Archives for category: Rants

This week I was denied from a Cleveland volunteering position I worked really hard for, since the opportunity first opened up. There is no funding for me. It is understandable, to be sure. However, also most significantly to me, this makes a handful of potential placements I was rejected from this year.

I am convicted about this year of service. Truly. Which makes each rejection painfully confusing. If there is a plus or satisfying side to all this, each interview or placement I was denied has not passed without a sincere lesson etched on my heart.

For one, I know I often need a dose of reality when it comes to pursuing spiritual matters and I always need accountability. God is graceful to me in that he does not sugar-coat any wisdom he imparts or dim the reality of my sincere foolishness. These past five or so months I have realized in my heart that I am slowly turning to reliance on myself and worldly connexions and rather denying further dependence on a sovereign God’s provision.  That is a dear thing to realize.  Sometimes it takes a good shakedown to be able to sincerely see what is already being revealed.

For another, each of these denials offers priceless humility. It seems that learning to be humble and find a sturdier footing is a life long lesson for me. I have species of pride that are rooted and grow feverishly if they’re not checked, that was obvious from the moment I converted. So I am not surprised anymore by this particular pruning, that has lately come from all these denials.  Though to my chagrin, that doesn’t quite take the sting or confusion of rejection and I confess I am tired from this  ‘sanctification’. A genuine slice of humble pie is sour, not sweet. Humility isn’t or shouldn’t be delicious.  I understand, but on a human level, that doesn’t make the experience any less gross or tiresome.

What encourages me the most, through all of the chagrin, is the obvious peace that is fighting bitterness to win my heart. It is proof of God’s continued furnishing in my life that I see joy winning more and more in response to these circumstances. As frazzled as I am about nomming my dozenth slice of pie this summer, I’m also satisfied that through my learning humility and footing in a steadfast Lord, God is glorified, and that is the point, the only thing worth it! That is my joy and reassurance.

Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tried you… for my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for how should My name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.” — Is. 48:10,11

Aside from my newest fascination with all that was and is Jane Austen, there are some neat things going on during this transitional period of my life, like living back at home and thus becoming closer to my family, learning more about myself from being around them twenty-four/seven, and pursuing other volunteering gigs when not occupied by the former two.  The latter “neat thing going on” is not going so well though, and that is discouraging, because I would like to have these things ironed out months in advance.  The title to my post is owing to the rejection and upset I experienced with most things pursued these past few years, i.e. Campus Crusade for Christ, LVC, botany & all else related to my science degree.  I won’t lie and say I am never depressed over these facts, but I am simultaneously reminded to stroll gracefully onward and keep working on placing my trust in God.  God commands the impossible-ist things.

This week I received a letter of refusal from another Catholic program that would place me in D.C., where I might work with youth by way of tutoring, mentoring, teaching and leading various programs.  It might have suited me well, considering this past year at the Children’s Home and that I am wanting to pursue a teaching certificate in the near future possibly, perhaps, who knows — ?  I thought it a perfect match as my conversation with them went well (actually, stellar) and I thought I aced my application, so I was at a loss over the rejection.  My mom recommended I call just to ask, but since they did not return any of my emails or calls beforehand about my acceptance, instead ignoring me and choosing to inform through some bland rejection letter, I imagine history would simply repeat itself.

Then I thought about what my application gave away that stifled my chances, and I immediately thought it was because I am not Catholic, which failed to come up during our stellar conversation.  It makes sense; I did a little digging (via a single sweep through the FAQ provided by the program’s website) and found that they are not only founded on Catholic principle but are exclusive to Catholics, distinctly asking for ‘Catholic adults seeking to further their spirituality through service, community, etc.’  Yikes.  That is a pretty important pre-requisite, and I admit that if I were a volunteer coordinator for such a program I would assume that all those who apply are not Protestants — why would anyone other than a Catholic want to be a part of a Catholic program?  So I get that, but I suppose I was making an assumption based off of FCV, which although it is founded by a religious order of women, is entirely an ecumenical program.  After reading the letter and giving some thought to it, I am grateful to be led away from a community that probably would have hindered rather than allowed much flourishing growth, if the goal of the program is to particularly foster Catholic spirituality.  At least as an FCV, I had room to stretch my Protestant feet.  I would rather be situated among others that shared basic theology and feelings similar to my evangelical roots which is, let’s face it, many facets away from Catholicism.  So while I am bummed to be snubbed, no less ignored for a couple of weeks beforehand, I am thankful because God is sovereign over it and my faith perspective leads be to believe that it is a good thing, even perfect for me,  since it is a door closed by God Himself.  His designs are best.

There are two more programs in waiting, each in two different states.  But I am not done searching and I am still encouraged.  This year is a gift of discernment and I know where my heart lies, with children and the needy, and I am convinced God wants me to be with and serve them.  What more motivation and direction to I need?

