Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Horrors of Google

Friends can do some pretty awful things to you.

This morning, as I was pondering just how hurtful those awful things can be, I asked a question of myself. It is usually a pretty normal thing for me to get lost in deep questions like this while doing nothing of importance whatsoever. In this case, I was sitting quite complacent at my kitchen counter eating a bundt cake.
It was very yummy.

The question I asked was this:

. . . . What is a friend, anyways? What truly constitutes friendship?

I then had one of my most original ideas ever.


Little did I know, but . . .
My bundt cake was soon to be spoiled.

The page was loading.
The wheel of death was spinning.
(My computer has been really slow lately.)
And then it appeared.
The google search results were in.

At the very top of the page I saw:

Friend: To add someone to a list of contacts associated with a social networking website.

..... No joke. The first thing that popped up on my google homescreen.
Out of 1,470,000,000 results, that is what appeared to be the most popular definition.
In case you don't believe me, here's a screenshot.

If that's not the craziest thing you've ever seen in your life, then my hair ain't blonde and the sky ain't blue.
A friend: Merely another number on your "facebook" contacts list.
Is that really how our modern world sees friendship?

As shocking as this definition might seem to us Christians, who supposedly value friendship *so much more* than the average person, *looks down nose*, that superficial definition is our standard for "friend." Lets not decieve ourselves. All too often, friends are used as fillers for our own insecurities. They're not really "friends" they're "aquantainces." They're another name on a list. Another person we can say we "know."

I think that's really depressing.

I've come to know that there are only a handful of people who can be classified as friends. Who will stick around, regardless of the pain - who will be there for you when your day isn't sunshine and rainbows. Some one who will pick you up after you fall, and then give you a kick in the butt to get you going again. I appreciate those people. :)

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!"
Ecclesiastes 4:9-10.

I honestly see my true friends as family. :) I see them as brothers and sisters, and I know that they are, in Christ! They are so much more than just another name.

"A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity." Prov 17:17

Our culture has somehow molded friendship into a sort of individualized isolationism. We can still be "friends" but we don't have to be involved in each others lives. Well, that's just sad. Treasure your friends, love them, know that they are part of your family.

Ultimately, as with everything, our love for our friends must mirror Christ's love for his friends. Isn't it interesting that when Judas betrayed Christ, Jesus responded in love:
"friend, do what you have come to do."
~Matthew 26:50

Christ had crazy love for us! Love that demanded a cross. And he did this because we are his friends.

"This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you."
John 15:12-15

~ LL

A big shout out by the way to some of the people in my own life who have been truly great friends.. Ya'll know who you are :) I am really blessed to have you in my life! What a great group! Thank you for everything.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Water in the Desert Land

The first time I published this post it said "water in a dessert land." Ha! Oops.

Nope, sorry, I'm not talking about the "dessert" you had for dinner, unfortunately (although that would be awesome. Hm. POST IDEA!)
So for all ya'll who happened to see "Water in a Dessert Land" and ecstatically thought my blog had suddenly turned into a source for recipes tasty and delicious, I'm sorry to disappoint (In reality, I actually am not a very good cook-er).
But hey... that's my spelling, for ya.

Today I have decided to tackle something much larger an issue than the ice cream sundae you ate in celebration of Easter. It's not a matter that can be compared to even the best of Mom's Apple Pies, or Grandma's homemade Christmas cookies.
Actually, my grandma doesn't make Christmas cookies ... I merely employed use of a stereotype. Call me a profile-er! Heh.

Today I'm writing about a desert land: a place that's so dry, it's torturous. I happen to live in a desert, so I would know what it's like when it gets to be 120 degrees outside. It's really not a fun thing.

When I was younger and lived on a farm, our farm hand used to say that if I helped him pick rocks out of the pastures, he'd pay me a dollar a bucket. I used to stay outside, in summer, in 115 degree weather, for hours, all for about $4.00 profit. Then I'd get so overheated I'd go inside and sleep the rest of the day. :P

Sometimes our spiritual lives find themselves in the same predicament - working overtime for no real payoff. It literally feels like we're walking through a desert.

The temperature is so heavy, it's a burden on our backs.
The sand threatens to blind our sense of reason.
Any gust of hot air threatens to knock us over, while our feeble selves wish for nothing more than a gentle cool breeze.
The enormity of the desert ahead seems vast and never-ending.
Each step is a struggle physically and mentally, as we wonder if we have the strength to go on.

Anything but a piece of cake, right?

All of us have felt this in some sense. Even if it's not the full blown desert scenario I've described, every human being on earth has felt hopelessness. Some have felt it more than others, but the feeling remains the same . . . It's merely the extent of said hopelessness that varies according to the individual.

With that, I can safely assume then that you agree with me. The spiritual desert is not a fun place to be.

