perder la vida

Learning to Live Missionally and Mindfully

You have cancelled my debt March 22, 2007

Filed under: ME — Katie @ 9:07 am

Here’s some open-book honesty that I am both reluctant and compelled to share:

Last January, I handed over a maxed-out credit card to my parents. I had run up so much debt – thousands of dollars – and was unable to make even the minimum payment. My parents, despite the fact that they told me over and over never to use a credit card, took the card from me and told me they’d pay it off for me. I promised them that I’d never use a credit card again and that I never wanted to be in debt to anyone, particularly to credit card companies with climbing interest rates. 

I knew it would put my parents in a bind, but there were no other options. They could pay the minimum payments, but doing that will get you out of debt in about 40 years – even if you were only a few thousand dollars in debt. Interest rates are killer. But, my parents wanted to help me start over. They wanted me to have a clean slate and a fresh start – they wanted to cancel my debt.

I was (and still am) so thankful and appreciative of that. But, I also feel guilty about it beacuse it isn’t their debt to cancel. They didn’t go out and buy expensive clothes. They didn’t purchase an iPod. They didn’t eat out four days a week. This debt was not theirs, yet they were willing to make some sacrifices to pay it for me. 

Remind you of anyone?

I would like to say that I learned my lesson, but I didn’t. I am now paying off some new debt by myself. Granted, the majority of my new debt (2/3rds of it) was incurred due to an unforseen living situation for which I wasn’t financially prepared. And I find it hard to beat myself up for that. But, some of it was for my need to be stylish… and some of it was for plane tickets to Colorado. And some of it is for the eye doctor, which, let’s face it – not really an option when you’ve been wearing the same pair of contacts for two months. 

With my first debt, I didn’t have to face the consequences. I simply said, “Mom, Dad, please help.” But, now I can’t. Now I have to pay it on my own, which really bites. But, I’m realizing more and more what a sacrifice my parents made for me because I am experiencing what it’s like to pay off debt. It is not easy, and it is most certainly not fun – particularly when you are sending seven-hundred dollar checks to the creidtors and thinking of all the things you could have done with that money other than use it to pay off debt. 

I tried to remember all of the things I purchased with credit cards, and, well, most of it was just “stuff.” There were times when I had to buy groceries and gas with my credit cards, but only because I was spending so much money per month to pay off the same credit card. Kind-of a vicious cycle, don’t ya think!? 

When I think of what I could have done with that money, well… I get very sad. I think of the trip to Hong Kong that my church is taking… I could be going, except that I spent my money on “stuff” and now I’m paying for it. It ismoney wasted – wasted on things that I can’t even recall, things that are probably hidden in a drawer or in a box ready to go to the Salvation Army.

I’m moving forward – I’m not beating myself up about it anymore, although it embarrasses me and makes me very ashamed of myself. I’m doing everything I can to pay off this debt and then I will try to help my mom pay off my old debt. 

This reminds me so much of the sinful nature of humans. We have been given an extraordinary gift – Jesus came to pay off our debts, to reconcile us, and to give us a fresh start. Yet, we don’t always recognize and appreciate what it cost. And, worst of all, sometimes we completely ignore it and return to our selfish and sinful desires. We forget what we have promised God and we screw up our clean slate in order to fulfill some momentary desire. We mess up and willingly and (often) conciously put ourselves back into debt – for things which, in time, we won’t even be able to recall. 

But, we must move forward. We must repent and work to end whatever sins we struggle with so that we can be made perfect (Matthew 5:48) and do the work of the Lord. We must face the consequences sometimes and do the dirty work ourselves, but God is not far. He is not watching cruelly, while we slave and toil to reconcile our sins. He is teaching us, molding us… and ultimately preparing us for greater things. 

God will clear my debt – maybe not in some miraculous sweep of His hand – but, He has provided work for me to do and the energy to do it. He may not plop the exact amount I need to pay everything off, but He has given me paychecks that were bigger than expected, a tax refund that finished paying off one card, and made some big purchases (ahem – new tires!) much more affordable than expected. 

