship bracelets out of embroidery floss.
Eating strawberry shortcake.
Fondrening. (yes, we invented a verb for that!)
Going to Anthropologie, sadly not to buy things, but to get ideas of cheaper things to buy elsewhere.

The list goes on and on. I tend to think of ridiculous craft projects; crafts make me happy and there is definitely no time for crafts at college. Today I have occupied a large amount of time making birthday cards to bring to Guatemala in a couple of weeks.
I so love the beginning of summer when there are seemingly endless days just waiting to be filled. The goal is to be productive while still relaxed, to have a plan but to always be spontaneous. The ultimate goal of my summer is always to do something good with the time I've been given. To leave the world better than it was before, and to come back to school a better person than I was before. Make that your summer goal too. We have 110 days left to do something amazing, and counting...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

the cover and the title page.

Tonight was a scene out of a movie. "Let's go for a drive" became two hours of sitting in the Grove with best friends, good music, great conversation, and a full moon. We always love it when life seems like a movie, or a book, or a fairy tale. We forget that it is a fairy tale...the Author is writing our stories as we speak.

"But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has ever read, which goes on for ever, in which every chapter is better than the one before..." --C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle.

There are some moments when life seems so short and so small. Tonight was one of those moments. Our daily lives on earth are important because of the Kingdom, but that's all. The purpose of all life on this earth is the Kingdom. All the good and perfect and wonderful things that we have here are just the start of even more incredible things that are to come for those who's hope is in Christ. Tonight, I wait expectantly for those things. Sitting on a picnic table under the trees and beneath the stars seems like the best, but it's just a taste. We haven't even made it to Chapter One yet; we're still on the title page.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

happiness

This has been a really excellent week. Here are some reasons why...

1. Sunny with a high of 75. When the weather's happy, I"m happy. And ridiculously non-productive.

2. Sour patch watermelons. I rarely eat candy, but these are the absolute best. A dear friend surprised me with a bag and I've been chowing down ever since.

3. "Something Beautiful" by Needtobreathe. Surely you've heard this song by this point, but, if you haven't, go listen to it right now.

4. They may take our lives, but they can never take our derby.
I am obsessed with our theme and our crazy costumes. (According to Anna, because this is the closest I'll ever get to the Lord of the Rings...that may be true!) DG has now won Sigma Chi Derby Day back to back years. An awesome way to end the week!

Countless more reasons have contributed to the goodness of the week; these were just some highlights. More soon!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I get by...

with a little help from my friends.

I struggled last week with priorities. There are so many things lately that demand my time and are constantly vying for my immediate attention. I know that this is a common problem for most people; everyone wishes they had more time. But believe me when I say that I'm busier than almost everyone I know. Just trust me on that one. I'm a ridiculously spontaneous person, and when I'm too busy to be spontaneous you know there's a problem. Most of the time, all of the busy-ness and chaos hangs in a delicate balance and everything works out. But sometimes, things start to get pushed over the edge. Thank goodness my friends are there to catch me.

To catch me, to encourage me, to correct me, or to calm me down. Time and time again, they have forced me to re-think my priorities and have brought me straight to the feet of the Father. They've done it again for me the past several days. Several nights this week I have dropped everything just to sit and talk and relax. Could I have been doing something else during this time? Absolutely. Could I have been doing something more worthwhile? Not a chance.


Here's a few of them. I would be a drastically different person without them in my life.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

c-a-t-s cats cats cats

Once when I was about 5 years old and living in Wilmore, I went in the backyard, sat on the swing, and cried because Kentucky had lost a basketball game. “Don’t ever lose that, Katie,” all of the Asbury students at the time told me. Apparently I haven’t…

Around ten minutes to go, I knew it was bad. When John Wall fouled out, I felt the first tear. I thought this was the year; I really did. But it’s ok, because this season has absolutely rocked.

There are so many things I want to say to these guys. I want to tell Eric Bledsoe I like his style. I want to tell Patrick Patterson I admire him for sticking it out for two long years and for being such a leader for all these freshmen. I want to ask John Wall how he can possibly be so darn amazing at life. And DeMarcus Cousins – well, I just want to give him a hug. Mostly, I just want to thank them all for bringing the life back to this program and for being ridiculously fun to watch. Another championship will come; I know it will, because we’re the best. But the combination of this year’s team was really something special.

A sophomore in college and I’m still that same 5 year old girl. If there was a swing in the backyard now, I’d so be in it. Reading back over this post, it’s a little bit depressing. But it mostly makes me happy. Some people tell me this Kentucky basketball obsession is unhealthy. More on this to come...probably more than anyone wants to read/hear. But what can I say? :)

"To most people, basketball is just a sport. But this is Kentucky. Basketball is everything."

Monday, March 22, 2010

keeping up with my people.

In my mind I’ve always had a blog. I’ve kept a somewhat-journal since the tenth grade, so I don’t need another outlet for writing. Goodness knows I don’t have – or want – time for more technology. But I read other people’s blogs frequently; I have for years. Because of the family and life I’ve been born into, I am blessed to know people who live and serve all over the country and all over the world.

People from New Jersey – the land of my birth, Wawa, Joe Italiano’s Maplewood, and all other good food on this earth. People from Kentucky – the land of horseracing, Ale 8, a small town called Wilmore, and the best basketball program in the nation. People from Mississippi – the land of magnolia trees, the Ole Miss Rebels, and countless things and places I have come to love more than I could ever dream. Family friends working to further the Kingdom all over the world, and I mean literally all over the world. I am so fortunate to have lived in these places, to know all of these people, to have been born into this life.

A piece of me belongs everywhere I’ve lived and with everyone I’m close to. It gets confusing and scattered being so spread out like this, but, if you know me, you know that everything about me is confusing and scattered. I try my best to stay in touch, but people can be difficult to track down. This blog will help me track down the people of my past and keep up with the people of my present.

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart:
Come quickly from above;
Write thy new name upon my heart,
Thy new, best name of love!
Charles Wesley, “Oh, for a Heart to Praise My God,” 1742.
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