Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sacrificial Giving.

A couple weeks ago (wow, seriously over 2 weeks ago. This post is a long time coming) LCC's board had their spring meetings. Lot of issues were discussed, but because this blog is not about those issues, I won't bore you with the details. Mainly what drives a lot of conversations lately is money and economic crisis, if you must know. Anyway, at one of the meetings they passed a hat around among board members, and they were to pledge how much money they would raise/give to LCC. LCC needs to raise a certain amount of money by July. They only passed it among themselves. People felt good about it, because the members of the board are generally wealthy, and have jobs that pay them. Someone even recognized that most of the people sitting on the sidelines were those who were giving of their time and lives, and didn't have any money to give outside the support they were raising. I was not at this meeting, but this is what I heard happened. No big deal.
Then there was a big faculty/staff dinner with the board. It was nice to be treated to some good food (free meal). There were some inspirational speeches and funny (albeit weird) songs/entertainment provided by the board. I felt good about my time here, and honored to be a part of it. Then they brought up raising money again, and passed the hat around to each person. We had slips of paper that we could write on to indicate how much money we could give to LCC, or how much we could ask our friends and family to donate.
I for one felt shocked and a little let down. How dare they? How on earth can we donate money that was already donated on our behalf? Nothing that we have here is really our own. How can we ask for more money for the school from the friends and family that we are relying on to support us? How much more can I give? We're already giving of ourselves for one more year.
Those are some of the thoughts that ran through my head. And then I felt guilty for feeling that way. And then I felt mad for feeling guilty.

Sorry for all the drama just to set up a point.

After much thought, and some discussion among like-minded people, I came to some conclusions.
1. There were some people at the dinner that evening that are not externally funded (a nice way to say that they don't have to raise support). Perhaps the board was talking mostly to them.
2. Someone suggested that we are to give sacrificially.

And that's how I came about to posting about sacrificial giving.


Sorry it took me so long to get to the point. So what does the Bible say about sacrificial giving, if anything? I googled it, and got sent to this page. And then you have to scroll down to point 8, I think. This answer gives two verse:
2 Samuel 24:24, about giving to God a sacrifice that costs you something.
1 John 3:16, about Christ giving up his life for us, so we in turn should give up our lives for our brothers and sisters. (If you're so inclined, you could even read the verse after it. It's pretty good, but don't take my word for it).

Sacrificial giving is so hard. And I'm sorry, but I have few answers. Only questions. What do you think?

To go you must leave

Not last Sunday, but the Sunday before, the sermon at church was a "preaching to the choir" type of a sermon, or at least that's how it started out. The Scripture was Luke 10, where Jesus sends out his disciples. How does one preach about "being sent" to a congregation that is mostly composed of people who are not currently living in the same country displayed in their passport? How does one speak on being sent to a group that, when asked, can rattle off a whole list of countries that they've visited in the past three months (and we did. All at once).

So the speaker took it one step further and said, for some it is easy to "go" wherever God sends them. But in order to truly go, one must also truly leave.

In verses 3 and 4, Jesus says, "Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Don't take any money with you, nor a traveler's bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don't stop to greet anyone on the road."

The speaker then went on (we don't have a pastor at our church, just regular speakers...if you know of anyone whose passion and gifts are in pastoring, and who would like to do ministry in Lithuania...send that person on over!*) to say that "leaving" could involve leaving behind many things. Family, friends, jobs, security (financial, safety, and otherwise), certain foods/ingredients, familiarity, language, comforts, etc etc etc.

I'm coming to realize that to truly throw yourself into whatever or wherever God wants you to, there is a lot to be left behind. I have a lot of luxuries that I wonder if are preventing me from truly having to leave everything I know: (internet, and a lot of care packages filled with peanut butter, brown sugar, and chocolate chips to name a few).

I'm not sure if I'm ready to give all of those things up, especially the fact that we talk to our family via Skype more now than we did when we lived in the United States (never used skype in the United States, but we certainly had cell phones that had free calls between customers of the same company). We are more intentional about it. And I have felt that we are blessed because of it.
I like to treat other people here with cookies that have been made with the peanut butter, brown sugar, and chocolate chips. There are people downstairs (I'm typing this from Steve's office, so, no pictures on this post either. Once I break a rule, I find that I break it more frequently after the first time. Well, in this scenario at least) that are enjoying some cookies right this moment with two of the three ingredients. And it has been a great pleasure to get to bring jars of peanut butter to events so that everyone can have some, or to give it away as birthday presents. Do you think that I am over justifying things? Am I called to give all these things up? When sent, are we to go cold turkey? What do you think?

*Actually, if you know of anyone that would like to raise support and do ministry at a certain University in Lithuania, there are plenty of opportunities there as well. Seriously. And apply sooner than later, so your temporary residence permit can be processed on time, and you won't have to leave the country (the "country" being the Schengan Area, which Lithuania is in).