Last weekend, after months of preparation (on the Sisters’ and Katie’s part mostly) we held our very first, and incredibly successful, Taste of St. Cloud fundraiser.  The deal is we get multiple restaurants, bakeries, gyms, yak farmers, etc. to donate goods so that we can invite people to donate money to the program while they enjoy said contributions from the community. We had nearly 500 guests attend, about twice as many as we’d anticipated from the start, all squeezed into a venue that comfortable seated only 300. Nice. But there was plenty of insanely good food, a silent auction & our faces plastered all over the wall, aka lots to enjoy!  There was a ton of mingling on our part so that people could get a deeper scope of what they were supporting.  Even though all of us are sincere introverts and are naturally uncomfortable in these types of situations, we all got our fair share of encouragement and ridiculously delectable Cold Spring Bakery cupcakes,  so it all evened out.  Most who were there seemed incredibly happy as well (though it very well may have been the sugar rush from those cupcakes).

For all of us volunteers though, hardly anyone from our work sites supported us.  I don’t think it was from a lack of advertisement either, as I made sure all of my coworkers knew about it through word of mouth, fliers, even by sending out an email against company policy (by mistake of course).  My supervisor did come, and I was really grateful to see her there, but no one else… and since she bought her ticket through the Sisters, I ended up selling zilch.  I was perplexed when others kept avoiding my invites, most of them ignoring the fundraiser entirely.  Before this past weekend, I always felt that my being there was kind of a big deal, which says a lot about my ego, I know.  It took a bruising through the whole ordeal, and I walked into the Coyote Moon Grille on Sunday feeling like my coworkers didn’t respect me or didn’t really consider me a viable component to their team.  Then of course, came the creeping doubts I sometimes have about the incongruity of my placement, of my general uselessness and all the failures I have there that my coworkers undoubtedly witness.  I wondered, do they really see the FCV program as a beneficial part of their lives?  Do they simply see me as some temporary, annoying fixture that they don’t give a second thought to?  If that’s the case, it would make sense that the only people who are in such big support of us are those who have actually never seen us stumbling and failing at our placement sites and who only look at us as saints who are serving the poor and marginalized.  Right?  Why would my coworkers support the program if they know it just means having another inconsequential, full-time addition next year?  These are the stupid things I think about.

Anyway there are substantially nicer things to occupy my mind right now, like how undeniably cute this group shot is.  We hopped on a few golf carts at the Grille where our fundraiser was held (which was – surprise! – located in the middle of a golf course) and took a group shot, which we’ve never had before, at least none so charming.

FCV group shot

We, without permission I believe, hopped on these carts for a really sweet photo of the whole group in our dazzling green tees. This is definitely a favorite.

We are all a good bunch and I love sharing my life with the Sisters – I will miss them terribly when we’re gone, so I need to be sure to soak up my time with them over the next two months.  I will always appreciate these ladies, each of them uniquely, mostly for their quirks or flaws than the righteousness you’d come to expect from religious women.

I am sitting here at work, doing a little planning for the next week, with my agenda open and about five or six different lists going.  I love lists!  Anyway I am sitting here, thinking about all the things I have done or been through and simultaneously wondering why I haven’t been blogging about all of it lately.  I had an inkling about it just now…

My blog is too public.  Of course, I want it to be a little public.   This blog to keep my friends and family informed about Minnesota and nuns and the children I work with and all the lovely things I’m learning.  It isn’t a diary.  But somewhere in the middle of winter (what is it about a bleak climate that gets me reflecting?) I realized that I was often being too honest about my experience and that in itself made it too public.

When I have a really rough time at my placement or in this community, my blogging about it – however true and relevant those feelings are to me – increases the odds of someone else knowing just how I feel.  That someone could very easily be a person that works at the treatment center, or a potential supporter of the FCV program.  Currently I am receiving hits from buzz words as simple as “Franciscan Sisters”, “Little Falls”, “FVC” or anything combining those and my placement site.  I have to start filtering what I say, because someone could be reading that I wasn’t intending, and any blogger knows that your audience influences about 57% of whatever you write.  Basically, I am worried that I’ll write something negative (albeit truthful, or graceful) and someone from my work, or my supervisor, or a nun, or potential supporter of the program, will read it and get an exaggerated perspective that I don’t want to necessarily give.

I guess this makes me less inclined to make this a personal blog, but the thought of taking my honest and open feelings out of it feels shallow.

When my Christian, evangelical buddies rip on Catholicism, or dismiss it entirely (which is sometimes even worse), I get incredibly annoyed because often they (like me, before I became a roommate to three nuns) are speaking out of ignorance.  I am reminded tonight of a good friend of mine’s frustration, in that society has made her faith out to be a freak show of idolization and rigidity.   Of course, this doesn’t take myself off the hook; I admit that I passed tremendous judgment on my Catholic brothers and sisters before I became a part of this program and lived with nuns.  I definitely hated on some traditional practices that seemed like blatant absurdity or narrow-mindedness.

