Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Emmanuel: God With Us

This is my 100th post, so I'm going to try my hardest to make it a good one! :)

As we approach the Christmas season, and the holiday lights are going up, cookies are being decorated, and presents are being bought and wrapped, one thought that continues to be on my heart is the true significance of the name "Emmanuel." God with us. God in human form, pleased to dwell with us.

What did it mean 2,000 years ago for God to come and live among men? What does it mean for our lives now? It means that God Himself, Jehovah, I AM, the one who hung the stars in the heavens and carved the oceans out of the depths, came to earth. Yes, He came to ultimately die and rise again to redeem us. But He also came to experience life as we know it, to weep over the things we weep over, to laugh with us over our joys, and to experience brokenness, poverty, loneliness, pain, and everything else that afflicts the human race.

He didn't just come to die, he truly came to live among us as the prophets foretold. He came to bind up the brokenhearted, to release us from our prisons, to preach good news to the poor, and to replace our ashes with crowns of beauty and our cloaks of despair with garments of praise. He came to break the silence with the hope of God's presence on earth.

In between the final prophets of the Old Testament and the birth of Christ, 400 years passed when God appeared to many of His people to be completely silent. I've felt many times in my own life that God has been silent, and I'm sure that you have too. But one of the miracles of Christmas is that when Christ came, on that long-awaited day, 400 years of silence were finally shattered by a baby's cry (as this song so beautifully describes). God was silent no more. He became our peace, and every barrier between God and man was broken.

In the 1960s, a missionary named Don Richardson went to Indonesia to evangelize among the Sawi people, an indigenous tribe known best for violence, deceit, and treachery. Few had ever attempted to reach them before. Richardson knew what he was up against when he first shared the Gospel story with the Sawi, and the only character they resonated with was Judas the betrayer.

Soon, war broke out between the Sawi and a neighboring tribe. Desperate to end the devastation and make peace, the Sawi chief decided to invoke a traditional treaty with the rival tribe: the agreement of the "peace child." In this agreement, one side offered to the other a baby boy to raise as its own. As long as that child lived, peace would prevail between the two tribes. The chief asked for volunteers to give up a child, but no one stepped forward. Finally, the chief himself, overwhelmed by grief, brought his only son and laid him in the arms of the rival chief, making peace.

Watching this scene unfold, Richardson knew exactly how to share the Gospel with the Sawi people. He explained to them that Jesus Christ, God's only Son, was the divine "peace child," given over to a sinful human race to reconcile mankind to the Father for all time. As long as that child lived, there would be peace between God and man.

Yes, Jesus is the "peace child," the Redeemer, the lifter of our heads and the healer of our hearts, who came to live and walk with us just as much as He ultimately came to die for us. Let that sink in this Christmas as you ponder the divine wonder of "Emmanuel," God with us, our Prince of Peace.

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor--so that you through His poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

50 Things to Be Happy About: November Edition

1) red cups from Starbucks in the fall
2) Christmas music
3) paying off the credit card bill in its entirety
4) getting so absorbed in a paper or project that you work on it for hours and completely lose track of time
5) a freshly washed car, especially when the rain does the job for you
6) stumbling across amazing blogs/ websites that you've never discovered before
7) the perfect words of encouragement from a close friend
8) meeting fun new people
9) the sound of children laughing
10) nail polish
11) chocolate-chip cookies warm from the oven
12) scrapbooks
13) that new favorite song ever that you listen to every single day
14) being an adult, having a driver's license, and being able to generally go where you want to go and stay out as late as you want
15) on-point advice
16) reading non-fiction
17) finding classy art to hang in your apartment
18) family movie night
19) Friday night after a really stressful week
20) DIY decorating projects
21) falling autumn leaves
22) inspiring quotes
23) seeing family over Thanksgiving
24) counting down to the end of the semester and break
25) the fact that the election is finally over
26) getting thank-you notes and wedding invitations in the mail
27) the exhilaration of travel (and daydreaming about places you'd love to go)
28) buying fresh flowers for a special someone (or for yourself)
29) spontaneous dance parties
30) meeting goals you've had for ages
31) cats
32) wearing your favorite warm red sweater on a chilly day
33) leaving the library with more books than you can carry
34) resilience
35) being healthy
36) art museums
37) pedicures
38) margaritas
39) Wednesday night Zumba classes
40) sleeping in
41) simply saying no to something you don't have to do and don't want to do
42) jigsaw puzzles
43) finishing what you start
44) finding that $20 bill you forgot you had
45) the delightful smell of old books
46) hummus and pita from an authentic Greek restaurant
47) learning something new
48) a surge of motivation
49) snow
50) a friend who is a great listener

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thanksgiving Break > Final Exams.

I hope you all have had a wonderful holiday and time to spend with family and friends! November could be a pretty dreary month if it weren't for Thanksgiving and the reminder to be grateful for every blessing we have. I've had a great time being with my family in North Carolina over the last few days, eating lots of turkey, watching endless Lifetime Christmas movies with Mom, doing some shopping, laughing, and counting our blessings.

During the first part of the week I was mostly trying to get schoolwork done, but the two big papers I've been working on all semester are finally finished, so I'm excited about that. Now, I'm trying to get back into work mode because I'm driving back to school tomorrow and my first final is on December 3rd. It's going to be a very busy next few weeks, full of studying and coffee and energy bars and short on sleep, but Christmas break is fast approaching, so I definitely have that to look forward to!