Monday, March 30, 2009

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Excuses and a style break

I have not posted in a while because:
2. The computer at home suddenly thinks that blogger is a bad website and won't let me access it (Steve tried to post some comments here and other places, and it wouldn't let him)
3. I'm too busy to sit and figure out the second reason
4. So now I'm posting from my office, so you won't think that I've died
5. But really, since I'm in my office, I need to be working on the pile of other things.
6. Perhaps this weekend will provide some time.

No labels. No photos. Sorry.

Topics for the future (possibly):
a. The Shack
b. To go you must leave

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Social Experiment In The Works-- still in the thought process

Pushing a bike around in wintery Sweden (and riding some too) gives a person time to think. Or at least cause to think. Well, me anyway.

What would it be like if you opted to go for a significant amount of time (a year, maybe?) without buying anything new? There are a lot of implications to this, and I'm trying to thoroughly think through each possibility before I start anything crazy.

I'm not suggesting that a person who tries this experiment should not buy anything ever within the year. I'm suggesting they should not buy anything that is new. This of course will not work for everything, food comes to mind, but how does it look for a lot of things?

Over the years I have been struck by the culture of "disposability" that I've seen mostly in the United States, but can occur anywhere. And who knows? Maybe I've been out of the United States for so long that this problem no longer exists? At any rate, I'm still affected by it, and would like to get further and further away from the culture of disposability.

I'm no expert by all means on this idea. I'm sure someone smarter than I am has written a clever book about it. But just the thought that something can't be reused or is in such poor quality to begin with and will be quickly replaced seems like...well, even though it is trendy, it certainly isn't the way I would like to do things. It seems so wasteful. And if my dead great-great grandparents knew how much cheap, crappy crap we as a culture consume each year, they would role over in their graves. But anyway, the point of this post is not to rant and rave about disposability so much as it is to explore what it would look like, and maybe some guidelines for living a year without buying anything new (remember, new to you).

Wear what you have. If you absolutely need something different, go to a thrift store or borrow from a similarly sized friend.
For socks and underwear:
Perhaps stock up on these items before you start on this project (Sorry, I can do a lot of things, but secondhand socks and underwear is too much. I would rather go without).

Books/Movies/Music/Other entertainment:
Get a library card, rent, borrow from a friend, listen to/watch what you already have, etc.

Necessities of life (food, shelter, hygiene products, cleaning products, etc):
You may think that being clean is not a necessity of life. But for health and social reasons, I think it is. Especially if you are doing this project as a way to fast. As far as food goes, I still need to think this one through some more. It could mean that you only buy local food. Or it could mean that you don't eat out. Or it could mean that you don't eat at or buy food from chains. I don't know yet. The purpose of this is not to put everyone in the restaurant industry out of business (not that me giving up on eating out will put a dent on anyone's budget). As far as shelter goes, perhaps it could mean that you don't buy anything new for your shelter (as always, new to you).

This I have thought about, but don't necessarily know how it would look yet, based on the broad definition of travel, and everything that could possibly be involved in travel. For example, there are different times of travel. Daily, weekly, quarterly, yearly, etc. And what if your primary mode of travel is walking, does that then make your shoes not only clothes, but vehicles too? I think I would for sure condone not buying a new (to you) car or bicycle or...rollerskates (or whatever you use for daily travel from here to there). But what about the less frequent types of traveling that are more long-distant. I don't know that I would condone hitchhiking over buying a train ticket. Not for myself anyway. I would however suggest staying with friends or family at your destination over paying for a place to stay. I will think more about this. Souvenirs is also a topic within travel to think about.

Say you wake up one day and you want to hang a picture on the wall. And you don't want to/can't go out and buy some new art. So you decide to create your own art...but you don't have any paint or clay or photo paper, or wood (or whatever supplies you might need). I am not sure that secondhand paint exists (or anything else on the list for that matter). Or let's say that you want/need to buy someone a gift, but can't buy anything new (to you or to them), and you are all regifted out, or you think that regifting is tacky....I would say that in making a gift or art or whatever, it might be ok to buy some supplies as you need, because you are being resourceful already and making what you need.

I can't think of anything else off the top of my head.

After typing all of this out, it doesn't sound as thrilling as it did when I was pushing the bike around. However, I like a challenge...especially one that will help me to grow as a person. Perhaps if (when) I do this, I will start slow. Like not buying anything new from one category for one month before adding another category. Who am I kidding though, I don't really buy much of anything as it is, the more I think about it. Maybe I should start cold-turkey? After I stock up on socks and underwear, of course.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Giving credit where credit is due

Steve either took this picture, or inspired me to take it while we were out in the elements of Sweden.

Since being back, I have much to post about...some thoughts and a book review. But first, I have to gather my thoughts, and second, I have to finish the book.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I tried desperately to make a poll, but blogger wouldn't let me. Must be a glitch.

