Anything

A few months ago, I bought a book someone on twitter recommended called Anything by Jennie Allen. I’d never heard of Jennie, but her work was very highly endorsed by Angie Smith and Jen Hatmaker, two bloggers/speakers who I just adore to pieces, so I thought Jennie’s book would be a worthy read. I read the first chapter, enjoyed it, and promptly lost it in the mess that is my car.

Sidebar: If you have ever driven anywhere with me, you will understand that, while I am a well-intentioned driver and generally a tidy person when it comes to shared spaces, I am not a naturally neat person in private spaces. I’m not filthy, but what’s a few pairs of shoes and a scarf and a water crock and stand from when I moved in April? Krista’s car: eating books since 2004.

About a month ago, just before I went to Women of Faith Anaheim to see Jennie and many other amazing speakers do their thing, I found her book (it was in the empty crock from the water container I mentioned above. My bad.). Thanks to some truly horrific weekend traffic (four hours to drive 90 miles? THANK YOU, LOS ANGELES, FOR YOUR AWESOME ROADS AND DRIVERS), I was actually able to read the first two chapters while I sat in bumper-to-bumper traffic and more red lights than I thought was humanly possible. I was totally blown away by Jennie’s book and was a highlighting fiend. When I met her during the conference, she flipped through the book and even pointed out my highlights. So yeah, it was a pretty powerful read for me. It’s full title is Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul. I loved it because it reminded me of my own life-changing prayer: “God, change the parts of me that need to be changed.” I was in an Anything kind of mood.

And then I quietly forgot everything I learned. It wasn’t intentional, but I just got caught up in life. It was craziness after my job at the college ended and then I got sick thanks to the stress of leaving my job. I also moved, ramped up my involvement at church, and attempted to spend more time with my sissy girl. It was just sheer craziness and easy to forget some words on a page, no matter how highlighted they were.

Fast-forward to a few weeks later when I was texting my new roommate Monica. We have only been friends since July, so we’re still getting to know each other. Nothing like getting to know someone by throwing yourself together with her in the same home. Trying to be funny, I sent her a text that read:

I’m like a gremlin. Don’t let me get hot, hungry, or tired.

This is a pretty decent trifecta of what makes me miserable. And all three together? IT’S UGLY TIME. Any two of these things makes me exceptionally cranky but three is asking for you to defriend me in real life.

A few days later, Jennie’s book came back into my mind. I was praying to God to use me for anything He saw fit and I had this horrible thought hit me in the face like a hammer, and I felt instantly sick to my stomach.

What if my anything meant I was going to be hot all the time AND hungry more often than I liked AND I’d be tired, too? What if? It’s a scary, gross though to me. I can handle one of those things at a time in moderation. But what if God’s plans for this life of mine go beyond what I think is comfortable for me? What if I pray, “God, I don’t want to be those things, but if that’s what it takes, then I’ll do it for You; if that’s what it takes, then use me in those areas” and He answers back and says, “I might” or even more horrifying — “I will”? I am selfishly scared to admit that is the response I fear the most.

In Anything, Jennie writes about our need to die to self. At one point, she writes,

But God often seems unconcerned with helping us maintain the same, simple lives where everything fits and works. I don’t know what God’s plans are for you, but I do know that we don’t hear from him until certain things die. He doesn’t compete. And when he does speak, it typically costs something.

What if He speaks and it costs me my “rights” to be cool and well-fed and well-rested? What if He says, “Krista, I am calling you to go to somewhere warm where you’ll be sweaty and flushed and your belly might ache from emptiness sometimes and you’ll go to bed tired and wake up tired but through it all, it’s Me you’ll get to share and it’s Me who will get you through it?” I want it but I don’t. I am fearful of what it means if I give up those comforts I’ve “earned.” I forget that in getting and giving Him, I must give up Krista. I am what His voice costs, all of the parts of me who long for comfort and prosperity in my safe little Camarillo home.

I don’t often feel like I can give these pretty jewels I cling so tightly to up. I feel weak and unprepared and ill-fit for every calling I feel and hear in my life. In the Bible reading plan I’m currently doing, I just started reading 1 Corinthians and was struck, not for the first time, by what Paul writes in the first chapter, verses 26 – 29:

For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 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.

