March 31, 2015

...Out like a lamb?

March came in like a lion, and is going out like a lamb.  Like some kind of mutant death-lamb with razor sharp teeth that preys on lions.  Totally loving this never-ending winter we're having here in New York.

Anyway, here are some stuffs that I liked on this last day of March!

Stuff I Heard

Evan Craft and Carley Redpath - "Oceanos"
If you have tuned into any Christian radio station in the last couple of years, you will most definitely know Hillsong United's song "Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)."  It is poignant, worshipful, and beautiful.  "Oceanos" is the same song, just in Spanish. It came on my Spanish worship music Pandora station.  I fell in love with it immediately.

Stuff I Bought

I got a new job earlier this month, so I buy things now.  Really random things.  A lot of books.  I went to Barnes & Noble between classes.  If left unchecked, I can spend way too much money there, so I just stuck to the bargain priced stuff today:
  • A copy of Yann Martel's Life of Pi
  • A compilation of Lewis Carroll's classic works, including Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass
  • A bag with a picture of Joseph Heller's Catch-22 on both sides
I think the bag will be perfect for trips to the library, and I'm quite excited to own the two books, even though I have already read them.  There's a relatively new ULTA Beauty store next to B&N, so I also popped in there and picked up a mascara, springtime-y peach lipstick, and a tiny bottle of hair product.

A package from Amazon also arrived today, containing a Spanish translation of Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby and a pair of AWESOME socks featuring one of my favorite paintings, Klimt's The Kiss.

Stuff I Wore

LOL @ me trying to make an outfit post.  Not my thing.  But yeah I didn't have to cover my clothes up with a jacket this morning so here we go.  (Pretend like you can't tell how grody my mirror is.)
striped cardigan ~ flowery dress ~ gray fleece-lined sweater tights ~ lace boots ~ the end ~ also ft. a tiny bun and my fav backpack

Basically it was a good last day of March.  Hopefully April takes a hint, though, because as much as I love these fleecy tights, I am ready for shorts.

March 10, 2015

Our Job as Ministry

On Sunday, I didn't feel well and had some studying to do, so instead of going to church, I listened to a "church service" on the radio.  The sermon was called "Our Job as Ministry" by Pastor Bob Hoekstra.  It was all about how

  1. "Ministry" isn't just something full-time missionaries do; wherever God has you is your mission field, and
  1. Your job isn't primarily about making money for food, housing, etc., because God has already promised to provide that for you - the job is a ministry

(That's my Reader's Digest version - it's more complex than that and very good, so give it a listen!)

If you've read my post "5 Tips for Christians Working in Customer Service" you know that I am passionate about Matthew 5:14-16 and being a "light" to people that don't know salvation.  I love being with brothers and sisters in Christ, but I love even more to bring my passion for representing Christ out into my community.

Well, that store that I worked at all last year, learned a lot of lessons from, and LOVED... went out of business.  As a 20 yr old without a job, I felt super childish not working at all, I missed practicing financial stewardship, and most of all I really, really missed all the opportunities I used to have while interacting with customers.

So the sermon on Sunday was great, but also kind of a slap in the face.

But it didn't seem like any of my valiant attempts at a job were working out!  Finally, after listening to the sermon and thinking hard about how much I was relying on my own merit (and flimsy resume) to earn a job, I prayed, "God, whether you want me to work or not, I'm trusting your plan and I'm not going to stress out anymore."  Because he provides whether or not I work.  Because my ministry could be elsewhere.  Because I am pretty useless on my own strength.

The next day, I saw an ad for a job practically next door to my old job.  I pass there every day for school, so I prayed about it and then popped in to apply.  As soon as I walked in, the owner of the store recognized me from my last job and actually knows my boss personally!  Less than 24 hours later, the owner called back to tell me when I will start training.  It doesn't always go this way.  Sometimes I give up something I want, and God never gives it to me. He knows best.  But sometimes, I give up something I want, and he gives it to me anyway.  He still knows best.  God is so good.

March 7, 2015

So I had a blog in middle school.

I recently gained access to the blog I wrote for when I was twelve.  That’s now eight years ago!  I scrolled through the pointless/random posts and decided to do a reaction to one of them, to see how much I’ve changed since I began blogging.

Lauren Croke, March 13th 2008
Age: 13
Grade: 7th
Blog Name: Average Girl
Username: SaxonProtestor
On My iPod: Relient K, Taylor Swift, old Shania Twain, lots of CCM
Interests: Lord of the Rings, reading, playing baseball
Lauren Croke, March 7th 2015
Age: 20
Grade: Sophomore in college
On My iPod: Gungor, AWOLNATION, Coldplay, Phoenix, still Relient K
Interests: Reading, experimenting with different mediums of art, organizing stuff

Thursday March 13th 2008
“Me, Myself, and I”


I have had five teeth extracted.
Well, you have the random part down.

I love stuffed animals (I started a Beanie Baby collection)
I still do!  I’m not going to deny that I have a pink stuffed raccoon on my bed.

I used to own a shark (a little one)
Not really a shark… More like a goldfish...

I *dislike* Saxon Math (yeah, Abeka!!!!) :)
Strong feelings about my middle school math curriculum.  I'm done with math now!

I like the colors blue, black, and white.
If I had to pick 3 colors now, it would be gray, forest green, and pale pink.

When I was little, I was pink and Alison was purple. As in, I wore pink shirts, Ally wore the same but in purple.
Such cute sisters.

I went to school for 2.5 years. I thought it was interesting. But look at the next one...
By “school” I meant something "not-homeschool" – I went to a private Christian school for 2.5 years.

