September 29, 2011

An English Lesson: Direct Objects



How long has it been since you had an English lesson?  I had to reach way back to sixth grade to recall the terms “Transitive Verb” and “Direct Object.”  It seems that when you learn how to use these forms, you don’t even think about it—you just write!  (Right?) Quick refresher: a transitive verb requires both a direct subject and one or more objects.  Example: I gave you the book. ("book" is the direct object, and "you" is the non-prepositional indirect object of "give") [big thanks to wikipedia]. 


So why an English lesson on an otherwise lovely Thursday?  I was reading First Pres’ weekly newsletter, the First Epistle, and came across an amazing quote by D.A. Carson on the subject of worship.  My pastor, Dr. Duncan, had used in a sermon illustration and added it to his weekly address.  Consider Dr. Carson’s words:


"Should we not remind ourselves that worship is a TRANSITIVE verb? We do not meet to worship (i.e. to experience worship): we aim to worship GOD. 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only': there is the heart of the matter. In this area, one must not confuse what is central with byproducts.


If you seek peace, you will not find it; if you seek Christ, you will find peace.


If you seek joy, you will not find it; if you seek Christ, you will find joy.


If you seek holiness, you will not find it; if you seek Christ, you will find holiness.


If you seek experiences of worship, you will not find them; if you worship the living God, you will experience something of what is reflected in the Psalms.


Worship is a transitive verb, and the most important thing about it is the direct object."


I read this quote several times and let it sink in fully.  The most important thing about it is the direct object.  It made me consider: what is my direct object?  What am I worshipping?  I am futilely striving for peace without looking for Christ?  Am I obsessively chasing after happiness apart from Christ?  It seems like a wasted effort to strive for peace, joy and holiness without Christ.


What is your direct object?


September 28, 2011

I don't want to!



"Do something every day that you don't want to do; this is the golden rule for acquiring the habit of doing your duty without pain."
Mark Twain

I took a class last week on finances and this quote was part of the powerpoint presentation.  It occurred to me that most people in our society would balk at such a suggestion, but once implemented, this "rule" has the power to drastically change your life.

To illustrate my point, let's go back to childhood.  When I was little, my life was made of many small daily rules ranging from "feed the cat" to "make your bed" to "clean up when you make a mess."  Although I have no doubt that I did my fair share of complaining, these rules instilled in me values that I carry into adulthood: I am responsible, I still make my bed every day and if I make a mess, I consider cleaning up part of the process.  Because these rules were ingrained in me, it does not seem like a monumental task to make my bed, hang up yesterday's clothes or do the dishes--it's just a part of life!  It's not "painful."

I was blessed to have parents who were involved in my upbringing but also allowed me to fail when it was my fault!  They did not rush in and save me, as they most certainly could have done.  They made me do chores.  They made me come in early on Saturday night so I was rested for church on Sunday.  As a young person,  I did not realize that they were instilling life long habits in me by making me abide by rules that seemed "painful" at the time.

Fast forward to college.  For the first time in my life, I was the sole manager of my time, my space, my finances, my eating habits and my studying.  There was no parental eye overseeing what I was doing or how I was doing it.  So what happened?  Did I sleep all day, rack up credit card debt, eat junk food non-stop (cookies don't count) and never study.  Absolutely not.  By that time, I had learned the value of taking care of my belongings (my body included - exercising!), managing my money (I got a job), and making good grades.  Did I want to go to the gym every day? No.  Did I want to leave my house at 7:00am to babysit 3 mornings a week?  No.  Did I want to spend hours holed up in the library with Mary Jane? No.  (Side note: It helped having a best friend who would study with me.  Thanks, MJ!)  BUT I learned the positive side effects of following through with these tasks: I felt better, I had extra cash to spend on travel and clothes, and I kept scholarships and my parents happy with good grades.

So where I am going with this?  In each phase of life we have the opportunity to build new and positive habits, we have the chance to test our own limits and become better people.  Sometimes doing something you don't want to do means not doing something (like eating 6 cookies before bed).  Maybe it means restricting your clothing budget to save more money for the future.  Maybe it means digging into a big messy project at work that no one else wants to handle.  

The best part: most of the ways that we deny ourselves today will reap more blessings and benefits in our future that we could ever dream imaginable!

