Monday, February 23, 2009

This Week.

I am focusing on the following.

*Being not afraid. This is a frequent biblical command, and a thought that often comes to me... but it's one thing to read/hear/know/think something, and another thing to be it. I believe that being unafraid will have to come directly from being secure in God's unconditional love. Right now, I think the best ways to access that love are to increase the amount of time spent in God's presence, through: prayer, meditating on scripture, praise & singing, resting, receiving the blessings and affirmations from other members of the Body of Christ.

*Being full of grace. (See the angel's address to Mary in Luke 1:28... in some versions, "favored" by God... I like the Catholic version.) Part of being secure in God's love for me is knowing that I'm forgiven. Forgiveness, of course, requires repentence and accepting God's grace. And part of forgiveness is having a forgiving heart toward others. Being aware of God's grace in my life frees me to be gracious to all those around me.

*Being courageous. I have to admit that I'm nervous about my future... as excited as I am about the things I believe God has called me to, I often struggle with a fear of failure. I think too often as Christians we are worried about doing the "right thing" rather than just living in response to God. (Because, after all, if God were so concerned with us doing the right thing, as the Psalmist said, "O Lord, who could stand?") I've concluded that I must be willing to fail. Only then will I truly be giving my whole self to God. This, of course, connects back to the need to know of God's love for me. He does love me. Even if I mess everything up. I take comfort that "with the Lord there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption." I must remember that HE is God, and able to save, even if I am unable to do anything about a situation.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Happy Birthday, Brother of Mine

This is late. But it's still sincere.

Why is my brother special to me?

Because when I was little and neither of us went to school, he was a ready playmate.

Because he taught me how to build forts, and tried his best to teach me to shoot a bow and arrow (which I never learned... I was better at playing the victim - like the time he shot me with an arrow that had a metal screw on the tip! ouch! was that good aim, or bad aim?).

Because when we were in junior high and were both home doing school, he would spend our entire lunch break arguing with me over the kitchen table. (I value that a lot more now than I did then.) If I ever show extreme stubbornnes, I think it's fair to blame it on him.

Because when he was a skater-dude, I thought he was the coolest guy in the world. Including his long hair. (Although I was a bit jealous that his hair was blonder than mine, I was all natural - he used peroxide. Cheater!)

Because his laughter was so contagious, especially when he spit out his milk from laughing so hard.

Because when we were in the youth group together, he showed me what it means to be a leader and true spiritual friend. If ever somehow I show extreme boldness, I know it'll be partly because of his role modeling.

Because when he was in college and I would go to hear him preach, I was always amazed and learned something from God speaking through him.

Because when we were in college together, he faithfully gave up one night a week to eat with me and listen to my freshman-level drama! He also lent me lots of books, and advice on classes and profs that he'd already had. *If I happened to get good grades in certain classes with certain profs, it might be because I had my brother's last name...

Because he pulled some pretty sweet pranks and I got to brag about him to my friends... or sometimes, it was my friends who told me about the mischief my brother was in!

Because any time I went to him for advice about making a major decision, he refused to tell me what to do with my life. Frustrating as it was to me, it was good for me. He helped me understand I have to make my own decisions, regardless of others' opinions.

Because he picked for a girlfriend and (eventually) wife, one of the sweetest women I've ever met who subsequently became one of the best friends I've ever known.

Because (despite earlier mentioned shooting episode), he has been hugely influential in my belief and growth in nonviolence.

Because he is someone who always, even from a young age, does things whole-heartedly. And when he makes mistakes, he's not afraid to admit it and learn from it. And when he wrongs a brother or sister, he's quick to seek reconciliation. He taught me how to apologize and seek forgiveness... which is often very humbling, but such an essential skill.

Because he has an amazing talent for thinking waaaaay up there in the clouds, understanding and grasping things, and bringing them down to earth for the rest of us. I know he has great potential as a teacher, and I envy every student who ever takes a class from him.

Because he has good taste in clothes, coffee and company. Yup, he's pretty cool.

Happy 26th, Thomas Joseph Bridges!!! I love you.