Sky Blue

Hi everybody…

I’m in college and doing well.  If you’re interested in following a little bit of what I’ve been up to and what’s on my heart these days, check out Sky Blue.  Have a blessed day.

As the deer…

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for You, O God.” Psalm 42:1

My pastor was talking about this verse the other day.  He said, “Those who pant for God are the ones who have tasted of God, and those who have tasted of God will not be satisfied with anything else.”

Why do I drink from broken cisterns?

Lord, in the midst of everything else, let me taste of Your goodness.

Let me be addicted to Your Living Water.

Let me never again settle for less.

Some College Resources

It’s been awhile since I updated SK…I’m sorry!  It’s partly due to writer’s block and partly due to business.  Yesterday I got my orientation booklet for college (I leave August 22) and so today I’ve spent some time shopping around for dorm stuff.  It’s fun and exciting but also sad to think of leaving home.  I love the idea of a new adventure and a new chapter in my life, but I’ll miss seeing my family and friends everyday, and waking up every morning in this beautiful valley.  LA is a far cry from home.  Maybe some of you are on the same page; you’re just about to start college in the fall and whenever anyone asks you how you feel about that about a half dozen different adjectives come to mind.  Scared, happy, thrilled, terrified, nervous…what’s the word that describes that feeling?  Someone should invent one.  And if they do, I bet they’ll be an incoming college freshman.

Anyway, instead of be writing about a topic I have no experience in (college), I’ll let other people do that for me.  Here are just a couple of my favorite resources so far. 

First, I really like the College Fashion blog, because the author, Zephyr, is a real been-there-done-that college girl who understands the limitations of a student’s time and budget.  So her articles feel like advice from an older college friend, whether she’s talking about how to decorate your dorm room or wardrobe essentials for college girls.  Since her blog isn’t written from a specifically Christian viewpoint, Christian girls might not want to follow all of her advice.  Still there’s a lot of helpful stuff here for college-bound students.

There are tons of websites out there that sell stuff for residence halls, but so far my favorite is Moxii.  Their pieces are very classic and simplistic; no goofy Hawaiian flowers or big, loud prints that you’re bound to get sick of fast.  I seriously can’t get enough of how pretty their dorm bedding is!  It’s a little pricier than other dorm stores but if you have some extra grad cash and are willing to splurge, check it out.

Another site I like is Pottery Barn Teen, the dorm room section.  They have lots of high-quality lights, wastebaskets, and other practical stuff for dorms, but again, they’re a little on the pricey side.  If you’re on more of a budget, Residence Hall Linens offers easy, no-brainer dorm sets that include (depending on the set you buy) sheets, pillows, pillowcases, a comforter and fleece throw, towels and washcloths, laundry hamper, and more, all in one simple set in whatever color you like, for a reasonable price.  The site also carries sewing kits, tool kits, first aid kits, laptop locks, clip-on fans and lights, hanging shoe and garment organizers, and many other useful items.

Bed Bath & Beyond offers a College Insider site with plenty of practical information to get you started.  As does FastWeb, a free scholarship searching website (all high schoolers should check it out!!).  You have to be a member to read their articles, though (you should be anyway!  FastWeb is truly a great resource).

So those are a few of my favorites so far.  If you have one I’ve missed, share in the comment section or by email (sisterskeepers@gmail.com).  Thanks!

Just because….a “behind the scenes” maybe?

Outside my window it’s been a hot day but it’s getting late, and there are more shadows, and a golden backlight as the sinking sun makes all the trees beautiful.  I can see the reflection of my whirling ceiling fan in the window, but it still feels hot in here, and I’m ready to jump in the pool again.

I am thinkingabout my graduation party on Saturday.

I am thankful for the fact that weather.com promises slightly cooler weather for this weekend.

I am wearinga light blue swimsuit and bright graffiti boardshorts.  It was a swimming day.  Also Old Navy flip-flops and a white tanktop.

I am reading a movie review, because some friends and I are planning to hit the drive-in theater after my grad party.

