31 August 2006

"Modern-Day Gentleman"

This is some good stuff, written by Brett Harris (younger brother of Joshua Harris)...

When Lancelot Comes Riding: Part 1
When Lancelot Comes Riding: Part 2

Spiritual Gifts

These are interesting and quite helpful -- especially if you're not so sure what your spiritual gifts are.

The long, detailed test

The shorter test

30 August 2006


Unlike many of my homeschooled counter-parts, I never participated in debate competitions during my high school years. With no formal training in the art of argument, I was thrust upon the secular college scene. Fortunately, I was well-trained in the Bible, apologetics, and varying world views at home. Naturally, when you possess a world view radically different from the surrounding culture, debates will find you quite easily.

Today was debate day for me. It seemed that every time I turned around, someone was challenging me. During lunch break I found myself in a brief skirmish with a favorite ex-professor (about the rapture) and then while eating lunch in the commons room I found myself in a debate about abortion and sexual morality/responsibility with a group of irresponsible males and two very quiet females.

After lunch was American National Government. Class time was basically open discussion about varying political issues. That was fun. Yes, I finally got to express my opinion about the US/Mexico border issue and illegal immigration -- occasionally interrupted by a very close-minded and ignorant blonde. Sorry, but that girl got on my nerves -- I can't stand isolationists.

Of course, the issues of the death penalty, gay marriage, etc. were brought up. My professor basically has a relativist point of view. She stated that our government is polluted by Judeo-Christian ethics and that gay marriage should be legalized, blah blah blah.

"Is murder really wrong? According to Judeo-Christian ethics, it is... but is it really? Depends on who's point of view you're looking at. Does that make the death penalty right? That's just more killing, isn't it?"

"Look, what this all comes down to is the nature of man," I didn't bother raising my hand, "and an absolute standard of morality -- we all have it built into us. Suppose someone steals your car or murders your husband. You want justice -- you want that person to be punished. But did he really do anything 'wrong'? According to the criminal, he didn't do anything wrong. Besides, it's all relative, right? If you look at it that way, we should just ditch government altogether and have anarchy, because everyone should be able to do what they think is right and not have ethics forced upon them."

She then brought up the issue of the separation of church and state... not really addressing my question.

"I'm not talking about forcing any religion on anyone, but if you don't have an absolute standard of right and wrong as a foundation for law and government..." I was interrupted by the growing racket in the back of the classroom, which soon turned into a bunch of separate sub-groups arguing amongst themselves.

Class ended, leaving me slightly frustrated. You can only argue so far with spiritually dead people.
The fool has said in his heart, "There is no God."” They are corrupt, and have done abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. (Psalm 53:1)

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. (Romans 1:20-22)

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. (Romans 3:19-20)

For it is written: "“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."” Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:19-21)

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you seems to be wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, "“He catches the wise in their own craftiness"”; and again, "“The LORD knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile."” (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)

Thirsty No More

Last night was the first Axcess meeting for the College Life ministry of the fall 2006 semester. I briefly attended Spring semester of 2006, but this time I want to get more involved. Community groups are starting -- and get this -- 2nd year community groups (sophomore and up) are studying manhood and womanhood. (Obviously I'd be in an all-female accountability group studying womanhood.) I'm really excited about that.

Shea Sumlin (our College Life pastor) spoke of how college (and getting a degree) is not the ultimate goal, but merely a means to an end. It's funny, but Mom and I were discussing that same topic not long ago. When I was a senior in high school, my goal was to pursue a doctorate and acquire all of these degrees and titles. I thought I knew what I was doing, but after the first semester of college I dropped classes and changed my major. In fact, since my senior year of high school, I think I've changed my major four or five times. First it was medical school, then nursing school, then I discovered that medicine was not the route I was to take, so I dropped my nursing courses and took basics with an undecided major. After that, I wanted to major in English, then Photojournalism, and now I'm majoring in International Studies with a minor in Geography. Go figure.

I, like so many other college students, had a candy-coated vision of the future. I thought college would be this wonderful experience -- the noble pursuit of knowledge, but by the end of my first semester, I was sorely disillusioned. That's because my focus was wrong. Acquiring degrees and titles was my goal, and I quickly realized that I was grasping for the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14).

Shea used a very fitting passage from John 4 to describe the vain pursuit of a college degree...
Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4:13-14, ESV)
So college is a waste of time? No. Like Shea said (and I heartily agree with), college is merely a means to an end. If I were in college just for the heck of it, I would have already dropped out, but my college education (and ultimately my Bachelor's degree) is just a vehicle. When people ask me what I would to with my major, I tell them I could work for the military or the government (ambassador, CIA, FBI, etc.) -- and maybe I will -- but however God decides to use me is ultimately up to Him and unknown to me at this moment. I am right where He wants me at this time and I'm going to serve Him wherever I am -- be it in ministry, military, government, or whatever.

I don't know what the future holds, but no matter what God has planned for me I know I'll only be happy when I am complete in Him. All the degrees in the world, a successful career, a husband and kids... none of that will ultimately satisfied. I have found the only time I truly have joy is when I am serving God in ministry to others. Only God can complete me... but that's how He created you and me. We're created with a hole that only God can fill.
For in Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in Him, Who is the head of all rule and authority. (Colossians 2:9-10, ESV)

29 August 2006

$$ Beep Beep $$

Apparently the battery wasn't the only problem with my car. Dad is still working on the old girl and Nate's coming over later tonight to help. If they can't get my bucket of bolts to work by tomorrow, my grandma is loaning her car to me so I can drive to school.

