Lent: Days 2 & 3.

I’ve had the opportunity and time to sit down and write the past two days but have chosen not to. It’s good to rest.

On Thursday, I went to Liturgical Chapel with Hannah. At one point, they asked us to quietly free our minds and listen to the Word of God spoken three times in three voices. They read Romans 8:26 {ish and around}.. three different people, three different versions. Each time we were encouraged to pick up on a word or a phrase that seemed to resonate with us, and to focus on that. Mine grew each time. Groaning deeper than words was what bounced in my head over and over. The Spirit’s interceding for us with groaning deeper than words. It was a great practice, followed by the Eucharist and the opportunity to be anointed with oil and prayed for. While praying for me, he mentioned a verse I’ve been thinking about a lot.

2 Timothy 2:17
For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.

It is strange to me that self-discipline is given in response to a spirit of being timid. Strength has to lie in the ability to control oneself, within the freedom to say “no” to that which the world would have you say “yes.” It is in our abstaining and fasting and self-denial that we find freedom and liberation from the world, and from sin. Anyway.

It kept me up late, and I didn’t wake up in time to do my devotions in the morning. When I was done with work I went to Starbucks and spent an hour reading and reflecting on the Word. I realized that while people encourage you to read the Bible slowly and carefully, really concentrating on what is going in and savoring it all.. I read quickly. I miss some things, but then my journal is full of Scripture references or passages written down; things I know I want to think about but want to keep reading more before I stop and really let my brain go.

Occasionally, I can’t help but stop and think. I was reading the story of Samuel and God calling him at night. It’s all different when you’re reading it from the Bible and not looking at pictures on the wall that your Sunday School teacher cut out, right? So I’m reading about what God told him, about how Eli’s family will suffer punishment for his son’s actions and for Eli’s passiveness. and Eli makes Samuel tell him everything, to which Eli replies

“He is the LORD; let him do what is good in his eyes.”

In our devotions at night we’ve been reading through Romans. We were reading Romans 9 and trying to understand the idea of “Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.” {v18}

But when I read the words of Eli, I realized my peace with that verse will come with me giving up my desire to understand, because when it comes down to it, God acts in according to what “is good“. I say that with a bit of a chuckle because my understanding or ideas of “is good” is limited. Do I mean what “is good” in relationship to me, my personal situation? Or perhaps in response to what “is good” for me regarding the people I concern myself. Or, is it what “is good” for the body of Christ? Maybe it is what “is good” for all of humanity. Even, as much as this defies my ability to reason, it is what “is good” for all of creation, that which we can see and that which we cannot.

So to say that God will and does do what “is good” in his eyes is admittedly beyond my ability to fathom, as I do not know ultimately what “good” means, applies to, or implies. Many things that have been “good” have been painful. I would feel comfortable saying that the blood of Christ is good. But the response of the earth when he last breathed leads me to think that there was a heartbreak in Heaven, that God did not passively sit back and check a box on a “plan for salvation” and wait for the Resurrection. He was loud. The was confusion among the disciples, there was sorrow in the hearts of the women who loved him. There was disappointment in those who believed in him. The goodness of the cross did not spare anyone from pain. But the cross was very, very good. For me personally, for me communally, for the Body, for humanity and for all seen and unseen creation.



Then last night was a fancy dress-up dinner at our church. It was supposed to be us who rooted for the blackandyellowblackandyellowblackandyellowblackandyellow team at the Super Bowl to serve those who rooted for the winners. Instead it turned into one of the girls and her mom serving all of us a really nice, fancy dinner while we watched She’s the Man. Carrie tried to teach me how to eat like a princess, which was more of a fail than a success because I tend to talk with my mouth full and I use the sawing technique when cutting things like… well, everything.


Would you believe that on a Saturday morning with no alarm clock, my body wakes up at 6:30? It is a sleep-in of an hour of a half, but I have completely lost my ability to sleep late. I love it, because I’ve been sitting in this chair for about an hour and a half doing nothing but reading Wikipedia and now writing this. Next up on my list is getting dressed and going to Starbucks to read my Bible some more. There is something about fairly instant free icedcoffeewithmilkandcaramel refills that is just so appealing to me about Starbucks….

 

 

Lent: Day 1.

I love the Lenten season. Maybe because I love Easter, but not how I love Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday: it’s pink, sparkly, lovey, hearty, glittery… makes sense, right? But Easter is my essential holiday. As Easter approaches, I start to get really excited. Easter is the most important day in the history of the world. Maybe not Easter in general, but what it celebrates. You know. The Resurrection. and so I appreciate the 46 days before, a time of denial and sacrifice. and other things.