September 27, 2011

Disappear



Do you ever feel overwhelmed by advice? Solutions? Potential “cures” or “3 step” ideas that will make you feel better, look better, improve your relationships, make your future easier or solve your problems?


I am constantly seeking to self educate myself in multiple areas from nutrition to painting to my finances.  I am always reading books, devouring daily blogs, chatting with friends and swapping ideas.  While I believe it is important to push yourself towards achieving more and it’s always beneficial to have the urge to learn more, sometimes I find myself feeling overwhelmed.  When I feel this way, I can almost always trace it back to one area of my life that is lacking: alone time with God.  Lack of stillness.  With all the voices and written knowledge out there it is tempting to overindulge and begin taking other human’s opinions as truth.  I recently found myself asking, “Who am I listening to?”  On the days I feel overwhelmed that answer is usually “others” and not the right answer: God.


On my run this morning, Bebo Norman’s song “Disappear” shuffled through.  Let me share an excerpt of the lyrics with you:


On a day like this
I want to crawl beneath a rock
A million miles from the world
The commotion that never seems to stop

And on a day like this
I want to run from the routine
Run away from the daily grind
That can suck the life right out of me

I only know of one place I can run to…

CHORUS:
I want to hide in You
The way, the life, the truth
So I can disappear
And love is all there is to see
Coming out of me
And you become clear
As I disappear 


I don't want to care about earthly things
Be caught up in all the lies
That trick my eyes
They say it's all about me

I'm so tired of it being about me… 


I want to hide in You
The way, the life, the truth
So I can disappear
And love is all there is to see
Coming out of me
And you become clear
As I disappear 


So what can you deduce from this?  That I wish I could just climb under a rock and live?  Exactly the opposite.  Although some days we all feel tired and cranky and too into our routines, Jesus offers a respite from these feelings!  When we invest time each day in our relationship with Him (just as we would with a friend, spouse or child) we are rejuvenated and able to enter into a world that tells us, every day, a thousand times a day, the lie “It’s all about you” without being completely swept away by others’ opinions and ideas. 


This morning I almost came to a dead halt on my run as I heard the line “I’m so tired of it being about me.”  “YES!” I thought, “I am tired of obsessively running potential scenarios about my life through my head.  I’m tired of thinking of myself first.  I’m tired of barely remembering to pray when I feel sad or upset.”


So what’s the solution?  I want someone to give me a 5 step plan where I can accomplish each point and neatly check them off my list.  It doesn’t work like that though.  In some ways, it’s easier: it’s a one step plan.  In some ways, it’s harder: the one step involves being still and carving time out of your daily (often jam packed) schedule to read the Bible and pray. 


So here’s to a fall season and future where we invest in our relationship with Jesus first and foremost, where we put others before our own desires and wishes and where our daily lives and action magnify the joy and refreshment we feel as we “disappear” into His truth and unconditional love.

September 19, 2011

A Run through Washington, D.C.

So I talk fairly often about how I love my early morning workouts.  I thought I would take you along with me today!  I carried my phone and snapped a few photos.  So put on your virtual running shoes and join me!


Kern and I meet on the corner of 2nd and Maryland Avenue at 6:15am.  It's dark!

Passing the Capitol on my left while running down Constitution Ave.  Still dark!

The city is starting to wake up!  This is a view from the Mall of the Capitol at about 6:30am.

This photo is from the same spot--the western view.  The sun had not reached the Washington Monument yet! 

Hooray! 2.5 miles complete.  Good morning, President Lincoln!

I mean...just gorgeous!  Look at those clouds.


It is silent when I wake up and get moving and by the time we get back towards the Capitol grounds, cars are whizzing by, dogs and owners are everywhere and people are walking from the metro to their respective federal building.  Ah, the city!

September 18, 2011

Sunday Reflection - A Simple Idea

"Seek to please Me above all else.  Let that goal be your focal point as you go through this day.  Such a mindset will protect you from scattering your energy to the winds.  The free will I bestowed on you comes with awesome responsibility.  Each day presents you with choice after choice.  Many of these decisions you ignore and thus make by default.  Without a focal point to guide you, you can easily lose your way. That's why it's so important to stay in communication with Me, living in thankful awareness of My Presence.  You inhabit a fallen, disjointed world, where things are constantly unraveling around the edges.  Only a vibrant, relationship with Me can keep you from coming unraveled too."