Most likely the car repairs will cost a couple hundred dollars... might as well be a thousand. This month was financially tight already. I believe the Lord has a few more lessons in store for me. Thankfully, David is loaning me the money to fix my car. I'm so glad I've got my family (and extended family) to help me out -- I feel really loved.

Due to financial difficulties, I won't be able to put Dumpling to sleep for the moment. The car problems are actually a blessing in disguise. Maybe God will take her naturally and I won't have to be responsible for her death -- I don't know if I could live with that. (Besides, I think it's sick to make someone pay money to have their pet put down.)

28 August 2006

Damsel in Distress

My first day of the new semester started off with an interesting twist (what else would it be with me?). I stepped out my back door to be greeted with a rainy, gray morning. Perfect weather for my first day of school.

First class of the day... Statistics. Somehow, two classes were scheduled for the same room at the same time, so we spent the first 15 minutes of class in the hall before being relocated.

Sadistics... excuse me, Statistics left a slightly sour taste in mouth, but there was British Literature to look forward to. I always enjoy my literature classes and end up on a first-name basis with my professors. That was shot down as I beheld a sign on the door that read "class cancellation for today." No way. First day of school and already a cancellation. Bummer.

With an hour to kill, what else would I do except curl up in a corner with a theology book? "Total Surrender," by Andrew Murray was written back in the 1800s, but I find it very thought-provoking (yet understandable) reading material. I'll try to post some quotes from it tomorrow.

Next class was Intermediate Spanish... all I can say is that it will take a miracle to get an A in that class. I can speak, read, and understand Spanish just fine... but grammar? I can hardly understand English grammar, let alone Spanish grammar. Past participle? Imperfect tense? Are you kidding me?

I made an acquaintance with a girl in my Spanish class who just moved here two weeks ago from San Diego. Having returned from San Diego a month ago, I immediately struck up a conversation with her. It was her first time on campus, so I showed her around and ate lunch with her. *DING* Ministry opportunity! I'm no longer a freshman, so that gives me an upperhand to show around new freshmen or incoming transfer students.

After lunch was American National Government. I was instantly hooked and expect to enjoy this class immensely. It sounds funny, but I got really excited discussing international relations and national sovereignty in class. (Good thing, since that's what my major deals with.) I hope my professor brings up the topic of illegal immigration -- that's one of my favorite political soapboxes.

Last class of the day was American History 2 (1865-present). By then, I was weary of reading syllabi and listening to the same ADA statement being read aloud... "[We] do not discriminate on basis of race, gender, national origin, religion... blah blah blah." I felt some amount of relief because I had the same professor for this class that I had for American History 1 last semester. Yeah, she's a hippie with interesting ideas, a dislike for the Puritans, and bizarre statements about suffragists, but I enjoy her style of teaching -- even if it is American History tainted with a secular view.

I almost hated for history class to be over, because that meant I had to go home and take the rabbit to be put to sleep. The rain had finally stopped, but that didn't cheer me as I gloomily trudged through puddles to my car... my dead car.

Yes, I left the lights on -- which resulted in a very dead battery. I walked back into the building to look for someone I knew or someone from Admin (administration personnel). Every single person I knew or even recognized was either in class or already gone. Admin was overrun due to slackers signing up for classes on the first day of school. I returned to my car on the outskirts of the desolate parking lot and called my dad to come rescue me. Mom answered the phone.

"Hi sweetie!" she squeaked into the phone (her usual excited greeting). "Are you on your way home?"

"My car is dead. Very dead."

"What?? Are you serious?" Why do you always ask that? Of course I'm serious.

"Can Dad come rescue me?"

"Honey, our high-maintenance daughter needs to be rescued again," she called to my dad. High maintenance? Thanks, Mom. Just because I'm constantly getting myself injured, stranded, or... okay, nevermind.

Dad's first thought was why not ask some random strange guy to jumpstart my car. No way. I'm not going to walk up to some strange guy and say, "Excuse me, would you jumpstart my car, please?" No. In all honesty I don't totally trust guys. Call me strange, suspicious, cynical, or just plain weird. That was a good thing, because only my dad (who has an extensive knowledge of mechanics) would have been able to get my car started.

While waiting for Dad, I popped the hood (universal sign of "car in trouble") and sat with the windows open -- lone white car in nearly desolate parking lot -- impossible to miss. I read a print-off Mom gave me that morning from an Eric and Leslie Ludy book (deserving of its own post). Several guys drove by and saw me. I wanted to wave my umbrella and shout, "Hello... damsel in distress here! Any knights in the area to come rescue me?"

My knight came riding to rescue me in a big, ugly, green mini-van... my Dad. After ten tries to jump-start my car the conventional way (with no results), Dad turned to me and said, "I'm going to come behind you and push your car with the van. Put your car in first gear and keep your foot on the clutch. When I get to 20 mph, I'll signal you and you'll release the clutch."

"In the parking lot? Are you crazy?! What is that going to do?" I panicked as visions of me hitting other cars, trees, or assorted light-posts flashed across my mind.

"Look, if I explained you wouldn't understand anyway. Just do it and trust me, okay?" He mentioned something about decompressing the engine, but that is way beyond my line of thinking. I'm not mechanically inclined.

"Oooookay..." I moaned. "You are going to put the hood down first, right?" Like a scene from a horror movie, the thought of a car with its hood raised sailing through a parking lot disturbed me.

Dad slammed the hood and proceeded with his plan. He walked me through the steps on the cellphone. I can only imagine what that looked like to bystanders. Strangely enough, my car did start and I was able to drive home.

Needless to say, I finally arrived home an hour and half after my last class ended. The vet's office was closed, much to my relief. Besides, Amanda's girls were over and I didn't want them to have to deal with a dead rabbit. Spinning tales of bunny heaven, while comforting for children, is just bad theology.

