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go and sin no more.

john 8:1-11 is one of those stories we’ve all heard before.
the woman caught in adultery. the guys wanting to stone her. Jesus letting her go.

most people think the point of this story is that we shouldn’t judge people because all of us have sinned.
that’s true, but i think there’s more.

Jesus wasn’t only trying to remind the men that they were just as sinful as this woman. he wanted them to realize the grace they’d been shown in the past. they were just as guilty as she was, yet no one was throwing any stones at them.

so they run away, and it’s just Jesus and the woman left. now if i was her, and i had just heard that speech, i’d be terrified, because Jesus was perfect; unlike her accusers, he had every right to throw a couple stones. he could have sat there and taken her on a guilt trip all day if he wanted. but he doesn’t. he just tells her to put this behind her, change her life and go on.
why?
because God doesn’t want us to wallow in shame when we mess up. he wants us to change.
the purpose of guilt is to show us that we’ve done something wrong and need to fix it. the woman in the story knew full well that she was wrong; those men had already made her feel plenty bad about it. Jesus didn’t like what she had done, but there was no need for him to say so because she knew that.
by letting her go, he wasn’t saying that what she’d done was okay; he was showing her that his grace was bigger than her sin. this is what loving the sinner while hating the sin is. Jesus hated what she’d done, and he never wanted her to do it again. but because he loved her, he gave her a chance to give up what he hated.
and even though we’re not told the rest of her story, i imagine being shown that much love gave her a lot more strength to “sin no more” than piling on more shame would have.

what do we get from all this?
1. helping someone learn how to go on differently is more important than showing them where they’ve messed up. chances are, they already know. the more defeated you make them feel, the less likely they are to change. let them see that there’s hope for the future instead of dragging them through their past.
2. our future is more important to God than our past. we can’t change what we’ve already done, but we can learn from it and not make the same mistake again. as soon as we’ve realized our sin, confessed it to God, and done whatever else is necessary to make up for it(like when we’ve hurt someone else), the pity party ends. get to work on living differently now, rather than beating yourself up about what’s behind you.
3. spread grace, not shame. this doesn’t mean the person you’re accusing is any less wrong; it simply means that God has shown you a lot of grace, so you should do the same. grace isn’t saying that what someone has done is okay. it’s saying that even though they’ve messed up really bad, they don’t have to stay that way.

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rambles on ciu sports

painful perspective.

our second game last night beat me up a little. i was hurting pretty bad last night, but today i can barely move.

have you learned anything new yet today? let me help you out. here are some things you may not have realized you can’t do with only one working thumb and a neck that can’t turn.

1. driving.
2. washing dishes.
3. putting my hair in a ponytail.
4. brushing my hair(it’s easy enough to do one-handed, but it hurts my neck).
5. lifting heavy pans of food.
6. typing(i’d never realized that i always hit the space bar with my left thumb, never my right. it’s a difficult habit to break).
7. brushing my teeth(again, that somehow puts pressure on my neck…i think i must work too hard at it).
8. drinking without a straw(leaning my head back hurts too)
9. running(who knew the shock moves all the way from the ground to my feet to my neck and shoulders?).
10. opening doors(there are a surprising number of simple things that i automatically do with my left hand, considering that i’m right-handed).

but just like how my heart and lung issues have gotten me into the habit of thanking God every time i manage to take a deep breath, this too is showing me little things i never thought to be thankful for.

it makes me feel really sad for that Soul Surfer girl and other people like her. at least i have both my arms even if i can’t use the thumb on one of them for a few weeks. =]

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enough.

someday i’ll get around to writing a post explaining what’s been going on with all my doctor visits and why that’s so hard for me, but today isn’t that day.
today is the day i tied a bow around the lesson God’s been trying to work into my spiritual heart while my physical heart has been sick.

the most necessary backstory details to understand the story i’m about to tell:
-my heart/lungs/blood sugar have been screwed up for five months. i’m not dying, but running has been a bit of a struggle.
-the only thing i’m known for at CIU, besides being the girl who works in the caf every day, is all the sports i play.
this is also sort of continuing the idea i wrote about here, though you can understand this post without having read that one first.

a couple weeks ago, my melting pot of symptoms had stumped yet another doctor, and i was getting more frustrated than ever. next cross country practice, i once again had to drop out of the workout after the first 200 meter sprint because my chest hurt and my arms were numb.
sitting on the ground watching the rest of the team do what i love is hard. i’d been getting better at being ok with not being ok, but i realized that day that it was only because i was assuming i’d be better someday. like when i have the flu and don’t complain about lying on the couch drinking gatorade and eating crackers, because i know i’ll be ok in a few days.
i sat there and wondered, what if i never get back to where i was? all the doctors have said for sure is that i’m not dying of anything. i’m able to go about my normal life; the only problems i have are with running. plenty of people would kill to have it that good…what if this is as healed as i’m going to get?
i shook the thought off and reminded myself, “i’ll still have soccer.”

