News and Such

Howdy. So I did end up starting a vlog and I had to connect it with a website because that's what you do (no actually there were a lot of reasons, one of which that I wanted to continue to blog about these things I touch in in a video and I wanted to do so with a URL that matched the vlog name...)

Anyway all that to say I've a new blog of sorts, so I'm not sure how much I'll really be using this one. We'll see. Anyhow. Mosey on over to arielthehuman.wordpress.com for the blog part... or go to youtube.com/arielthehumanvlog for the vlog part.

I'm really excited about this, actually. It's really fantastic and I'm enjoying every bit! I hope you will join me. :) If not, I understand. Well, kind of. At least, a little.

Okay, I'm sorry, I'm just in a bit of a hyper mood because CHRISTMAS!!!!! And evergreens and lights and fireplaces and nutcrackers and carols and snow (hopefully)..... it's all just too good.

You can also go look at my Pinterest boards... or join me on Instagram, or Facebook, or Twitter. I won't mention Google + because who uses that anymore????

Everyone have a blessed Christmas season!


On sidewalks and thumb drives... (or, the sovereignty of God)

(This post is from early 2012. It's a bit silly, but kind of interesting.)

I was walking down the sidewalk with my family when my mom instructed my dad,"Switch places with Ariel so she's on the inside." It struck me in that moment how completely silly it all was. If this was my day to die, I'm going to die, whether or not I'm walking near the road or not.

Before I go any further I'd better make a disclaimer. Ahem. DISCLAIMER: I do not recommend putting yourself in stupidly dangerous situations. What is stupidly dangerous? Use your common sense.

But wait! You say. That's just what your mom meant, she was just using common sense. And I agree. Indeed, I actually began to walk on the farther side of the sidewalk. But inside, I figured it didn't really matter. Yes, I think there's a line not to cross, but there's no use in worrying. I guess that's my whole point. Yeah, put your money in the bank, but if it's in your drawer, don't worry about it. We can be careful, but it's silly to be overcautious. As if we can prevent anything God is going to do. I realize I sound very fatalistic. But I just can't see it very other way. Honestly, people. Let me give you a personal example.

I care very deeply about the stories I write. They are my brain, and I have worked on them for hours. And yet they are only on the miniscule gigabite of data on my harddrive. So I back them up onto a smaller drive, just in case my computer crashes. Is that silly? No. I think it's a natural and wise thing to do, because the chances are, someday my computer will crash.

Now, if I were to back it up onto several thumb drives in case my computer crashes -  one for my purse, and in case I lose my purse one for my mom's keychain, and in case she loses that one for my room, and in case the house burns down one in the safe deposit box, and in case an atomic bomb blows that up..... well, you get the point. It's just ridiculous.

Now someone might say "But what if your computer crashes and your (one) thumb drive falls in the toilet (thereby destroying it) in the same day?" And I usually say in response to these questions, "Then I guess I'd take that as a sign from God to stop writing for a while." I say it half in jest, but honestly, if I took precautions to ensure something's safety and God took it... well, I believe he would've taken it whatever I would have done. And yet that doesn't take away my responsibility to take care of it. I know that sounds contradictory but that's how we humans live! It's how God made us. Please tell me that makes sense...?

 If God doesn't want me to die today, I can do all sorts of crazy things and not get hurt. However, if I did such a thing, I probably would die. "Hey Ariel!" You say. "You can't say 'probably' - God's either gonna take you or he's not!" Right. But maybe the way he took me was by me doing a crazy thing because I wasn't using my common sense. That's not my point. My point is.......

(And, that's where it ended. I'm pretty sure my point was to be responsible, but not to worry. And I just said it in about 400 too many words...)


The Essence of Worship

“To worship is to quicken the conscience by the holiness of God, to feed the mind with the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.”
- William Temple

Wow, that is a packed quote. Let's break it down!

To quicken the conscience by the holiness of God
See Isaiah 6. You really ought to read the whole chapter, but I'll quote the relevant part here. 

"...I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. ...And one called to another and said:
'Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!'
And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: 'Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!'"

When I read that, I am in awe of my God. His robe fills the temple, and his glory fills the whole earth. I find it incredible that the foundations shook at the voice of - not God - but of his servants the seraphim. Unbelievable! Imagine what the voice of God in all its wonder might do. (hmm... maybe create the galaxies...?)

