Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Liebster Award

A few years ago, a fellow blogger nominated my blog About 100% for a Liebster Award, which is an award given to new bloggers to other new bloggers.  I was honored to be selected because it meant that someone else besides my mom was reading my blog and unlike my mom, that they also appreciated it.

Ba-dum-bump chhhh

Imagine my surprise to be nominated for a Liebster for Stumbling Every Day, this little blog which gets little love from me for reasons that only I know (they all have to do with me being a lazy blogger).  It means that people other than ME are reading it.

While I do not still think of myself as a new blogger, this particular blog is only a few years old, and so I will accept this award on all new bloggers’ behalves.

What does that even mean?  They say it on every awards show.  Does that mean the person accepting the award on the other person’s behalf gets to keep it until the real award winner shows up?  Did the people that accepted Katharine Hepburn’s Oscars keep them on their mantels at home until she invited herself over for dinner and claimed her prizes?

That would be reason enough to score a ticket to the Oscars.  You know, to foster an Oscar until the real winner realizes she's missing it.

* * *

The Liebster Award works like this:  1) You get chosen for the award 2) You write about being given the award 3) You answer some questions posed by that blogger 4) You give the award to other bloggers 5) You make up questions for them to answer 6) They go through this process and it never ends 6) Everyone loves each other because a) you realize that people other than your mom are reading your blog b) you appreciate that c) you realize that you now have something to post on your sad little ignored blog d) your readers realize how much they missed you and you realize how much you missed writing and you vow to give your blog more attention.

And that’s how it works for everybody, AND EVERYBODY WINS.

I received this award from Nance of Leaning on Jesus.  Nance is a warm, loving person who is always encouraging and has great insights on faith.  I’ve known her for a little while, and I just love her.  And you will love her.  Go to her and be encouraged.  Here is her blog and here are her questions:

1. Why did you start blogging? I started blogging to write.  I loved writing Facebook posts, but wanted to say more, so I started my first blog, About 100%, a blog about my mishaps and foibles. Stumbling Every Day spun off from that, when our pastor, who reads About 100%, told me one day after church that he’d like to see me use my powers for good.  I started this blog to capture my spiritual insights and to have a dedicated space to explore and share my faith with my church community and anybody else who stumbles along.

2. When did you understand love?  Way to bust out the deep questions right out of the gate!  I had a great childhood and always felt loved by family and friends, but 
when I was a young teen there was one particular moment when my parents were very patient with me during a time that had to be very frustrating for them.  I wrote about it here.  I understood during that experience that real love is accompanied by grace.

3. What is your favorite book? Give an excerpt in one sentence. :)  I read Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher for the first time in my early twenties.  I’m not sure how many times I’ve read it since then, but it is a sweeping coming of age story set in England during World War II, focusing on Judith, a young woman swept up in the romance and reality of wartime among her contemporaries.  I am not a great book blurb writer.  I think I’m going to read Coming Home again.

4. When did you first start reading a blog?  Probably around 2010, when I first started thinking of writing a blog, to see what I was getting myself into.  The first blog I read was Rants From Mommyland, which made me laugh every single day.

5. What is your best blog? Share with us the link.  My very first post here was humbling, revealing, and right on the surface that day.  I remember thinking, “Well, now the people at church are really going to see what kind of a person I am.” You can read it here. 

6. What’s your favorite dish to cook for your guests?  I like to make lasagna, because it’s easy, it makes enough for a crowd and it’s consistently good.  I cannot say these things about every dish I make.

7. What’s the best gift you have ever received?  This is hard – I’m not big on gifts.  I like to give and receive, but it stresses me out.  My husband has gotten me some great gifts: a necklace for our wedding, a keepsake box to hold all the cards and letters he gives me, sunglasses I wanted but he knew I’d never buy for myself.   In return, I tell him what I’m going to give him and then run out of time to get it.  In lieu of the actual gift, I give him a picture of the thing I was thinking about getting him, and then maybe get it for him two years later.  I’m the worst at gifts.

8. Potatoes or rice?  I like potatoes, but I’m into rice now.  It’s not you, potatoes, it’s me.  And the fact that sometimes rice is risotto.

9. How many books can you read in a day if you have a day off?  How MANY books?  Um, maybe point-five.  Point seven-five if I skip the bathroom.  I am not a speed reader, people.  Or even a marginally fast reader.

10. What is something adventurous you would like to try on your birthday?  Craigslist hot-tub party.  Yeah, no.  I’m totally joking.  Nobody should ever do that.  How about hang gliding?  That seems safer.

11. Ice cream or cake?  Cake, a million times cake.  With lots and lots of icing.  Okay.  Just icing.

* * *

My list of nominees:
The Liebster Award rules:
1. Acknowledge and link back to your nominator.
2. Answer 11 questions given by the nominator.
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers to carry the Liebster Award torch.
4. Ask 11 new questions to your nominees.
5. Let your nominees know that you have nominated them.

My questions:
1.  Who is your favorite fictional character and why?
2.  Your latest inspiration:  How did it inspire you?  What was the product of the inspiration?
3.  Tell us one thing you just don’t understand.
4.  What TV shows are you watching these days?
5.  Read any good books lately?
6.  Talk about a story or person in the Bible that you really relate to.
7.  Share a joke.
8.  How do you start your day?  Share your morning routine.
9.  A favorite blog you read?
10.  What is one thing you’re really good at doing?
11.  How many pillows do you sleep with?

