Dear Hands and Feet

RE:1 John 3:18

“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth”

Yesterday, when I was doing my Daily Bread reading I decided to go beyond the suggested reading and continue through more of 1 John. I don’t normally have much extra time in the morning, so I don’t often wander away from the short basic lesson that is set out for the day. But I happened to wake up earlier than normal and I was in need of something to cling to for the day. You see, this past week has been hard with the passing of my Grandfather, and I’ve been feeling distant from God. So I wanted to find something to draw me back. As I read I got to the verse above, 1 John 3:18, and found it interesting, but not really what I was wanting. I spent the rest of the day feeling a bit off with God, and wanting more of him in my life.

Today however, I had some free time in the morning, and figured I would see if I could find that verse again. I looked around for a few minutes and then found it. Now this verse isn’t that profound or earth-shattering really. It’s just a simple instruction that John gave to the receiver of his letter. But as I thought about this verse it reminded me of my heart for missions, and what kind of missions I want to do. So here I will explain:

When people ask me what I want to do when I ‘grow up’ I tell them I’m interested in missions. They then either say “oh that’s cool, have you been anywhere interesting?” or “oh…ok”. I feel that when most people think of missionaries (those that don’t know any personally) they tend to think of people preaching on a street corner or handing out tracks. Or maybe planting churches in crazy jungles in South America or Africa somewhere. Although there are missionaries like that, it’s not really what I mean when I say I want to do missions.

My interest is in helping people get out of the harsh situations they are in. Not to change who they are or their culture per se, but to show them a better way to live. Whether that is manifested through emotional, physical or spiritual support. My aim, whenever I’ve been on the mission field, has always been to help people in the name of Jesus. I’m not and Evangelist. I don’t necessarily feel a deep need to shout Jesus from the rooftops. My way is a little more personal, a little more quite. So when I read this verse ‘let us not love with words…but with action’ I found it a bit refreshing. I always felt like I only showed the love of Christ in this way because I was afraid. And honestly in some cases I am. But generally speaking I am better with actions  than I am with words so it makes more sense that I would use my hands and feet to serve the Lord rather than my words. (not that words aren’t important, that’s not what I’m saying here)

However, the first thing that came to my mind when I thought about this was how people tend to read the Bible how they want to read it. They find verses that support what they believe and ignore the verses that tell them they need to change. I don’t want to do that. I want to be willing to change if it will better myself and the Kingdom of God. So one of the things I’ve been thinking about is if  there are any of my beliefs or thoughts about things that need to be changed to line up with the whole word of God, and not just that one obscure verse that I cling to to try to justify myself. I don’t know. It’s something I’ll have to think and pray about.

The second thing that came to mind with this verse is the last two words “in truth”. To love in truth. I asked myself what this meant, what does John mean to love in truth. The best explanation I could gather on my drive into work was that he means to love honestly or sincerely. Not to pretend, but to actually love those you are serving. This one’s a little hard to swallow. It’s one thing to love someone, kind of, because Jesus told you to. But it’s another thing when you have to mean it. To truly love your brothers and sisters in Christ, and not only that but to truly love your enemies and those you dislike. This is what Jesus taught, and it’s something I’m honestly going to have to work on, because sometimes I just don’t want to love someone, sometimes  it’s easier to not serve, to not be like Jesus. But this is where the Holy Spirit comes in, and the Spirit will help when asked. The hard part is chosing to go against your nature and ask for help to serve and love your enemies. 

These are some of the things that I’ve been thinking about for the past 48 hours. I don’t know if they will help any of you readers at all. But I’ve found that when you tell people what God is teaching you, it’s more exciting to see what God is doing.

Have a blessed day,

Dana

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Dear Languages

To the languages that helped me survive foreign countries, study for anatomy and physiology tests or simply allowed for a more diverse frame of mind.

I’ve dabbled in several of you:

  • 2 years French
  • 1 year Latin
  • 2 semesters Greek
  • 1 semester (and one missions trip) Spanish
  • 1 missions trip Swahili
  • 1 semester Arabic
  • and several random phrases  in different languages picked up here or there

All of you have a place in my brain or heart…whether I like you or not.

French, you were the biggest pain in my rear end. I took you during Middle School. All the cool kids were taking Spanish, but my mom signed me up for French instead. I passed the class with something like a C-. Utter failure in my book. And I didn’t care, still don’t. It would be nice to be able to speak a language other than English, but French, we just couldn’t get along. There just wasn’t anything worth making a lifetime commitment to, so I dropped you. Happy day.