I might be hot, and tired, and hungry, but God won’t let me become a Gremlin. I am His foolish thing and weak thing and His base thing and through Him I will become strong for His glory and His gospel. I know that. And yeah, maybe it will be hard and it will feeling like suffering. But I’m reminded as I leaf through my already dog-eared copy of Anything that it’s okay to suffer for Him:

God has bigger purposes in allowing us to suffer, bigger than just winning. He allows us to suffer because we changes through suffering. We hurt with others better. We become humble. We want him more.

It’s not without cause. In any potential suffering God has in store for me, I will become more Christ-like and loving and compassionate and experience grace to a degree I couldn’t do without giving up my anything. And as Jennie also reminds her readers, to give Him your anything has meaning — it’s not for naught. She says, “But practically speaking, he’s going to do something with my life when I give it to him. He has a plan for it. It is not a meaningless sacrifice.”

Oh Jesus. I want to sacrifice it all for You, even when it’s hard and scary and I am seriously petrified of what that means. This life is your life. As my favorite blogger Angie Smith wrote today:

I shape the letters of your life. Look around at the beautiful and splendid things, and write them.

Your job, love, is not to create the story.

It is to turn each page and listen.

Look.

Believe that it is all worth telling.

I know the truth underneath this, after all.

You are my Author of Life. You have written every word of my story and you know the chapters to come and how it ends. I want to finish strong for you, Lord. So use me and do anything you need me to do. It might take me a few tries, Lord, but I will do it. Let me let go of the fear and the plans and dreams I have made for myself. Some you might give back, and some you might not. Change my heart, Jesus. Change me so my dreams are of You and Your kingdom and Your glory. Change my heart so it sees and seeks eternity.

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Broken party lines

I’m going to warn you up-front that this is a very passionate, emotional blog post filled with lots of words and issues that really stir my heart. I welcome all comments, even disagreeing, as long as they’re thoughtful and not hurtful. You can read how to disagree respectfully in this article. If you can’t be polite, seriously, go be a troll somewhere else.

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If you follow me on twitter, or if you read the twitter feed I have on the right hand side of this blog, you might have noticed that I kind of went crazy last night (slash went crazy last week — this is nearly a week later!). For the sake of time, here are the tweets I posted, in the order I posted them (and I’m OCD enough that I have taken the liberty of removing the typos I posted in my passionate need to get everything out and I’m also making this a paragraph for the same of space on this post. Not that I’m concerned about space give that I keep writing all of these asides):

For everyone who watched the #debate2012 & says we live in an “equal opportunity country”: NEWS FLASH — no we do not. Generally speaking we live in a wealthy country compared to the rest of the world but there’s a HUGE divide in access to resources in the USA. Some people – like me – make it to the top but a lot don’t because we refuse to help them. I’m not talking randomly giving resources away. I’m talking about legitimately helping the needy. Everyone talks reform but no one does it, even Christians flipping out on twitter.

Walk the walk, Christians! If you hate Obama because you don’t like his policies, then I beg you to get involved in your community to show God’s love and live out what you don’t think the government should have a hand in (social reform programs). Serve your churches!

Also, just to be clear I’m not talking about giving help to people abusing the help. There IS abuse & that MUST be addressed/stopped. I’m just SICK of people bitching that the govt should back off because if it did, those same people would stand there doing nothing to help the people left abandoned by the govt. Christians! God has called YOU to take care of the widows & orphans! If you don’t want the govt to do it, then grow up, stand up, & show people the love of Jesus already!

Last night, as I was in bed, thinking all of these things and posting them on twitter, I could not help but think about something that’s kind of been hibernating in my mind for a while… I spent almost ten years being churchless and trying to be Godless and ultimately realized that was not going to happen because God was always there… it was just me who’d wandered away. During that time, I had a very liberal lifestyle. I lived and voted and believed in things that were far to the left. I know I’ve mentioned this here before but that was one of the most difficult things about coming back to church and walking with God again — it felt like suddenly this amazing identity I’d constructed for myself was lost. Everything about who I’d been was lost to who I was becoming and I was hurting deeply by those changes.

