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Finding God – Lent 2015

finding God in the midst of chaos / Lent 2015 // stephanieorefice.net

 

One year I gave up fast food for Lent. Two days in, I was driving from Seattle back home to Portland when I stopped at Taco Bell (I used to make really bad decisions). I stood in line at Taco Bell, kind of back and forth about if I should get something or not and I finally cracked and left. I felt really guilty about it and was sitting in quiet reflection when the Holy Spirit convicted me to the core of my being.

“What is the point of giving up fast food if you’re still arrogant and hard of heart? Do you think I am glorified by you abstaining from fast food but continuing to gossip and be cynical about everyone in your life?”

I realized that Lent isn’t just about what we give up. Madeleine L’Engle says that if something is worth giving up for 40 days, it’s worth giving up once for all.

The danger with giving something up is that we’ve created a void in our lives that might be quickly filled with another unhealthy habit. It’s not enough to remove something – we must REPLACE it. Trade the bad for the good and trade the good for the best.

A few weeks ago my best friend Emily texted me about Lent, and we ended up sharing our Lent plans. The heart of it is about seeing God in our lives – and I’d say more than seeing, FINDING. Finding God in our lives. Sometimes I think he’s a little more discreet about his presence than we realize, and I think we need to lean in a little bit closer, to be detectives in search of evidence of something we already know – God is here. I want to spend my life collecting little evidence bags of proof that God’s been invading my life and leaving his fingerprints, footprints, crumbs and fibers all over everything.

That’s what Lent is about for me this year. and this is what I’m doing:

  • I took the Facebook & Facebook messenger app off my phone.
    Let’s be real – I waste a lot of time scrolling through my newsfeed and getting angry at people I like. I click that stupid little F not just out of boredom but sheer habit. No more.
  • I am going to catch up & stay caught up on my Bible in 2015 reading plan. 
    I’ve fallen behind. Very behind. and instead of throwing myself a pity party or feeling like a failure, I’m just going to bust my butt and get caught up.
  • Being more intentional about taking pictures of how I see God at work in my life.
    I really like pictures. and I recently invested in a new camera, and I haven’t used it as much as a person who paid nearly $1,000 for a new camera should use it when they first get it. I feel stifled and uncreative and in a rut. and I don’t think that’s how God created me to engage with the world. So I’m going to be like the people on CSI who take pictures of everything as evidence. I’m finding God, and I’ll have pictures to show for it.
  • Being quiet. 
    Monday was so rough for me. I woke up and sent someone a picture of my planner for the next 3 weeks and was overwhelmed with the busyness of it all. I hate being busy and without moments to breathe and re-center. So even in the midst of chaos, I’m going to be quiet. I’m going to take time to read (I haven’t read in a long time) and write (especially letters to my friends) and even just sit looking outside while I drink my coffee. I need to have moments of quiet.

The things I’m “giving up” aren’t THINGS so much as feelings, time-wasters, worries, fears. Stuff that slowly destroys my soul, peace and rest because I let it take over my entire life. and it’s not about 40 days, it’s about life. Lent is just a great time to reset because it’s easy to find accountability and it’s leading up to the greatest victory this world has ever known, so it’s like a built in celebration at the end.

Isaiah 30:15 // stephanieorefice.net

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God gave me time.

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Every morning I like to be out of bed between 7-7:15 am, regardless of what I have going on. I try to schedule appointments between 8 and 8:30 so that I can always have solid time to prepare myself for the day.

This morning I was ultra tired, and at 8:30 am I was still in bed. Awake, but in bed. Then I remembered, sadly, that I was out of coffee. As if I needed more reasons to stay in bed. After 30 minutes of pep talking, I got myself out of bed and was in my car driving to Pines to get coffee.

AND THEN IT HIT ME. LIKE A TON OF BRICKS. MAYBE TEN TONS OF THEM.

Yeah, it was 9 am. I’d probably get back at 9:30. But that was TWO HOURS before I needed to leave for work. TWO HOURS IS A LOT OF TIME, IF IT’S SPENT WELL.

This is what hit me.

God gave me time.
He didn’t give me to time.

I don’t belong to time. God didn’t create time and say to the Hour, “here is Stephanie…. do with her what you will.” He created me and gave ME the hour and said “Stephanie, be responsible with this.”

As I got the coffee, I was thinking about the things that needed my hour(s) the most .What were things I WANTED or NEEDED to do that I could reasonably do within two hours? I made a small list.

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee
  • Pick up the clothes off my floor and put them away
  • Write letters to Claire and Chanelle
  • Do a load of laundry

So I got home, and guess what I did. As the coffee was brewing, I threw in a load of laundry and put my clothes away. I made my bed, since I was there, and then I made myself oatmeal. I spread out the things I need to write letters to my friends, and then I started writing.