The only sad thing that came from my hatred of the French language was my unwillingness to travel to France with my class. They ran around for two weeks, looking at French paintings, eating French food, experiencing French culture. And I said no. My teacher wanted me to go, in fact, my teacher offered to pay for the flight. it would have cost under $1000 for me to go for two weeks, experiencing the best of France. But my hatred for the language ran so deep that I said no. This is the only thing I regret. Not that I like the language. But being where I am now, with my love of traveling and cultures, I can’t believe I said no. Stupid child I was.

Please don’t get me wrong. I have absolutely nothing against the people of France. It was just the language that I don’t get along with.

To Latin, I don’t have much to say to you. You helped me with English when I was growing up. Helped me understand where the words came from and the root of the words. But alas, as a dead language, you didn’t stick with me, and after a few semesters you fell.

Greek, you were my solemn helpmate during my pre-nursing years. The world of medicine is filled with your phrases, and knowing the basics helped me connect all kinds of anatomy together. But as my desire for nursing died, my knowledge of anything about the Greek language died as well.

Spanish, you whom I’ve never felt a need to study (despite everyone and their mother telling me it was wise to take it). I took you because, as I stated before, all the cool kids were taking you. However, the teacher left a lot to be desired and there was no structure to the class. Even in middle school I disliked classes that lacked structure and teachers who didn’t inspire me to learn. However, my second interaction with the language allowed for a more pleasant learning experience. However, the only phrase that really stuck with me was “Dios le bendiga”, meaning: “God bless you”. This was said to every single person in church on Sundays and Wednesdays, therefore the continual repetition forced the phrase into my head, and it will probably be stuck there forever.

Similarly, my dabbling in Swahili was only through my exposure to it for 10 days when I was 14. Although it was an extremely short exposure to the language, I picked up a few phrases and words. For example, “Mongu aku bariki”, means, “God bless you”, (shocker, I learned the same phrase in the missions trips I went on). But I also learned: “asante sana” which some may recognise in the funny phrase that the monkey in The Lion King sings “asante sana, squash banana”. The first part of the phrase means “thank you very much”. There are other words that I learned were mainly “Jombo” (Hello) and Matatu (Taxi). These were the only phrases I really needed over there.

My final dabbling in language is with my dear friend, Arabic. I loved it. It was fabulous. So foreign, so odd, so lovely. I took you because I thought I needed a language class to graduate (I was mistaken). I had several people tell me that I shouldn’t do it, that I should take Spanish instead. But the thought of drugging through another Spanish class was about as appealing as getting stabbed with a pin. So I made up my mind and signed up for the Arabic class. I excelled in the language. There was one time when my teacher was going to all the students when we were working on some words and he stopped by my desk and said “do you need any– oh, no. You don’t need any help”. Made me feel awesome. First time I ever felt that way about a language, like if I continued I could actually master it.

The sad day came when I realized I didn’t need the credit. So spending $1300 to continue in a class I didn’t need simply wasn’t justifiable. Therefore, despite it being my favorite language yet, I haven’t continued with it. I’ve looked every semester to see if it was possible for me to take it. But as of yet, it’s just not viable. I’ll probably go back and take some classes at the Community College when I’ve graduated.

The final category to examine is the random phrases and words, these are just what I’ve picked up from missionaries, my sisters journeys, classes and the like. They are pretty basic phrases. such as “munchi neellu” (clean water) which is Telugu. Or “guan xi” (Relationships) which I think is Mandarin (maybe Cantonese or Taiwanese). These phrases randomly pop into my head and make me feel more cultured and sophisticated which in reality is a load of bogus because knowing a few random words in a language doesn’t make you anything special.

All of you languages have helped in some way make me what I am. Even if I can’t recall anything but how to count to thirty in some of them (French). All in all it was a good experience though. and I’m generally glad I got the exposure to all of you languages that I did.

Ma’ Alsalam,

Dana

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Dear Sister

To you who indulged in my madness

Who built me up

Who listened to my woes

Who answered my calls

Who lead me to the edge of danger

Who laughed with me

Who Laughed at me

Who listened when I spoke

Who invited me out

Who drove me around when I was upset

Who chose me as a friend

Who made me what to smack you

Who made me want to hug you

Who answered my questions

Who always had something for me to wear

Who calls just because

Who helped make me who I am today

Thank you.