Awhile ago I was clicking around Wikipedia and stumbled upon various aspects of the liturgical year and was elated to discover a book simply entitled The Liturgical Year available for review on BookSneeze. I’ve timed it to be at the Lent/Ash Wednesday part today. and by “I’ve timed it” I mean… yesterday I sat at Starbucks and read a deliberate number of pages. It kept my heart quiet and contemplative as I reminded myself again and again what I would give up, implement, and for what purpose. Here are a few parts I especially enjoyed:

To be able to control our bodies is to be able to control ourselves in even more challenging situations. Fasting enables us to say no to ourselves, no small feat in a world that stresses self-gratification to the ultimate.

Learning to forgo the lusting self, then, is one of the disciplines of the spiritual life. But giving things up does not imply loss. In fact, because of what we give up, we stand to gain a great deal.


We become aware of what is necessary in life, rather than wasting all life’s energies on what is at most cosmetic. We gain the kind of consciousness that is lost in the fog of alcohol or gluttony, agitated by lust, consumed by greed. We learn the greatest gift of all-freedom from the demands of the self for the good of the flowering of the spirit.

{Joan Chittister} Read more from the book on Joan’s page.

So this morning I got up {at 5 am. Brutal!!} and did devotions. In the spirit of Lent, sacrifice, and holding my possessions loosely, I picked out one of my favorite necklaces to give the little girl I spend most of my time with.


She was really excited, and I knew it was a great decision. Plus, it was on my list of 20-11’s. Because I’ve still been working on it, just haven’t been great with the posting part.

Babysat for two other kids right afterwards. Called my dad.

Then, I went to the post office. Because yesterday I got a slip saying there was a parcel for me at the post office. I had no idea who would have sent me anything. So I was anxious as the lady brought a box up for me, return address “The Dutch Blitz Club.” Cassie and Katie. My intentions were to wait until I got home to open it, but who are we kidding? I opened it right away but waited to get home before unpacking it….

That’s what it looked like on the drive home. My friends know me well, right? Then I took it all out…

That would be… a nice fuzzy blanket with hearts, a pink framed Justin Bieber picture {picked out by anti-Bieber Katie herself!} a pink polka dotted mug {that you can write on with chalk!}, silly putty, a sparkly pink box with candy, a candy heart frame, and letters. It was good to receive.

When did I become the kind of person whose friends send her books, make her quilts, send her coffee, send her boxes of awesome, write her quiet unannounced letters {Heather!}???? Have any of these people actually met me? The best part is they have. and have all seen me at my worst, and yet somehow think favorably of me. My friends are clearly the most graceful people in the world.

My devotions this morning were great. I’m in Judges. Don’t ask me how long ago I started with Genesis. Please, just don’t. You will lose any respect for me you may have had. But have you EVER tried to read Leviticus? Let me tell you that it took me THREE MONTHS to get through Leviticus.  Back to Judges.  I underlined Judges 5:21b.. March on, my soul; be strong! That’s all.

  • Pastor Eugene has written a great blog about the heart of Lent. I dig it.

 

March 7th, 2011

Today I am having a quiet, meditative day.

A few weeks ago one of the cadets preached about praying without ceasing and how that means including God all throughout your day. I see it as a seamless weaving of God throughout your life; and I feel that I do this, praying in my car and while washing the dishes. Thinking on the Lord frequently and with passion. But that does not replace the peace I get when I am on my knees with my head to the floor, concentrating on God. It is the only time I receive real peace. The other times are for venting or asking for patience or wisdom or discernment, but is never really about sharing with the Lord and resting quietly while he responds.

For the first time in a long time, I prayed like that. and now I am quiet.

As I was making lunch, this song came up on shuffle. It is now on repeat as I sit quietly and think about the Lord.

I used to live my life in fear
was worried all the time
From waking up to laying down
I had no peace of mind
The world became a darkened place,
a struggle without end.
Although bitter times those were
the days that I began to understand
I was only a man.

I grew up singing songs in church
with questions in my mind,
then turned my back and ran away
from God who gave me life.
Then one night, his presence fell;
I wept and shook and then
I fell down and cried, Dear Jesus
rescue me again. I understand
I am only a man.

Then He said,

What will it be now?
Will you choose me
or keep swimming upstream now?
I’ve been inside your head
hearing you scream out.
Well here I am, just take my hand
and I’ll take out all of the pain
and all of the fear.

