Closed for Remodeling

Restaurants and stores so often use this phrase as a front for their real reasons for closing. Perhaps it was money problems, and they couldn't re-up their lease. Or possibly there was corruption, or an *ahem* pest problem. Or maybe things were truly just broken down. Faded, worn out and in need of refreshing. 

You may be wondering what on EARTH this has to do with  ANYTHING in your life. Well, I have a confession to make. It may not. But it has to do with my life. A lot actually. You see sometimes I want to be "closed" to remodel. When I see sin or failure in my life I want to curl into a ball, and ignore everyone. I want to hide my sin, and keep everyone out until I get it "fixed" 

But consider for a moment my construction metaphor. In many cases "remodeling" is an attempt to save face, a matter of pride. Red flag number one on my attitude.  
And even though I admit that I need change, refreshing, and an "upgrade", if I let no one in, who is doing the work? ME. Flag number 2. 
First of all, I am called to live in community, so I can't simply withdraw from interacting until I get it figured out. Did I just say until I get it figured out?  Yes, that's how I think. I want the credit, I want to be the one who remembered to read my Bible, or the one who was MORE maturity, the girl who has it together. I want the "safety" of not confessing my sin.
This thinking is subtle, and seeps into my head without me noticing. It starts well enough, with a desire to change and grow and before long I have a legalistic set of rules I made myself. 

If I have to fix myself, then conviction of sin becomes even more painful than it already is. It is a constant reminder not only of how I have already failed, but how I will fail again, because despite my vain attempts I know that I can't do it. Because of the sting of conviction which scripture brings, I withdraw from truly reading. But reading just for the sake of "keeping up appearances" lacks consistency and quickly loses its motivationAnd if I could just read enough, or just not get mad at my siblings, or always respect my parents or just... "earn" my salvation. Lets not sugar coat this. That is exactly what I want to do. I hope to become a "new creation" like God promised. Just without God. 

I have struggled with this mentality for years, and some how in the middle of  writing papers and trying to combat my fear of  not earning the grades I want I was convicted that I am sliding into it again. I want to do it all. School, work, church, Christianity, friends, family. I want to do it, and perfectly and on my own too if possible. But it isn't. Not even close. 
Somehow the awareness of my inevitable failure at earning Gods favor is the most relieving letdown ever. A beautiful paradox. But my inability does not mean I will be like this forever, the same immature person forever. I will constantly be changing. Or should I say being changed
Phillipians 1:6 "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
So as of tonight I will fight to be OPEN for remodeling. Join me?



Today is the first rosy cheeked day of fall. You know what I mean. Crisp cool air has finally broken through the muggy Maryland summer. Campus is a funny mix of outfits. Those who are trying desperately to cling to summer are shivering while they scuttle from one building to the next. Then there are the over-reactors. Bundled from head to toe as if snow was in the forecast. Fur lined boots, and knitted scarves are a personal favorite too, but their time will come a little later.
The third group, the one I am proud to belong to, are the "natives" although most come from colder places then Maryland. We recognize and welcome the arrival of autumn. Hoodies and jeans are the outfits of choice. But one thing is the same for all three groups: all arrive to class with pink cheeks. The brisk air bringing out a nice healthy color.
These are the days I love. Soups for dinner. I start my lookout for changing leaves. Stores stock their shelves with candy corn, pumpkin pie and crazy costumes.
Soon I will make my first gluten free pie, apple of course. Then I will know for sure that Fall is here! Sure, the calendar says we still have a whole week, but i know better. This is the beginning. The sign that just as it has every year, Summer fades to Fall. And just as I always await the arrival of Summer and it's lazy hazy days at the beach, I wait fir this. I look for signs of weather changes the instant school books arrive on my doorstep.
It just feels right to have cool weather for school. Mythology, morphology and mathematics are all more poetic when studied in a cozy chair with hot apple cider. Or under a fleece blanket.
As I write this I am reveling in the sweet cool air. Looking across campus. Enjoying the solitude of a picnic table nestled between two trees, still clothed in Summer splendor. The warm sun on my face when the breezes still. This is bliss.


New Post....

New job, new challenges, new achievements, new summer, new friends, new blessings, new struggles,new experiences, new encouragement, new conviction, new joys, new frustrations and new complcations.
Same God. I need that reminder.