I headed for the kitchen to snack on some grapes. Three-year-old Erin watched intently with her large brown eyes. I gave her a handful of grapes offering advice: "Here, stuff some in your pockets."

"You didn't give her any more grapes, did you?" Mom popped her head into the kitchen. Erin and I looked at each other.

"Uhh... why?"

"The girls have already had a bunch of fruit."

"Oops..." Aunt Carey is such a wonderful influence... stuff them in your pockets.

Amanda and Nate returned from the gynecologist with a successful sonogram (Amanda is expecting baby #4... and she's five years my senior) and took the girls home. We got ready to leave for Scouts. Jer was supposed to receive some Eagle patch thing... I don't know, but Mom wanted me to come and take pictures. Being the family paparzzi, I agreed to drag myself along with a camera to get shots at... er, of Jeremy.

Unfortunately, Jeremy's Scout master forgot to mention that he hadn't picked up whatever this thing was that he was supposed to present to Jer tonight. I stared blankly at the man, expensive camera in hand.

To make up for dragging me out of the house, Mom took me to get chocolate and Dr. Pepper. That cures almost everything.

After all that, the rabbit still lives... but my car does not. Dad is going to see if he can fix it tomorrow, but I may be paying for a visit to the garage instead of the vet. Secretly, I'm happy that I didn't have to take my bunny to be put to sleep, but I can't drive her to school. Hopefully, Dad can repair the car so I can drive to the College Life meeting tomorrow night.

Meditations of my heart...

Before church yesterday, I came across a passage of Scripture that I had read many times before -- it had been highlighted, notes scribbled next to it -- but it took on a new light for me as I read it that morning.
And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I be exalted above measure. Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ'’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
Something struck my heart as I read this. God gave me a situation that produced some trials of its own. My thorn in the flesh is not the situation nor the trials, but my attitude. (I hate to use the term "feelings," but that is the best I can come up with.) Many, many times over the past six months I pleaded that God would take away my "feelings" toward the situation, but there were three major moments where (I thought) my prayers had been answered in moments of my own resolution. But 24 hours would prove me wrong each time and the "feelings" would return.

So as I read this passage of Scripture, I realized I had been praying the wrong thing all this time! My prayers changed. I prayed that instead of relieving me, the Lord would bend my "feelings" into prayer -- not frustration. His strength is made perfect in my weakness.

Another passage I read this morning in my quiet time also revolutionized the way I pray -- I began praying the Scripture for specific situations and/or people in my life.
Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.
Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.
(Psalm 143:8,10)
As of late, I worry way too much -- some worries are legitimate, others ridiculous -- so I made a commitment with the Lord this morning. Instead of worrying, I'm going to pray. Every time Satan bombards me with the temptation to doubt God's goodness, I'm going to combat him with Scripture.

Today, my weapon is Psalm 143:8,10 -- I will pray this Scripture for specific people.

Cause ____ to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You does ____ trust; cause ____ to know the way in which he/she should walk, for I lift up ____'s soul to You. Teach ____ to do Your will, for You are his/her God; Your Spirit is good. Lead ____ in the land of uprightness.

27 August 2006

Last Day of My Life

Classes for the fall semester start tomorrow. Thankfully, I'm down to one job now, but I'm taking on more hours -- 15 in all (five classes). Not bad, but there is one class I am not looking forward to... Statistics. My mind draws a blank with mathematics. Heck, I do well to balance my bank account.

Even though school doesn't really get me excited, I am looking forward to the first College Life ministry meeting this Tuesday. College is a mission field unto itself, so if I keep this mentality I might be more excited about school.

One thing in particular makes me dread tomorrow. After returning from my last class, I'm taking my rabbit to the veterinary hospital to have her put to sleep. None of the medicines have worked and she's only getting worse. It would be cruel to let her suffer any more -- she's already dying. That is going to be so hard. I've had her since I was a freshman in high school. She's my baby. Jer is coming with me for emotional support. I just hope I can drive to the vet without being hysterical.

26 August 2006

"Far Away"

This music video made me cry (so what else is new?).

Counted as Loss

~ Read Philippians 3

Why do we fret about what we can or cannot do for God? We look at the gifts and talents of others, wishing we could be "talented" like so-and-so, or gifted in a certain area like this-or-that person. What have we -- the "nobodies" -- to offer to God?

No one has anything to offer to God. I once heard a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley in which he said, "The only thing Christ wants from you is yourself." How true! God wants all of me so He can use me for His glory. That's why I was created.
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For His sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith -- that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. (vs. 7-11)
The Apostle Paul had bragging rights (humanly speaking), but look what he says -- "
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ." The Greek word in this verse for "loss" literally means "damage." Damage... wow. He considered that "important" stuff he did as damage for the sake of Christ.

I once heard a quote saying, "What's done this life shall pass, but what's done for Christ will last." If we aren't doing it all for Christ (Colossians 3:23), then it's worthless! For example,
I used to receive vocal training and music theory from my high school choir director. I write songs and play the piano -- I could make an album and push my way into "fame" if I really wanted to. But that is total rubbish if I'm not using that for Christ. How did God use my music skills this year? I directed song time for childcare at church and sang Gracie to sleep in the car. Some people might call that a "waste," but was it?

My writing is only worth something if it touches and impacts people for Christ -- so what if I could publish a book and establish myself in the writing community?
All my world-traveling is nothing unless I am telling people in other countries about Christ. Anything and everything I do is nothing if not used for the glory of God!

I have a friend who's a doctor. He could have stayed in Dallas and made lots of money, lived in a nice house, driven a nice car -- just like all of the other doctors. He is currently living in China with his family, making calls to remote villages in the mountains.

