Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Secret of Life

"The secret of life is there ain't no secret,
and ya don't get your money back."
Faith Hill

No offense to Faith, but I think I've figured out a pretty good formula. Granted, I didn't think of it personally, but rather I sort of just adopted it as my own. Want to know what it is...?

do one thing each day that scares you

Don't get me wrong... I don't mean fling yourself off of a tall bridge just because it's scary. I mean in the spirit of the "The Bucket List" type way. Make a list, a pinterest board, a mason jar of scrap paper or whatever floats your boat, but figure out things that will make you excited you did them---then do them.

Here's a very brief selection of a few of mine [all photos courtesy of here] ....

They can be things you've already done:

[thank you benjamin]

[thank you roomsiepoo/roomsicle]

Or things that are actually attainable that you want to do:

or they can be things you'd do if time and money couldn't stop ya:

but most importantly...I wanna ..

Now...how to relate this to the holidays..hmmm..let ..me..seee.......


ahhh.... perfection.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

keep on keepin' on

Okay-- I said that my next few posts would be about Hosea, and then I proceeded to fall off the face of the earth, so to speak. I have a few excuses---> Thesis + presentation, poster and layout outside of class for print, law and sociology exams, job searching, babysitting, tacky christmas parties, and a semi formal have all been on the brain lately. BUT here I go anyway. (and yes, I'll get to Hosea momentarily)

But if I'm being honest...this is what I'm really doing...

[attempting to pack up my apartment for the 5 weeks at home looks something like the above photo...]

Now, I've been thinking, which is nothing new for me, but I've decided: "Why rob my few readers of the overwhelming joy of reading Hosea for themselves by giving away all the juicy stuff??" [sidenote: this is not a copout. give me a chance to explain myself]

I'm going to give you bullet point list of what I got out of each chapter [ 1)to make it easy for you and 2) because I'm in exam mode], but I will not, I repeat, NOT give away the main points for fear that it will trick you into not reading it for yourself.

Here's my journey through Hosea, which is a lot like this semester quite frankly.

Chapter 1:
  • the most evil/vilest form of adultery is departing from the Lord; unfaithfulness to the bond/covenant relationship should be equated to marriage adultery.
  • Hosea speaks of God's powerful love and fierce justice. Unfortunately, the people had broken their covenant, and they would receive the punishments God had promised.
  • God often requires extraordinary obedience from his prophets when they face extraordinary times. (Hosea knew of Gomer's unfaithfulness prior to their union yet was obedient to God)
  • Challenge: will you be able to accept the possible pain involved with obedience to God even you may not benefit personally?

Chapter 2:
  • returning to God out of desperation is better than rebelling against Him, but it is better yet to turn to God out of gratitude for His care. Otherwise, it doesn't show our unyielding love for Him; He is essentially winning by default when we turn back after trying every other possibility.
  • a spouse would not tolerate falling list on a priority list, and neither does God.
  • Like "Michael Hosea," God is a catch; yet we don't see it. He deserves so much more than unreciprocated love. Acknowledge that He wants all of out attention and love--not just when it's beneficial for us or on our time. Even though we turn away He still pursues unconditionally.
  • Bound in righteousness, justice, love, compassion and grace, unfaithfulness is impossible.
Chapter 3
  • even in the midst of judgement, God is merciful and will restore those who repent and turn to Him.
Chapter 4
  • take responsibility for your own sins and actions; stop using them as justification.
  • be conscious as a leader to lead others to God.
Chapter 5
  • persistent sin hardens a person's heart, making it difficult to see the need for repentance. Each sin makes the next one easier to commit. Steer as far away from sin as possible to avoid being caught in the middle.
Chapter 6
  • do not repent or acknowledge God for your own material gain--recognize the extent of your sin and take conscious steps toward changing it.
  • God does not desire the appearance of loyalty to Him, but rather the sincere, genuine relationship of loyalty.
  • let your actions speak for themselves.
Chapter 7
  • pride keeps people from turning to God; it also intensifies all other sins because we cannot repent any of them without giving up our pride.
  • look only to God for happiness--not worldly possessions or relationships
Chapter 8
  • without God there is no lasting security
  • we want God to ease our pain without changing our selfish behavior
  • we always think of examples as applying to others, not us.
  • God does not want our sacrifices out of ritual for our own security, but rather sincere devotion.
Chapter 9
  • what used to be seen as good is now seen as foolish (for example abstinence)
  • you will develop characteristics of those you idolize--put God first.
Chapter 10
  • guard your heart against false teachings of corrupt politicians and religious leaders.
Chapter 11
  • thank God for his blessings to you.
  • thank Him that He doesn't love like people do--He shows unconditional love.
Chapter 12
  • love and justice are the foundation of God's character--it is crucial to live in balance of these
  • what you have is not a result of your own efforts, but because God has been gracious to you.
Chapter 13
  • God was gracious, but we turn away.
Chapter 14
  • plea for God's love instead of the justice we deserve
  • we must admit we cannot save ourselves
  • God cares for us continually--His compassion never fails like human love can.
  • listen, learn, and benefit from God's word as guidance to your every day life.

