Thursday, September 24, 2009

I Cannot Impress God

Last week I heard a sermon that forever changed my life. My pastor's step-father preached on one simple truth he learned after he was ready to give up on church and God. The truth is that God is not impressed with me.

First, I loved his honesty. To admit to being ready to throw in the towel showed me that other people struggle with the same issues as me. But God is not impressed with me? It hit me very hard. We have become a species so self-centered, so prideful that we actually believe our actions can somehow astonish God, the creator of all things.

I've heard the "faith, not works" spiel a hundred times, but not in this way. I have a tendency to be proud of myself when I figure out something philosophical or when I think I "get" something others don't. Oh how sad the rest of humanity is that they don't understand things the way I do. I recycle, I walk my dogs the Cesar Milan way; I dress pretty modestly, I am open-minded about most things in life. I've come to believe that somehow these things I do well or the things I don't do, all the things I can look down my nose to other people about – they really don't mean a hill of beans to God.

God's response to all my good works: "And…?"

The "and" that I'm missing is faith. Faith is a buzzword to me. I have no idea what it means. I have no idea how to apply it or how to figure it out. And then I heard this sermon, putting Abraham into a new light.

Abraham is one of the pillars of faith in Hebrews 11.

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, "It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking, he did receive Isaac back from death.

I've also heard this story many times before, but what I never got before was that Abraham believed God in a confusing, unthinkable situation. God had promised to make him the father of many nations and how could that happen if he killed Isaac? He believed in that promise so much that he thought God would bring Isaac back from the dead if he wanted to. That's faith.

Pastor Pettit gave another example: When he was meeting before the board of the Nazarene church before being ordained (at least I think that's how it goes!) an old man asked him if he was up against a wall and threatened with death, would he still say he believed in God? (Something like that anyway.) His response was he didn’t know. That’s honesty. And I think they made him go through school again because of it. The man on that Nazarene board, many people I've encountered in life, they would have said no matter what I would never denounce my faith. And for some reason we put these people on pedestals. If only I could be that strong, we think. The truth is that none of us really knows what we would do in a desperate situation.

He continued to say he didn't know what he would do, but he knew that God would be with him. And there's the key.

What a miserable existence, as Pastor Pettit put it, to live in fear. I confess I live in very fearful places sometimes. Death, tragedy, illness, accidents, crime, natural disasters, what will happen to our planet if we don't focus on renewable resources, how can I get my cholesterol down when I want to eat cookies all the time? (All joking aside, that last fear is very real.) I fear so many things and what good has it done me? I definitely don't eat fewer cookies.

I'm tired of a miserable existence. I'm tired of fear. From Abraham and Pastor Pettit's examples, I know that no matter what unimaginable circumstance I find myself in, one thing is true.

God will be there.

I find so much comfort in that. And maybe instead of focusing so much on what "great" things I do, I could spend a little more time trusting God with the over-arching purpose, direction and flow of my life.

I've needed to see honesty from people at this point in my life. I can't accept generic answers anymore and I so appreciated this sermon. I can't live in a society that pretends it can react perfectly to every ill and has the answers to every question. It's just not possible. But if we open ourselves up, stop focusing on works, admit we are all a bit self-centered, don't have all the answers to life and might curse when we stub our toes, we might just show the world what faith is. And we'd all feel a little less alone.

Now back to life, I've got a cookie staring me down and dogs to walk perfectly on their leashes.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Today I'm asking myself if I'm OK with being mediocre. I've had more than one acquaintance jump out of an airplane in the last month. Many more are preparing for their first child. I'm not a thrill-seeker, but wait...yep I might be.

I hate roller coasters. My dad took me on the Zambezee Zinger (remember that Worlds Of Fun awesomeness?) when I was five and I vowed at that tender age never to "go on that again". Precious. I have ridden one other roller coaster since then, but seriously, it's not my thing.

I have no desire to jump out of an airplane either. I really don't have a death wish. It's not something thrilling to me.

Does that make me boring?

I took the "What does Jesus think about you?" facebook quiz and it said Jesus thinks I'm boring. Am I really? I mean if facebook Jesus said so...