My mother could have been an astrophysicist. She is a stay-at-home mom who home-schooled me K-12 and is still home-schooling Jeremy through high school. The science community will never know her name. However, she has impacted not only her children, but many young mothers in our church -- by extension impacting future generations of children.

God uses the simple to confound the wise (1 Corinthians 1:27). Think of David. What was he doing when the prophet Samuel came to anoint him future king of Israel? Watching sheep -- one of the lowliest jobs around. David was the youngest of seven brothers -- all of whom were considered "important" in the world's eyes. Little David watched sheep while his brothers went off to fight in war. Look what God did with a shepherd boy -- made him king of His chosen nation, won important military victories through him, wrote the longest book of the Bible. Was it because David was strong and talented? No. God uses people that most of us don't even think of.

So what do you have to offer to God?

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)
Just you -- that's it -- not the trinkets and baubles of this world.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)

The surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We have no bragging rights.

"Inward Gaze"

Far Above Rubies: "Inward Gaze"

Last Day

Yesterday was my last day as a nanny. Come this Monday, I shall be a college student again. I'm really going to miss the D family -- especially the girls. Looking back on this summer, it's amazing to see how much God has taught me -- not just with the nanny job, but in other situations as well. I feel as though I've aged another five years or so. God must have great plans ahead, otherwise He wouldn't have worked so hard on me this summer.

Something rather funny came to my mind yesterday afternoon. I was recalling when I first met the D family -- almost three years ago. Joel and Aimee brought Taylor to the nursery every Sunday night before going to the service. I was sixteen at the time and not too thrilled about working in the nursery. I didn't want to get married or have kids -- let alone work in the nursery -- but God sovereignly placed me there for a reason. Taylor and I hit it off from the start and I began to warm up to the shy little red-head.

Being the imaginative writer I was (am), I wrote a fictional short story based on Taylor -- a college student meets a family, becomes their nanny, and eventually changes her mind about having kids of her own someday. While at the time I couldn't picture myself doing such a thing, little did I know that's exactly what would happen! I can honestly say, that after caring for Taylor and Gracie this summer, I do want to have kids of my own someday. This is a big change coming from someone who hated guys (in general) and wanted to be a career woman!

Doesn't God have an ironic sense of humor?

[However, I also see what a big responsibility parenting is, and I'm in no rush to get into it. I'll enjoy my years as a single college student.]

25 August 2006

New Name, Same Blog

Some of you might notice the name of this blog has changed. However, I'm keeping the URL the same to avoid confusion.

Why the change (other than I thrive on change)? "Carey's Journal" was a very un-creative name I came up with when this blog was born. Since it is celebrating its first anniversary this month, I thought it high time to christen it with a better name -- hence, "Meditations of the Heart" -- taken from one of my favorite Psalms.

Closed Doors and Broken Fingers

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. (Psalm 51:17, ESV)
"The Closed Door"

Greg sat comfortably in his recliner watching his two-year-old daughter Caroline play by the fire place. The baby was finally asleep and now he could enjoy a peaceful evening while his wife, Caryn, was with some friends on a much-needed girls' night out in town.

Caroline was the apple of her father's eye. He loved to dote on his blonde little girl. Most of the time she was quite obedient (or at least gave the impression), but Caroline had a rebellious streak that sometimes scared her parents.

Greg looked out the window to see an unusually beautiful night sky. He picked up his daughter and walked out the front door to the covered porch. They both surveyed the view before them -- a velvet night sky studded with stars stretched above their 100-acre ranch, framed by a fringe of the Rockies, fresh with snow. The toddler squealed in delight at the beauty.

"Someday, this will be yours, sweetie," Greg nuzzled his little girl. A chilly November wind began to nip at their noses. Greg sheltered Caroline in his arms and took her back inside the cabin. She wasn't properly dressed for the weather and Greg could hear the distant cries of wolves. He sat her beside the crackling fireplace with her toys and went back to his recliner to read. Caroline looked winsomely out the window at the beautiful night sky. She toddled towards the window and stood on her tiptoes. Greg chuckled to himself as he thought of how he would give his little girl the ranch when she was grown. He was glad she thought it was pretty. Caroline began to wimper -- she wanted to go outside again.

"Not now, sweetheart. You're not dressed for the weather and there are wolves outside. We'll go out tomorrow when the wolves are gone and I can put you in warmer clothes."

Caroline stuck out her lower lip and looked up at her father with watery blue eyes.

"No, baby. Not now." Greg went back to his book. Caroline watched him closely for a while and began to edge towards the door. She made it to the door and looked back at her father, still reading in his chair. Caroline reached up to turn the doorknob. Greg sprang from his chair.

"No, Caroline!" He scolded as he locked the door. She sat down and pouted as her father walked back to his recliner. Then she noticed the stool. Suddenly, a wolf cried quite close to the cabin, startling Greg.

"I hope they don't get to the chickens again," Greg mumbled to himself as he rose to secure his rifle. That's when he saw that Caroline had ingeniously pushed a stool up to the door, unlocked it, and was turning the knob. Greg grabbed her and pulled the stool away.

"Caroline, I told you not to go outside. The wolves are very close and it is dangerous out there. I don't want you to get hurt." He swatted her hand this time. Caroline fussed, but seemed to understand as she went back to her toys. Greg secured the lock and went to the kitchen to fix some coffee. The wiley toddler watched her father disappear into the kitchen before sneaking towards the door again. She didn't notice the loud howling and pawing as she pushed the stool towards the door and proceeded to unlock the front door.