 2 Timothy 2:11-13
Here is a trustworthy saying:
   If we died with him,
   we will also live with him;
 if we endure,
   we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
   he will also disown us;
 if we are faithless,
   he remains faithful,
   for he cannot disown himself.

Exodus 34:6-7
The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, "The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation."

Psalm 77:4-13
You hold my eyelids open;
   I am so troubled that I cannot speak.
I consider the days of old,
   the years long ago.
I said, "Let me remember my song in the night;
   let me meditate in my heart."
   Then my spirit made a diligent search:
"Will the Lord spurn forever,
   and never again be favorable?
Has his steadfast love forever ceased?

   Are his promises at an end for all time?
  Has God forgotten to be gracious?
    Has he in anger shut up his compassion?"

 Then I said, "I will appeal to this,
   to the years of the right hand of the Most High."
 I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
   yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
I will ponder all your work,
   and meditate on your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?


Writers Block

I kept trying to write a new post. Half formulated thoughts would motivate me to start a post, but after half a dozen attempts I decided that this writing assignment from a class a couple years ago might be the best fit  ;-)

Writers Block? Funny you should mention IT. As a matter of fact I know IT well, too well. If I am with a paper and pen, or sitting at my laptop, fingers over the keys you can be sure that IT will soon appear. IT is small at first, roughly the size of a Chinese take-out box. However in the space of a moment IT expands. IT makes the room seem smaller, crowding out all thoughts, making you feel like your socks are too tight.
IT gives you a sick feeling in your stomach, how it feels before parachuting. IT looks over at you, lamenting your feeble attempts, pointing a blue finger at you. Yes, blue. If you look you'll notice that IT is blue, the blue that is almost black, somehow sadder than black, faded a tint, like socks that have been washed too often. Never uttering a sound, yet ITs large eyes stare so intently that you swear the criticism is audible. IT seems to be saying "You can't ! No matter how hard you try you can't!" Yet IT remains dark, and silent. “NO!” I cry but ITs oppressive nearness stifles my pleas.
IT tries to force me to stop writing. Begs me to abandon my pen. To fall ill with that mysteriously odious malady: to let myself be blocked. IT chokes out the light in the room, causing the page to fall dark. ITs incredible hugeness and weight press in around me, and I can scarcely breathe. ITs scent fills my nose. The smell of dirt. Not garden dirt, not the smell of dirt after a rain, or when it has been freshly dug. No, IT has the smell of dirty dirt. Like the corner of the basement that never gets swept or soccer cleats covered in mud from Saturdays game. The game where you got creamed, with a hundred plays that could have gone better. IT smells of staleness, of failure. And suddenly all words are gone. The cursor blinks. The page stays blank. My beautiful dreams for how it should turn out lay untouched, locked in my head, kept there by the pressure from IT.
As I write this now ITs blueness and cold dank smell are creeping up. But I am faster than IT. At least this time I am . I scribble down words as fast as I can. IT is leaving now, IT knows I am in control. I can’t give in. If I do its mocking look will be joined by looks from the page in front of me, begging to be written on. Truly the only way to make IT leave is to ignore IT. To fervently put words on the page. Any words. IT tries to gain control again, telling me that my words are far from being the best IT has read. Far from the best I have written. They aren’t just exactly how I meant them to be. Upon finding me in total agreement however IT slowly starts to shrink. I keep typing, keep streaming second rate words from head to hand. IT is small now, and with a final key stroke I send it scurrying off to afflict another. But never fear, I'll meet with IT again. My tormentor, oppressor, my motivator.


heart break generation

We are the heart break generation.
 In and out of love faster than you can shake a stick. Constantly bombarded with the need for "love" but unable to access love, or a working relationship, because many have never seen it.
Or because we are simply too young to be trying. Younger and younger we search for fulfillment in relationships, drugs, sex and alcohol. Now maybe this is nothing new, but to me it is heartbreaking.

Over 25% of my "contemporaries" were never born. Never given a chance to experience love. My heart breaks. I understand that God is in control, and that He has a divine plan of redemption. But my heart is still breaking...over and over.