I wanted to sit on this debt, at first. My idea was that the land my mom is selling would sell quickly and that she would pay off all of my debt when the land sold. But, then, I was compelled to take matters into my own hands, with God’s guidance, and that He would teach me and provide for me while trying to conquer this little mountain of mine. I fully believe in waiting on God and that He can perform miracles and do wondrous things, but I also don’t believe that He wants us to sit on our hands idly while we wait on Him to move. When we’re waiting on God, I think He is waiting on us to do something. For us to make the first move, take the initative… because, otherwise, how will we ever learn? How will we ever grow if we don’t move

My great-grandmother had this quote framed in her house and I have always loved it, “God helps those who help themselves. The government helps those who don’t.” 

Don’t get me wrong, if I had felt compelled by God to wait for land to sell so I could pay everything off, I would have done that – I have done that in other situations and watched Him do some great things. But, this time, I felt like He wanted me to learn something by paying off the debt myself. And, I am learning. And, I am being blessed by Him through this! So many great things have been happening that I would have never experienced if I had just sat around… waiting. 

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Six months later March 21, 2007

Filed under: ME — Katie @ 9:49 am

Today marks six months since my dad passed away. Some days it seems like it all happened yesterday. Other days, it seems like it’s been years since he’s been gone. Some things have gotten easier, while other things have gotten harder. 

Every day brings new challenges, new discoveries, new hope, new emotions. Each day brings a new chance to grow, a new chance to appreciate life, and a new chance to remember how much I love and miss my dad.

 

I bought Jake Gyllenhaal a latte last night. March 17, 2007

Filed under: ME — Katie @ 5:40 pm

Well, well, well, it’s Saturday. And what am I doing? That’s right, working. 

Oh well. I did get to spend some much-needed girl time with my bestest friend, April, last night. We went to see Zodiac, which… I enjoyed, but I’m conflicted as to whether or not I should have actually paid to see the movie. For those of you who don’t know, Zodiac is a film about a California serial killer who teased the media and police by writing explicit letters to newspapers (and eventually to personal residences). The murderer, believed to be…. well, I’m not going to tell you because that would ruin it, now wouldn’t it?…. the murderer enjoyed the publicity and the attention…. and would have LOVED for his story to be turned into a movie. Not sure if this part was factual or not, but in one of his “letters,” he mentioned how he was waiting to see the story of his life and the murders he committed. 

So, what do I do? Yeah, I pay $6 to help him out. That made me feel really great. I paid money to boost the ego of a serial killer. But, on the flip side, Jake Gyllenhaal is in the movie, so… I’ll just pretend that I was giving him $6 and that he’ll spend it on a conflict-free latte. 

The whole experience reminded me of how much money can be made off of crimes, wars, and conflicts. Hello… Blood Diamond??? Is it right? Is it morally acceptable? Is it making things worse in the long run? Or, is it okay because these things happened “so long ago?” 

Ahh, the confliction!

 

Sex? Oh, God!! March 9, 2007

Filed under: ME — Katie @ 7:21 am
Okay, so I just finished reading “SEX GOD” by Rob Bell. It is not about becoming a god of sex. It is about the connection between sexuality and spirituality. And it is AMAZING. I suggest you drop everything you’re doing, run to Gospel Supply, buy this book, and don’t put it down until you’ve finished it.

Which is what I did…. I read it in a day. I’m going to read it again today, too. Because it’s that good.

Everyone thinks the title is funny, including Greg. So, he came up with some alternatives Rob Bell could have chosen:

Sex? OH, GOD!
Sex? Oh, God…do we have to talk about this again!?

Okay, so he only had two and they were basically the same.

I also stole this next (and quite unrelated) bit from Jordan.

1) Using FOOD names, spell out your name:

Kraut
Avacado
Tangerine
Ice cream
Eggplant

 

Greek for the Week March 7, 2007

Filed under: ME — Katie @ 8:07 am

Living in the south, Christians are typically unable to explain why they believe in God, why they go to church, or why the read the Bible. Most of them respond, “That’s just how I grew up and how I was raised.” Well, I grew up in a trailer in a little hick town where I played outside in my underwear. Does that mean I must grow up to live in a trailer in a little hick town and play oustide in my underwear? I don’t think so. Just because I was “raised” that way doesn’t mean I have to follow it. 