Greg walked out of the kitchen with his coffee and was horrified to see his daughter had opened the door -- she peered out, but what she didn't see that her father did was a large wolf heading for the opened door. Caroline looked back at her father and defiantly stuck her hand in the opening. Greg dropped his coffee and slammed the door as the wolf lunged for the two-year-old. Caroline screamed in pain as she held her crushed little fingers, but the injury would have been far worse had her father not shut the door.

Greg took his daughter in his arms and cradled her. He was upset with her for being so defiant, but sorry that his little girl had to learn such a painful lesson. He didn't say a word as he tenderly kissed her purple little fingers.


"Nice place, Carrie," commented her friend. "Your father left you a beautiful ranch."

"He sure did," she smiled. "The best gift he ever gave me -- besides life," she added.

Carrie's friend handed her some coffee and noticed her crooked fingers. "You never told me the story behind your crooked fingers -- you said they weren't always like that."

"No, they weren't. Let me tell you what happened..."

Of course, this is an allegory, but I would have to say that little toddler was me. Three times the Lord asked me to surrender something. Three chances. I couldn't understand why God closed that door and I wanted so badly to peer out. Sure, I wrote all of these articles about surrender -- I preached it with gusto -- but when it actually came down to me totally surrendering, I didn't in my heart.

So God had to slam the door on my prying little fingers, and oh, did it hurt. But I had no one to blame but myself. God gave me not one, but three chances to surrender and I didn't. He finally had to let me learn the hard way. While my fingers aren't literally broken, I will most likely bear the emotional scars of my disobedience for the rest of my life.

Why the blogger confessional? Because I want to warn people not to do as I did. Abandon all to Christ recklessly -- hold nothing back. He wants all of you -- every dream and hope -- to be surrendered to His will. Do not fondle with closed doors. If God has sovereignly closed a door in your life, do not even play with the doorknob. You may not be able to see what is on the other side of the door at this moment. God shuts it for a reason -- you may not see now -- but He may open it again when the time is right. That is not for us to know right now.

So I admonish all of you -- obey the first time so your fingers aren't broken too.

24 August 2006


I formally bring into existence...

The Sisterhood of the Temporary (or until further notice) Protestant Nuns

...for short, the Temporary Protestant Nuns (TPNs). If you wish to join the Sisterhood, please let me know. Maybe we'll start a blog... hmm... *lightbulb goes on*

Excuse me while I bubble...

Even though I'm not looking forward to the next semester of college, I am really excited ("thrilled to pieces") about starting the College Life ministry at church. Nothing gets me more excited than ministry and mission trips!

Sign-ups for the Shanghai mission trip have already begun, and you know I want to be on that list! I've been looking forward to going to China for six years now, and what's even more fun is that my friend Jimmy hosts the college teams. (I knew him before he left to serve in Shanghai a few years ago, so it will be neat to see him on the field.) The trip is nearly a month long! Yipee!

Not only that, but summer of 2008 (Lord willing) I will go to two different field schools -- Ghana for my minor and the United Kingdom for my major-- for about three weeks each! So next summer, China for a month, and the summer after that, Ghana and the UK for almost two months!

Sorry, but I'm just giddy with excitement. Traveling to new countries does that to me. I have this personal goal of traveling to each continent before I'm thirty. So far, I've got three out of seven down.

23 August 2006

I knew it!!

Like I said in a previous post, I've been reading Joshua Harris' "I Kissed Dating Goodbye." There's some good stuff in that book. While Gracie naps in the afternoon, I get the chance to read a little, and this is what I ran across today...

"The world tells us that love is beyond our control. This thinking has found its way into our language. We describe the beginning of a passionate love relationship as 'falling in love.' Or people say, 'We're madly in love with each other.' You've more than likely heard people say these things -- perhaps you've even said them yourself.

Why do we feel compelled to compare love to a pit or a mental disorder? What do these statements reveal about our attitudes toward love? I think we make these somewhat overstated analogies because they remove personal responsibility. If a person falls into a pit, what can she do about it? If an animal contracts rabies and runs around foaming at the mouth and biting people, it can't really help its nasty behavior because it has gone mad.

Does it sound a little absurd to discuss love in such terms? I think so. Yet we tend to express our experience of love in these ways. We think of love as something beyond our control and thus excuse ourselves from having to behave responsibly. In extreme cases, people have blamed love for immorality, murder, rape, and many other sins. Okay, so maybe you and I haven't done those things. But perhaps you've lied to parents or friends because of a relationship. Maybe you pushed your partner too far physically. But if love is out of our control, we can't possibly be held responsible. Yes, we know we behaved rashly. Yes, we know we might have hurt others in the process, but we couldn't help it. We were in love." (pp. 63-63, "Looking up 'Love' in God's Dictionary")

When I read this, I thought to myself, Bingo! Someone else agrees with me! Love is not some mushy feeling, but a deliberate action. Mushy feelings are great, but they don't hold -- they're more like icing on a cake. (Coming from a former cake decorator: the icing does not hold the cake together.)

For example: why do you love a certain person?

Some of us might say, "Well, I happen to be related to this person... do I have any choice?" Yes and no. I love my family, but do we always get along? Absolutely not. There are times when I can't stand my family, but I love them just the same. More often than not, I have to make a conscious decision to show my love for them -- even when I don't feel like it.

Why do I love my friends? Is it because they're such wonderfully perfect people? While, yes, I think my friends are wonderful, I love them because Jesus loved them first. Jesus shows His love to my friends through me (when I am willing to be used).