From the little boy I work with who can't do well in school, simply because he is starting out behind. Or the countless girls who believe that their value lies in their appearance and whether or not they have a boyfriend. I sit in my classes and here again and again the hurt and depression that surrounds these people. I work with people with deeply painful pasts. Multiple marriages, rehab, and even current alcoholism.They seek joy every weekend with temporary highs of drunken partying, and one night stands. "The best night of my life, but  don;t remember half of it" is a common theme. Sorority's and fraternities aren't the issue. The problem isn't sex ed programs, or bars that don't ID. The problem is sin. SIN. We live in a world broken beyond understanding. But not beyond repair. GOD will make all things new. He changes hearts. He washes pure the most promiscuous of sinners, he cleans up the foulest of mouths. He restores broken relationships and heals broken hearts. Even mine as it breaks daily for my generation.


Simply put, God is amazing.

I could leave it at that, and the statement would be just as true, and just as relevent, but I think that there is more to say. Not that it can ever all be said. But what is it that prompts this revelation? It's Sunday, so perhaps a wonderful teaching? I was teaching Sunday school, and had to miss second service to work on a paper, that at the moment only needs 200 more words, and the helpful editing of my wonderful mother(yes i am a suck up ;-) ), so I didn't get to hear the sermon. It wasn't a long and meaningful quiet time, another thing that got cut because of the paper, and my general forgetfulness. It was really just something simple. Something that many people might not even notice, or if they did they would label it as odd. But it was a really good reminder for me.
I have been sitting here in Panera, for going on 6 hours working on school. At about 4 a father and his teenage son came in and set up to do school and work. There was nothing about their appearance that made me pay any attention to them, but they talked to each other so nicely that it was a neat change from the endless groups of curt professionals that have filled and emptied the seats around me a half dozen times today. I smiled to myself at their relationship and moved on. About 10 minutes later I hear someone talking near me, I look over, and the boy was praying. In public. Out loud. A teenager. And he was praying alone, not because his dad told him to. I was impressed. He was praying not before he started to eat, but before he started school. Hmm...maybe I should have tried that ;-)
Thanks for the reminder God , and thank you that you work in the hearts of college students, even through total strangers!



 I take things for granted.WAY too much. 
Like being able to fall asleep right when I want to. 
Or at least shortly after I go to bed. I am not saying I have become an insomniac. But the past couple weeks I have had a harder time falling asleep. Whether this has been due to guests staying in my room with me (who I enjoyed having), or too much on the brain, or in tonight's case, one White Chocolate Mocha, almost 9 hours ago. 
 And when I am tested I am sad to say that my responses are not of "pure joy" when it is ME "facing trials of many{albeit minute and short lived} kinds."  No, instead of thinking how blessed I am to be ALIVE, I complain about my poor blistered feet. I forget to thank God for the beauty of HIS creation, and I mope because it is cold outside, when I am ready for spring. Rather than looking to God for His "ever present help in time of need", I whine about my course load, and the amount of studying I need to do, for the tests I don't want to take. And now, it is not nearly enough for me to have a beautiful home, and a comfortable bed, but I need to be able to sleep when I , Colleen, decide it is time. This is the battle that was going on in my head, well not much of a battle really, since it's pretty obvious what mind set was conquering.
But then a verse I have been trying to memorize came to mind.

 Psalm 3:5
 "I lie down and sleep;
I wake again because the LORD sustains me."

Isn't our God incredible? I'd like to say that it never ceases to amaze me, but sometimes it does. Sometimes I am not amazed. Sometimes I forget that God holds EVERYTHING together. The planet, the universe, and yes, even me. 

Thank you Lord, for sustaining me. Thank you for making me. for not punishing me in my ungratefulness, and pride. I get tired of fighting the same struggles against complaining, against my sin. I get frustrated, and quit trying. But when I am faithless to fight, when I am lazy, exhausted, in pain, and just plain sinful, You are faithful, working, renewing, forgiving, and HOLY. And you CALLED me! You LOVE me, and despite all my sin, my continued rebellion against You , You have promised to keep me from stumbling (see the book of Jude). Wow. 
Thank you.