* * *

I look forward to reading all the answers to my questions.  To the nominees above: please leave your link in the comments so we can all read your Liebster post!  Happy Liebstering!


Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Twenty Things You Think Might Keep You Out Of Heaven But Totally Won’t

By now I can say that I’m deeply rooted in my faith.  How did I get here?  Well, I could give you the long, rambling story of my spiritual journey, but I’ll spare you the details.  It’s not that exciting.

There was a time when I was uncertain about God, that there was no future for me in heaven.  I wasn’t even sure I wanted to belong, to pursue faith in God.  A Christian life sounded so boring.

One day I decided to believe.  I took a tiny step in faith, just because.  Over time the thoughts I made up about what having faith really was about disappeared.  God opened my eyes to the stories of the Bible and how they related to my life.  I realized that I had been stubborn against God and felt the refreshing truth of his words.  Life was better.  I had hope.

It may sound simple, and I guess it is.  Everything is possible with God, you know? Matthew 19:26

Sometimes I hear people give the same excuses I had for not pursuing their own faith, for closing their minds and hearts against God, that it doesn’t matter what they believe, that everyone has different beliefs and hey man, that’s cool. 

It isn’t cool.  I believe that God wants everyone to know him.  Not everybody is the same, yet God wants all of us to believe no matter where we are in life.  There are no excuses, people.  God has an answer for every one of them.  Even these:

1. I don’t go to church.  It doesn’t really matter if you don’t have a church right now.  Find one.  Challenge yourself to go some Sunday.  Or really, any day.  There is literally a church door open every day of the week.  Did I say that you have to wear a suit or heels and get up at the crack of dawn on a weekend only to sit through a boring sermon?  Nope.  Get thee to a church and see what happens.

2. I don’t go to church anymore.  Okay.  So you know that the building won’t burn down if you enter its doors.  Nobody inside keeps a tally of how many Sundays you were absent.  Nobody will ask you how long it has been since you last were in a church.  If they do, there’s no rule that says you have to answer.

3. I don’t believe in God.  Not enough of an excuse.  God knows where each of us is spiritually.  Not every current Christian has always believed in God.  You might be a challenge, but he’s up for it. 

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now;
rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.
For the things we see now will soon be gone,
but the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:18

4. I’m mad at God.  I feel for you, kid.  Every one of us has been mad at God for something terrible that happened.  My faith tells me that God is good, and that helps, but it never really takes the pain away.  That’s called being human.  It’s not God’s fault that crappy things happen.  I believe that he is working to make good come from all of it.  So can you.

5. I hate God.  You probably have reasons for it, too.  But like hatred in general, it only serves to tear people apart from the inside out.  Let God show you what love is.  Where there is love, there is no room for hate.

6. I’m miserable.  Here’s the secret: Many of us are.  And we don’t have to be.  Did I say hope already?

7. I’m stuck.  All the more reason to take a step forward, hmmmm?

8. I’m a bad person. We all are.  We are all full of sin.  That’s the bad news.  The good news is: Jesus died so that we can be sin-free.  I’m not sure how it works.  But I know in my heart that it does, and that’s enough for me, and it is freeing.

But to all who believed him and accepted him,
he gave the right to become children of God.
John 1:12

9. I did something really bad.  Yup.  I feel bad about it, too.  God has forgiven me for it, and he will forgive you.

10. I have a sinful habit.  Many, many people of faith have bad habits.  It’s human nature. 

11. I have an addiction.  I don’t understand – where in the Bible does it say that only perfect people can be Christians?  If people of faith were perfect, then we wouldn’t need God.

When Jesus heard this, he said, 
Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do.” 
Matthew 9:12

12. I’ve broken all the commandments.  Really?  Well, pull up a chair and tell me all about it.  That’s still not enough to keep you from God wanting you as his forever.

13. I hate people.  ::whispers:: Me too, sometimes.  But I’m trying to do as God says: Love one another.  That part is hard.  Really hard.  Because some people just suck.  But he is teaching me that everyone is his child, and he loves all of us.

14. I don’t trust people.  Some people don’t earn trust because of their behavior, it’s true, but why should that get in the way of what I believe? 

15. I don’t want to give up my life/ I’m doing okay without faith.  I used to think that, too.  Then I saw how richer and more fulfilled my life was with God in it, and I realized that my life really didn’t change – I did.  For the better.  Much better.  Imagine how much better you could be with him?

Lord, your discipline is good, for it leads to life and health.
You restore my health and allow me to live!
Isaiah 38:16

16. The Bible is a crock.  People say this a lot.  “People wrote the Bible,” they say.  “It’s fallible, out of date, and irrelevant.”  Yeah.  I used to think that, too.  But then I really read the stories.  I mean, really read them.  I asked God to open my eyes and my mind to what he was trying to say through them, and the Bible went from some arcane tome to a personal instruction book for life.

17. I don’t know anything about the Bible.  It’s a book.  Christians refer to it as God’s word.  What more do you need to know?  Bibles are free in many places.  Why, you could open one on the internet RIGHT NOW.

18. God doesn’t want me in heaven.  False.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 
For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world through Him might be saved. 
John 3:16-17


19. I am destined for hell.  We all are, without him.  And hell isn’t just a warm spot where you chip away at rocks all day or something.  It is grim.  We get a taste of it on earth when we suffer.  Why would we want to accept that as our fate, when the alternative is infinitely more appealing?

20. I’m not sure what I believe.  All you have to do is allow him to show you.
May you experience the love of Christ,
though it is too great to understand fully. 
Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life 
and power that comes from God.
Ephesians 3:19