I am creating a backyard oasis!  OK well not exactly.  But I have spent a lot of time getting my yard ready for this grad party the past few days.  I lost count of how many flowers I’ve planted.

One of my favorite thingsplaying catch with my brother in the backyard.  Actually, it was more like batting practice with me pitching but yea.  It was fun to just chill and talk with him.  Don’t get to do that a whole lot.  And he’s such a great brother.

For education this weekunfortunately I still have some classes to finish up.  Even though it’s summer.  I know, it’s really very sad.

A spiritual lesson I’m learning…that Jesus is all I need.  To be happy as He made me.  To trust Him and have joy in Him.  To wait on His timing.  To not look on anyone else for my ultimate happiness, because He is the only one who will never let me down.

A godly character trait I plan to work on…whatever He shows me as needing work.

Scripture I am memorizing…I want to memorize the “wings like eagles” passage in Isaiah right now, because it’s been really precious to me lately.

 I am praying fortwo of my best friends who are deploying to Afghanistan with the U.S. Marines in a few months.  Trust in God over a tough issue in my life.  That everything will go smoothly on Saturday and everyone will have fun!

For the rest of the weekmore family coming up for the party, more work getting ready, and the grad party on Saturday.  If you haven’t noticed yet, I’m pretty distracted by that right now!  Can’t think about a whole lot else.

A picture I’d like to share…

Just for Fun

I wouldn’t want to mess with this lady!

Confessions of a Church Brat

I’m a church brat. I’ve grown up haunting the halls of my Bible church, attending summer VBS, racking up the gold stars in Sunday School. It’s never been tough for me to talk the church talk. I know what the little old church ladies approve of, and I know what they frown at. It’s not overly difficult for me to please them. I know the church lingo and I know all the Bible verses…or, at least, the ones in the AWANA handbook that earn you badges.

And today, I realized that my affinity with churches in general and mine in particular lands me square in a potential category that I never associated myself with: the Pharisees and hyper-religious Jews in Romans 2-3.

Like the Jews, I have the Word of God in my possession. I don’t even know how many Bibles are in my home, in English, Spanish, and even Greek, leather-bound and hardbound, hefty commentaries and little pocket New Testaments. I’ve been taught in God’s ways since before I can remember. I’ve read through the Bible several times. I knew all the books of the Old and New Testaments from a young age. This isn’t boasting…it doesn’t have anything to do with me or my choices. It’s just how I was raised. Like the circumcised Pharisees, my upbringing and teaching was chosen for me. The blessing of knowing God’s Word was not one I sought out, but God was gracious enough to give it to me freely.

So what am I doing with this great gift? It’s not enough just to have the Word of God in my head and hands. Does it affect the way I live? Has it transformed my heart?

There aren’t a lot of young people in my small congregation. In fact, most of my friends had very different upbringings than me. Some have alcoholic or drug-growing parents, others had virtually no mothers or fathers influencing their young lives. They grew up making their own decisions, independent when they still needed guidance. A lot of them took this free reign for all it was worth and made some pretty bad choices. They wouldn’t be able to tell you if “Hezekiah” was a king or a book of the Bible, and could probably list about three of the Ten Commandments, even though they’ve doubtless broken a good number of them. So should I, the little church girl, sit in judgment of them? Because I grew up getting trucked to AWANAS, does that make me better than them? Because I have a head full of knowledge, does that make me more acceptable before God?

It is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. Romans 2:13

I know the truth about God. But unless that truth is a reality in my life…unless I am living and practicing under the influence of that truth…then my knowledge means nothing. Unless Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior, and I am a disciple of His, then whether or not I read my Bible signifies nothing. And I can go to church every single Sunday of my life, singing every hymn and sitting in that pew through every sermon, and it will be absolutely meaningless unless the truth found in the Word of God has penetrated my pride and transformed my sinful heart.

But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth–you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself?