I love you,

Dana

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Dear Reader (#2)

You know what? Sometimes there is nothing I want to write about. Sometimes, I just want to scribble down my thoughts here without having to focus them in on one particular thing. Although I like my posts generally, sometimes it’s just to hard for me to focus my thoughts on one particular subject long enough to write about it. So this post is a break. I focused in on a few posts, and now it’s time to get my thoughts out of a funk. Perhaps I can clear some stuff up with a review of my thought life…

Welcome to my thought life.We shall begin on the left, where you’ll see some major decisions I’m balancing in my mind. The largest part of that section is the thought: “what am I going to do after I graduate”. But this thought hasn’t been getting much attention lately, because there are other things for my brain to focus in on.

To the right you’ll see my thoughts about Israel. ‘What else do I need to buy’  ‘what do I want to see’  ‘who will I miss’  ‘how will I cope’. These are some of the thoughts rolling around over there. They generally take up much of my time and at any given second, if you see me in a pensive state, I’m probably thinking about Israel in some form or another.

Related to these thoughts about Israel are the thoughts about my walk with God. This is located right below of my thoughts about Israel. These thoughts have been more weighty, thus they are below my thoughts of Israel, lest thoughts of God crush thoughts of Israel. These are thoughts such as, ‘perhaps I should read my Bible more’ ‘I know that I’m going to need to get back into that habit before I leave, because I won’t have church for four weeks, and that’s not good’. These types of thoughts plus the things that I’ve been talking to people about have led me to feel like I need to stop watching so many shows, and start cracking open my Bible instead.

Along with all of this is obviously the daily madness that I find myself dealing with, these thoughts are located right over there by the boredom section of my thoughts. These thoughts deal mainly with doing Weight Watchers and thinking about the points that I’m consuming. Nothing to fancy or fun is in this section of my brain, just the basics.

The above section is actually split in two, one section is near the boredom section as I mentioned, and the other is by the loved ones and interests section. This division of my thoughts doesn’t get enough attention, especially not the loved ones section. I tend to forget about those that I love, I don’t think about their needs or how what I’m saying may affect them. this is one that I should pay more attention to. Hopefully if I begin increasing my attention on the God section of my thoughts this section will automatically get a little more attention.

There are other sections of my thought life that I have not detailed here, but like an old home on display, there are always rooms that are closed for repair, or are just to private for the public to go into. So I’m sorry dear Reader, but those rooms are off-limits to you. My apologies.

It’s interesting taking a short tour of your thoughts. Makes you realize where your mind choses to go, and how things should be moved around…

I hope you enjoyed your tour,

Dana

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Dear Mr. Schultz

On the road to adulthood I stopped in at your imaginary world every once in a while. The Peanuts where one of my favorite comics growing up. They were always positive (kind of), never dirty or unkind, and life always seemed better in that two-dimensional world. I used to watch your program on television when I was young. It was a routine, on the lineup of must-watch comics for the day. Then, once they took your work off the air I began collecting your comic books. Not a grand collection mind you, I think I have about three or four of them in the basement. But they were my go-to entertainment for a while.

The comic above is by far my favorite of yours. I don’t know what your obsession was with the Zamboni but this isn’t the only comic strip you used them in. None  the less I find it humorous.  I always read this with a touch of anxiety in my mind. I feel this is the mood that you would have wanted it read.

The other reason this comic is my favorite is because, in my opinion, Snoopy and Woodstock were the best characters in your comics. I’ve spent several a class sitting and drawing Woodstock in the margins of my notes. Such a cute little bird. In all honesty, this feeling of like toword a feathery friend, whether comic or not, is amazing. I hate birds, they tend to get in my way, diving in font of my car while I drive, or waking me up at 5 am with their chirping. But Woodstock, well, he’s different, he’s got it figured out.

I mean, Look at him:

Awesome

Awesome.

Of course, you know this, you created him.

Another thing I loved about your comics was that our works seemed to cite Christian themes, such as love and kindness. Linus often brough that out in your comics, quoting the Bible, or telling Bible stories. Although you walked away from your faith toward the end, it was still cool to see references to Christian life in a comic.

This is a good one.

Thank you for creating such works, I’ve enjoyed being a Peanuts reader my whole life. And although I’m not as committed as I once was, I still say thank you.

Dana

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Dear Bloggers

I don’t often read much. Especially not on the internet. But sometimes, when things are slow, and the idea of trolling around Facebook is about as appealing as stalking people who you don’t really care about, that’s when I turn to a good Blog.

