Monday, February 13, 2012

Economics and Snow and God's Grace

"Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters;
and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.

Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare...

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near.

Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts.
Let him turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on him,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

'For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord.
'As the heavens are highter than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven,
and do not return to it without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, 
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpse for which I sent it.'"

--Isaiah 55:1-2, 6-11

I've recently been looking at some of the Psalms on here, and I realize that the above passage is not a Psalm...but it seemed appropriate for today.  Or at least, it caught my attention for a couple of points that are are relevant to my life recently...but they are not necessarily related to each other, so forgive me for this rambling blog of mine.

The first reason is the very beginning of this passage.  The invitation is to come and buy things without cost.  Tonight I probably should have been in my Economics class, where my professor would say that there is no such thing.  Everything has a cost.  There is no such thing as free.  And yet, I'm reminded of one of the opening lines of one of my new favorite movies, the 2010 re-make of "True Grit", in which the young heroine Mattie states that "there is nothing free in life...except God's grace."  I think it's because of this fact that the next few lines of the above passage were written, encouraging people not to spend themselves for things that don't satisfy.  Rather, "seek the Lord while He can be found...for He will freely pardon."  I've had Mattie Ross's search for vengeance and her statement about God's grace on my mind this past week, as I've enjoyed listening to the soundtrack for that movie.  It's got some of the most beautiful instrumental renditions of "What a Friend We Have In Jesus", "Glory-Land Way", "Hold to God's Unchaniging Hand", and of course, "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms".

The other reason this passage seemed appropriate for me today is because it talks about God's thoughts and ways being higher than ours.  To make this point, it uses the analogy of God sending snow/rain for a purpose.  In the same way, His words and actions will, indeed, serve His purposes.  This was fitting today because we actually saw a little bit of snow here this morning.  We don't see a whole terrible lot of snow down here in Arkansas...usually just a couple of times a year.  Those couple of times a year are times that are looked forward to by many, as a possible chance of a snow day off work, or a chance to play in the snow.  But it is already mid-February, and Arkansas had not seen snow this winter...until today.  Many schools closed, simply as a precautionary measure.  I was even a little hopeful that I might get some time today to get a headstart on my spring cleaning here at the apartment.  But when I left for work this morning, there were just a few flurries starting to fall.  Snow fell heavily for about an hour or so while I was at work.  But most of it melted and was gone by the time I went to get lunch.  Instead, it was just a cold, dreary, blah kinda day.

And as a result, I felt cold, dreary, and blah on the inside too.  I drug myself through the hours at work, constantly thinking to myself (and occasionally expressing to my coworkers) that "I don't wanna be here..." and "I'm ready for this day to be over with..."  After work, I came home, skipped my Econ class, and have been here just catching up on some reading, and trying to recover from my cold, dreary, blah day.

Now, this is gonna be weak, but I'll try to tie these two points together as best I can.  My today was spent focused on what I had planned, and I spent my thoughts on what I wanted but didn't get, when instead I could have focused on seeking the Lord.  After all, He's always near.  And it's Him and His thoughts and His ways that truly satisfy.  He's the One that offers the invitation to come and come and delight in the richest of fare.

And His invitation is free.

Regardless of what my Econ professor might say about that.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

An Opinionated Birthday Post for an Opinionated Person

You all may know that my dear friend Ellen is an opininated evidenced by my list of blogs to the left.  In fact, the title of her blog is "Ellen Has An Opinion".  One of my favorite things that Ellen occasionally does over at The Opinions is writing birthday blogs, listing out 5 favorite things she loves about her family/friends on their birthdays.

What you might not know, my dear readers, is that I am also an opinionated person, and, yes, I also have an opinion.  I am of the opinion that after all the time spent writing about those she cares for on their respective birthdays, Ellen deserves to have someone write about her on her big day!  So...I present, for your reading pleasure (and in no particular order), five of my favorite things about Ellen!

5.  As a journalism-teacher-turned-librarian with a degree in English, Ellen loves to both read and write.  Obviously her love of writing is evidenced by The Opinions, where her writing is more witty or clever than anything you might find here.  And her love of reading manifests itself in all different kinds of works.  These are two hobbies that I also share, and although our tastes in reading material are different, I always appreciate someone who can appreciate a good book.  Thanks for your love of the language, and for entertaining me at The Opinions!

4.  Ellen likes to be in charge.  As you can see in the vintage S-Games photograph below (please forgive the blurry-ness), Ellen is walking around with a clipboard (a sure sign of someone in-charge) and giving what are probably some very pertinent instructions in order to win whatever S-Game is about to be played.  Ellen  might tell you that she doesn't like being in charge...she claims she's not bossy.  And I agree with that statement, as being "bossy" definitely has a negative connotation, so Ellen is not that.  However, sometimes things  have to get done, and decisions have to be made.  And while someone like myself is likely to stand around over-thinking all the possibilities and ultimately deciding that it doesn't really matter, Ellen is quick to make a decision and share it with others.  Half the time, we might not make it to dinner on Sunday night if it weren't for thanks for being a good decision-maker!

3.  Ellen is a very crafty person.  She admittedly likes to be doing stuff with her hands often (claims she even listens better when she is doing something like a Sudoku puzzle with her hands!), and this desire sometimes tends to manifest itself with craft projects.  Some of her craft projects are big, HGTV-worthy projects like restoring an old dresser.  Some are smaller projects like knitting or crocheting.  I'll be honest and admit that I'm not sure exactly what she's making in the photo below, but it is obviously something fun for the children in the youth services department of the library, where she works.  (My guess is a George Washington- or founding father-type character, but I don't remember...)  Anyway, I have personally benefited from Ellen's crafting abilities as I am the complete opposite of a crafty person.  I'm craft-deficient.  And yet, Ellen was able to teach me how to crochet!  (Nothing fancy, mind you, just a simple, single-crochet--we're talking about me, remember...)  But I have been able to use those new-found crocheting skillz to participate in a ministry at our church, which will provide sleeping mats for some people in Haiti.  Ellen, I bet you didn't know your craftiness could reach all the way to other countries and touch others who desperately need it.  Thanks for sharing that gift!

2.  Ellen loves to laugh!  Beyond that, she loves to make other people laugh, too.  She prides herself in being very funny, and rightfully so, as her sense of humor is part of what makes her fun to be around.  She knows that there is "a time for every activity under heaven..." and that it includes "a time to laugh" (NLT).  Thanks for bringing joy to others through your humor!

1.  Pictured below is Ellen and her siblings.  She is the 4th of four, the youngest of the family.  She's got a Momma and a Butch that she loves, along with two older brothers (Shane & Josh), an older sister (Michelle), a brother-in-law (Will), a sister-in-law (Susan), and a handful of nieces & nephews, and a slew of aunts, uncles, and cousins that I'm sure she's extremely close to.  I know this, because she talks about them and/or goes to see them all the time.  They are about as tight-knit a family as I've ever seen; she loves them, and they love her, and it's a beautiful family.  But Ellen's love doesn't end with her family.  It spills over to her friendships as well, as she is about as devoted of a friend as I've seen, willing to maintain friendships throughout many years and many miles.  I hope that, regardless of how many years go by, or how many miles may separate, I will be always be able to consider Ellen a friend.  "Thank you for being a friend!"

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday to You!

Happy Birthday, Dear Ellen!

Happy Birthday to You!!!

And Many More...  :)