So is love an accident or conscious decision? Most of the time, I think it is a conscious decision, but certainly never an accident. Sometimes God causes us to love people when we don't even understand why. I vouch for The Ping Moment. (A few of you might understand what I'm talking about, but the rest of you... I'm afraid I cannot describe it in words. You shall have to find out about The Ping for yourself someday.)

I once told a friend that I had "fallen" for someone, but after reading just a few chapters in "I Kissed Dating Goodbye," I realized how erroneous this term was. I did not "fall in love." If I could re-word that, I would say, "God decided to strike me for some odd reason, and ever since then I have had to make conscious (and unconscious) decisions to love that person." That is The Ping -- God strikes you and a light bulb suddenly appears above your head. You can't turn it off even if you want to. Lovely, eh?

22 August 2006

"I Surrender All"

Far Above Rubies: "I Surrender All"

21 August 2006

Peanut Butter Monster

Gracie and I went to play at my friend Amanda's house with her three little girls (four and under) this morning. The natives ran amuck while I helped Amanda think of a schedule for when school starts (she's going to homeschool her oldest, Nivelle - yay!).

We then had lunch and I gave Gracie a spoonful of peanut butter (her favorite) to eat along with the rest of her food. Oh horror of horrors. Words cannot describe the utter mess that Gracie can cause with peanut butter, so with the aid of my camera phone, I simply give you a stunning visual reference. Aleeza (18 months) sat next to me and cordially patted my shoulder with her peanut butter hands and generously offered me her ABC celery. I politely declined.

Needless to say, Gracie needed a bath (and there was no way she was going in my car like that). Amanda was nice enough to loan me her tub, so I promptly disrobed my red-headed native and gingerly placed her in the tub before scrubbing her down. After thanking Amanda and saying goodbye to the girls, I put the diapered native in my car and sang her to sleep on the way home. Now she's asleep in bed (praise the Lord). I'm hoping she naps for a long time today -- she didn't nap for me on Friday. That was a long day.

19 August 2006

Of Wild Natives and Left Feet

I arrived early at the Hangar, so I curled up in a recliner upstairs with "I Kissed Dating Goodbye" and attempted to read while the natives (half a dozen kids 7 and under) ran amuck. Hope (age 5) crawled into my lap and rummaged through my purse for fun. For some women their purse is sacred territory -- no one may look into it -- but for me... I could care less. Half the time it serves as a diaper bag or source of entertainment for children. Soon, I had about four children either sitting in my lap or standing around waiting for a turn with the iPod. At least I finished reading the introduction.

The party itself was pretty fun... when I finally came downstairs with all the children in tow. (No matter where I go, there is sure to be either kids or animals following me... maybe I should be a zoo-keeper.) I sat with the Glenn sisters during dinner, laughing and munching on my salad (aka bunny food), before leaving early to pick up Julia for swing club.

Jer didn't come with me this time, so I had ample freedom to dance with other guys. When we arrived, I noticed the small amount of male presence -- 11 guys total (out of a couple dozen females). Great, guess I'll be doing the guy's part again.

"You should go ask a guy to dance with you," suggested Jules.

"That's the guy's job to ask. I refuse to be the one to initiate. They're supposed to be the ones to initiate and lead." I then proceeded to jump on my soapbox as Julia and her friend Rochenda stared at me in mute amazement.

Surprisingly, partners were not a problem for me that night because I had six different guys ask me to dance. Unfortunately, only half of them knew what they were doing.

One of my dance partners really creeped me out -- reminded me of Grima Wormtongue from LOTR. He must have been around 30 or so -- short, pale, with a goofy smile and two left feet -- and looked really out of place with the rest of us college students and older couples. I told Jules that he looked like an internet stalker, but she just laughed at me.

"You're really brave to be dancing in thongs," he commented as he led me to the dance floor. My eyebrows shot up a mile. They're called flip-flops, you moron. He then proceeded to "teach" me some "moves" that involved his arms around my waist. I thought about "accidentally" stepping on his two left feet. Needless to say, I avoided him the rest of the night. Very few women volunteered to be his dancing partner, so he would stand on the sidelines and smile at me. I told Jules to look like we're having an important and intense conversation. (We would wave our arms and point at each other, when in reality we were saying "Blah, blah, blah.")

There were some of my dancing partners that I really enjoyed. David -- fellow UNT student, handsome, nice guy, amazing dancer -- and I had met at a chiropractor's office (of all places) several months ago. We recognized each other and chatted for a while before hitting the dance floor. He knew what he was doing (due to ten years experience) and that made all the difference. David was definitely my favorite dancing partner for the night.

The other four guys were okay, I guess, but not interesting enough to write about. They would just come up and say, "Hi, I'm Kyle," or "Hi, I'm Clint... may I have this dance?" with a bashful smile. To which my reply was, "Yeah, sure... I'm Carey."

Jules, Rochenda, and I left around 11 pm. The dancing didn't end until midnight, but I started feeling bummed, so Jules decided a change of scenery would be good for me. We walked around the old UNT neighborhood and then headed toward town square, where the trees were lit around the old courthouse (it's the most fun place to go at night).

Count on Jules for crazy diversions -- we took off our shoes and ran through the sprinklers... in a public place in the middle of the night. It sounds rather insane for a college sophomore to be running through sprinklers in a public place in the middle of the night, but it was very freeing for me. I like doing things that are seemingly out of character for me.

Finally got home a little after midnight (to the relief of Mom and Jer, who called me every hour or so to track my whereabouts). I was gone that day a total of 16.5 hours.

18 August 2006


This morning was crazier than originally planned. Dad took me to take care of the care instead of Mom (because she stayed up late again). The moment I got to Aimee's house, Gracie and I were out the door. We went to take care of the tire, then Dad drove me to the bookstore to get my textbooks. He carried the books for me while I hauled a talkative toddler on my hip. Got lots of compliments on Gracie's red hair (as always).