Romans 2:17-21

Unless this redemptive work has happened in my life, then I’m no better off than my pot-smoking, beer-drinking classmates. In fact, the Bible says that I am in a worse situation, because I have no excuse. know the truth, but I’m not living it out. I know the Bible and I know God’s standards, but I am choosing to ignore them. My friends are ignorant of God’s Word, but I am not. I know what He commands, and so if I willfully disobey, I am the greater sinner.

But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. Romans 2:29

Do we choose to follow God’s Word or do we go along with it in appearance without ever truly following God from the heart? Many kids who were raised in a church reject God in high school or college, ignore everything they know, and live without any concern or regard for His commands. Maybe you have not rebelled to this extreme (or maybe you have), but perhaps you are rebelling in a different way; in the quietness of your heart as you sit in that Sunday pew. You walk the walk and talk the talk but you’ve never truly surrendered your life to Christ. You judge others and pride yourself on the good things you do, and the bad things you don’t do, rather than understanding your position as a sinner deserving death and in need of the grace of God. You want all the glory for yourself, not for Him. You want to be the star of your own show, rather than being passionate for God’s glory.

Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. Romans 2:27

 If this is you, you’re on the same boat with your unsaved, unchurched friends. You’re a sinner and you need a Savior. What will it take for you to turn to Him?

Maybe you’re not sure of where you stand. You sure don’t enjoy being called a Pharisee, but you realize that your life could be called hypocritical. You’re more afraid about what people think than about what God thinks, and the good opinion of man means more to you than the approval of God. You are concerned that the way you act in church is only skin-deep and your heart has not experienced any real change. It is good to examine yourself to ensure that you are in the faith. Ask God to show you the true state of your heart before Him. Pray that He will make your sin real to you, and your need of a Savior.

There are good kids and church kids and there are bad kids and rebels. But apart from Christ, we’re all equally condemned before God. When we turn to Jesus and ask Him for forgiveness, then there aren’t any church kids and bad kids anymore; we’re all just saved sinners, undeserving recipients of the matchless grace of God, standing holy before Him not on our own merit, but because of the righteousness of Christ.

Church kid, you have the truth. What are you doing with it? Are you living by it and finding life and life abundant, or are you eating and drinking judgment on yourself? The choice is yours. Don’t be lulled into passivity because you’ve been baptized and do all the right things. As 1 Samuel 16:7 says, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Are you living for the approval of men, or is your heart focused on pleasing God? These are the kinds of questions we church kids need to be faithful to ask ourselves.

Hungry all the Time

In 1999, Ana Carolina Reston crossed the stage in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  At thirteen years old, she had just been named Queen of Jundiai, the winner’s sash draped around her slender figure.  Her mother and father, watching from the audience, beamed with pride.

“The other girls were podgy and had bottoms,” Mrs. Reston stated, “She won because she was slim and elegant.”

But in 2004, when Ana Reston answered a casting call in China, she was told she was “too fat”.  So by 2006, standing at 5’8″, Miss Reston weighed only 88 lbs and had a BMI of 13.4 (the World Health Organization considers a BMI of 16 to be starvation).  She died of complications related to anorexia nervosa and bulimia at the age of 21.

She was the second model to die from anorexia-complications in the year of 2006.  The first, Luisel Ramos, died of heart failure after living on a diet of lettuce and Diet Coke for three months.  Miss Ramos was participating in a fashion show and had just walked off the runway when she fainted and suffered a heart attack.  She was only 22.  Her sister Eliana, also a model, died in 2007 of malnutrition.

What is even more tragic about stories like these, is that these women are among the standards of beauty in our society.  Every little girl wants to be beautiful, and they look to models and celebrities to set the bar for that beauty.  Women like Ana, Luisel, and Eliana.

Anorexia nervosa is characterized as a psychiatric illness.  Sufferers develop an eating disorder, an extreme paronoia of obesity or weight gain, and an unrealistic perception of body weight.  Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder characterized by “binge” eating and subsequent purging.  Both are often accompanied by fasting and excessive exercise.