My go-to blogs are by people I know, or at least have met. Their ideas are sometimes inspiring, sometimes interesting, and sometimes humorous. But all of these thoughts that my acquaintances or friends post to the world are personal. Not unlike my posts, (all three of them right now). And I like that they aren’t afraid to tell the world what they think. Whether this be through pros or poem, it doesn’t matter. They are willing to stick out their opinions and take the results.

This is inspiring to me. This is one of the main reasons I started this blog. I needed to get back to what I was interested in, who I am and what I believe. To be willing to face the reality of myself. To understand my opinions and be willing to put them out there.

So I wanted to say thank you to those that inspired me to start writing. To those that I know personally and those that I’ve only met through their writings. I don’t know how long I will blog, but I do know who inspired me to do so, and to you I say thank you.

Dana

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Dear Job

RE: Holy Tongue Lashing – Job 38-41

Hello, how is life now that you’ve been justified through God? I must admit, I’ve never read your book of the Bible all the way through until today. You see, yesterday, in my Daily Bread readings I was directed to Job 38:1-11,31-33. This was a very interesting passage that I read, but it made me question why God was responding to harshly to you. So I decided to read through the your book today to see what all the commotion was about.

To recap, (incase you forgot) you were a holy roller in the eyes of God, but Satan (who is footnoted as the Accuser, which I liked a lot better) asked if you would be so righteous if you were not so blessed by God. With this, God allows Satan to destroy everything you hold dear and even cause you physical aliment. With this destruction you begin questioning God, you tell your friends that you are justified, you were a righteous man, you did no wrong in the eyes of God. After your friends and Elihu try to tell you that you are unjustified with no avail, then God steps in. So this brings us to Chapter 38.

He begins thusly: “Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me.” Holy Moses. I wonder what your thoughts were when God finally answered you. This initial response from God is, to put it simply, powerful. “Brace yourself like a man”? There is a joke that’s gone around for several years in this century, I don’t know if you had it in your time, it’s simply the phrase “man it up”. Coming from ones friend this doesn’t seem that threatening. But to have the Creator of the Universe come to you in a whirlwind and basically say, ‘prepare yourself for the wost tongue lashing EVER’ is about 7 trillion times more intense than anyone in this century could fathom. And this verse is just the beginning, this speech goes on for four whole chapters. Gulp!

My general question for you is what on earth were you thinking when God came down and spoke to you? When he confronted you about things you knew nothing about? Questions such as, “Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place…?” or, “Do you send the lightning bolt on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?” He confronts you with question after question, all of which are meant to show his power, might and glory, and are meant to show you exactly where you stand, and that isn’t in the holy presence of God.

There is so much in these verses that I could not begin to do justice to. But reading your book, the story of your being humbled by God, it gives me hope. It’s an answer to the questions that people ask about you all the time. Questions like, “why do good thing happen to bad people?” God explains himself, he doesn’t leave you hanging, waiting for an answer. Although his answer seems harsh, and without love, the truth is this response is exactly what you needed to hear, and like a parent, it is full of love, it’s just hard to see that through the punishment. You thought yourself justified before God, you though you had no sin in your life. And the truth is, you were wrong. We were wrong. As a Christian there have been times that I have felt holy and righteous, feeling like it’s my good works that got me there. Not so. The only reason we are justified is because God allowed us to be that way. I feel you would have agreed with Paul in his New Testament writings, “I am but a sinner saved by grace”. You seemed to learn your lesson well, and with that, you were blessed more than you could have expected.

I think there are a lot of lessons to learn through your book. I honestly didn’t think there were, this is why I haven’t read it until today. But reading through the story, through your long monologues of woe, and especially through God’s response you your woes, there seems to be answers to those big questions that people ask.

I think a lot of people see Christianity only as Jesus, the ‘kinder’ of the trinity. But they shouldn’t be so swift to overlook God the Father. Most people believe that God the Father is the mean one of the group, but the truth is he’s extremely quick to forgive. He teaches lessons, but those are necessary for his people to grow. To see God as the Ogre of the religion is a gross mistake, he’s the one who initially reached down to us  humans in our weakness. He provided the out whenever we needed it. Whether it be through sacrifice of animals in the Old Testament, or through the sacrifice of Jesus in the New Testament.

Job, you were a screwed up man for a while there. But your willingness to listen and learn from the voice of God is a great example to all who follow the ways of God.