Despite some changes God has made in my life, I still find myself registered as a Democrat and cannot fathom changing my political affiliation. It’s not that I think being a Republican is a bad thing; I do not. It’s not that I think Jesus loves Democrats more than he loves Republicans; He doesn’t. The Bible is clear on this: Galatians 3:28 says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I have Republican friends who are the best people I know. They love God and they love others. I live in a home of two of the most generous people I know and they’re Republicans. So my issue here isn’t with what political party people align themselves with.

My problem is with the assumption that because I am a Democrat, I am not smart and that I don’t love Jesus and that I am a raving baby killer. I have straight up been told “You’re too smart to be a Democrat.” No, I am too smart to accept the belief that Democrats are inherently bad and dumb.

This is what drove the heart of my posts on twitter last night. I was watching people’s reaction to the debates (which I didn’t watch; I was at church) and people were either bashing Republicans or Democrats. I still these in the newspaper comments online, too. “Crazy Dems” or “loony libs.” “Republican whackos” or “GOP goons.” It makes me want to scream. Apparently the average voter has the maturity of a five-year-old who believes that name-calling is the way to go.

Anyhow, I am the lone Democrat in my home group, which varies anywhere from seven to fifteen people any given week. And it’s brought up semi-regularly that I am different than the rest. For the most part, it doesn’t bother me because I know it’s no one’s intention to be hurtful but sometimes… sometimes their comments get me to the core.

No, I do not support abortion unless it’s in very extreme cases such as life or death for the mother. I like the idea of a smaller government. I’m very much against affirmative action. I am an advocate of capital punishment. I do think parents should be given options for the childrens’ education, such as school choice or homeschooling (I want to homeschool my own kids someday). These are more or less on point with the Republican party.

But (and here’s a big but)…

(Interlude… that just totally made me sign “I like big butts and I cannot lie, you other brothers can’t deny.” And then I thought of the episode of Friends where Ross and Rachel discover it’s the only song that settles Emma down. And that makes me think about how two days after I originally wrote those two sentences, I totally saw that episode on tv. And scene.)

But… I cannot look at the hurt and hopelessness that is happening in our country and watch it pass me by. People online last night and in every day life want the government out of businesses (especially its regulation on small business). They want the government out of social reform programs. They want the government out of schools. And maybe someday they’ll succeed. And then you know what will happen? Some of those people crying out for small government will do what the should and donate and volunteer their time to programs aimed at picking up the pieces of what the government left behind. They’ll work to establish faith-based organizations that pick up what we asked the government to quit doing.

But, and it breaks my heart to say this, but most of them won’t.

Most of those people will sit in their comfortable homes, celebrating that their ideology won. Celebrating tax breaks for the small businesses they own. Being thankful that they won the right to educate their children as they see fit.

And while doing those things is okay, I fear that they will do nothing else, that their voices and votes will have taken away from the poorest and most needy people and not replaced the services those people received with anything. I love church programs that help with social programs. My church is doing this cool set of classes that are aimed at helping different groups: there are classes for blended families, classes for single parents, classes for adult children caring for their parents. There are 18 totally different awesome classes. The church is reaching out and providing for the need of its community. The members of the church are providing for the needs of the community. That’s how it should be done.

If we are going to eliminate this stuff, then we need to step it up and help.

Now, by no means am I perfect and I will never argue with you that I am doing enough. I’d argue just the opposite, that I am not doing enough. We will never do enough until the day Jesus returns. He and only He can and ever will be enough. I have an entire post on this rolling around in my head. But I just want to say…

This is why I am a Democrat. Because I don’t mind being taxed to help the needy. I recognize institutionalized racism and want to stop it. Success isn’t simply a matter of working hard and achieving your dreams (that’s the American dream, and honestly it runs counter to the goal of Christianity — read any of David Platt’s books to see that). I see the glass ceiling so clearly that I can touch it. I am an advocate of well-run social programs whose goal is to lend a helping hand to those in poverty. Our environment is a hot mess and we need to regulate the crap we put in the air and the ground. I believe that guns do kill people and those who says “Guns don’t like people, people kill people” are missing the forest for the trees. Just because you’re a Republican doesn’t mean you can’t believe those things, however. Like I said, I am both Democrat and pro-life.