The increasing prevelance of these disorders in our society has got some people saying, “Enough is enough and this is madness.”  But not everyone agrees.

After reading an article in Newsweek about pro-anorexic (“pro-ana”) groups, I searched on Facebook for groups related to anorexia.  I was so saddened to see a number of pro-ana groups.  Some were listed under “Beliefs & Causes”, others under “Beauty”, still others under “Food & Drink”.  Many had default pictures of skeletal supermodels, called “Thinspiration”.  Members as young as nine asked for “fasting buddies”.  “Remember nothing tastes as good as thin feels!” one member wrote on a group wall.  Others offered tips for weight loss, or excuses to use on concerned family and friends.

Obsession with beauty is nothing new.  Every culture in every era of history has been concerned with physical appearance.  The standard of beauty may differ from society to society, but the pursuit of it is a universal human passion.  Our Heavenly Father acknowledged this in 1 Samuel 16:7; “Man looks on  the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart.”

Many people call anorexia nervosa a disease, and perhaps it is.  But, in another way, it is a symptom of a much larger disease.  We starve ourselves in the pursuit of something more than attention and beauty.  We are looking for worth and love, purpose and meaning.  We are looking for something to fill the huge hole inside of us.  Those who suffer from anorexia are no different than the rest of us in their longing to fill this emptiness; they only differ in their attempt to do so.

Anorexia nervosa is essentially a hunger, and it is a hunger which cannot be satisfied.  Not just a physical hunger for food, but a hunger for perfection, satisfaction, worth, attention, and acceptance.  But it is a neverending hunger.  No number on the scale is small enough; a pair of jeans sized 00 is still too big.  Men and women literally starve themselves in their efforts to lose weight.  They look in the mirror, and where others see thin, emaciated skeletons they see obesity.  It is a tragic picture of the struggle existing in each one of us apart from Christ; an insatiable, unquenchable longing for more.  We’ve seen it in celebrities and billionaires and even our beautiful, successful friends and neighbors who “have it all” and yet are always searching for that elusive happiness.

Why is nothing good enough?  Why is there no body perfect enough, no man or woman loving enough, no friend loyal enough, no luxury satisfiying enough, no lifestyle good enough to make us happy?  Why are we constantly wearing ourselves out in this incessant, unending pursuit of something better?  We are we constantly trying to end this ravenous hunger inside of us, and why are we always empty, no matter what we do?

The reason is because we are looking in all the wrong places.

In my high school health class, I had to spend a lot of time studying anorexia and related eating disorders.  My textbook said that being anorexic meant being hungry all the time.  But the strange thing is, we are all hungry all the time.  We are hungry for love.  We are hungry for purpose.  We are hungry for a relationship with our Maker.

This is natural.  Just as our bodies were designed to be fueled by the consumption of food, and we experience pain and hunger when we deprive ourselves of that nourishment, so our souls were designed to need a relationship with Christ.  Without Him, we are hungry.

What are you trying to feed this hunger with?  Maybe you struggle with an eating disorder, or self-injury.  You may try to fill this emptiness with a relationship, or a sport or talent, or a search for wealth and success.  You may search for it in drugs, or sex, or alcohol, or partying.  Whatever your pursuit, whatever your distraction, you know better than I do how unfulfilling it truly is.  Before I surrendered my life to Christ I thought that material things and relationships with other people could make me happy.  But they always left me empty.  Only Jesus Christ can satisfy the hunger that only He was meant to appease.

Dear friend, there is so much pain and sorrow in this world.  You know this first-hand.  Whatever your struggles are, I beg you to bring them to the feet of Jesus.  He is faithful.  If you need someone to talk to, or if you have questions, please feel free to email me (Keely) at sisterskeepersjournal@gmail.com.  I would love to talk with you.

 

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters;

and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price

Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread,

and your labor for that which does not satisfy?

Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good,

and delight yourselves in rich food.

Incline your ear, and come to me;

hear, that your soul may live…”

Isaiah 55:1-3