Monday, May 30, 2011

Mudhouse Sabbath

Considering how poorly blogging went during the semester, it might be a little ambitious for me to say that I am going to blog about an entire book. But I'm going to try anyway...

During my few weeks back at Taylor before everyone left, I was talking with one of my friends about what we had been learning and our struggles with how apathetic Christians can be about truth. It was great to talk to someone who was wrestling with the same concepts. She recommended a book that I have enjoyed so much that I felt the need to share.

Mudhouse Sabbath is written by a former Orthodox Jew named Lauren Winner.  During her conversion to Christianity, she found great hope and joy in the grace and freedom that Christ has given her. However, she missed the discipline of Judaism.

This has always been a huge disappointment to see in my life and in the Christians around me.  We have found the most amazing truth there is, yet we so often fail to set aside 20 minutes everyday to spend with the Lord.  I would never want to discard the blessing of justification through faith, but if that is where our  religion stops, we are missing out on so much more.  That is why I love this book so much. She is very clear that these actions are not what save us. Only Jesus can do that. But our actions can do so much to change our thoughts and attitudes. And by living a life of discipline, we can start to live moment by moment out of reverence.

This book is split up into 11 different rituals of the Jewish faith and how we can apply those disciplines into our Christian faith.  My goal is to write a blog on each one. But considering my previous luck with blogging and the fact that I still don't have internet at my house, it might be awhile. Hopefully I can make it through and you can learn as much from the book as I have.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Good thing I never promised to blog very often because I clearly haven't. We stay pretty busy around here so even keeping up with homework and different assignments can become a challenge. So I apologize, but keep your expectations for the frequency of future posts very low :)

Life out here has been great.  I love it far more than I ever expected that I would.  And I am definitely learning far more than I even have time to process.  Because I never really explained what it is I am doing with my time, I will try my best to get you up to speed.

I have five classes...

Christian Identity and Leadership Studies: Taught by an awesome couple with 3 adorable little children, we cover a wide spectrum of topics: leadership (obviously), homosexuality, eating disorders, pornography, women in the church, and anything else that has to do with our identity (that is a lot).

Marriage and Family Studies: This class is taught by Steve and Twyla Lee (they are from Minnesota and Twyla taught at Taylor for 17 years so I am a biiiigggg fan of them).  The title speaks for itself.  But I can tell you that if you put 45 students between the ages of 19-25 in a room and talk about marriage and dating, you will generate some very interesting conversations.  I love this class

Christian Worldview Studies: Going to Taylor, I thought I knew everything about worldview. However, our teacher has a way of making us leaving that class with more questions than I ever thought possible.  I'm not kidding when I say that it will take me a lifetime to process everything that I learned about in this class.  Extremely challenging and very interesting.

Family, Church and Society: This is taught by Dr. Del Tackett who is a pretty well-known speaker so he teaches the 1st week and the last week of the semester.  The first week of the semester feels like forever ago, but he basically lays the foundation for God's design of social order.  I had never thought about this before. Never even crossed my mind.  I can't wait for him to come back to teach again.

Practicum: I don't remember how much I have explained about my practicum, but I am working with the Counseling Department at Focus on the Family.  Of the different internship sites, this one has been around the longest and has the most students.  I shadow a counselor once a week, have weekly seminars on the field of counseling and take various field trips.  I could never put a price on this experience.  I have learned so much and have gained experience that you could never find outside of graduate school.  I could talk about this one forever.

So that is what I am learning about in the classroom.  And even though I am experiencing information overload, God has not slowed down teaching me either.  I can't even begin explaining how much I have learned this semester.  But one thing that God has continual taught me is John 10:10

"The thief comes only to steal and destroy.  I came that you may have life and have it abundantly."

How awesome is that?  I forget about it all the time though.  Whenever I think about the cross and what Jesus did, I only think about it in terms of the bad things that it took away. Don't get me wrong, this is a big part of it.  I am so thankful that I don't have to carry the burdens of my sin.  However, Jesus also died so that I could have a rich and joyful life on this earth.  This seems so obvious given all of the worries that He has taken away, but I don't think we dwell on this enough and remember that God wants us to have full lives.

Speaking of full lives, here are just a few of the things that I have blessed my life lately

Snowboarding in the beautiful beautiful mountains

lots and lots of laughter

New Adventures
(if you think the entrance was small, you should have seen the rest of the holes we wiggled through)

Close friends that I cherish and will have for a lifetime

I will do my best to update every once and awhile.  But for now, go out and enjoy the abundant life that God has given you

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Paradox of Self-Esteem

I seem to be going through an interesting phase regarding my self image.  At first, arriving at Focus was really liberating.  No one knew me and I could see if the Taylor mold of who Bethany Smith is actually fits the person I really am.  I discovered a lot about myself. I can be outgoing and push myself to step outside of my comfort zone. And in the process, I gained a lot of confidence. I felt secure in who I was and was proud that I was diving in without fear.

However, time went on and the honeymoon of self exploration faded away.  Being with new people was a great way to discover more about myself, but I also realized a lot of insecurities that I thought I had grown out of.  Because of the community at Taylor, I quickly figured out who I was in regards to those around me and that followed me for my 2.5 years. But being put in this new social situation where I couldn't "fall back" on the good traits I had built at Taylor was really scary.  If I messed up once in an area I usually excel at, I figured that mistake was doomed to define me.