I've never been the social butterfly. I get anxiety about meeting new people. I am perfectly happy in my comfort zone (which may be about as big as my new closet, i.e. very, very small). But I love deeply and I care about peace and justice in the world. If you step into my closet, you will be loved and you will get to know my brutally honest self, who would do anything for you.

But for some reason I come down hard from anticipation. We just moved into our house and it was something I wanted so badly! Now it's just kind of...meh... I love my house and I'm happy to be there, but my brain is like...what's next? Maybe it's a patience issue, but maybe it's just my way of looking for the next thrill. I may not need airplanes or roller coasters, but I find myself needing something to look forward to. That's honesty. I don't want to live on thrills. It fights with my socially awkward, content side.

I'm really not sure what I'm trying to say anymore. The rambling may have taken over. Maybe I'm seeking answers, maybe I just need a hug, but today is a rough day and I'm trying to figure out why.

Friday, January 30, 2009

How to Make Stuff

I found this website today...and I'm in love. I'm making marble magnets asap!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Fear of Pain and Loss

I watched Little People Big World last night simply to see them deal with the loss of their very close friend, Mike. I realized after an hour that I was making myself watch it for very specific reasons. I'm terrified of losing people I love. I watch TV for various reasons, but one of them is surely to see that other people suffer, go through struggling relationships and experience loss. And maybe by watching them, I somehow know that all things will pass. No matter what happens, it is in our nature to seek happiness and saddness eventually fades. I guess I figure if I can watch someone go through the worst, I will know it is possible for me to do the same. Not that I want to. I still fear loss, death and not knowing what the future holds. But yet, I'm drilling into my brain constantly the idea of faith. Ironically, I think faith has come naturally to me. It's easy for me to tell someone it's going to be OK and truly believe that. I guess once you've felt hopeless and come out the other side OK, and maybe even a better person, you can look past grief and sadness. However, I still appreciate the grieving process and know it is by no means an easy road. I guess I'm just trying to say that although there are terrible things that happen in this world that we will never understand, there is always hope. Now I fear I'm rambling... :) Please feel free to share a time of sorrow that you overcame. It helps us all.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Update on last post

From Walgreens:
Dear Erin Shipps,

Thank you for taking your time to contact our Corporate Offices. We appreciate hearing from our customers and value all comments received.

The check reader at the register read the wrong # on the last digit. So it sent the check to Erin Shipps account and it cleared. Paperwork was submitted to reverse this transaction and put the money back in your account. We just received confirmation from your bank that they will be processing this reversal.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Because frustrations are just around every corner

Thought I'd rant a bit about some things going on right now. :)
1. I just noticed an unauthorized transaction on our money market account from two months ago! It was $212.99 to Walgreens, written in check form. Small problem, we don't have checks on our MM account. And who spends that much at Walgreens? I don't know how this happened, but you better believe when I actually find time to get to the bank when I'm off work and they're still open, they're going to hear it from me! I should have been watching this account more closely, but we only look at it when we need to pay Glenn's tuition. We can't exactly take a $200 hit at this stage in our life.

2. Glenn's program switched from JCCC to Baker as of next semester. Thus, they added two more classes, on top of two more we didn't know about going into this. So, he can take the two classes and graduate from Baker and if he wants to be a teacher some day, go back and get his bachelors in this program. OR, he can not take the classes, get his cert. from JCCC and be screwed. They won't let you into the bachelor's program if you do this. So, more time, more money. He'll have to go through the fall, thus postponing any baby ideas I had in my brain... I know it will be fine, it's just a few more months, but they program put us in a really tough position and it was a difficult decision to make.

3. I'm sick. :( Waaaaa

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I love ugly old couch prints

It's been almost an obsession the past couple of years. I love gawdy lamps, sparkling chandeliers and ugly couch prints! The lamps and chandeliers will have to wait until I have more time and money to find them. But my awesome mom bought me this purse at Target and I'm in love with it. :) I got the smaller version, but you get the idea with the print.

Click here.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


In an ever-growing effort to be environmentally conscious and grow our sense of community, I found a great yahoo group called Freecycle. It is a non-profit, grassroots movement of people giving to those in need. No money is exchanged, only unwanted items offered. So far, I love it!

