Monthly Archives: February 2011

On Display

“…we were by nature objects of wrath.  But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions- it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, exposed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:3-10

These verses are so God-centered instead of me-centered.  God has done an incredible work in me, and in all believers!  We were by nature objects of wrath, dead in transgressions, but because of God’s great love and mercy, he made us alive through the work of Christ.  And why has he done this?  In order that he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, exposed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus!

This reminds me of another section of verses that I love, 1 Timothy 1:14-16:

“The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.  Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.  But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”

The very act of God pouring out grace, faith, and love and saving sinners displays God’s unlimited patience!  God’s work in us (that took place all because of God and his character, his will, and his power) is what ultimately glorifies him.

Sometimes I get caught up in wanting to do good things, wondering what I should do to glorify the Lord.  But that mentality, even though it is based in a gratefulness that desires to love, serve, and worship the Lord, is really very me-centered.  What can I do to glorify the Lord?  What are those good works I was supposedly created for?  And why don’t I feel like I know exactly what they are?  I want to wake up in the morning with a check-list of good things to do to glorify the Lord today.  But, no check list ever arrives and each day I feel that I missed out on doing those good works, whatever they are.  Inevitably I become frustrated and doubtful.

I want to switch to this God-centered, Christ-centered, Holy Spirit-centered mindset of Ephesians 2 and 1 Timothy 1.  I want to focus on the incredible work God has done in my heart through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  I want to continuously praise him for this and recognize that his bringing me from death to life is what most displays his unending grace, mercy, love, and patience.  And indeed he is displaying these things in me to the world every second of every day, because this is who I am.

[Disclaimer: The Bible is clear that, yes, we should do good works, and when we understand the truth of the Gospel and what the Lord has done for us we will desire to obey him and our life will produce the fruit of good works.  I just want to recognize that God is actually the one who brings most glory to himself in my life and in me.  And so I can rest in the fact that my very identity brings him glory and shows his perfect character and unique generosity.  And I’ll let my good works flow as they come, not worrying about whether I’m doing enough of them to really make his name famous in the world around me.]

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S.W.A.G. (Stuff We All Get)

This acronym, made popular by The Office, describes the phenomenon of receiving freebies at a conference or, for my husband and me tonight, your local Chick-Fil-A.  A friend informed us that we could get a free chicken sandwich today if we wore a Chick-Fil-A T-shirt, which could be bought or homemade.  Luckily, I had a shirt with a cow on it that I received for running the Maple View Challenge, a 5k race in which we ran from UNC’s campus to a local ice cream shop about a mile and a half away.  We were then handed a pint of Maple View ice cream to eat before we ran back to campus.  Some serious runners/eaters actually followed these rules, but my friends and I ran there, received a pint of ice cream, ate as much as we wanted, and walked back to campus.

My husband had the brilliant idea to cover up the small amount of writing on the t-shirt with a piece of paper containing a speech bubble reading “Eat Mor Chikin.”  One employee liked it so much she gave us a water bottle in addition to the free chicken sandwiches!

My admiration for Chick-Fil-A is at an all time high.  Although it’s pretty easy to win me over with a little swag.

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Our Crazy New Neighbor

This bird entered into our lives last Saturday when he made multiple attempts to fly into our apartment via the sliding the glass door.  He succeeded only in making lots of noise and causing us to feel a little sorry for him.  We thought that would be the last time we saw the bird, but he has flown into our sliding glass door every day since then.  He has also spent considerable time hopping around on our porch and sitting on the railing.  Sometimes he sits like a puppy at the door begging to come in.

Whatever this bird is searching for so persistently, whether it’s food, a nesting site, nesting materials, or a mate, I am confident that we cannot provide it.  Even so, I do feel this strange desire to create a birdie paradise for him on our porch.  I consider buying a bird feeder, bird seed, and a bird bath for him to happily splash around in.  And then I remember that a bird is not really worth spending our money on.  But I do hope he finds whatever he’s looking for.

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Today I tackled this pile of laundry.  It amounted to six loads.  Luckily our apartment complex has 7 washers and dryers and no one else does laundry on a Monday morning at 9:30.

All this laundry coincides with the end of our travels for now.  It’s good to be home.

Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!

“This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”  1 John 4:10

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Can’t Have My Cake and Eat It Too

Tonight is the night.  Duke vs. UNC in Cameron Indoor Stadium.  I’m sure many of you have been preparing and anticipating this day much more than me, but the seriousness of tonight has finally hit me.  This is actually the first UNC-Duke game that my husband and I will be married for and watching together.  I wouldn’t be nervous if the game weren’t turning out to look so darn competitive.  Anything could happen tonight.  Instead of trying to figure out which would be worse, UNC losing and my husband being very happy or UNC winning and my husband being very upset,  I’ve decided to focus on the positives of either outcome:

If UNC wins, I will be happy for my college team.

If Duke wins, I will have a very happy husband.

In this situation I can’t have my cake and eat it too, but I will at least be eating cake.

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I Got to Drive a Choo-Choo!

So it was actually just a simulation, but it was pretty exciting nonetheless!

After lunch today I visited the Norfolk Southern Railroad Museum, a small portion of the “Emerald Tower” that houses the NS headquarters in Norfolk.  Amid the photographs and artifacts chronicling Norfolk Southern’s historical development and technological advancements, I found the hidden jewel of the Norfolk Southern museum: the train driving simulation.  Inconspicuously attached to the far wall of the museum was part of the shell of a locomotive and inside was a television screen, conductor’s chair, and control stand, complete with a whistle, brake, and throttle.  I sounded the whistle to begin the simulation and drove the train for a mile through various landscapes and across roads and bridges.  The narrator told me when to brake and sound the whistle, all the while throwing in some railroad safety tidbits, like the fact that a car is hit by a train every 2 minutes due to motorists not obeying railroad crossings.  Moral of the story: think twice before you try and beat a train.

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And, if you want a little more railroad trivia, here’s a fact I didn’t know before: Norfolk Southern transports a wide variety of materials including ones you’d guess like gravel, steel, and coal, but they also carry consumer products like clothing, food items (they have refrigerated cars for the cold stuff), technology (think iPads), and even UPS packages!  Next time you’re stuck behind a truck in the left lane that’s passing a truck in the right lane, think about the beauty of the railroad.

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Romping Round Alabama

In Alabama last week, I mostly sat at Panera or Starbucks reading and surfing the internet.  But I did make it out to some attractions (in addition to the Mercedes-Benz plant visitor’s center).

One such attraction was Tannehill State Park.  This was the site of an old steel mill that was founded in Civil War times, so I mostly walked around and looked at old steel machinery.  I did enjoy a sign I saw on the way in:

Another attraction I visited was the Alabama Museum of Natural History located on the University of Alabama campus in Tuscaloosa.  When I first looked up directions on google maps, it took me to the wrong 6th Street and I ended up at a parking lot with a public boat ramp into the river that runs through Tuscaloosa.  On the second attempt, however, I successfully arrived at Smith Hall on the U of A campus.  The museum was actually cooler than I thought it would be.  There some fossilized bones of huge prehistoric animals, like a woolly mammoth and a huge marine turtle.  You can see how large he must have been in the second picture below (that is just the bones in his fin)!   And sorry about the glare.  I couldn’t avoid it.

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