I was one paragraph into my letter to Chan when I thought.. you know I bet there are a lot of people who are wasting away hours and minutes and moments and I decided to share what I was convicted of this morning.

God gave you time. He didn’t give you to time.

Take advantage of every single minute you have. Cherish it like the gift that it is, and get stuff done. Don’t neglect important things for stupid things like pinning unrealistic expectations on Pinterest, or  having to wear one more dirty shirt because you’d rather spend time scrolling through your Facebook newsfeed and hating people that you don’t actually mind in real life.

Time is God’s gift to you. You are not God’s gift to time.

I’m out.

ps: “God Gave Me You” came on right as soon as I finished typing that last sentence.

ps again: I put bananas, coconut flakes & cinnamon on my oatmeal and it was the best.

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My dress is beautiful.

This morning I almost w0re a skirt, but instead decided to wear this lovely vintage red dress that I only recently decided I really like. After church, I considered going straight home but decided at the last minute to pull over at my favorite Starbucks.

As I was walking in, this wonderful older lady told me that my dress was beautiful, that she loved the colors and thought it was very cheery. I thanked her and we began talking. Her name is Irma. After noticing my Bible, she asked if I was a Christian and when I responded “yes!,” she told me about a musical going on at a church nearby during this Easter week. We walked around for a little bit until we found a promotional flyer on a store window in downtown Covina.

When it came time to part ways, she asked me if I could keep her in my prayers. So I prayed for her right then and there, asking God to bless her and guide her and love her so much. and then she said “it was no coincidence that we met today.” I replied “I agree, it was not.”

There’s this invisible wall between me and God right now.  I am shouting to him over it, and I know he is responding, but there’s something troubling that’s in the way. I’m not entirely sure I know what it is, but as I’ve thought more and more about it I’ve concluded that this wall is my desire to grasp the totality of God.

Donald Miller once said, “I can no more understand the totality of God than the pancake I made for breakfast understands the complexity of me.”

This is my problem. I’m trying to grasp it, to understand it. I can loosely believe that there is a Being who always was, who currently is, and will be tomorrow and throughout eternity. Loosely, I can believe that. And I can loosely believe that despite what my eyes see, He is in control {sounds like an old Stephen Curtis Chapman song – King of the Jungle} and that everything I read in the Bible is about HIM.

Thinking about God – and I mean God himself, not Christianity nor my response to God – gives me a headache. I close my eyes and concentrate on the dots in the blackness behind my eyelids, hoping God will reveal himself, that he will show me a glimpse of himself: as if seeing God will erase my troubles and my headaches.

But I know what I must do. I must let go and stop trying to understand. Nobody can answer the questions I cannot even begin to ask, and I don’t think God wants to satisfy my curiosity.

Side note: Two weeks from today, I’ll be heading towards San Francisco.. a little bit of a layover before moving back to Washington. Soon I will be in Washington, with people who love me. ….and it’s more sweet than bitter, though both are there.

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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.

 

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The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible, NKJV.

When I opened the front cover of my newly acquired Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible, I knew I was going to like it. On the inside dust jacket flap is a little something written by Max Lucado reflecting on the power of the words “It is written…” and I decided then and there that I was excited to read this Bible.

Not only is it a translation I’ve never read {New King James Version} but it’s full-of commentaries and devotionals from Max Lucado, who is a phenomenal writer. Not only that, but in the back pages of the Bible are plenty of great extra tools and such, the one that excites me the most is a 30 day study for new believers. Guess what I’m going to be doing?

In reviewing this Bible, it wasn’t required to read the whole thing but was suggested that I pick my favorite book and read from there. I considered that and then decided that instead I’d just pick up where I was already reading: Joshua.

and that dust jacket flap was an accurate preview of this edition, because I fell in love with this Bible. The margins have Life Lessons from Max Lucado, and I sat in Panera, excited about the way he drew inspiration for my every day life from these stories in ways I probably would have never found.

Awhile ago as we did our devotions and I commented to Rachel and Hannah that if it was not hardback, I would use this as my all-the-time Bible. It’s hardback and of decent weight/thickness, so I’ll probably use this one mostly inside of the house. If you are looking for a new Bible, take the time to look through this one. I pointed it out to Brittany when we were at Borders the other day.. and read her the inside front dust jacket flap.

This is a really great Bible that has great life applications and encouragement and I’d recommend it for anybody looking for a new Bible. I just hope that one day it comes in a soft cover 🙂

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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