--Jesus Calling, Sarah Young, September 18th

Just as we must daily strive to maintain our friendships, romantic relationships, proper eating habits, exercise routines...the daily maintenance of our relationship with Jesus is even more important.  When we spend time with him, we are more prepared to face the challenges that come before us daily because our frame of mind is completely different!  

Make an extra effort to spend time with Jesus this week and see what a difference it makes!

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."

September 15, 2011

I know it's only September, but...

I promise I did not plan to do it this early.

You can blame the iPod shuffle feature.

I was walking along to work this morning when it happened: Vince Guaraldi Trio's "Christmastime is here" song popped up.

I should have hit "next" but I didn't. 

I reveled in the song.  Then I listened to it again.


I can see you shaking your head through the computer, but I really don't care!

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  Perhaps it's because my birthday is in December.  I actually got really excited the other day because I realized it was almost time to bring all of my Peanuts DVD's out!

So my message is this: if you want to listen to Christmas music in September, it's ok!

Happy Thursday!

September 14, 2011

X or O?

I am familiar with the shorthand xoxo, meaning hug/kiss, but today I started thinking:


Which symbol means hug?


Which symbol means kiss?


Perhaps you have always known this, but I realized that I do not!  So...the next natural step was to search google for information.  Some sources said they were interchangeable, but I liked urban dictionary's explanation the best: 



Hugs and kisses
 
O=Hug 
X=Kiss 
If you look at each letter like it was representing two people from a bird's eye view, the "O" represents the arms of those persons hugging each other while the "X" is evocative of two people kissing each other.

How sweet!  Hope you have had a great Wednesday!
xoxo,
Em

September 06, 2011

Josh and Lee are Engaged!

From now on, the Labor Day holiday will be even more special to our family.  On Monday, my brother proposed to Lee...and...she said YES!  Our family is so excited--especially me.  I've never had a sister and I could not be happier.


Josh and Lee--I love both of you and I'm thrilled for you as you begin your lives together!

September 02, 2011

New Dining Area

I feel like this furniture project was much more labor intensive that I initially imagine, but I learned a lot and could not be more happy with the final result.*

I learned how rewarding it is to take something deemed "old" or "unwanted," add your own personal touch and a little sweat equity and watch it transform into a piece that you love and feel connected to because...it was created by you.

I learned to keep going when I felt tired, my back and arms ached, and I was attacked by ruthless mosquitos.

I learned that mistakes can be erased or made into a unique flaw that gives character to the piece.

I learned that my obsessive list-making skill actually aided me in completing these projects.  I kept a "master list" of each step needed to complete the dining area and I would check it each day.  Depending on how much time I had per day, I would decide a task I could complete.  As a result, I was able to work on the projects during the week instead of waiting for a whole free weekend.  (Example: While dinner was cooking, I could paint on coat on the table or scotch guard the chair cushions while also doing laundry and cleaning my apartment)

I learned the importance of a partnership.  I could not have completed this project without help and support from Kern.

Come over and sit for a while!

I chose a blueish/gray color for the cushions.  It is hard for me to get away from blue!  I consider this color a neutral and think it will match with most any other color from brown to red in future settings.

Can you see the difference dark wax makes?  The table and chairs are both Old Ochre but the chairs have dark wax and the table only has clear wax.  I wanted them to be in the same "family" but not perfectly match.

Come over and have dinner on my Topiary plates!

Do you see the dry bar in the background?

*I am going to remove the finish on the table and stain the top a dark wood color

September 01, 2011

New Seat Cushions!

I could not wait to replace the red cushions with a softer color material.  

The first step was removing the heavily stapled material from each chair. 


Once the old material was removed, Kern and I decided that the current foam on the chairs were in good shape and would be perfect for future use.



During my trip to Mississippi, I visited several of my favorite fabric stores and after much debate selected a fabric that I love.

I got the dimensions of my cushions and cut out a paper pattern from some wrapping paper.  I pinned the wrapping paper to some scrap material that my mom had and cut out a cloth pattern, allowing several extra inches around the perimeter for it to wrap around the side cushions and have plenty of room to staple the material underneath.

So what did I choose? 

The BIG REVEAL will be tomorrow!  See you then!