Wednesday, May 30, 2012

More about love

My parents always tell me to do "the next right thing." Sometimes, most of the time, I have a lot of trouble figuring out what that might be. When I do figure it out, it's often something that I can't do. In my experience, God calls on us to do things we can't do. Not without him. The good news is that he's always there to give us the strength we need.

Warning: the rest of this post will be mainly literature-related. 

In the first book of Madeleine L'Engle's Time Quintet, A Wrinkle in Time, the main character, Meg, is faced with an evil intelligence that is holding her brother captive. Meg has to go back alone to rescue her brother from IT, much to her own dismay. Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which, angelic beings that guide her throughout the book, advise her to look for what she has that IT does not: Love. As she stands before IT, Meg realizes that

"If she could give love to IT perhaps it would shrivel up and die, for she was sure that IT could not withstand love. But she, in all of her weakness and foolishness and baseness and nothingness, was incapable of loving IT. Perhaps it was not too much to ask of her, but she could not do it."

Instead, Meg loves her brother, though he has been distorted by IT, and she saves him. But in the second book she is faced with the same problem. The Ecthroi, of which IT was only a part, again threaten her brother. And this time loving him isn't enough. She has to love the Ecthroi. Though she is still weak and foolish and base and unqualified, she has to do it.

In The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky's character Ivan says that "One can love one's neighbors in the abstract, or even at a distance, but at close quarters it's almost impossible." He tries to make up for this by loving an abstract ideal of humanity and children, who he sees as pure and innocent, which proves that he knows nothing about children. The thing is, though, that he's right. Our sin makes us ugly, contemptible, impossibly unlovely. And yet God calls us to love each other. Out of the humanly impossible, God demonstrates his power by loving something that is utterly undeserving. This is what he calls us to do, and he knows that we can't do it without him. Because of our sin, we can't even do it as Christians, not 100% of the time. We're going to fail, no question--but we have to try anyway.

A priest in The Brothers Karamazov says, "Can there be a sin which could exceed the love of God?...Believe that God loves you as you cannot conceive; that he loves you with your sin, in your sin....All things are atoned for, all things are saved by love. If I, a sinner, even as you are, am tender with you and have pity on you, how much more will God." So here is the two-part answer to the question of why God calls us to do what is impossible. First of all, it shows us over and over again our deep, unending need of him, and his faithfulness and love for us. Secondly, it makes us present the image of Christ more significantly than ever, in demonstration and comparison. As people are unlovely, our love, such as it is and aided by the example of Christ, can a powerful witness to the extravagant love of God.

Love Through Me
Amy Carmichael

 Love through me, Love of God;
There is no love in me.
O Fire of love, light Thou the love 
That burns perpetually.

Flow through me, Peace of God;
Calm River, flow until
No wind can blow, no current stir
A ripple of self-will.
Shine through me, Joy of God;

Make me like Thy clear air
That Thou dost pour Thy colors through,
As though it were not there.
O blessed Love of God,
That all may taste and see
How good Thou art, once more I pray:
Love through me—even me.


Monday, May 28, 2012

Mustache Monday: Anthony Ainley

Anthony Ainley, famous British television actor.
Anthony Ainley, daring mustache wearer.

This is an interesting mustache. It may not be stunning or super classy, but he pulls it off well. The transition to goatee/beard thing is very smooth. Unfortunately, the symmetry is a bit off, both in the center and in relative thickness. Again, what's up with the weird mustache gap? Also, the top of the beard thing peaks off to the right instead of the center. It's distracting. With that out of the way, we'd like to mention his eyebrows, which are really crazy. They have really exaggerated peaks that look like upside down seagulls from a child's drawing. Bizarre.

Anthony Ainley, the 19th man in our quest for a great mustache. Let's see how he ranked:

Size: 3/5
Symmetry: 2/5
Originality: 2/5
Overall: 7/15

Pretty average overall, though we would take a few off for the eyebrows, if it were allowed.

