Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Salvation is a Life

I started reading The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard this last week. I have been in search of understanding what makes the Christian life so much different from the non-Christian. Yes, I know that I believe in the redemptive work of Christ that saves me from my sins and gives me the gift of eternal life with Him, but how is my day-to-day life is different from just another "good-acting" person I pass on the street, work with, or am friends with? When we were in high school we were asked what our "life verse" was...maybe to put in a profile at graduation? I can't remember, anyway, I chose Romans 12:1-2, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spirtual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." That seems about response to the mercy of God (saving us through the sacrifice of His Son) we give our lives to him as a sacrifice. We seek to be transformed by Christ, not conforming to the way the world lives around us. It sounds so nice and simple as I type these sentences...but that is not how it plays out in daily life. I want to know how to take this mental picture of Christianity and translate it to be played out by my life, my body, my day-to-day actions. I understand that due to my upbringing in a Christian home and Church attendance I have morals and values that guide me to do the "right" thing, but it doesn't feel like that comes from a well-spring of life flowing out of me from feels more like my mind telling my body what is expected of me based on external factors and expectations. However, that feeling is just a feeling and there are times when I feel God working in me, through me, doing things I wouldn't do without his power, grace or love, but those times aren't often enough for my contentment. I want to be a Christian who understands how to live this short life on earth to the fullest. I want people to see that my "good" deeds come from something besides my own moral code. I want to be continually transformed into Christ's likeness so that God may do his work through me here on earth.

It comes down to learning how to live the Christian life...not just an experience that seals your eternal life, but a life that means something in the Kingdom of God.

"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10

"God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life." 1 John 5:11-12

"For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life." Romans 5:10

So I will continue to seek and understand what it means to be a disciple of Christ with my body, not just my mind. Hopefully, my commitment to this journey will not be intentions are one thing, but follow through is another. Something I am working on this new year.

Here are some of the thoughts from the chapter that I liked...
  • "...the secret of the easy yoke is immersing and persisting in the overall style of life that characterized Jesus." p. 28
  • "...we tend to think of the body and its functions as only a hindrance to our spiritual calling, with no positive role in our redemption or in our participation in the government of God." p.30
  • "To withhold our bodies from religion is to exclude religion from our lives." p.31
  • "Spirituality in human beings is not an extra or "superior" mode of existence. It's not a hidden stream of separate reality, a separate life running parallel to our bodily existence. It does not consist of special 'inward' acts even though it has an inner aspect. It is rather, a relationship of our embodied selves to God that has the natural and irrepressable effect of making us alive to the Kingdom of God - here and now in the material world." p. 31
  • "Through what is in reality an astonishing lack of faith, the church removes itself from the substance of life. Powerless over life, it stands to one side, and God is left without a dwelling place through which he could effectively occupy the world in the manner he intends." p.30
  • "The message of Jesus himself and of the early disciples was not just one of the forgiveness of sins, but rather was one of newness of life..." p.36
  • "The resurrection was a cosmic event only because it validated the reality and indestructability of what Jesus had preached and exemplified before his death-the enduring reality and openness of God's Kingdom...the Kingdom would go on." p.37
  • "...the idea of redemption as the impartation of a life provides a totally different framework of understanding...that life will be poised to become a life of the same quality as Christ's, because it indeed is Christ's. He really does live on in us. The incarnation continues." p.38

Monday, December 28, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Welcome Home!

My mom and I were greeted at the airport by my brother, Kendra and baby walk! They even made me a sign while they waited at Starbucks! so great! It's like no time has passed and I'm so excited to spend more time with family and friends over the holidays!

Las Vegas

So the journey is over...big blue made it to LV and I was reunited with my parents! Really surreal. It's good to see family and rest, but weird ending the adventure. Brian and big blue went on without me to LA and San Francisco where he would meet with people interested in ILB and some friends to make the drive back to Seattle. I'm so thankful to have had the opportunity to travel across the country the past few months...meeting so many fun people, going on little adventures, spending time in the DR, and just having time to think and evaluate about what's next. As for now, I'm excited to get home, back to Seattle, to spend time with family and friends for the holiday season and hopefully find work pretty quickly to pay the bills :)

Here are a few pics from our time in LV...