But, this is most people’s excuse for everything. 
     Why are you overweight? “Because I was raised in a family that ate fried everything.”
     Why are you in debt? “Because I was raised by parents who never taught me how to budget my money.” 
     Why do you abuse substances? “Because I was raised by an alcoholic.”
    
For some reason, we want to blame everything on the way we were raised. We assume that since we were born into certain situations, we must continue those situations. These things are a cycle. Not that there is something wrong with following and believing in God, but there is something wrong with not having a clue why you believe something. Because, when you don’t question why you are a Christian, then anything can shake your faith. Why do you think so many Christians become upset and outraged by movies, television shows, and books that dare to go against Christianity or try to disprove it entirely? 

It’s because those people don’t know why they believe what they believe. Those movies, television shows, and books actually threaten their faith – because they don’t really know what they believe. Read this quote from my new favorite person, Rob Bell:

“What if tomorrow someone digs up definitive proof that Jesus had a real, earthly, biological father named Larry, and archaeologists find Larry’s tomb and do DNA samples and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the virgin birth was really just a bit of mythologizing the Gospel writers threw in to appeal to the followers of the Mithra and Dionysian religious cults that were hugely popular at the time of Jesus, whose gods had virgin births? But what if as you study the origin of the word virgin, you discover that the word virgin in the gospel of Matthew actually comes from the book of Isaiah, and then you find out that in the Hebrew language at that time, the word virgin could mean several things. And what if you discover that in the first century being “born of a virgin” also referred to a child whose mother became pregnant the first time she had intercourse?” (Velvet Elvis, p. 26)

Many people simply go to church, read their Bibles, pray, and serve because that’s what their parents did and that’s “how they were raised.” They believe what they are told to believe and never think to question anything. 

I actually knew someone who believed that black people couldn’t float on water because his pastor said that blacks are genetically different from whites, disabling them from floating in water. No joke. He really heard that in church, and he really believed it beacuse “that’s what [his] pastor said.” 

Questioning what we believeis very different from questioning God. It is not that I believe we should question the Bible or our beliefs as a means to disprove Christanity, I believe just the opposite. I believe that questioning scriptures, digging deeper, and truly investigating the Word and Christianity itself will actually make our faith stronger and cause us to grow more than we could have first imagined. 

The problem with scripture is that the English language doesn’t always have words that accurately portray the original language of the Bible. Yes, even the King James Version uses words and phrases that don’t accurately depict what the Bible was intended. I get really grouchy when customers come in the store, professing that they want the “original Bible” – which, to them, is the KJV. I get a real kick out of humiliating them by saying “Oh, the Greek and Hebrew?” They respond, “No…” I bite back, “Oh, okay, the 1611 English translation?” More confused, they respond, “No… the KJV.” The King James Version is also considered to be on a 12th grade reading level, while most Americans only read up to an 8th grade level.

But that’s besides the point. My point here is that in order to truly know what we believe and why we believe it, we have to get back to the basics and research where certain key words in the bible originated. Without doing this, we lose a lot of what the bible means. And, sometimes, it’s just fun to know what certain words mean (like, “pneuma”). So, I am going to start doing a Greek for the Week. The word may not always be Greek, but I think it will put my faith into a better perspective, so that I may grow closer to God and fully understand what I believe… and… why I believe it. 

There is a point where we must leave the “baby food” and start eating some meat and potatoes! We can’t always rely on others to teach us – we must be willing to do some of the work ourselves.

Greek for the Week: TELIOS

Definition: whole, complete, mature, finished

English translation: Perfect

Key scripture: “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48, NIV)

Problem with English Translation: In the English language, “perfect” is defined as being “flawless, without error,” and so forth. But, the Bible doesn’t mean it that way. The Bible urges us to be complete and to reach a certain maturity in our faith so that we can fully serve God and others.

 

48 days March 4, 2007

Filed under: ME — Katie @ 6:57 am

At work (Gospel Supply) yesterday, I walked up to the registers and saw this orange book sitting on the back counter. It was called 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller. I grabbed it, read the back, and started screaming, “I need this book!! I need this!” Abby, a co-worker of mine, just laughed and said “I know you do, that’s why I put it there!”