God has taken these past four months and used them to open my heart and mind, sometimes taking me places I’d rather not go in order to show me that I am way too prideful of my Protestantism instead of finding my pride in Him only.  He has revealed Himself to me while in Mass, while participating in traditionally Catholic prayers or services, and that shouldn’t shock me or my evangelical friends.  My roommate my junior year in college decided to become a Catholic. I am just beginning to sympathize with her frustration that no one understood or really cared, and Campus Crusade for Christ, with which I was a leader at the time, practically shunned her for it.  She left Crusade feeling bruised by her family in Christ and rejected them, and me, in return because of it.  I admit that my response to her desire was less than graceful.  I had just pursued a sincere knowledge of God that previous summer, or was “reborn” so to speak, so I was rejuvenated with strictly evangelical ideals and so I could not, at the time, understand even her desire to become a Catholic.  I didn’t get it and I judged her for it.  Right now my heart breaks for how terrible she must have felt because of me and my dismissive attitude about it all.

Now I am on the other side of the fence; I have been exposed to some beautiful Catholics, even apart from the nuns I live with, and learned about the tradition and the reasoning behind the devotion, the Saints, the iconography and the liturgy.  I get it now.  I don’t agree with all of it, for sure.  But a slew of my Protestant friends still don’t get it and don’t seem to even want to.  Like it is irrelevant, or something.  I’m not even Catholic but because I have grown to cherish the tradition as a part of their community, I’m finding that my friends’ comments can be downright hurtful, and their dismissive tones hit me square in the face.

I want them to be aware of the gems that Catholicism has to offer, like I have experienced.  I feel like until real community is experienced within a tradition – or any belief system for that matter – a person is still going to be ignorant in some way or form.  I understand Catholicism because I have been immersed in it for the past four months.  I can read texts on Islam until my eyes fall out, but I will never really understand or empathize unless in put myself in their community, make friends with Muslims in the neighborhood or experience their traditions first hand.  How else would I begin to see the similarities between our faiths?  Or begin to look at a Muslim as a potential brother in Christ, let alone one of God’s cherished beings?  The same applies within the Christian faith, between Protestants and Catholics, and I can say that because God has allowed me to experience this first hand.  I believe that God wants me and you to be informed.

My initial ignorance may have been judgmental bliss to me, but it certainly wasn’t bliss to God.

Here’s the latest thing weighing oh-so-heavy, and dangerously so, on my heart.  It’s teetering on the edge and I’m afraid that this is something that will cause a massive stumble.  Not the “epic” kind, either.

I wonder if God allows things to happen to me in order to truly know (deep down in my bowels) how depraved I really am.  Which seems silly to me sometimes, and positively aggravating, because I don’t feel like grasping my emptiness without Him is something I particularly struggle with.  I usually believe that I have an healthy understanding of my depravity, and my need for a Savior to have intimacy with God for eternity.  I get that.  But God doesn’t seem to see it that way; He doesn’t seem to think that I understand it quite enough.  I keep falling hard into sin, each time afterward feeling the dread only a sinner could feel, like a little girl showing her parents the vase she broke after horsing around in the living room, overwhelmed with a palpable sense of guilt.  Of course, if it weren’t for her parent’s forgiveness, her guilt/worry would never go away and her relationship with them would be forever altered for the worse.  Thankfully that’s how things work with my Heavenly Parent, who’s love and forgiveness will never run dry, but still…

There are times when, after God replaces the vase, I continually break it, over and over.  And over.  There are tons of times I sincerely believe that because I’ve already destroyed it millions of times before, there’s no way I’ll break it this time.  You know, I’ll start to steer clear of the vase, I’ll start to grasp the danger of all those sharp-edged, broken pieces… then I’ll get pretty pumped because I haven’t broken the vase for ages and I’ll brave going near it again, eventually believing that the vase really isn’t harmful at all and never really was – what was I so worried about??  Then… well, take a wild guess.

I see this cycle in my life.  It stretches back to when I first took note of my sinfulness and decided that the depraved route wasn’t the way to go, when I was already well into “breaking vases”, if you will.  There are things I’m still dealing with now, two and a half years after the fact, and at times I feel I’ve made no leeway in putting a wedge between those particular sins and me.  Oh boy.  It can get discouraging.