It’s not a matter of party politics. It’s a matter of heart and of living like I think Jesus would. And so, while I don’t think Jesus would be a Democrat or a Republican, I’ve aligned myself the best way I can in a world that wants freedom from government but will never love those who need love enough.

Cooking for one

I have a long, very long, ultra-passionate blog post sitting in my drafts right now, waiting to be posted. But I do not have the energy or patience required to read it and edit it and make it make sense. I also have another one of those posts waiting to be written but instead of writing it, I am going to write about a topic near and dear to my heart:

Food.

I have just spent the last hour or so googling things like “meals for one” and “dinner for one.” I am trying to figure out how to maximize my meals and minimize my spending. I’m single and pinching pennies these days and let’s be real, I totally never had any problem before throwing away tons of wasted food.

Do you know how freaking difficult it is for me to find single recipes? I can find delicious meals for families of four, but I do not want to spend four lunches and dinners eating the same thing over and over again. I also don’t wait to spend each day picking from the same twelve items (apples, yogurt, eggs, peanut butter, etc.) or living out of boxes.

WHAT’S A GIRL TO DO???

My plan is to hit up Fresh and Easy once I move tomorrow. I’ve got everything moved except my bed and dresser (you know… the big stuff) and will be borrowing my mom’s car to do it tomorrow. Once I’m moved all the way, I’ll stock up on food and see what I can do about getting stuff to make easy meals that have variety and aren’t piece meal.

Do you have any easy recipes for one that you’d recommend (or recipes that you can easily half/quarter for a single person)? Share them here with me!

Roller coaster

I can’t believe that today is already October 2. (I partially can’t believe it because it’s approximately 80 – 90 degrees every day, the only variation happening depending on whether I’m in Camarillo or Ventura.) I used to love summer the best. I enjoyed its warmth and I loved that, as a student, I basically had zero (or at least limited) responsibility during that time. I missed school but I enjoyed the days. Growing up in Southern California, it was hard not to enjoy it. The weather was perfect, the beach was literally five minutes away, and my friends were young and didn’t have anything tying them down so we just… hung out.

And then we grew up and summer lost its luster. Sure, I still love it, in no small part because for the last four years, my summers have consisted of three-day weekends, which is as close to my carefree summer days as I could get. But life has changed. I don’t like being hot anymore and I get cranky. All the sunblock I have to slather on my pale skin in order not to get burnt (because before I just ignored the warnings and I burned, and then I grew up and had a friend younger than me diagnosed with melanoma) just makes me feel greasy and sweaty. There are kids and jobs and other adult responsibilities that hold us back now.

I think I have become a fall girl. Truthfully, there is something about every season I’ll cling to. I love to anticipation of what’s ahead. Summer is a time to be idle and reconnect. It’s warm breezes and barbeques and staying up late because the sun doesn’t set early. Fall has the cooler days I’ve learned to love. The air is crisper. It’s a season of transition. Winter holds my favorite holiday and brings me lots of family togetherness. And spring? Spring is more transition, reminding us that life goes on, no matter what. But in all of these, I think I’m becoming a fall girl.

Yet there is something about the fall that makes me a little bit sad, too. This time of year goes by so fast. The first three-quarters of the year, January through the end of September, take so long to get through. Sure, there are lots of fun things, but the build up is slow, like the initial climb on a roller coaster. It’s slow, and you’re holding your breath the entire time, wondering about what will happen when you reach the top. October through December — now that’s the drop. It’s a rush and goes by in a blink. There’s all of this build up, and then before you know it, Halloween has passed and Thanksgiving swings by and there’s all the Christmas glory and letdown (when it’s over) and then the next thing you know, you’re watching the Rose Parade, wondering, “Where the heck did all of that time go?”

I love this time of year, but this year, I want to stop to remember it and live it fully. I want to breath in the air as it changes and do fall things with Charisse and be still and appreciate the moment of now, knowing that it will move so quickly I won’t even know where it’s gone when it’s over.