Oh well, it's better to ask anyway, then you can explain your answer...although now it is not anonymous.

Which do you remember better, faces or names?

a. faces
b. names
c. both
d. neither
e. whichever is introduced first
f. whichever is introduced second

If I know the name before I meet the person...their face is a blur to me....for longer than I would care to admit. And vice versa.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Progress Report -- March

Today I looked at my phone to see what time it was (and really that's what I use it for the majority of the time), and noticed the date. 02/03/2009. On my phone the date is expressed with the date first, the month second, and the year third.

This got me thinking about my old blog. And then it got me thinking about how it's been 2 months since 2009 started, and what have I to show for it? Even though I only said I would do 9 things this year...I feel like I should pace myself so that I can have a nice December and not have to do all 9 of them then. Plus, what is the point of setting goals for a year, if you don't take the year to accomplish them?

So, here were my goals. And in italics will be some thoughts.

1. Start and complete a 500-1000 piece jig-saw puzzle (This will be difficult. Challenging. And I may have to start now if I want to finish by the end of the year. I am not good at jig-saw puzzles).

Done and done. It feels like a thousand ages ago. Sometimes I feel like planning for different events is like putting together an enormous puzzle. Except the pieces aren't just laying there on the table next to a nice picture of what the finished product will look like. Just a little glimpse into my world, via italicized thought.

2. Work my way up to eating 5 servings of fruit per day (I've learned that I can't start cold-turkey. Mmmm.....turkey).

Today I ate...no fruit. Yesterday I ate...tomatoes...and orange juice. It's slow going, people. Oh wait, this evening I did have a small cup of fruity tea, so there's that. I think my strategy might have to lie in drinking more orange juice. That and deliberately buying and eating fruit.

3. Reduce more, Recycle more, Reuse more (not because it's green, but because it's what I've been taught since childhood)

So far, I feel like I could be doing more, but we have been remembering to bring our cloth bags with when grocery shopping...and I've been saving and reusing jars like crazy. Also, we have been finding creative ways to recycle paper. In the future (possibly after spring break), I would like to find a space either in our apartment or out in the lobby of the dorm to put boxes for plastic. Then, when the boxes are full, I would carry them to the nearest recycling bins.
The recycling bins are interesting looking...interesting enough to take a picture of someday, and therefore eventually interesting enoug
h to blog about.

4. Continue to try to like tea. Learn more about the different kinds enough to have an educated conversation about tea with someone who loves it.

Every time I am somewhere and someone offers me tea, I have said "yes, please." I have had a lot of tea in 2009. I would argue that I've almost matched my previous lifetime total. Do I like tea? Well, I don't mind it. I don't drink it on my own too much, so it's still in the category of country music and burger king for me. I still don't care too much for the flavor of black tea, but have been slowly warming up to herbal and green. There's a pun in there somewhere. I still need to be educated about tea more, which the second part of the goal.

5. Practice Lithuanian

Some. But nearly as much as I would like. I still remember words, but am forgetting grammar like crazy. Like crazy is my current description of choice. I feel like I am allowed to repeat myself sometimes. On the other hand, I am starting to feel about Lithuanian what I feel about Spanish...like I could pick it up faster than the first time around.

6. Learn the Russian alphabet, and some words

Still desperately need to do this. Still desperately want to do this. This week isn't looking good. Next week isn't either. Or the week after that. But maybe somewhere inbetween all the busyness, I will pick it up by submersion. And if that doesn't work, I still have the Rosetta Stone tucked away in a safe place.

7. Read the manual for our camera

I had/have such big plans for this. I am going to read a chapter, and then spend a chunk of time only practicing that setting. I have not opened the book yet, nor have I had time to. But when I do, I will certainly blog about it. Spring break is coming soon, and I will have a long ferry ride to Sweden to get some reading out of the way, and then a few days to practice my moves on a new country.

8. Stop touching facial blemishes

I suck at this. In 2006 I gave up unnecessarily touching my face for lent. This year I gave up facebook status updates. I will continue trying to not touch my face unnecessarily.

9. Learn more about the church calendar

I'm saving this one for a later date. A later date in 2009, but a later date nonetheless.

So there you have it. I also had some goals for this blog, which were:
3 blogs a week (or, an attempt to post not daily, but frequently)

A picture with every post.

Well, if you consider that it has been 4 weeks since I've started this blog...then I should have 12 posts. So I'm a little behind on that, but not bad.
I've stuck with labels, but a few times...ok a lot of times, I've had to go back and put them in after I've published the post.
And, for better or for worse, I've included a picture with every post. It has been challenging. But in a good way.

Which reminds me:

As you may have guessed, I love making pictures of things and places. For many reasons. Maybe even enough to blog about it someday. But if I must photograph people, it is best when they are caught up in the moment, showing their true faces. Candid shots, if you will. And I think you will. This picture is not really that high quality in terms of the actual picture. But the faces are priceless to me.
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