Psalm 107:1: Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Reading for Today

I know I am *supposed to be working* on my two papers due on Wednesday and not posting anything on this blog till they are done . . . but please read this article called "The Real Evangelical Disaster." It's about the inexcusable conflation/ confusion of religion and politics in American culture. It is the best thing I've read in a long time, and it hits the nail on the head.

Happy Monday . . . and back to paper writing for me. More substantive updates coming soon, I promise!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Promise . . .

"Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

--Isaiah 54:10

Friday, November 9, 2012

Happy Friday :)

The past 24 hours have just been so great that I already feel like I've pretty much had a complete weekend . . . and the weekend hasn't even started yet. :)

Prayers have been answered, new friendships are forming, I accepted the family law/ civil litigation job for next summer and am so excited about it, I led a really fun school tour this morning, great conversations have been had, ambitious goals have been set, and I even joined a Moot Court team, which I've been wanting to do pretty much forever.

Looking forward to girls' night tonight complete with friends, food, wine, and lots of laughter and shenanigans as we celebrate my friend's fast-approaching wedding. Lunch followed by an "outlining party" at Barnes and Noble with my friend tomorrow . . . trying to be productive! Sitting down with some hot cocoa and the movie The Lucky One sometime this weekend because it was finally released on Netflix. Then church followed by lots and lots of writing on Sunday, which may turn into a Sunday afternoon nap, but that wouldn't be such a bad thing.

But first I've got to finish cleaning my apartment, go to the gym, and tackle some of that writing and editing that needs to get accomplished soon. Hope you all have wonderful weekends!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thoughts for Election Week

Barack Obama is our President now, and barring unforeseen circumstances, he will be our President for the next four years.

I don't intend to come across as angry or abrasive at all, and forgive me if I do . . .  but let me express my opinion for a moment.

I suggest we all find a way to accept and to respect our leadership, whether we like it or not, and to stop complaining about it. Doing something to effect change is welcome; whining and bemoaning how the next 4 years are going to be terrible is not going to change a single thing. Acting as if it's doomsday is not going to help--but calling your representatives might. Anger, complaints, and hatred are not going to help--but supporting the causes you believe in most deeply might.

I am not a strongly "political" person and political debates with people are not my thing. With the exception of my closest friends and family, I never even tell people which way I vote. But I have to say that election day always reminds me that as Americans, we have the great freedom not just to vote, but to . . . gasp . . . disagree with each other!! And we have the responsibility to do so respectfully. If we can't learn how to disagree with each other more appropriately, we had better not have anything to say about it if we lose that right entirely in the future. I'm serious. If we can't disagree without personal attacks, maybe we should just keep our opinions to ourselves.

Be classy, fellow Americans. I'm tired of people attacking each other verbally and on the Internet because they disagree with each other's politics. I'm tired of people acting as though the only individuals who should exercise the right to vote are those who will vote the same way they do. I'm tired of the pettiness, the ignorance, the arguments, and the assaults on people's intelligence, religion, and credibility on the basis of who they vote for.

I don't know who you voted for, but I voted for the person I believe is best equipped to lead our nation into the future. I voted for the person who I believe best embodies the values and principles I hold dear. Does that mean I 100% agree with that person? Not at all. But there will never be a perfect candidate. (And if you think there should be, try running for President yourself. Rumor has it that it's not exactly a piece of cake). I know that many people I am very close to would disagree strongly with the candidate I chose, as I would with theirs. But I'm not going to let that disagreement place a divide in these friendships--because some things are more important than having the last word.

The presidential election makes me proud to be an American and proud of the freedoms we have, but it also makes me sad that every time, the disagreements are more heated, the attacks are more personal, and the complaints are louder.

When did we lose the ability to disagree respectfully? When did we start buying into the idea that everyone has to feel the same way we do about serious issues? When did we start refusing to allow others to entertain their own beliefs without heavy backlash? When did we start believing that complaining, whining, and worrying changes things? When did we start thinking it was ok to indoctrinate and coerce others into embracing our opinions?

I'm praying that God will bless and transform this nation as we go into the next 4 years. I resolve to respect our leadership whether I agree with it fully or not, and to support the causes I believe in the most.

Whether you think those actions will help or not is up to you. But I'm pretty sure they will help more than dramatic Facebook statuses, arguments, and complaints.

God bless America.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Decisions, Decisions

It has been such an eventful week--for me, for my family, and also for some of my friends.

On my end, yesterday I received a job offer for next summer to work with a family law trial lawyers' group. I'm really excited and grateful for the opportunity. At the same time, I have a big decision to make, because I have been given only a very short time to accept or reject the offer, and it happens to be in a city that has always been on my list of "top 10 places I will never live in." Mostly because I'm not a big-city person, and this is in a huge city. But I'm reminding myself to never say never, because this does sound like a great job, and it's in the practice area I am most interested in. For a lot of other job interviews I've had, I've had to conjure up, or even come close to faking, interest in their practice areas. No law student can be genuinely interested in every area of law, so a lot of times I've had to draw some really tenuous connections to my current interests to try to convince employers that I would just love their practice areas--even though for some of them, the truth is that they just don't excite me or interest me very much at all. But not so for this place--I've loved family law since I interned in that area in summer 2011. So I will probably give it a shot, but I need to do a lot of thinking/ praying/ talking to people and getting advice first.

And as for my tasks for this beautiful fall Saturday? Mailing my absentee ballot back so I can be a good citizen and do my voting duties, going to the gym, and hitting up Starbucks for a really long case note-writing and editing session before my deadline on Monday. Although that session might end up more like this:

Thanks for reading!