Imagine witnessing this and being so overwhelmed with the knowledge of his holiness that you are undone. Isaiah was not yet atoned for (that happens in the following verses) so we do have a different status than him as children of God, but still we are so infinitely less than the eternal God! 

In worship we come face to face with God's incredible holiness, in stark contrast to our daily struggles, and our consciences are full aware of the gap between. Praise be to God we are not stuck there! Let's move on to the second phrase.

To feed the mind with the truth of God
The truth of God. I might define that as his Word, his Bible that contains the truth about all of life. One of those truths is that through Jesus' death on the cross we are purified and made blameless before God. Our daily struggles may yet remain until we see him face to face, but the truth of our redemption is glorious knowledge that worship rejoices to remind us of.

There are multitudes of other truths as well. In fact this is a reason why I love hymns - they are often based heavily on scripture so contain solid truths rather than interpreted ones like in many modern worship songs. Still, God can speak through any medium, and worship is a beautiful way to once again feed upon those foundations of the faith that hold us through the storms of life.

To purge the imagination by the beauty of God
This phrase is very dear to me. The beauty of God is something I haven't yet begun to comprehend, but that I find myself pondering so often. Whenever I see something beautiful in creation, I think "That's the beauty of God... only a way minimized version." I really believe creation - not only the physical earth but also things like emotions and relationships - really show the beauty of God's mind and heart. It's unfathomable if you think about it. For just a few of the beautiful things that begin to show us how glorious God is, check out his post. It says enough I think, for this segment.

To open the heart to the love of God
Now that we've gotten a real glimpse at the holiness, truth and beauty of God, we are confronted by an impossible truth. He loves us. He loves you. He loves me. And wow, how unbelievable is that! He chooses to love us with a love that is beyond our understanding - a love that sacrifices all to redeem us and has given us absolutely above and beyond anything we could deserve. 

Open your heart! For whatever reason, we humans are so protective of our hearts, so unwilling to accept love that many of us end up with hearts of stone. The purpose here is to soften our hearts, to give them the terrifying task of opening up and receiving all the great love of God. That is not easy but it is necessary and beautiful. As the words of a famous song say, he is the Lover of our Soul - that is a deep and intrinsic need of ours and it is vital to allow our hearts to receive the love that don't deserve, but desperately desire.

To devote the will to the purpose of God.
Finally we come to the place where we are infused with the love of God and rightly we want nothing more than his purpose. It is the desire of the beloved to devote all time and energy to pleasing the Lover. This is the attitude that I sincerely believe God desires, the serving that comes from being overjoyed with his love and a longing to give him all that we can because of what he has done for us. 

And so we surrender our agendas, our wants and even our needs. We commit our will - that part of us that determines what we strive for - to God's purpose, furthering his kingdom, shining his light to a broken world. It is the most glorious cause one could ever have! What a joy that we are allowed to participate in his redeeming, sovereign plan. 

What a fantastic thing worship is, truly! I hope this imperfect but heartfelt study of worship blessed you in some way. It definitely blessed me to write!


A Massive Endeavor

Dear blog readers,

I am asking for your prayers. My husband and I have started a rather massive endeavor and we can only succeed with the Lord's help.

We are writing down our story. Because it's rather incredible (naturally, being written by the Greatest Author ever.) We fully intend to publish it and share it with as many people as the Lord wills. True stories are too few and far between. True stories encourage with a raw transparency that novels cannot touch.

I can't tell you how nervous and excited and terrified I am to be doing this. I've never attempted something so meaningful, with so much potential for real impact on real people (which is really my main goal in life). So naturally I'm scared out of my wits, yet I know God is on my side because he put it in my heart to share. It's not about me at all, it's about God's redemption and healing.

I cannot wait to see how God uses his story. We are doing our part to write it down in all our feebleness. Please pray for memories to be strengthened as we are writing about things that happened 3-4 years ago. Pray that we would not become discouraged. Pray that the Lord would be preparing many hearts to receive this encouragement and that by reading what he has done, they would praise him and give him the glory he deserves!

That is all. Thank you!


Where is Freedom?

Everyone wants the feeling of being free, but everyone is looking in the total wrong places. Tell me, what truly liberates?

Casual sex liberates, they say. It’s liberating to jump into bed with whoever you want whenever you want. It is restraining to have to wait until commitment, let alone marriage!