We then went back to my folk's house so Jer could put the repaired tire back on my car. Then I planned to drive my car back to the D's house and put Gracie down for a nap. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand (Prov 19:21). Jer somehow stripped two of the lug-nuts (or whatever you call those things that hold on the tire), so that means more work for Dad and yet another trip into town to get parts.

So Dad brought Gracie and I back to the house and is on his way to get the parts needed to fix my car. Then back home to correctly put on the tire. Mom's going to drive Beep Beep up here later on the way to the Mexico party -- that way I can go to swing club and stay out late (yipee).

So that's my day so far... and it's only 1:04 pm.

[PICTURE: Gracie played piano while Jeremy was trying to put my tire back on.]

Challenging day ahead...

I've got to leave the house in about 40 minutes. Jer discovered that my tire was flat last night, so he popped on my spare. However, my spare isn't in great condition, so I have to go get a new tire.

Challenge #1: I have Gracie with me today
Challenge #2: Mom will have to come with me to get the tire replaced
Challenge #3: I have $5 in my bank account
Challenge #4: I need to get my new textbooks for the semester -- with Gracie and Mom in tow

After Aimee and/or Joel gets home, I need to get ready to go to a get-together for all the people that went on the Mexico mission trip this summer. After that, I'm going to swing club. Maybe I'll get home between 11 pm and midnight. Thank God I have tomorrow off because I will be wasted.

"He satisfies the longing soul"

Far Above Rubies: "He satisfies the longing soul"

17 August 2006

"Dancing in the Rain"

Here's that song I mentioned. Still working on the music for it -- maybe I can eventually make a recording.

1) Clouds roll in, dark and fierce,
Bringing pain with the rain.
Everyone flees to escape,
Yet here I remain... here I remain.

It pours and pounds, drowning all sound –
A deaf’ning roar all around –
But the joy I have will ever find me
Dancing in the rain. (2x)

2) Lord, times will come, like black’ned clouds,
Bringing sorrow with the rain,
But the joy You give will ever find me
Dancing in the rain. (2x)

3) On that cross You bowed Your head
As the clouds rolled in.
The thunder loud drowned out all sound,
Except for one familiar strain...
“Father, to Your hands I commit my spirit.” (spoken)
... That found You dying in the rain.

It poured and pound – drowned out all sound –
A deaf’ning roar all around.
The very earth cried out
To see you dying in the rain.

But the joy I have because You died
Finds me dancing in the rain.

...Find me dancing in the rain.

Carey Nofziger
o9 August 2006

Praise the Lord!

Yesterday was my long work day with two jobs back-to-back. Thankfully, I was allowed to leave early -- around 8 pm -- from my second job because we were over-staffed that night. So I called up Jules and headed to her house. We hadn't talked in a while, so we went to the old town square and got ice-cream at Beth Marie's (an old 50s-style ice cream parlor), then sat on the steps of the old courthouse under the twinkling lights set in the aged trees.

It was such a great blessing to hear how the Lord has been working in her life. One of the most thrilling things for me is to talk with other Christians about the Lord and how He works in our lives. God's work is the most exciting conversation topic for me.

What's even more exciting is that Julia wants to start going with me to Plumbline -- a small ministry from our church for college students who want more in-depth teaching and intense discipleship. And she wants to come with me on a mission trip to Shanghai, China! This is just so exciting for me! I have a passion for recruiting young people on mission trips. I want them to have the same kind of awesome spiritual growth that I had on my first mission trip.

The Lord is so good! I prayed that He would send opportunities my way to get my focus off myself and onto Him -- He was faithful to do so.

Psalm 147 (ESV)

1 Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.
2 The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers the outcasts of Israel.
3 He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
4 He determines the number of the stars;
He gives to all of them their names.
5 Great is our Lord, and abundant in power;
His understanding is beyond measure.
6 The LORD lifts up the humble;
He casts the wicked to the ground.
Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving;
make melody to our God on the lyre!
He covers the heavens with clouds;
He prepares rain for the earth;
He makes grass grow on the hills.
He gives to the beasts their food,
and to the young ravens that cry.
His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor His pleasure in the legs of a man,
but the LORD takes pleasure in those who fear Him,

in those who hope in His steadfast love.

16 August 2006

A Very Domestic Day

Taylor started pre-K yesterday, so it's just Gracie and me. It's really strange just having one kid now. I miss Taylor, but I know she's having fun. (She's pictured left in her uniform -- this morning before she left for school.)

Gracie and I went to my mom's house this morning to visit for a little while. My friend Amanda called while were there and wondered if I could watch her three girls for a little while so she could get her hair cut. So I took Gracie back home for a while in hopes that she would take an early nap -- but to no avail.

After lunch, we went to Amanda's house. It was just me and four little girls -- ages four, three, 18 months, and 17 months -- for a couple of hours. The girls played nicely the entire time (praise the Lord). They played with "Floam" (freaky version of play-dough), dressed up and danced to my cellphone ringer, painted fingernails, etc. They're easily entertained.

Once we got back to the D's home, Gracie finally went down for a nap around 2 pm. She's still sleeping actually. I'll wake her up after I wash some dishes and pick up a little.

So that's my very exciting domestic day so far. When Aimee comes home around 5:30 with Taylor, I've got to head to the church to practice with the G sisters and then work childcare until 9:30 pm. I should get home around 10 pm... that would make my work day a total of about 13 hours. Sheesh. Three jobs... one day... many kids. Wow. I wonder why the Lord is drowning me with childcare jobs. I have yet to work a "normal" office job (which probably wouldn't suit me since I'm so active).