There was a point when I was so burdened with the hardships of life that I literally couldn't pick myself up, much less ever trust or love again. I was walling in an infinite desert of self-doubt and in constant danger of being swallowed whole by my own insecurity. The door had been slammed in my face and it was pretty much a downwards spiral from there.

It seemed like no one could hear me, or my cries for relief . . . Because they kept on hurting me anyways. I'd rather not think they were doing it intentionally. I felt abandon in a dry wilderness larger than life - I seemed no more important than a speck of sand. Who would listen to me? There was no one around. Who would spend their time out here anyways, in this scorched and bare bowl of dust?

I was totally alone, and no one could understand.
No one in the world.
No one.

A walk in the desert.
We hear of people in the Hindu religion doing this all the time - literally. They go on spiritual journey's to find out who they really are. They have a soul searching time of wandering all alone. For Christians, it should be no different. Maybe not a year long trip physically camping out in Death Valley, but Christians should realize their alone-ness. Only GOD can fully minister to you, where you are!

There's a certain point that I think every person needs to come to in their life - a certain point that changes their entire outlook. It's a transition that takes them from a superficial understanding to deep-rooted faith. While I'm far from being "deep rooted" I've found the Oasis in the desert. I no longer feel hopeless, alone, or desperate for cool air. I have been immensely blessed by God.

There is hope.

While the desert looks agonizing, it only seems that way because you're in it's throes. The pain doesn't last forever. God doesn't forget His children. He brings them to a place filled with cool water and a place to rest.

Look to Israel:
Isa 48:21: And they thirsted not when he led them through the deserts: he caused the waters to flow out of the rock for them: he clave the rock also, and the waters gushed out.

I've come to a place of rest, in Him. I hope you can be encouraged to do the same. :) If you're in the middle of hell right now, and can't seem to get out . . . Wait on the Lord. Easier said than done, I know . . . But I've done it, or at least tried to. Let me tell you: Blessings await on the other side. While I may not be out of the desert completely, I know one thing for sure . . .

There is water in the desert land.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Repelling the Superficial

I get it - I make other people uncomfortable with this blog. In fact, some of my friends have even told me so. But I also know it's a comfort to some. And hey, it's a comfort to me. I try to make everything I write real. Nothing you see here is fake. It's raw heart. If the depth is scary, I understand - hey, I'm the one writing it, remember? :)

A couple days ago I had a great talk with my Mom about the content of this post. I've never really been too judgemental of a person. If people real or superficial, I don't really know . . I try to keep an open mind and hear different sides of various issues. I know what it's like to be judged, and I would never intentionally pass it on to someone else. Yet there's something I've been noticing, and it's not a matter of judgement. It's a matter of truth.

People are, or at least they act, shallow.
The lack of real-ness seems to scream at me everywhere I turn.
I think it's easy for anyone to fall down the slope of pointlessness, only to find themselves engaging in worthless and deconstructive conversations. I don't pretend to judge that, because I've done that many times myself. I'm not talking about jokes with friends or being immature with girlfriends. That's not at all what I mean.
When I say shallow, I mean a general tendancy of people to draw away from the deep, meaningful things of life. Like they're scared that someone's hurt is contagious and will infect them as if it were a common cold or flu.

My Mom was telling me this: Pain pushes people away, especially if those people are used to easier lifestyles. Pain seems to almost bring out the superficial in others.

I've, so many times, seen my Mom's "friends" go on and on about themselves but never ask her how she's doing, almost as if they're scared that she'll spill out her whole divorce story on them or something. It's kind of ridiculous. I've concluded that there's a certain depth to people who suffer. There's a certain mystery, a certain intrigue - that makes them repulsive to the superficial. I think it's a silent warning to "step away, I don't want to get my hands dirty."

It's a label.
It's like you're walking around with a mark on your forehead. Everybody sees it. Everybody knows. "You're carrying . . . pain. Ew."

Not necessarily because it shows, either. Unless you know me pretty well (in person) you'd never guess I've been through what I have if you met me on the street. It's rumors, gossip, assumptions that create a label. Look, it's not like I don't see it.

Why is everyone scared of pain? Why does no one want to face the reality that life can hurt? I don't understand. Pain is a part of life. You'll experience it one day. Pretending like it doesn't exist?

It doesn't work. I've tried it.

I really want to be a deep person. The type that repels the superficial. I want that emotional maturity that comes as a result of suffering. Christ cared about the things that really mattered, when he was on earth. Think about all the silly things we waste our time on. Vanity, strange ideas about love, popularity, friends, and jealousies - drama, basically - it's all really stupid once you think about it.

