Wednesday, August 13, 2014

When joy dies

So I told myself that I wouldn't blog about the death of Robin Williams, because everyone is doing it.
Well, clearly I have turned my back on my oath and now blogging about Robin Williams.
Everyone's Facebook newsfeeds have been covered in clips and pictures of Robin Williams. Just a little while ago, someone posted a video Jimmy Fallon doing a tribute to him so we watched it.
Before it began, I was wondering, "Wow, this man really touched many, many peoples' lives...what was so different about him than other comedians and actors?"
Now don't get me wrong, he is one of my favorite actors. In fact, Mrs. Doubtfire is one of my favorite movies. It has just been amazing to me what an influence he has had on SO many people.
As I was watching the tribute I found my
That was what was different about Robin Williams, I think.
He clearly brought so much joy to life. He didn't seem like he was different on camera, than off.
Joy seemed to radiate through him or at least that is what it seemed.
When joy dies, of course, many, many people are affected.
He was a source of joy for many and now he's gone.
That's a tough pill to swallow for many of us.
It makes me think when true joy died two thousand years ago.
I can't imagine how Mary, Mary Magdeline, and the disciples (along with many, many others) felt when Jesus was crucified.
It's tough to lose such an amazing comedian and actor because he brought so much joy to our lives.
However, it's even more tough for me to think of the day when Jesus died because he is the true source of joy.
Thanks be to God, our joy was not taken away forever, but three days later, our joy was risen again.
I feel like this post would be great for Easter time, but then again, I don't think we can ever be reminded enough of the amazing joy that the two Marys' and the disciples must have felt when joy was resurrected that very normal, yet sacred day.
This joyful truth can hopefully remind us in our deepest, most sorrowful times in life, that Our Joy of Jesus never leaves us. He's always here for us waiting.
I'm not sure what was going on in Robin's life or what he might have been facing, but this terrible time of loss for his family (and everyone else for that matter) can be a reminder of how important it is to seek joy and seek joy for others, as well.
Find joy in the deep crevices of life even when financial burdens, illnesses, and broken relationships seem to be filling in around us.
However, when depression takes over it can be hard, practically impossible to find joy, but realizing that we need joy is our first step.
Finding joy in Christ and his resurrection and sharing it with others who may be struggling should be one of our top priorities, because when joy dies.
Let's try our best to keep joy alive.
Prayers for Robin William's family, those who are struggling with depression, and the rest of us, that we might go out of our way to bring joy into someone's life.
Mrs. Doubtfire, Patch Adams, Jack, and License to Wed will always be in my top favorite movies :)
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Friday, August 1, 2014

Whose side are you on?

Hey everyone!
Long time, no blog!
Here is why...

I got married on June 19th!!! 
It was a beautiful day and a fun filled week with our families that will go down in the history books as one of the best weeks of my life!
I was planning on blogging once we got back, but something unexpected came up.
A few days after we came home, I had to have emergency surgery. 
So the past month, I've been recovering from surgery.
With home healthcare nurses, excruciating pain, and a few annoying complications, our first month of marriage has been nothing short of interesting.
Dave has been wonderful throughout it all. He's definitely been fulfilling his vows already and I am so thankful!
Now, I'm just praying that no more complications will arise and it will be smooth sailing from here on out!

So that's my short little update for you! 
I'm sorry it has been so long, but I know that you happens, right?
We just have to do whatever we can to get past the hurdles and road bumps.

Last night, Dave and I were reading the book, "Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet" by Karen Armstrong. You may be wondering, "Why are you reading that?" 
Well, Dave and I are kind of nerdy. We enjoy learning new things, including things that may not affect us personally. We realize the importance of having knowledge not just in our religion or culture, but in others, as well.