I don’t think she really put it there for me, but I definitely got a copy and am reading it now. Since I graduated form high school in 2003, I have had no clue what I wanted to pursue as a career. I’ve studied music, English, Communication Studies…. and, while I was successful in all of those majors, none of them seemed like my calling.

For the last year or two, I’ve been pretty apathetic towards finding a career or even just finishing college. I have been thinking lately that maybe I really am one of those “college and career is not for me” type of people. While I do want to finish college…. some sort of degree, college life has been very hard for me and very stressful. A lot of things would have to fall in to place before I could ever go back. 

I envy the people who graduated high school knowing what they wanted to do in life and set out on a mission to complete college in four years…. and succeeded. For instance, Greg’s sister finished school in four years and now has a great job teaching English in Colorado. Carla Jean finished college and a master’s in four years and has a wonderful job at a local magazine. Okay, those are really the only two people I know who actually graduated in four years or less. But, still…. most of my friends have completed college. Or are about to complete college, which… I would also be in my last semester had I known from the start what I wanted to do. 

But, my confusion turned into indecisiveness and my indecisiveness turned into apathy. And now I’m stuck. So, for the next 48 days, I am will be “believing that God created me for HIs purposes and scheduled every day of my life.” and that “I commit the next 48 days to a new clarity and a plan of action for moving into God’s calling for me.” 

Can’t wait to see what happens!!

 

waking up March 2, 2007

Filed under: ME — Katie @ 6:36 am

Lately, I have been having problems with waking up. I have always been the type of person to set my alarm to go off 15 or 20 minutes before I actually need to wake up. This way, when it goes off at 5:40am, I can say “ooohhh… 20 more minutes.” But, now, even that 20 minutes isn’t enough. I want to sleep until… like… 6:15 instead of just until 6. Then I feel guilty all day because I slept late and started working late, meaning I will have to work later in the evening (I work a split schedule on most days – usually 6-10am and 6-10pm) to make up the difference.

Sometimes I think that we all prefer to be asleep to being awake when it comes to many social issues. I love this Derek Webb line, when he says “poverty is so hard to see when it’s only on your tv or twenty miles across town.” (“Rich Young Ruler” from Mockingbird) As a whole, we’re not really awake to the needs of those around us – in our own communities. I am not awake. If I were awake to these issues, I would be up and doing something. I’d need some coffee first, but… I’d be doing something.

I like to think that I am already awake to some issues. And, in some ways, I am. I guess, metaphorically, you could say that I am in that weird stage of sleep where you’re not quite asleep and you’re not quite awake. You’re semi-aware of what is around you, but not fully conscious.

At least it’s a start, right?

For instance, I have always had a passion in life for foster children and I hope to, one day, become a foster parent. Don’t know why I have this particular burden, it has just always been there. Although I am legally old enough to foster a child, I am nowhere near being ready to actually foster a child. God has laid this burden on my heart with specific instructions, and now is not the right time. But, other than knowing what God wants me to do with that burden…. I’m not really doing anything for other people right now. I just keep thinking “now is not the right time… I still have a few years, then I’ll do something. I still have 20 more minutes to sleep…..”

Back in my hay-day (like…. high school/early college), I volunteered like crazy. I volunteered every summer at the Children’s museum, I worked Special Olympics, I tutored middle schoolers, I hung out with nursing home patients. I was coerced into working elementary camps at Sumatanga and a middle school retreat. Even though I wasn’t conquering world hunger or AIDS or anything like that, I was still doing something. And now? Nothing. Nada. I take that back, last year I gave blood, something I used to do on a fairly normal basis, until the Blood-Mobile incident. I am still trying to recover from that and muster up the nerve to start donating again. Man… I could have donated four times since then. That’s four pints, four people. See, now I feel guilty. 

So, today, when I pray “Open my eyes and ears to the needs of those around me,” I will add the line “make my spirit awake to the issues they face, burden my heart to help them, and teach me how to serve them.” That is a scary prayer because it means that I’ll have to leave the comfort of my bed, where my doggie is buried under the purple sheets and where I can dream whatever I wish to dream. 

“More than just your cash and coin, I want your time, I want your voice… because what you do for the least of these, brothers you have done for me…” (also from “Rich Young Ruler”)