15 August 2006

Cutural Rebel

Perhaps this will help me clear my writer's block. Forgive me as I rant, but I need to give myself a pep-talk.

Sunday night, I was greeted by my bubbly (and very sweet) nursery co-worker, Kendra; she's a year older than I and fun to chat with. Kendra was especially bubbly that night because she and her boyfriend were looking at engagement rings that week. I half-listened as she showed me a picture of the rings she wanted and chattered about how wonderful her boyfriend is.

Two of my friends are engaged and preparing to get married. Four are happily married with children and comfortable homes. Their husbands work average jobs. They do all the things that most young housewives do. Three are expecting babies.

All of my peers are either dating, engaged, or married. It's culturally acceptable at my age to "hook up" with someone. In high school you can somewhat avoid the dating scene, but once you reach college and beyond -- it's smothering. The pressure is incredible. People look upon you as some sort of freak when you tell them you are not in a "relationship" nor are you planning to be in one for a long while. People are still maturing in their college years. Why do so many of us college students (especially females) throw aside our studies to pursue a romantic relationship? Even my own mother got married during her sophomore year of college and never finished her BS degree.

I informed my mother the other day that I am giving the next three years of my life to the Lord. Not that I'm not giving my entire life to Him, but I have purposed to completely avoid the dating scene during the rest of my college years. It's just me and God. Now is the time to focus on ministry and my studies. Now is the time for learning life lessons as well as in the classroom. I want to finish my Bachelor's degree. I want to go on lots of mission trips.

Most of all, I want to go against the flow -- something I've always done. If everyone else is doing it, then I'm not going to. That's just my personality -- cultural rebel.

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2)

And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:34)

So for all of you singles out there -- see your singleness as a gift from God. Use the time He has given you to the fullest. Read a good book. Dance in the rain. Eat chocolate ice-cream. Stay up late talking with your best friend. Hug your mom. Eat pizza. Go on mission trips. Help in the local shelter. Eat sushi. Share the gospel with the guy on the street corner. Sing along with the radio with your car windows down. Eat a salad (especially after the pizza and ice-cream).

Thank you for allowing me to get on my soapbox. I am beginning to feel much better.

Writer's Block

I'm leaving the house in about 45 minutes to go practice with the G sisters. We're going to perform our quartet piece on the 20th, so we need to practice a little more. Eventually we're going to make a recording so I can post it for the rest of you to hear.

The Canadian Chronicles are still in the works. You've probably given up on them at this point, because I've been back in the States for an entire week now. I'm not avoiding the article, but I must confess that I haven't felt like writing for the past week or so... which is really weird because writing is my life's passion (besides Jesus). Just a major case of writer's block due to some "stuff" going on in my life -- for which there is no immediate prescription (unfortunately).

Never fear, I shall recover and return with better articles than ever.

14 August 2006

No, I didn't forget

In case you thought I dropped out of the blogosphere (or the edge of the world), I haven't. Since I came back from Canada, I have been working almost non-stop. Got back Tuesday night, worked Wednesday night, all day Thursday, all day Friday, all day Saturday, Sunday night, all day today... but I do have tomorrow off, so expect a few posts on this blog and Far Above Rubies.

My Baby...

While giving Dumpling her medicine yesterday, I thought she looked so cute that I had to take a picture of her. She loves to be wrapped in a towel and held like a baby.

10 August 2006

I'm still working on that trip summary...

Sorry folks, but due to the fact that I am a meticulously detailed person, my Montreal summary is still in the works. It's turning into quite a book.

In the meantime, I thought I'd brag about the lovely people I was privileged to stay with.

Leila (Consecrated): I've officially unofficially adopted her as my second mother. Leila is a mighty prayer warrior and offers sound, godly advice. She is a good listener (as well as a good talker) and is very entertaining during board games. *winks*

Sarah (Redeemed): Sarah (my long-lost sister) is one of the sweetest and most tender-hearted people I have ever known. She is also a strong prayer warrior, very good listener, and offers great advice. Sarah is a faithful friend and a godly influence. I am truly blessed to have her in my life.

Rev (real name remains my secret upon request): Until I met him, I wasn't sure what to think of Rev, but I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed. This man is one of the most zealous Christians I have ever had the privilege of meeting. He spurred me on to live more boldly.

There's so much more I could write about this family, but I think the most I can say is that they're on my top ten list of people who have most deeply impacted me.


I just barely got home in time before chaos let loose...


09 August 2006

"A Woman's Question"

Far Above Rubies: "A Woman's Question"

08 August 2006

Catastrophe Carey

I'll be flying out of Montreal this evening. Leila had plans to take me to her work to show me around, but all our plans were suddenly changed this morning when the water supply for their building was cut off. We're all going to be shower-less and stinky.

It's really funny in a way because the day I arrived, they lost electricity. The day I leave, they lose their water supply. Just thought I'd go out with a bang (in addition to coming in with a bang -- literally -- but that's another story).

When I get home, I'll write a terribly L-O-N-G post. So much has happened this week. I'm not coming back the same Carey I was when I left (but this is a good thing). God has been very good to me and I praise Him for His divine will. All is well -- very well.

Can't wait to share my trip with you all!

03 August 2006

I'm here, by the way

Hey, everyone, I'm here in Montreal. Don't have enough time to write a long post because I'm busy having adventures. *laughs* And I do mean adventures. I already had several within my first 24 hours here. Will write long post later. Just thought I'd post something and let you know that as of now, I am still in one piece. Now I must get ready to leave for my next adventure (which involves roller coasters).

01 August 2006

this is an audio post - click to play