I’ll give you my burdens.
I’ll give you peace.
All of my desires.
I’ll give you what you need.
and what about these chains, Lord?
I’ll set you free.
But they’re so heavy…
Lay them at my feet.
I’ll lay them at your feet.. just promise you won’t leave.
I’ll never leave.
So where do I go from here, Lord?
Just follow me, just follow me.
I”ll follow you wherever you lead, wherever you lead..
wherever you lead.



and so it is with a quiet heart that I will begin to prepare myself for the Lenten season. In a day when everything we do is broadcast, may we all be secretly fasting in order that we may rid ourselves of distractions and become more like our Lord in our selves, not just our statuses and shares.

Also – my friend LaTrice posted this great article about why women should not pursue men. I needed the reminder. —


Will you be giving anything up for Lent? if so, what??

Technically March 5th, 2011.

Matters of the heart.

It’s overwhelming.
It’s overwhelming me.
It’s overwhelming my friends.

My friends are starting to realize how invested I’ve been allowing myself to get when it comes to CG, and I think they are going into protection mode. Because a lot of them are not fans of CG. Not because he is a bad person – he is honestly one of the best people I know – but because this kind of investment rarely has an equal return.

But part of me knows that and will see it out anyway.

Have you ever seen Totally Blonde? Not Legally Blonde, mind you, but Totally Blonde… this really great {read: awful} movie featuring an early Michael Buble? There’s this part where he proposes to Meg, and she’s turning him down but he’s trying to hold on to hope, and at one point his sad little face says “…so you’re saying there’s a chance????” as if the idea of even just the thought of something small and insignificant MAYBE, POSSIBLY happening was worth holding out for.

That’s how I feel.

I feel as if I will endure every kind of imaginable heartache for the SMALL, TINY, CHANCE POSSIBILITY that CG might one day – even for a brief moment – think “…what about Stephanie?”

So I guess my friends are wise in getting protective, because I’m starting to get really stupid.

But you know why? Because he is honestly the best man I know.
and yes. I said “man”… which is a big deal because usually I stick to “girl” and “boy.” But he is a man.
and he is the best one I know.
If only you could know him. You’d like him, too.
but until then, be protective. and pray. for me a lot but also for him.

and a big thank you is owed to Taylor Swift for being the soundtrack for this over the past few months, particularly “Sparks Fly,” “Fearless,” and “Enchanted.”

February 27th, 2011.

Almost Lent. This year, I am going to remind myself that God not only loves cheerful givers but also cheerful giver uppers. So as I take my 40 days without Facebook or a coffee beverage over the size of a tall, I will be doing it with a willing and cheerful spirit, not reluctantly or out of obligation.

Something I learned a few years ago was that I can’t just give something up for Lent, I must also replace that with something. For example, what is the point of giving up Facebook if I take that entire time and dedicate it to trying to bring back MySpace? No point. Why give up excessive coffee drinks just to replace it with a senseless consumption of soda? Right? So that which is not being poured into the abstained needs to go elsewhere. In addition to what I’m giving up is, more importantly, what I am implementing.

It’s a lot.

Quiet time every day. I tried to set a time limit on how long my quiet time must last every day, but I guess that doesn’t really matter. It just has to be a consistent, set apart time to pray and meditate, to read my Bible and journal, and to write letters. Quiet time. Learning to still my heart.

Because I’m going to be honest, but I’m just going to tell you what Stephen Curtis Chapman sang.

If the truth was known and a light was shown on every hidden part of my soul,
most would turn away, shake their heads and say “he’s still got such a long way to go…”

This morning in Sunday School we were talking about spiritual warfare and evil and what that looks like. I commented that for the believer, it usually happens slowly. Satan plants a seed within us, and we willingly water and tend to it. Suddenly we’re being suffocated by something we could have stopped all along were we to acknowledge what was happening.

I feel that the seed has been planted in me. It’s a nasty, ugly, spiky little thing.

Worthlessness. Apathy. Undisciplined. Irritability. Gossiping. …and those are just the parts I’ve really noticed.

Deep within me I feel an urgency to address this, to stand up against my adversary and fight.

Forty days of celebrating discipline and self-control and sacrifice, all leading up to a celebration of the liberating power from sin and death that I have access to because of Christ’s Resurrection? Yes please. Yes PLEASE!

Pray for me, because I am feeling like a prime piece of real estate for Satan and I need deliverance. From myself.

But now that we have my nerdy Lent-talk out of the way……

Jessica came to visit me from North Dakota.