Enjoy your justification,

Dana

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Dear Van Gogh

I wish so much that you were not always so sad. I’m sure being Bi-Polar isn’t easy to live with, but your work is so grand that I wish you would have stayed and continued. Some of my favorite paintings of yours are the dark mysterious types.  The Church at Auvers, Starry Night on the Rhone, and The Mulberry Tree. Although most of your works are well-known, these are a little less so, only because your works such as Sunflowers and Starry Night are taking the spotlight. These works, these dark mysteries, they show a bit more of what’s inside of you. The pain and anguish you went through, the depression you must have felt.

However, there is one thing to take note of in your works, and this is the light that comes through.  Brightness, despite the dark backdrop. In The Mulberry Tree for instance, the darkness comes mainly from the sky. A deep rich blue that makes you feel a storm is on its way. Yet the tree itself is more neutral in orange and deep yellows, and the ground below shines with bright yellows. A grand example of  the manic/depressive state that you constantly dealt with. This fascinating tree is my background for my phone at the moment. What a lovely thing to look at every time I make a call.

The Church at Auvers is a painting I have long been fascinated with. You weren’t really a religious man, but you painted the things around you, so the church received it’s place in your collection. I always wondered if the woman walking toward the church was planning on entering or if she was simply passing by on her way to do something else. The particular detail I love is the bright orange roof to the right. This to me is again, a sign of the manic in you. Orange evokes feelings of anger, and although the general theme of the painting is blue, which makes one feel comfortable and clam, the orange let’s you know that not everything is ok,  there is something amiss.

The final painting, Starry Night on the Rhone, is by far my favorite of your works. It’s also the darkest of the three I’ve chosen to examine. It often reminds people of Starry Night, which is understandable since it almost shares the same name and subject matter. However this painting is different. Different from Starry Night and different from the other two dark paintings. It’s deep blue sky and golden stars are calming, lovely even. The reflections of light guide the viewer’s eye up to the sky or down to the little couple leaving the bay. I find it interesting that this painting is the only one I’ve seen of your work, Van Gogh, that doesn’t seem to move. All is still in this scene. Everything is silent, the wind isn’t blowing, the town is about to go to bed, and the boats are all put away for the night. What were you doing painting at such an hour? Why did you chose to make this painting still?

I hope to write you again, your paintings top my charts, and I never grow tired of them.

From the art lover in me,

Dana

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Dear Reader

Welcome.

There are a few things for me to say about this blog before I start posting my thoughts to the world. First I would like to point out is this blog is in no way connected to that chick flick “Letters to Juliet”. The second I created this blog I realized these two things may get connected. I have not now and never intend to see this movie, and this blog has nothing to do with such nonsense as said chick flick. The second thing I would like to inform you of are my intentions. My friend encouraged me to begin a blog. Not because I’m a grand writer and should therefore post my thoughts to the world. Nay, in fact, I possess little skill in writing, and to be honest, I don’t really enjoy it. But my main influence for writing has alway been in the academic sense. So I don’t really know how I feel about writing when I am given the freedom to express my own thoughts. So we shall see how this goes.

As you may have noticed, I am chosing to set this blog up in letter format. This is partly because I feel I need some type of structure, and also because I’m still a big believer in writing notes instead of emails, and looking things up in a real dictionary and not on dictionary.com. Call me old-fashioned, I know I’m on the odd side of the fence when it comes to technology.

You may be wondering what I intend to write on. Well, that’s a lovely question. It’s right up there with what I will do after I graduate. the short answer being, I don’t really know. But I am looking forward to the ability to come up with ideas and post about them. My interests fall within the cultural spectrum, in both senses of the word. Culture as in fine art and snooty things like Shakespeare, and culture as in a group of people who have learned and shared patterns of behavior and the material goods that come from that behavior. (this second definition is taken from Professor Stamps. Thank you sir for constantly sticking that in my brain). My interest in culture is my springboard for my Cultural Anthropology degree that I will be getting in December 2011 (yes, that’s this December).

So, with this broad knowledge of my interests, you could expect posts about things of culture. Also, there will from time to time probably be posts addressed to God. Theology is another of my passions. I do have belief in God, and Jesus (cementing me in as a Christian), and with this belief there will no doubt be some form of commentary about something I’ve read in the Bible or The Daily Bread that day.

I don’t want to limit myself in topics though, so I may go off the wall sometimes with my subjects. But I wanted to warn you, dear Reader, of what you may be getting yourself into with this blog. I hope I’m interesting, I hope my thoughts make sense, and I hope you enjoy my blog. I don’t know how often I’ll post, I’m out of school for the time, so that should leave me with plenty of time for posting. But I’m not going to set a schedule right now, because I don’t need such pressure.

Hope to write again soon,

Dana

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