The venetian

Peter Lik's gallery...check out his photography online

More Venetian

Ice sculptures in the new City Center

City Center

Santa and reindeer at the Bellagio

Dad excited about tapas at Firefly

Brian and I stayed with his friend Ivan

Climbing at Red Rock

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Road Trip Home Part 1

Road trip home

Wednesday – arrive in Miami, find big blue waiting for us intact, eat yummy Cuban sandwiches and monster milkshakes across the street from the Crowne Plaza Hotel, drive to the Everglades, wash my hair at an outdoor faucet in a local park, sleep next to two truckers at a gas station, get eaten alive by mosquitoes in the night.

Thursday – wake up early, get eaten by more mosquitoes, I may accidently have put deet in my eye when putting on my contacts, clean up our bikes and ride 15 miles to and from Chokoloskee island, the hairs on our arms turn white from condensation and I am speckled with bugs, didn’t see any alligators, buy chocolate milk and eat leftover Cuban sandwiches for breakfast, drive to Clearwater, itch bug bites, avoid hwy 19 next time, walk along the beach, pick up shells to keep on the dash of the van only if we both agree on them, take showers after not swimming in the beach , put on cozy sweats and drive to the panhandle where we sleep next to a golf course a lot like Packwoods…continue to itch from the bug bites.

Friday – wake up and start driving along the coast, explored Windmark beach…which will someday be private, stopped at another beach off of hwy 30, admired the green water and white sandy beaches, ate more cereal/pbj/banana/apple, drove to Biloxi and saw a lighthouse in the middle of a 4 lane highway, got kicked off a private swing by a security guard, sang with divas, lost $20 at blackjack, drove onto New Orleans, saw the London levee that broke during Katrina, took pictures of tattered houses, had our own hurricane Katrina in big blue…lost a lot of shells off the dash, drove to the French quarter, ate French beignets at CafĂ© du Monde, walked along Bourbon street, read about the history of New Orleans from Brian’s phone, bought some mardi gras beads, ate a lot of fried/greasy crawfish that wasn’t very good, decided to detox the next day, walked out in the rain past strip clubs down St. Ann street, drove through the night into TEXAS!! sang Amy Grant Christmas music, were nailed with Texas sized rain drops, finally pulled over at a truck stop 20 miles outside of Houston for the night.

Saturday – Brian woke up with bug bites, so did Bekah, drove into Houston, Bekah scrambled to find something cool to do in Houston, drove by Minute Maid park where the baseballs were bigger (because we are in Texas), Bekah was ripped off by Kraftsmen Bakery with a ridiculous $5 small latte with amaretto (for free) but the building was legit – it had a brick face covered in Ivy and arched entrances with charming light posts and Christmas decorations…Brian took a picture, went to CVS to look for a Christmas outfit for big blue…didn’t think we found the best so drove 15 minutes out of our way to Home Depot past another hardware store, couldn’t get into the parking lot, finally got in, CVS selection was better, so drove back to CVS and bought what Brian originally picked out…a wreath and bow for the front, lights for the dash and a stocking for the antennae, the Rothko chapel opened and so we spent some time admiring the peaceful setting of the eight sided building which houses 14 of Rothko’s paintings which were a deep velvety, rich color that absorbed the energy creating a quiet, calm and meditative setting, onto San Antonio, parked by an indoor market filled with imported Mexican gifts, ran along the riverwalk, drove by the Alamo, handpicked the perfect dinner at Central Market…I had pork and sweet potatoes and spinach and Brian had cheese, bread and avocado…finished it off with dark chocolate and peppermint licorice tea, concluded that the bugs causing my continual insane itching were bed bugs, van is infested and psychologically I am damaged, slept at Days Inn about 400 miles from our next destination, El Paso, took warm showers, slept in clean beds, bonus…I got to watch a bit of a crocodile dissection (mostly looking at the stomach contents) on the National Geographic Channel.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009


We've been in the Dominican Republic now for almost 10 days. Tomorrow we leave to return to Miami, pick up Big Blue and race home (with some sightseeing along the way) to make it back for Christmas. It's starting to sink in that the adventure is almost over. Soon I will be back to life in Seattle...not always on the move, unsure who I will meet that day, where I will go, what I will do. Slowly, I'm getting myself ready for the transition back to reality.