Becca and Kelley

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Promises of God

I recently got a haircut. Random, except for the fact that it proved to be the glue that held together this three-part epiphany I’ve had recently. Let me preface this by saying that I think for many Christian college students, trust can be really hard, particularly as we approach our last year or graduation.
Part One:
I’ve been thinking a lot recently about my future. It’s a bit of a short lived process, and it has the potential to be depressing, because I have absolutely no idea what to do with my life. I can’t even “chase my dreams” because I don’t really have any. No dream job, no dream life, no dream accomplishments. And yet I find it very hard to be content. The Lord brought this to my attention very forcibly, and before I had time to formulate a smart, Christian response, I prayed, “I wouldn’t have trouble being content if I didn’t have to trust You!” When I stopped laughing at myself, I realized how true it was. If I knew where I was going in life, if I could be certain that I am going to be happy and safe and so on, I could be content with where I am right now. Only here’s the thing: I don’t think it’s true. If I knew what would happen in five years, and I was looking forward to it, I would tend to miss what God is doing here and now. And if I was afraid of what was coming, I could lack the courage to respond in a Godly manner. Though I may really hate it at times, I can see that it is better for me to not know what is coming.
Part Two:
I was sitting in the salon chair as the stylist cut off several inches. And I hated the way it was starting to look. The control-freak in me rose up and I nearly asked the woman to step back and leave my hair alone. Then I remembered that the last time she cut my hair, I had the same reaction. In the end, however, it worked. I don’t get to pick the style of my life. God has a plan. He’s working it out perfectly, and knowing how it will look in the end isn’t any guarantee that the process is going to be pleasant or attractive. I had chosen my own hairstyle and I didn’t like the in between look of it, but it turned out fine. God knows what he is doing.
Part Three:
I was reading the Bible about a week after the haircut, and I came across this passage:
“For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.” (2 Corinthians 5:2-5).
So here’s the great part, the third epiphany, so to speak: I may not know what my 50 to 60 more years of life on earth—God willing—are going to include, but I have been guaranteed for eternity.
The promises of God may not be what we want them to be. I would dearly love for God to tell me if I will ever pay off my student loans, if I will ever have a steady job that I am passionate about, of if I will ever get married. But He doesn’t tell me that. Instead, He tells me that He has a perfect plan with surprises and opportunities and challenges I cannot imagine, and that at the end of it, I will be further clothed, so that what is mortal in me will be swallowed up by life everlasting. Not only has He told me this, in His great love, He has guaranteed it through the presence of His Spirit. And that’s better than knowing what if I’ll pass all my classes this semester.


"Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder." -J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mustache Monday: Groucho Marx

Groucho Marx, famous for being really funny.
Groucho Marx, famous for his really bad mustache.

It looks fake. And for a while it was, but apparently Groucho got tired of applying the fake one and grew a real mustache, which he kept for the rest of his life, if wikipedia can be believed. Luckily the real one looks a darn sight better.

Better, yes, but still not great. Why does it part strangely at the middle? Why does it curve differently on each side? Why does his always have huge cigars hanging out of his mouth? These are the questions that will haunt comedy fanatics 'til the end of time. Or maybe just us.

Groucho Marx, the 18th man in our quest to find that mustache of all mustaches. Let's see how he ranked:

Size: 3/5
Symmetry: 3/5
Originality: 2/5
Overall: 8/15

Pretty average, Groucho. Be grateful the score wasn't for the fake mustache!

Becca and Kelley

Random fact: In junior high, Kelley may have thought that Karl Marx was one of the Marx brothers. Reading the Communist Manifesto was a bit of a disappointment. 

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On sitting your ass down

Hey, friends!
Since Becca and I are super busy, we've got a few great guest posts for you. Here's one from a really close and wonderful friend of ours. Enjoy!

Lindsey recently graduated from college with a degree in Elementary Education and an awesome husband.  Lindsey teaches reading and works as an admin assistant.  She also reads, makes delicious food, and blogs at

 Once upon a time, I got married to afore mentioned seminary-student. Not too long after that, I was offered a job that would’ve required a pretty big move for us.  I've wanted to teach all my life, and many people (us included) thought that the obvious answer was to accept the position.  But, after a lot of thinking and praying, we really didn't feel that it was the best decision for our family.  David still had 2 years of seminary left, a part time job that he loves, and the commutes would be a nightmare, probably resulting in my wondering about the identity of the tall guy with the beard who occasionally ate dinner at my house.  So we said no.  We stayed. 
For some of you, that might seem like a boring story (come on, be honest, I can take it), but for us it wasn't.  For me especially, it was difficult to think about the possibility that the Lord's will might include staying somewhere.
 Our first year of marriage included 4 apartments and trips to 3 continents and 14 states.  We needed a rest.  Though our first year of marriage was a wonderful adventure that neither one of us would trade for anything, we both believed that staying here and spending some time with people that we love in a place that we love was necessary to the success of our marriage.  We just needed to sit awhile, and this bench looked nice, so we're sitting here.  I didn’t always feel so comfortable with the idea, though.  At first, I felt guilty. 
It's easy to grow up in the church with the impression that considering and caring for personal needs and relationships is somehow selfish or less holy than throwing caution to the wind, mustering up a bold "God will take care of me!" attitude and going wherever the wind blows.  But it's not.  Contrary to what we might’ve learned, the Lord’s will isn’t to have a bunch of followers with relationships in shambles because they recklessly move from one service opportunity to the next until they burn themselves out. 
Sometimes sitting your ass down is the only obedience the Lord asks, because he knows you couldn’t handle hearing what will follow.  Your “yes” to what may seem like an easy question may be bigger than you ever imagined.  The last year has been the hardest I’ve ever faced, and the primary way the Lord has spoken to and healed me has been through relationships.  He made us for them.  How can we so quickly disregard and devalue something that the Lord created us for?
One year from one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made, I can testify that the Lord doesn’t need us to go somewhere to shake up our lives or to make us more like him.  He doesn’t need us to run ourselves into the ground.  Sometimes, he just asks us to sit down. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mustache Monday: Clark Gable

Clark Gable, famous for making lots of great movies.
Clark Gable, also famous for his mustache. 