Throwing off the chains of submission to your husband is freeing, they say. Why should he make “all” the decisions and leave you in the shackles of not having control?

The “anything goes” mentality is liberating, they say. No right, no wrong, no rules for me… I’m free. (sound familiar?) To try to abide by a bunch of rules for life is absolute bondage.

Freedom is having no reigns. This is what we are told. Obviously that’s true in some very physical examples (say getting your leg out of a cast) but I have found in moral categories, the opposite seems to be true. It’s totally paradoxical but strangely true. Listen:

I have found immense freedom in waiting for intimacy until after the wedding. I have the freedom to love as best I can with no burden of performance, the need to impress so I won’t lose him. Instead we are left with a deep emotional bond that results in way better sex than a one-night-stand could ever come close to. (sorry to be blunt, but it’s downright true.)

I have found the same gorgeous taste of freedom when I choose to submit to my husband. Being “bound” by this vow I took on my marriage day is liberating. It is very freeing honestly, to just say “Okay” even when I don’t agree, because I don’t hold the responsibility for that decision.

I have found the most freedom in the “rules” God has set out for moral living. I put rules in quotations because as we know we are under grace, not the law. But what the Lord outlines in his word as precepts to live by results in a very freeing life where I am never under the chains of addiction and always free to enjoy because I am not weighed down by guilt.

We all know that the less choices there are, the more freedom there is. (Think about ordering and In N Out compared to Carls Jr. Which stresses you out more?) That’s just another reason why taking away all boundaries is absolutely devastating and brings nothing but bondage.

If I may bring up Elsa again from the ever-popular Frozen, her choice to let it go led to pain for others and intrinsically herself. She knew just throwing caution to the wind would not bring her true joy or satisfaction. Sure, it brought some instant gratification, but she was still chained by her fear. It was only through controlling her desires and urges that she found true peace and freedom.

I believe that analogy goes far in many instances. I hate that so many children sing that song when the song itself is not what led to her liberation, but in fact made her chains heavier. The lyrics holds that ever-present lie: when there are no rules, I’m free.

In the most ultimate sense, surrender to God is what produces the very purest form of liberation. We cannot find any true freedom while resisting the light yoke of our Creator. To try to be in in control all the time is an incredible bondage, and that weight is lifted when we give all to God. We just go with His flow. When you reach that place, oh how the freedom runs deep!


Why would a "loving" God .... ?

Lately I have been thinking about how many people struggle with depression. That constant feeling that there's no purpose. Having not even an ounce of drive, and just feeling so utterly listless that it would drive you crazy except you.just.don't.care.

I've been there. It's so paralyzing. There's no kind words you can say to get someone out of that. It's beyond human. Positive thinking is really great and often works wonders, but it can't touch this state. And that's really humbling. I couldn't do a thing to get myself out of that, I really couldn't. Bring me all the ice cream in the world, it honestly didn't help. My friends were praying for me, it honestly didn't help. Even me praying didn't help. I didn't usually feel any better after talking to God. This was scary, too. He was supposed to be there to get me out of this, but he wasn't.

At the crux of it, I found that I couldn't control God. Elementary, I know. But listen: I couldn't use him. He wasn't a genie, or magic solution -  I could pray to him and feel absolutely 0% different.
That's not what I had come to expect. If you're not going to take this away, Lord, at least show me you're there.

And then I realized, he didn't have to respond. He had already given me what I needed in that time. The truth. That he loved me, more than I could fathom. He did not, on the other hand, ever promise to make me feel better.The hard reality is, God does what he wants. And what he "wants" is the ultimate plan of the universe. That plan is a love story.

"Well if he loved us, he would show it by revealing himself to us, to give us hope." To be blunt, well ... that's what you think. God apparently has a slightly different definition of love. His love is so great and unknowable. His love lets us experience some incredibly difficult and downright agonizing times. To our human understanding of love this doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Yes, we know that tough times make people stronger - but I'm talking REAL horrific things here. Worse than depression. How can we sit here and believe that God just allows or even sovereignly ordains that?

I am treading on some extremely difficult ground right here. Most of you reading this have experienced a horrible valley, probably worse than mine. For a long time I felt I could never say these truths - about God's sovereign love - to people going through deep valleys. But I can't hold back. The truth is the truth, no matter if it offends or makes someone feel bad. If I'm offending you right now, please don't stop reading yet.