As he was reading out loud, my brain felt like it was going to explode!
Blog ideas kept rushing in! Ahh!!
As he was reading about church history such as the Crusades, all I could think about was how nothing has really changed. Yes, of course, there have been some changes, but when we look across the board and see the divisiveness with such a hostile foundation of religion, we haven't made much changes.
I look outside. I surf the web. I watch the news. I read articles. I hear conversations.
The only common denominator I find is division. The question of, "Whose side are you on?!" comes up often. Perhaps, my optimistic self is being pessimistic today? I don't think so.
 Perhaps, I'm simply being a realist right now.

Culture divided.
Religion divided.
Christianity divided.
Race divided.
Politics divided.
Economic status divided.
Nations divided.
Families divided.
A world divided.

We've been struggling with this since the beginning of time.
Sure, we may have made some improvements (especially here in the US), in terms of rights and freedom, but we are nowhere near perfect. In fact, not one nation is perfect, even America. 

Our red,white & blue tinted glasses should no longer hide the reality that is right in front of us.
We are divided. 
You may be thinking, "Well Chelsea, of course we are divided. We have 7 billion people here on Earth, all with different personalities and beliefs, so of course we're divided!"

Guess what? I agree.
However, when it comes to following in Jesus' footsteps, I feel like we need to tread carefully.

Where does Jesus ever encourage division amongst people?
Bueller? Anyone? 

Here are two examples:
Jews & Gentiles. The culture of Jesus' day were all about the separation of Jews & Gentiles, but Jesus, not so much. He supported equality amongst all people. Apostle Paul said, "As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:27-28)
Jesus and the Samaritan woman (John 4:1-26). Jews were not to interact with Samaritans, but Jesus did, and even offered her living water!
Tax Collectors  & Zealots. Two groups of Jews in Palestine with probably the most intense hate towards each other and guess what?! Jesus chose one of each to be his disciples, Matthew the Tax Collector and Simon the Zealot. I don't think that was by mistake or coincidence, but on purpose, to prove that in Jesus there is no division. The disciples shared life together and here we see 2 enemies living life together.

From these examples in the Bible, we see that division is a reality, but that doesn't mean it's right. 

From the words and actions of Jesus Christ, do we see that division is helpful?.
We may pat ourselves on the back when we "win" a culture war, but is Jesus standing nearby waiting to give us a high-five? 
I doubt it.

I feel like we often pick "sides" too quickly.
It's not about sides. (I think Jesus would back me up on this).
It's not always about who is right and who is wrong.

I feel as Christians, we are held accountable to not quickly pick a "side" and move on, but to look at the subject from all angles. Talking to someone of a different race, culture, religion will allow us to get to know the hearts of God's children. Instead of generalizing, let's start "personalizing". 

I used to have a certain idea of Muhammad. A dark, violent picture, but did I really take the time to learn about him?
No, I didn't. I quickly chose a side and moved on.
Although we haven't gotten far into the Muhammad book, I've realized that I've believed some things about the Muslim faith that were simply stereotypes and not truth.

As Christians, we are not called to pick a side and move on, we are called to love one another, to get to know one another, and to respect one another.
Instead of looking at hot topics like the children immigrating to the US, gender equality, and war, then picking a side based on politics or simple generalizations, I feel that we should be open enough to look from a different angle. To empathize. To wade in the middle of both sides instead of diving into one. 

As Christians, do we have to pick a side? 
I don't think so. I think that as long as we are faithfully following Jesus and His teachings of justice, grace, love, peace and mercy, we don't need a side. Sure we can have our beliefs and share them, but we are complex beings and generalized decisions will not do.
Jesus was not about culture wars, so we shouldn't be either.

My challenge for you is to explore! Make a decision to learn about something outside of your comfort zone. Do you have a bitterness towards something? Perhaps a different religion. Are you confused about something? Maybe gender equality. Have you always been interested in a culture and haven't made the time to dive in?

I struggle with making generalizations at times, but then I  am reminded to align myself with Jesus. Dave and I will continue to read the Muhammad book and I'm excited to learn about a different faith.

God knows our hearts and I think the best way to move forward, is to get to know the children of God (meaning all people of every race, nation, and culture) and their hearts.
I mean, would you like to be generalized into a certain category without any chance to explain yourself?

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