Clark Gable made some great movies. Let's just start with that, because it's obvious and true. "It Happened One Night" is hilarious, and he was famously in "Gone with the Wind," and he played Charles Parnell in "Charles Stewart Parnell," which we mention only because Kelley recently read Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist." So he's a famous actor. But we're wondering about the mustache. Something about it, the angle of his head, and the direction he's looking just give this whole picture a shifty feel, which is doing nothing for our appraisal of the mustache. Taken by itself, it's kind of weird. The gap between the two sides is pretty wide, and you notice this more because of the sparseness of the hair. But he somehow manages to pull it off. We're pretty sure that if anyone else had this mustache we would hate it, but he's convincing us that it's a great style choice. See, we said he was a great actor.

Clark Gable, the 17th man in our quest to find a great mustache. Let's see how he ranked:

Size: 2/5
Symmetry: 4/5
Originality: 3/5
Overall: 9/15

Not bad at all, Clark!

Becca and Kelley

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Hilarious words of wisdom

So one of our best friends introduced us to these videos, which are pretty awesome. This chap records a video each Monday about all sorts of things: faith, homeschool, dating, and just random funny topics. We already have mustaches on Monday, so we're sharing these on a regular weekday.
Since our blog deals with relationships a lot, we thought we share two of them, one for the guys and one for the girls, but you can definitely watch both because they are completely hilarious. Also, check out some of the others, they're pretty hysterical. Side note: he does yell sometimes, so careful of the volume.

First, for the ladies, we have Ten Ways to Get the Right Guy to Like You.

And for the gentlemen, we have Ten Ways to Get Girls to Like You.

Watch and enjoy!

Becca and Kelley

Monday, May 7, 2012

Mustache Monday: Nicholas Courtney

William Nicholas Stone Courtney, famous for being an awesome British actor.
William Nicholas Stone Courtney, also pretty well know for his mustache.

This is a great mustache. Let's not beat around the bush, folks. This mustache is brilliant. It's symmetrical, it's not obnoxiously large, and it looks really classy. Both Nicholas Courtney and Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, his most famous character, pull this mustache off with great aplomb.  It just gives him a great air of distinction. And just imagine: Courtney, who died last year, rocked this great 'stache through the sixties and seventies (or was it the eighties? ha!). It can be hard to find things from that period that are still classy, so theoretical bonus points to Nicholas Courtney. 

Nicholas Courtney, the 16th contender in our mission to meet a man with a miraculous mustache. Let's see how he ranked:

Size: 3/5
Symmetry: 5/5
Originality: 2/5 
Overall: 10/15

10 out of 15 puts Courtney firmly into our Mustache Monday top three! Near full marks for the Brigadier! 

Becca and Kelley

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Red and White

I recently had the opportunity to teach a lesson at youth group on eternal destiny, including the truth and reality of heaven and hell. And although it was daunting and overwhelming to take on such a heavy, sometimes-nebulous topic, it was also very rewarding to put myself in a position to have to express to others the biblical perspective on the issue. While preparing to teach, I came across this gem of a text in Revelation 7:13-17. Take a look:

     Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes---who are they, and where did they come
         I answered, "Sir, you know."
     And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes
     and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
            "they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple;
                and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
             Never again will they hunger;
                 never again will they thirst.
             The sun will not beat upon them,
                 nor any scorching heat.
             For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
                 he will lead them to springs of living water.
             And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."

What an amazing image. First you have the setting of the scene, an image of an innumerable group of people from every nation and tongue, all dressed in brilliant white, and holding palm branches while shouting glorious praises to the Lord. That alone is enough to take my breath away. But on top of that, as one of the high school students in the youth group pointed out, you have this illogical concept of washing robes in blood only to have them come out clean and radiantly white. How does that work? Isn't the blood of the Lamb a gory, gruesome image? Well of course it is. We are talking about the blood poured out at Golgotha to atone for the sins of the world, the blood Christ suffered to shed. However, the image of Christ's blood is not all gore. It is also hope, and life, and the promise of purity to cleanse us as we enter our eternal destiny.

So this vast multitude is wearing these white robes, signifying they have been washed by Christ's blood and are now pure. Therefore, they can enter into glory, where they will never hunger nor thirst. Therefore, because of their purity, they can experience heaven. Therefore, by the fact that they are pure (something they could not grant themselves, mind you), they can drink from the springs of living water. How incredible of an image!

Purity is not a promise of sexual abstinence or a pledge to not cuss. Although these may be signs of a pure heart, they are not purity themselves. Purity is the complete and total washing of our lives by the blood of Christ. We must first be drenched in the blood of His suffering to then be wiped clean of our own foulness. Only then can we have the hope of partaking in the glory of heaven, and only then an we hope to have the privilege of entering God's presence unashamed.



"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God." (Matthew 5:8)