But I have to wonder, too… why does God keep putting the vase back in the first place?  I mean, dang.  I feel like I will never get out of these circumstances that tempt me so much, and I am frustrated, even angry when I think that God might be deliberately allowing me to fall prey to this crap in order to teach me something.  Well, God, it’s worked, because I’m no more aware of how stinking depraved I am than when I have just finished succumbing to temptation and immediately feel conviction as only the Holy Ghost can bring.  I just came across this notion today and couldn’t keep my mind off it.  I wonder though, if it’s even Scriptural.

Is this something I shouldn’t be believing?

Lately, and by that I mean since I got here to MN, I have dwelt a lot on my sinfulness. Well really it ebbs and flows. I conveniently forget all my problems stemming from my sinful desires when I’m, in fact, in the process of sinning. Many times I am conscious of it and I stealthily avoid feeling convicted for days, or weeks, and I’m ashamed to say it. Sometimes I am only conscious of it in hindsight, which is always the scariest way to be confronted because I have made a commitment in following Christ which means, sincerely, being committed to getting rid of all the crap that’s built up in my soul… when I don’t realize how terrible I’m being or when I don’t see how much I am not glorifying God, that is scary. I want to live my life in a way that is so open to the Holy Spirit’s leading that I am convicted the moment I grieve Him with my thoughts or words or deeds. Well, I want to want to live my life that way. At times I don’t even desire that, and I’m just being honest.

So, segue onto what’s been on my heart lately, one particular item that I struggle with so much, so often, that I am to the point where I think about it every day, devoting every other hour to it.

Judgment.

I’m not talking apocalyptic judgment here, nor God’s justice… but my own struggle with it. Big time. The worst of it – and this is probably a little surprising – is my judgment of others that proclaim Christ. This kind of culminated this evening as I read this entry from Matthew Paul Turner’s blog “Jesus Needs New PR”.

I already have a little of a beef with this guy because he blatantly doesn’t like A LOT of people. Alright – I won’t make that blanket statement. But it is painfully obvious when you read his blog or Tweets that he’s upset with a ton of Christian ideology or theology. He’s not quiet about his distaste for exclusive Calvinists or the already poorly viewed Charismatics (i.e. Joel O$teen, as MPT writes). In fact, his whole ministry seems like it’s based on mockery, a kind of ridiculing that is borderline ridiculous to me sometimes. I am constantly bombarded with his views on things or ideas or persons he doesn’t like. Like @johnpiper, who he frequently gives negative shout outs to over Twitter. Apparently reading John Piper’s Tweets makes him want to be a Buddhist. He writes, “Which might very well be more Christ-like.”

Yikes. That hurts, especially because I am drawn to Biblical ideas the way John Piper is on a multitude of levels. Matthew dismisses Piper as a fundamentalist and calls it a day. So you’d think that MPT and JP are polar opposites the way Betty Crocker is different from the Jolly Green Giant. Yet, according to this recent blog post of his, they both at least share a hatred for one thing: the prosperity gospel. Piper is widely known for believing that this so-called gospel is an abomination. There’s hundreds of videos of him on YouTube and commentaries on his Desiring God site to prove it. There are sure to be more commonalities between these two Christian heavyweights but you would never know it, because MPT seems most consumed with distancing himself from JP by putting him down or making jokes about him – and believe you me, there’s a slew of people behind JP, on this list of things MPT thinks is stupid. All that is said and done and yet I know an incredibly small amount of his own theology or simply what he believes. All I really know about him is what he enormously dislikes. I hate that almost every word out of his mouth is some slander to another follower of Christ who he thinks is being stupid or ridiculous. But what do you stand for? What do you love, MPT? What does Jesus Christ mean to you? How are you letting your words shine light on the Father? Could you open up something good or encouraging or slightly positive?

And that, my friends, was a WHOLE lot of judgment on my part. I don’t know if you caught any of that, but I sure did. As I read this blog post of his, I immediately began to resent his comments on Joel O$teen. I began to judge him for being judgmental towards his brother in Christ, and I wanted to write a snarky comment about how he was failing to be the salt of the earth or be apart from the world or plainly how much of a jerk he is. And most of the comments he got on the post were similar to those initial, gut reactions of mine. But just as I had those thoughts, I was hit in the face with how terribly judgmental I was being, and God reminded me just how badly I struggle with it. Even in the seemingly tiniest sense, passing judgment is still the same. I’m still taking upon myself what is ultimately God’s attribute and His role only. He is just and will judge as His holiness allows, and like any other sin that doesn’t glorify Him, it grieves Him when I do this.

So judgment is on my mind and heart bigtime right now, and I know in my soul that Jesus Christ became incarnate, died and lived again for me, for this reason.

P.S. I have to amend that I actually do think Matthew is hilarious from time to time. He is brilliantly talented at picking out the ridiculous things we do as Christians, and uses satire to kick us into gear, to rethink what we are doing or saying or idolizing in place of who we are called to be as followers. My favorite series of his is “Jesus Picture of the Week”.