of course i shouldn’t have mentioned that, because that night at soccer practice, my heart went off to the races, i lost all feeling in my arms, and my chest got so tight i could barely move.
sitting out of cross country is hard…sitting out of soccer is unbearable.
i focused on pulling out the grass in front of me so that i wouldn’t cry, and started praying hard.
“God, i can handle it if you take away running. but please, you can’t take soccer from me.”
i tried to think of a happy thought to distract myself with like i had earlier, but this time i couldn’t.
“if i lose soccer, i’ll have nothing left.”
and ever so patiently, God whispered, “you’ll still have me.”
while that was comforting, i was still too focused on the problem at hand. “this is the only claim to fame i have!! without sports, no one will know who i am.”
“do YOU know who you are?”
his first answer had been somewhat predictable, but this one totally caught me off guard.
“i’m the runner that smiles all the time. i’m the tough little goalie that jumps around when we win.” i felt the way i do when someone’s asked me a question and is waiting for me to get the most obvious answer. and the more i thought, the more i realized i wasn’t saying who i am. i was saying who people see me to be.
but no matter what else i am, i’m first and foremost God’s child. if i’m nothing else, i’ll still be that.
and even if i have nothing, i still have everything as long as i have God.
just like people are, my ability to run is just another gift from God. it’s something God wants me to enjoy and be thankful for, but it isn’t a need. if he takes it away, i’ll be okay; all i need is him.

i’ve been getting the hang of trusting this, but it really hit home for me this morning in chapel.
see, not being able to breathe has made me not able to sing. which for a long time made me feel like i wasn’t able to worship.
but God slowly started turning my heart around.
i stopped focusing on the fact that i couldn’t sing, and started listening to what was being sung. instead of thinking about the song i wished i could sing along to, i thought about who i wished i could sing about.
now, i think i’ve more truly worshiped the past three weeks than i have the past three years worth of chapels.
then this morning…i was suddenly able to sing again. i didn’t even realize it until we were halfway through Enough; i was thinking about how God actually is more than enough for me now, and then i thought “well God, i was fixing to say thanks that i don’t need to sing…but i can sing. why’d you do that? i would have been okay if you’d never let me again.”
as soon as the words left my head, i realized “OH. that’s why, isn’t it?”

when you’re content with only God, that’s when he starts piling on the blessings.
because if he’s the only thing you need, then instead of being distracted by extra things, you’ll be able to see them as what they really are: good things from a good God who loves you, not reasons to forget God, but reasons to thank him and praise him even more.

and if he never gives you anything else, well, that’s okay too. because either way, God is enough.

you can read an even better story of God being enough here. i met this guy and his World Race team when i was in costa rica. now they’re in honduras, and God is doing ridiculous things.

is God really enough for you? or are you thinking “all i need is God and[insert important thing here]? if God took that from you tomorrow, would you still be content?

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42 life lessons from a 90 year old.

someone posted this on facebook today, and i loved it so i’m putting it here in case none of your friends shared it around. i bolded my favorites.

Written by Regina Brett, 90 years old, of the Plain Dealer, Cleveland , Ohio .

“To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 42 lessons life taught me. It is the most requested column I’ve ever written.

My odometer rolled over to 90 in August, so here is the column once more:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.

2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3. Life is too short – enjoy it..

4. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will.

5. Pay off your credit cards every month.

6. You don’t have to win every argument. Stay true to yourself.

7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.

8. Save for retirement starting with your first pay check.

9. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

10. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.

11. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.

12. Don’t compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

13. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it…

14 Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.

15. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful. Clutter weighs you down in many ways.

16. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.

17. It’s never too late to be happy. But it’s all up to you and no one else.

18. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.

19. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.

20. Over prepare, then go with the flow.

21. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.

22. The most important sex organ is the brain.

23. No one is in charge of your happiness but you.

24. Frame every so-called disaster with these words ‘In five years, will this matter?’

25. Always choose life.

26. Forgive but don’t forget.

27. What other people think of you is none of your business.

28. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.

29. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

30. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does..

31. Believe in miracles.

32. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.

33. Growing old beats the alternative — dying young.

34. Your children get only one childhood.

35. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

36. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.

37. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.

38. Envy is a waste of time. Accept what you already have not what you need.

39. The best is yet to come…

40. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

41. Yield.

42. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.”