EVERYTHING works together for good for those who love Him and are called according to his purposes. I know you've heard that verse a million and a half times. Read it again. Grasp what it means. This is not some lame promise - this is a rock solid foundation to build your entire life upon. God LOVES. His love does the strangest things. The most painful things. And do not forget: His love heals the pain and makes clear the strangeness (though usually not until we transfer to the greater Life).

God is not defined (thank the Lord!) by our human concepts of love. His love let the most kind, wise and good man you can imagine, suffer for hours in a excruciating, gruesome death. And let me add, he didn't only let that happen. He planned it. This kind of suffering is the epitome of "not fair" and the opposite of love to most of our brains. Imagine with me for a moment that the story stopped there. Our whole lives we were left with the most cruel, un-loving thing planned by the God who created us, and there was nothing to but 1; reject this "god" and say he is utterly unloving, or 2; fall on your face before him, cry that you don't understand, and give him your utter trust. That's literally all we can do. It's okay to cry. It's okay to be angry, even. But is necessary to trust Him.

We know the end of that story. The resurrection of our Savior and how the pain was not for nothing, but for his full glory and the redemption of his chosen bride. But we don't usually know the end of our stories while we're right in the middle of them.

Honestly, the most true and best advice I know to give is this: don't try to understand it. Give up trying to figure God out. We can't. He's infinitely too beyond us. The more you try to put what is happening and what you are feeling into human terms the more unfair it will seem and harder it will be to focus on TRUTH. Just trust.



Ohhh I have such a love/hate relationship with expectations

I don't have any kind of solution in this post, just so you know. It's just be venting and frustrated. Haha. Seriously though. If you can help me, please do.

I know I shouldn't have expectations. But for the life of me I cannot figure out how NOT to. We plan a date night. Stephen gets called in to work that evening. Expectation = dashed. But it wasn't wrong of me to expect and look forward to the date was it?

This happens all the time. At least with books and movies I've learned to expect nothing from them, but in real life.... that's just different. I'm not sure how. I wish I knew! But every time something doesn't go according to plan, I have a hard time with it. I try to be flexible but I can't help looking forward to things.

Granted, I'm always OK later, but the initial onset of emotions when I find out is unsettling. I suppose by now I should be used to my emotions, but they make me feel at their mercy and I know that's not true. Gosh that is a whole post by itself.

Anyhow. Then there's the party expectation. I expect to go to this event and have a good time. Or, I expect to have coffee with my friend and it's going to be edifying. When those are disappointed it's the same thing. I kick myself for creating these expectations. But I didn't even mean to create them!

My husband has a special power. He can not create expectations. I'm not sure how he does it. Maybe it's part of being even keel and carefree. Hmmmmm....

So yeah. That's it. Just a rant, like I said. Anyone else have issues with this or is it just me?


The Leaky Pot Syndrome

Bear with me on this one. I know the title is weird.

2 Corinthians 4:7 says, "But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us." Okay, let's look at the context. The treasure referenced here is the "light of the knowledge of the glory of God" (v6) The knowledge. I find that fascinating.

I can just see the clay pot, light spilling out of its many cracks. It's fantastic imagery. One day I was sitting thinking about this and I realized that light and knowledge and joy doesn't just shine through those cracks - it spills out of them and pretty soon it needs to be refilled.

We are leaky. 

Think of how true this is. We hear a sermon; it fills us up with knowledge. The next week, it's all but forgotten. We experience the Lord's intervening firsthand. We are filled with amazement. The next week, it's spilled out the cracks and no longer a reality to us. We are at a Bible Study and the text fills us with the joy of the Lord. But it doesn't stay - it can't. We are leaky.

Our cracks will not be sealed until the next life. While we are still in these shadow lands, we must be continually refilled with the light of the knowledge of God's Glory. Over and over again. This is why weekly Bible studies are so important. Daily reading and praying. Regular fellowship with the body. We must immerse ourselves in the Truth.

We've all come to those places where we are absolutely empty. There's nothing left, there's no motivation, no joy. Fill up with Him. Sometimes we can't do it ourselves. Sometime God will fill us with the words of friend or stranger.

So don't be discouraged when you realize you've been leaking out the glory. It's inevitable. It's what keeps us coming back to our knees.