There you have it. Now go, read it for yourself. struggle through the descriptions of the wrath we deserve and make it to the end where His grace and compassion are shown.

It might take some time (as most good things do), but the end result is worth it. As for me, I must press onward toward my goal....


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

he ain't the leavin' kind

"Even after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
'You owe me.'

Look what happens
With a love like that,
It lights the whole sky."
-Hafiz, Persian poet of the 1300s

Some of you are aware that I've been reading through the book of Hosea with my sweet leetle baboosh, Erin, and some of you may have thought I'd forgotten to keep you updated--you thought wrong.

I just finished all 14 chapters of amazingness and I literally couldn't wait to tell someone about it! I'm not a huge reader during the school year for obvious reasons, but I couldn't put it down toward the end.

I have been thinking and debating in my mind the best way to share with you (anyone who'll listen) what working my way through this book of the Bible has shown me, and I've just about got it. This is my short post forewarning you that the next several will be cutting myself open to spill out all of the pure joy and thankfulness God has filled me with by finishing this story.

And to think...all this started with a phrase in a church sermon, and a night with no homework and no where to go...

My cup runneth over

Bonus: listen to this song I found that goes perfectly with the story of Hosea [both as an example of a marriage relationship and an intimate spiritual relationship with God]

*post title courtesy of the Rascal Flatts song

Monday, November 7, 2011

she's gone country

"When the sun starts slippin' from the Delta sky,
And the last scarecrow tucks in for the night
Make a fire, throw a blanket on the sandy bank
'Bout an hour til we feel the first catfish yank.

Barefoot cane pole wavin' at the riverboats
And when they're gone take a dip in the moon glow
That's what country is..."
Luke Bryan

I finally made the trek to Mississippi to visit Benny, and to my surprise I really liked it. Don't get me wrong here-- I never ever thought I'd hate it, but despite my freakish flare for country music, in reality I actually am a city girl. I've only ever lived in the thriving cities of Memphis and Birmingham, which despite being rich Southern history, aren't exactly the country....

That said, the fear of the unknown rural-lifestyle had me a bit spooked. Thankfully, we (me and the backwoods) hit it off right from the start. My trip was full of fun and new experiences including shooting my first gun, learning new history about the state lines (the Mississippi River doesn't actually serve as a hard-and-fast divide of Arkansas and Mississippi), and trips to both Doe's and Abe's. Here are a few of the pictures I took this weekend, and let me be the first to say they do not give The Delta justice--really and truly it's gorgeous down there.

[walking around some wreckage from the flood of the mighty mississippi]

[one of my favs-- he didn't know he was in the picture]

[deer tracks everywhere--this one looked like a heart]

[again...one of my favs b/c it describes him so well]

[Benny and his true love--his John Deere]

As you're well aware I'm a huge fan of lists in my posts; this one is no exception. While I found numerous things I loved, these next few are among some of my latest and greatest obsessions...

1) Orchards--specifically pecan orchards
[love the endless rows of perfectly landscaped trees]


[I don't even really like pecans, but these were ah.maze.ing.]

2) The Delta Sunset
[gave me chills]

[it lights up the sky like I've never seen it]

3) Open Spaces
[with the amazing sunset over a field at Allendale Farms]

[ok--so, this isn't a field, but c'mon..pretty dang cool if you ask me]

4) Back Roads

[must admit it beats a highway any day]

last but not least.........

5) Cotton
[proud of the cotton modules]

In the word's of an all-time favorite,"I hear down there it's changed ya see, they're not as backward as they used to be-- She's gone country, look at them boots; she's gone country, back to her roots; she's gone country, a new kinda suit; she's gone country, here she comes..."

Couldn't have said it better myself, Alan. Here's to hoping that this is just the beginning of my love affair with the mesmerizing Mississippi landscape...

[one of our only pictures together from the weekend--finally figured out self timer]

*post title courtesy of the Alan Jackson song


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