Please don't worry.  I have talked this over with several people and have the support I need.  And through talking with people, I have realized how many other students feel the same way in this new situation.  I guess what I have had to accept is that Satan really does attack me with lies daily, especially in times like this when God is pushing me to grow in confidence.  I know the idea of Satan whispering lies into your ear might sound uncomfortable/stupid/cliche to some of you, but I really think its true.

The last few nights I have been reading through the book of Joel (which I love) and found this verse really encouraging

"You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and there is none else.  And my people shall never again be put to shame."

                                                                                                       Joel 2:27 (ESV)

God is with me. All the time. Everywhere.  He is God. He is so much bigger than the lies that Satan tries to get me to believe.  Because I am reconciled with Him through Jesus Christ, I never need to be ashamed ever again.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Given that I haven't blogged in a long time, I would say it's pretty clear that I have been quite busy.  But busy in a very good way.  I continue to love my time here and the people that I am spending it with.  Even in these 3 short weeks, I feel like there are several areas that God is challenging me in.  I wish I could go into depth on each one of them, because each of them truly excites me, but hopefully I'll have time for that another day.

Because so much has happened and I never seem to have time to blog before 11pm, I'll just share some highlights thus far

1. I am doing a counseling practicum right now where I shadow a Focus on the Family Counselor and listen in to counseling sessions on their free hotline.  I went into the practicum actually hoping that I woud hate it because it would help narrow down different fields of interest. However, words can't describe how much I love my practicum.  I have even asked to spend extra hours just listening in and observing.  We also spend a fair amount of time learning different things about counseling (graduate schools, self care, techniques, etc).  I couldn't have designed a program that better fits what I was looking for

2.  On a day off from class, a group of friends and I went up to Boulder for the day.  It was great to see more of Colorado and just goof around.  This picture isn't new to any of you who have facebook, but here is a group of us at a ice cream shop in Boulder

3.  My classes are awesome.  I love what I am learning, even though it is very challenging.  

4.  My friends are great.  They love digging into deep conversations just as much as I do.  One night, we had to do our reading outloud with a group.  However, we ended up in a conversation about how we each got to Focus (some amazing stories) and decided we should pray for one another.  So we did.  We took turns praying over each of the 8 individuals for 2.5 hours.  I was exhausted the next day, but developing that sense of community so early on was an amazing blessing.  Friends was my number one concern heading into Focus, and so far it has been one of my greatest joys.  I can truly say that the friends I make here will last far beyond a semester.

5.  Most importantly, God has been showing up big time in my life.  Never before has He taught me so many different things at once.  As I said before, I don't have the time to really go into this, but it is so great it deserved a second mention. 

Well that is very very brief explanation of my time here so far.  It really doesn't do my experience any justice.  Thank you for your patience as I have been terrible at communicating and keeping in touch since I left.  I appreciate your prayers greatly and love you all very much.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I'm Still Alive...

For those of you who might be concerned, don't worry. I'm still alive.

Take my lack of blogging as a good sign that I am loving life and staying WAY too busy socializing and then writing papers at this awful time of night.

When I finally get a free moment I'll fill you all in.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Why I love Colorado (Part Two)

8.  The weather here is amazing.  Currently, it is 65 degrees outside. Enough said.

Going for a run in Garden of the Gods

9.  Dry Weather.  My eyes might hate it, but my greasy hair and skin are loving it!

(I thought I'd do us all a favor and skip a picture for this one...)

10.  Architecture.  I'm not really into design, but I must say that the Midwest could learn a few things from the Springs.  Everything here, from the colors to the layout, goes together so nicely.  

One of the buildings at Focus on the Family

11.  Beautiful, beautiful mountains

12. And last but not least, these awesome people who I can now call my friends

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Why I love Colorado (Part One)

I have decided that Colorado might be one of the greatest places in the whole world.  I know some of you might disagree, so in defense, I have come up with a few reasons why I love it here (in no particular order)

1.  I was born here.  

No, its not great because I was born here, but stating that makes me feel less like a tourist and more like I actually know what I am talking about (when I clearly don't)

2. The Sun! My goodness, coming from the cloudy Midwest I forgot that the sun even existed during January. And now I have to carry my sunglasses around with me.  Its glorious

(don't judge the picture, that is what you get when you google sunny colorado)

3.  Due to the wisdom of my dear friend Laurie, I learned that you can get a free drink at Chipotle in the Springs with a student ID.  As if I needed another reason to love Chipotle...

4.  The speed limit here is 75.  Granted, my car can't really get up to that speed in this altitude, but I'm sure going that fast is really really cool

5.  It's not Indiana...

6.  You can get a tan here so quickly! After spending the day outside on Saturday I had a realized I almost got burnt. And if that fails, there is a free tanning bed in my apartment complext (you should be proud that I am practicing self control)

7.  The altitude is a great excuse. For everything. Being winded walking up the stairs.  Having a shorter work out. Or maybe not working out at all.  But seriously, who would have thought it would make that much of a difference!

(picture I took on a hike this weekend. please believe me when I say it is 10 times more beautiful in person)

well, speaking of the altitude, I'm exhausted.  Stay tuned for the second half of my list