Megan Janelle

So as you may or may not know, today is my VERY good friend Megan's birthday. =D =D =D =D
YES! Break out the balloons and streamers!!!!!!! This is a beautiful day to partayyyyy.
What's that? You don't get it? Oh! You're wondering why I am sooooo excited if it's not MY birthday? Because it's Megan's birthday. Hmm...I guess  maybe there are a few things you should know about her,so that you can celebrate as much as me.
1.)She is funny. I know very few people who can make me laugh as easily.
Job 8:21 He will yet fill your mouth with laughter  and your lips with shouts of joy.
2.)She LOVEs her family. Even when it is hard (you won't see me signing up to live with 10 people). She respects her parent's, and honors them by seeking their counsel.
Exodus 20:12 "Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you"
3.) Megan cuts hair. (shameless advertising for my talented friend)
sorry no verse for this one ;-)
4.)Megan doesn't sit around waiting for God to wave a magic wand and make things easier for her, she realizes that she is called to FIGHT, whether it's a fight for joy, a fight for contentment, or just a fight to get out of bed on one of her very early mornings, she makes it her goal to glorify God in the way she is proactively proclaiming the gospel to herself.
2Corinthians 10:3-5 "For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."
5.) Thank you Megan for the countless texts offering or asking for prayer, sharing encouraging verses, or even pointing out the beauty in the sun rising over the Potomac.
I know it's not easy for you, but you don't quit.
6.)Megan is an amazing photographer. Now you know who to call for a fabulous hair cut, and some new portraits =0)(more advertising, and again no verse, just a link )http://meganjanellephotography.blogspot.com/, 

7.)Megan has red hair. (maybe a weird reason to celebrate, but hey ;-) )
8.) stuffed crust pizza. need I say more?
Happy Birthday Megan, I love you so much! I hope your day is full of laughter, fun, and an awareness of God's grace on your life for the last 20 years. I look forward to the next 20 years, before we are "over the hill"


Dream a little (day )dream of ...

Spring is on the way! yes, I do realize that this is only February, but on a day like today it feels more like May. All thoughts of winter are relegated to the back of my mind, much like the few trace piles of slushy snow remaining in the shadows on campus. My winter paleness try's to convince me to soak up the much missed sun, but the Irish in me says it won't do any good, and getting a sunburn in February is a *little* bit ridiculous. So I stick to the deliciously breezy shade, and hope for the best. The weather makes me want to read the Shakespeare that isn't due until Monday, instead of studying for the more immediate test I have to take. Makes me think about applying for summer jobs, and reminds me of all the wonderful things I want to cook. Fresh salsa, Kabobs on the grill, this summer I swear I will try my hand at fresh gazpacho, and sorbet, and a million other things I want so much to cook. I am trying really hard to reign myself in from all my wild day dreams. I feel like I could sit down and write a whole book about anything I wanted, creativity can't sleep on a day like today. Well, I could write about ALMOST anything...but not quite...Geology? No, not so much. So adieu my friends. I must away to study for the impending test. Until the morrow.(or whenever I get the chance)
For now enjoy this song  



What's the big idea?

So now that you're here, I bet you're wondering what this blog is for? Well, you asked the wrong question. It's not really "for" anything in particular. Post topics will range from cooking and baking, to writing, to photography, to art, with a few thoughts on life as me sprinkled in. Haha get it? ;-)  I will also post things I have been learning in my devotions, or just something that stuck out to me from a sermon I heard. Its not that what I am going to be saying is new. But I need the reminder, so I figure someone else might too =)


NOT impressive...improving

I'd love to be able to say I had one great talent that I was known for. That I was the funniest person, or the best cook, photographer, artist, or writer that you would stumble across. But as it is, I am just me. Me. Crazy, random, scatter brained, too many interests me. I have many loves, as I have listed, and I would love to share them with you.
More important though, than any of my interests is this: that the God of the universe loves ME, and sent His Son to die so that I can live with Him for all eternity.
Wow. that's the only impressive thing I have going for me. But here's the kicker: I did nothing to earn this love. No, I did everything in my power to show God that I wanted to do things my way. Yet in spite of me and my sin, God still loved me, and graciously showed me that my pride and self sufficiency leads only to death. Because of His grace and love, I have been able to choose His love, over my own arrogance. And although I am still painfully proud, I know that He who began a good work in me will carry it through until the day of completion.