A couple days ago Brian and I took a couple of our team members to the capital, Santo Domingo, to catch a flight back to Seattle. We drove in the night before, ate dinner at a cafeteria style restaurant, then I enjoyed some pistachio and coffee helado (ice cream). The next day we dropped them off at the airport around 7am and then decided instead of driving 3 1/2 hours back to Barahona right away we would go to the beach. So we traded in our Fiat for a Kia Picanto and went to Boca Chica, about 15 minutes East of Santo Domingo. We were the first tourists to the beach and were directed into a parking spot and then ushered over to buy a couple of chairs, offered drinks (at 8am??? no thanks) and then sat and looked out at the beautiful ocean view. We read about the history of the DR and swam, finding manta rays, sea cucumbers, fish and anenomes along the ocean floor. It was so peaceful and relaxing. $5 later, we ordered a virgin pina far the best I've ever had and then decided we should head back to Barahona. We loaded up the car, finagled our way out of paying too much for the morning, grabbed a couple pieces of bread and spent the next few hours in the car navigating through the crazy, lack of traffic law roads of the DR. A friend had mailed us a copy of Donald Miller's new book, a book about story, and so having already finished reading the book, I read to Brian as he safely delivered us home. We were reading about a man in the book, Bob Goff, who is an inspiration by the way he lives his life, taking risks, being hospitable, basically living a great story with his family. So as we were approaching Barahona Brian noticed another white guy walking down the side of the road. I hadn't seen him, but Brian was like, "Hey, another white guy, should we stop?" and I was like, "sure! why not?" So we turned around and pulled up in front of the guy who was walking on the side of the road with two other girls. He was about our age and was walking with a Dominican and Englishman. I think they were a bit weirded out at first that we had stopped, but after the introductions followed an invitation to go swimming down at a local river. Brian looked at me and I gave him the sounds good look and we all piled into the car. We drove to the closest village, parked the car and started walking toward the river. We also met up with a few other Dominicans on the way and a ton of mosquitoes...and mosquitoes really like soon I was slapping at my arms and legs left and right trying to ward them only hope was to get into the water as fast as possible. So we slid in down the muddy slopes and laid out in the knee-waist deep water flowing by us. It wasn't clear...and some slippery feeling things definitely brushed against me, but it was cool, refreshing, and fun to hang out with our new friends. A little bit later we walked through a plantain field and then to a sugar cane field where one of the Dominicans chopped down a bunch of cane for us to all enjoy. We brought them back to the river and he then cut up the cane so we could suck and gnaw on the declicious sugar. Soon after, we climbed back up the bank to head back to the car. I definitely went the wrong way and in my distress to avoid the mosquitoes found myself stepping in poop...human poop for that matter, ick. That really got me going and soon I was running ahead of the group trying to out manuever the mosquitoes and find water to wash my foot off with...what a day. We get back to the car, find it won't start, because the lights were left on and I was thinking...great we are never going to get it going again...we are in the DR! It is going to be so hard to find someone, a. with a car, b. with jumper cables, and c. that will be around to help. To my surprise we were back on the road within 10 minutes! crazy! we dropped our peace corp friend, Jonathan back off at his place after munching on some yummy coconut dessert and candy and then we took the girls back to their homes in a nearby village.

It was fun to see surrounding Barahona through the eyes of other travelers. To share in their experiences and hear about the work they are doing. Because we were with Dominicans and at their swimming spot I felt more like a local rather than a tourist. I felt like I was doing what young dominicans would do on a hot afternoon. The last two times I've been in the Dominican, I haven't had the same flexibility and freedom to explore, but have been protected within the confines of the organization and their workings.

All in all, it has been a great trip. We fly out tomorrow. I am excited to be home again, although I will miss the people here and the sun!


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