The purpose of our Christian lives are so much greater! Our calling lies in pain. Suffering. Empathy towards the hurting as we struggle on our own. We are called to live REAL lives. Not superficial. Suffering is such a blessing, because it yields truth. It yields an understanding into the depths of life that one can only know if he or she has experienced it first hand.

It's taken me a while to get to this place . . . But I'm finally viewing pain as something other than a shameful label.

Lord, help me to grow, help me to be the person you want me to be, shaped and molded by life's catastraphies. You are God. You are all about depth, all about the soul. Thank you for the love you show me, your superficial child.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


I can't swallow pills.

I seriously can not. Yesterday, I sat with a pill in my mouth and a glass of water in my hand for 10 minutes attempting to suck up and take it like a "big girl, Lauren. You can do it." I'm convinced those evil little things have minds of their own. They mischievously refuse to go down my throat, just so I can suffer the humiliation!

Mom says I'm just stubborn. What 16 year old can't swallow a teeny-weeny little capsule?!?!?

I blame it on the pills.

The things are huge!
At least in my mind.
Just looking at them gives me visions of the Heimlich.

I know . . . I know . . . I have to get them down somehow . . . and thankfully, I've found a way. Or rather - my sister, Taylor, has. She's done several experiments and finally discovered that emptying the capsules and putting them in milkshakes is actually quite tasty.

A few days ago I came into the kitchen holding a large chocolate shake, and told Mom triumphantly, "See! I'm taking my medicine. I can too be a "big girl"! Or at least I'll be a "big girl" when I'm older. Literally. Because of all the milkshakes I drank back in the day . . . ."

Despite their high-carb count, I'm forever indebted to Taylor for such a discovery. She lands right alongside my heroes: Aristotle, Ronald Reagan, The apostle Paul, Glenn Beck, and now. . . Taylor. My sister. Ranks right up there with the rest of 'em.
Thank you, sista.

Medicine is never fun. I've been sick for a while now, and I know that this is the only way I can get on the road to recovery. To be honest, it really is not enjoyable . . . But I know it's for my own good.

My Mom and I had the best talk yesterday, about just this: things that are hard to swallow can actually can turn out for our own good. No, not talking about pills here. Now we're talking about life (even scarier).

We've heard this lesson a million times - the things that hurt are the things that makes us strongest. That's pretty much what this entire blog is about! ;) I don't need to reiterate it. But there's something unique about our suffering that I think we so often fail to realize . . .

We see them as failures. We see them as mess-ups . . . But in Heaven, they're celebrated as victories.

That's a pretty wacky thought! Especially when we are so used to blaming the Devil!

"Ooooh, got fired from your job. That must be the Devil, you know, doin' his thang."
"An A on my Chemistry test!! The Lord must be with me!!"
"Earth-quake in Japan? That was definitely Satan's idea."
"He asked me out! Took him long enough! ... oh yeah... Thank you Jesus!!!!"
"Oh, dude .... a car crash... I'm sorry man... You sending enough prayers up to the Big Guy lately?"


Yeah. No.
That's ridiculous.
That's not the way things work - God is sovereign over everything. It isn't a tug-of-war between God and Satan. There's not one thing that happens on this earth that isn't filtered through God's fingers.

Romans 8:28, a verse that I probably over-use . . . "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."

The fact is according to scripture, however much of a "fail" our circumstances seem, it's victory in the eyes of God. He is working everything for our good . . . ending with our ultimate sanctification when we see Him face to face!

What seems unnecessary and even painful to us is really medicine he's giving us for spiritual health. He sees the end result: a person made holy and refined. What do we see? A whole lot of crud. Why? Because we don't see that end result. We're so focused on now that we forget to see His purpose. We forget that there's a big picture.

Reading stories of the martyrs, I have always been in awe about how they could sing praises, even as they were being fed to the lions. How they could give thanks, while being burned at the stake. How, on their way to the gallows, they were reciting the Lord's Prayer. They were able to have peace, because they knew that it was actually a victory, and that in a few short moments they would be greeted by the angels triumphantly welcoming them into the very presence of God! What greater victory could there be??

The martyrs got it.
Pain was only pain for a moment. Suffering was soon to be turned into unthinkable, unspeakable joy. They were about to see the face of God. Tears would be no more. What are our temporary trials, when compared to such eternity?

In my own life, a lot of things seem like they are failing right now. Health, academics, and the most obvious issue of dealing with my Dad. Sometimes it feels like a zero sum game - one part of life improves, as the other part sinks ever deeper into quick-sand. Or vice versa. There are just days that FEEL like failures from beginning to end.
I have to remember that Christ has a different plan for my life.

The worst is for our best. Everything is a victory, even the pain. That medicine may be gross, but it will keep you alive. So I just wanted to share that with all of you. I hope it's an encouragement. :)

In the words of good 'ol Charlie Sheen:



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