I got an annual Disneyland pass. That is my “no my last name is not Orifice… or Office…” face.

but the best pictures I can show you are from the Crystal Cathedral. They had all of these Biblical statues. First I saw this Moses one and it cracked me up.



In my head I thought “hey guys, got a decent second copy!”

Next came the Holy fam. Baby Jesus was silver. Super weird. So of course I played with him for a little bit.

But then.

This one, you guys.

We’re walking down this path, and I look to my left and I see this statue and I fell to the ground in hysterical laughter.

Before I show you a close up of why it was so funny, let me give you a general overview of this statue entitled “The Lost Get Found.”


Get it? It’s Jesus carrying the one lost sheep. and a bunch of little kids running up to him. oh and me, I was running up to him as well. and for clarification purposes, I had shorts on underneath that.

Okay so now you’re thinking “what is so funny about this picture? It seems quite lovely.”

Brace yourselves.

When I looked this up on the internet to show Rachel, the minute this picture opened on my computer I burst into a giggle fit again.

 

DO YOU SEE THAT FACE? It is the craziest Jesus face I have ever seen in my entire life! It was the funniest thing I’ve maybe ever seen in my life. Maybe.

Then finally. I like to call this one… “hey guys! wait for me!”

So that’s it. I’ve made some progress in my whole 20-11’s list. Perhaps I will update that later.

Thank you and Goodnight.

Also – could you all please e-mail your mailing addresses to stephanieorefice@gmail.com? I would appreciate that. Heather, I located your letter. It will be sent soon 🙂

never gonna find the perfect rhyme.

A few years ago I was really great at writing. We’re talking 2004-2006ish. I had these notebooks that I would write in, and I’d just write whatever came to mind. Usually they were questions. All song fragments. Occasionally a song would be birthed, but that didn’t happen very often. Around this time I was heavily involved in MySpace, and frequently wrote blogs. And I think I was pretty good at writing, mostly because there was a strong sense of un-self consciousness to them. I wrote just because I had things to say and needed to get them off my chest.

But now it’s weird, because it’s changed a little bit. Now it’s like… what do I have to say that anyone would find interesting? How often can I post without annoying people, and on the flip side… how long can I go without posting anything before people forget about me? Is the layout of my blog annoying? Do I need to include more pictures?

Yesterday I updated my ipod. I am still rocking the pink ipod mini I bought in 2005, the one with 4 whole gigabytes. I added the new Taylor Swift album and the Bruno Mars album. I was playing songs for Hannah as I was trying to figure out what songs I might want to listen to in my car when I started listening to John Mayer.

Tonight I was laying here on the couch and picked up where I left off with John Mayer and I listened to New Deep, from his Heavier Things album. New Deep used to be my jam. Well, all of Heavier Things really… but New Deep had this level of self-explanatory love to it. It made me think of being young{er} and drinking blended Starbucks beverages and eating at Muchas with Melissa.

That’s all I have to say about that.

  • My friend Brandon writes a lot of beautiful things. Usually in the form of songs, but here is something beautiful he wrote that is not a song {though it does quote one}.
  • Charles won a crap ton of Grammys the other night. I didn’t really freak out about that, but I pretty much had a heart attack when he hugged Miley Cyrus.
  • I always think I lose my phone and/or my keys. Today I went to the store, came home… and suddenly had this strong sense that I left my phone at the store. I ran to my car, drove to the store and was heartbroken when they didn’t have my phone. I got in the car and checked my purse, and it was in there. Oops.
  • At Fresh & Easy {where I did not leave my phone} they had boxes of Apple & Cinnamon Smiles on sale 2 for $3. I was so excited to have a bowl when I got home, but then I realized that the date on my milk was the 16th. After Hannah confirmed my fears with a sniff test, I realized my milk was bad. No cereal for me.

Last Sunday I was able to see precious little Eden get dedicated. Before her dedication, she and I went for a walk around the training college taking pictures. We had some good conversation about what it meant to get dedicated. and then she got a pink Bible. She modeled it and then had me do the same. It was the perfect day to celebrate Eden’s journey so far. I can’t wait to know her when she is 14.

In her fancy dress.

Getting dedicated.

Showing off her new pink Bible.

Eden took this nice picture of me posing with her Bible.

It really was a beautiful day.

And finally.

This was Eden when we said our goodbyes. 🙂

The next day I was at her house for Bible study; she was getting ready to go spend the Toys R Us gift cards she had received. I looked up at her on the stairs and asked if she had picked her socks out by herself. Her response was {obviously} yes. I told her I’d help her find matching socks….. after I took a picture.

She is such a blessing.