P.S. I still have a lot of fish in my tank! haha

Why I'm voting for Barack Obama

I'm about to write something that I've been wanting to write for a long time and I'm sure a lot of people will not like it, but I have to say it. I've never been the kind of person to believe everything I hear or jump on the bandwagon of either major political party. I'm registered independent and I probably always will be. Neither party is perfect. This is the first election that I really feel a part of and that I really care about. I don't take my decision to support Obama lightly. Despite differences in a few things, I find myself aligning more with his ideas than McCain's.

I don't appreciate being treated like a naive Christian. John McCain talks a lot about certain things because he is pandering to a certain conservative vote. He chose Sarah Palin because he is pandering to a certain conservative vote. He attacks Obama in specific ways because he is pandering to a certain conservative vote.

The beauty of all this is you don't have to agree with me.

But I can't support someone who I believe is just telling me what I want to hear. What I appreciate about Barack Obama is that he says what he thinks and believes no matter where he's at. If you haven't viewed the Saddleback Civil Forum where Rick Warren interviews Obama and McCain, you need to.

The fact is that we live in a country with other people. Shocker, I know. Sometimes we have to make decisions based on the common good. Obama does not support gay marriage, but he does support the rights offered of a civil union. This is still a "conservative" view. While he does support a woman's right to choose, he also shows great support for reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies, which is really the underlying problem. People will always have abortions, whether legally or illegally and our responsibility is to help people not be in that situation in the first place. As Obama has said, we need to educate our children on the sacredness of sexuality. If our children constantly see sex on TV, in movies and hear about it at school, and we fail as a society to show them its sacredness, we will lose this battle and more and more abortions will happen. Attacking the result is never as effective as attacking the source. Catch my drift?

Should there be a moral compass guiding our nation so that all hell doesn't break loose? Absolutely! But we need a person who can represent and listen to all people, not just one group. In my opinion, Obama is a great compromiser. A presidential election shouldn't be based on abortion and gay marriage. There are such bigger issues than that! And, by the way, a president is not the only one who decides things on issues we care about. What about our senators and representatives? When was the last time anyone cared at all about those elections? (myself included) This week, I did my research and am now well informed for my local elections.

Obama prioritized the top three concerns of the public in the second debates: Education, Healthcare and Energy. (McCain couldn't do this by the way. He continues to support the idea that we can attack all three at once and we all know this isn't possible.) I absolutely agree with Obama's prioritzation of these issues. First, we must begin to actively pursue becoming energy independent. This will take 10 years so the sooner we start, the better! Ultimately, this will strengthen our autonomy and economy. Second, affordable healthcare has been something big in my life as my husband has been without health insurance for many years. It's scary. The number of people without healthcare is ridiculous. I don't want to live in a country where basic needs are considered luxuries afforded only to the rich. In the past eight years the gap between the rich and poor has grown astronomically and now look where we are. Finally, our educational system has become a joke to the rest of the world. Our country continues to fail in keeping up with the rest of the world and the best teachers are being shipped overseas.

Obama's priorities are right on. All of these are important and being able to say we can realistically do them is incredible. I need someone I can believe in. Not someone that I feel is just like everyone else. We need someone to bring our nation together, not drive it further apart. As people in the same country (and world) we NEED to care for one another! Have we forgotten that our greatest commandment after loving God is loving our neighbor as ourselves? And that doesn't mean harshly judging one another, hoarding our money and belongings because we "deserve" them and closing ourselves off from the rest of the world. And that is what we have become.

I don't want to get into a giant argument with people. I know some will disagree, which is fine. I just want people to be informed and really research the rumors they hear. Pick up an issue of Relevant magazine some time or read Don't rely on what the media feeds you b/c it's mostly lies, overgeneralizations and things blown out of proportion. For the first time in my life I've really done my research and that is why I'm voting for Barack Obama.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Crop boots!

My constant need, obsession, rage and craze to buy crop boots for fall finally came to an end. My wonderful husband took me shoe shopping as part of our date last Friday and after checking out DSW and Off Broadway, I was in a huff, totally disappointed by their prices. I was still spending birthday money, but wanted two pairs for the price, not one! Saddened, we went on and Glenn stopped at a music store. Lo and behold, across the street was Payless. I thought, what the heck, I'll go in and look. Joy! BOGO AND two that I adored! I love crop boots for their 80s flare.