I screamed and held on tight to the railing of the school walkway on the first day of school. The teacher had to pull on my legs to get me off. :)
I love school now though!  My first day at college I didn't give such a problem.

I used to be a Met fan. *gasps!* (why did I say that??)
I literally could not care less about baseball anymore.

Don't ask me what I want to be when I grow up!! I don't want to grow up... :D
But grow up I did!  I am pursuing interests in writing and art.

BUT incase I DID.... I would want to be a cop.
Lauren, that is such a horrible idea.

I used to want to be an editor when I grew up. Or an artist.
This sounds more like me.

I love the Daily News comics. Especially "Zits".
I LOVE comics.  I own a book of the history of comic strips and like to doodle my own cartoons.

I love Mustangs. The car, I mean. They look *tough*
You are going to love the 1999 Subaru Outback you get to drive.  His name is Nemo.

I have a weakness for glue. That is I take a glob, smear it on my hand and wait for it to dry so I can peel it off. Oh, the fun!


March 4, 2015

I built the Tower of Babel.

"You plead my cause.
You right my wrongs.
You break my chains.
You overcome.
You gave Your life to give me mine;
You say that I am free; how can it be?"
- Lauren Daigle, How Can It Be

Sometimes I don’t understand exactly what happened when I decided to follow Jesus.

When I first gave up my life to Him, I relished in the mercy He bestowed on me.  I had no questions about what would be required of me; He was in me and that was enough.  I trusted He was taking care of things and soon I saw evidence that He was working in me.  In those first days, I fully knew grace, even if I didn’t know the definition of it.

But eventually, doubts began to creep in.  After paying attention to various female Christian role models, I started to feel inadequate in comparison.  I wasn’t a missionary to a third-world country.  I didn’t wear skirts and let my hair grow long.  I didn’t pray long prayers filled with deep thoughts and intricate words.  I was just boring, quiet me; living in a comfortable home, wearing jeans, and praying simple prayers.

I thought to myself, “I can do better than this.”  I took notes on what made these girls so different.  I wanted to copy them.  I stopped thanking and praising God for His power and grace, and began praying that He would help me keep the rules.  I made lists of things I could do to be a better Christian.  Thus began my fling with legalism.

Here’s the thing: rules are easy.  It’s easy to memorize Ten Commandments.  It’s easy to reference the Bible as if it’s a rule book.  I looked to girls who lived under the "headship" of their father, wore long skirts, went on missions trips, and “courted” as the top tier of Christianity – they followed every rule I could find in the Bible.  God must love them, and in contrast He must really find me lacking!  I felt bad about having a ~faux hawk~ hairstyle and wearing shorts and listening to contemporary Christian music and going to a secular college and battling with crazy sins and not going on mission trips.

I was looking at all the rules and passing over all the warnings against getting caught up in laws and unattainable standards.  But in Ephesians 2:8 – 9, the Word says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”  I mean, this is the best news there is.  If I had to rely on my own self to get me into heaven or even get anything done in my life, I would be so screwed because I am the most screwed up person I know haha.

But on the other hand, it’s also difficult to accept that Someone Else is responsible for my life.  I like to think I can do it on my own without having to trust anybody.  “I can be a good person and follow my dreams and do awesome things.  I can try my best and be myself and everything will go well!”  It’s hard to think that my relationship with God is all that is holding me together, because relationships are just that - so hard.
  • It’s hard to open up and spend time with Someone who knows me inside and out, especially Someone who already knows all my deepest fears and dirtiest secrets.
  • It’s hard to give up control of my life to Someone I don’t completely understand.
  • It’s hard to just trust God.
Thankfully, God works in me to give me the desire and power to do what pleases him (Philippians 2:13).  When I walk with the Spirit, I want what He wants and am free to live without fearing that I have broken a rule or let God down.  It says it all in Romans 6:15 – 23 (check it out - you can roll over these references to read the verses in a pop-up)  And Galatians 5:13 – 18 is an excellent passage to study if you are struggling to understand the freedom you now have:

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.  For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’  If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.  So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.”

The laws in the Old Testament show us that, without question, we are each a sinner.  My favorite analogy is one that I heard a pastor tell, sort of as a spin-off of James 1:23 (I'm not going to do it justice, but bear with me):  Think of us as covered in dirt, think of the law as a mirror, and think of Jesus as the water that can clean you.  You look into the mirror and see how dirty you are – seriously filthy!  But you can’t use the mirror to clean yourself.  You must go to the water to wash the dirt off.

In the same way, you can’t use the law to clean the sin out of your life.  As much as you follow the rules, you will never succeed in ridding yourself of sin.  That’s why you need to look only to Jesus for Living Water that will cover all your sin.

I have learned quite a lot in the last few months.  I realized that God doesn’t care about my hair or my clothes.  I know; pretty mind-blowing.  God literally does not look at my outward appearance.  He promises this in 1 Samuel 16:7: “But the LORD said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.’

The Lord hasn’t changed since then; He still doesn’t look at the outward appearance.  He looks at my heart.  So I'm learning to let the Holy Spirit work in my heart to change me from the inside out.

Something else I learned is this: if I am following God and cultivating a love relationship with Him, I need to trust that He has me where He wants me.  For me right now, He doesn’t have me in a third-world country being a missionary or anything noteworthy really, and that’s OK.  Maybe He will one day; maybe He won’t.  There is no Ultimate Tier of Christianity.  :)

March 1, 2015

Evolution and theories of morality

Although I have other classes I could focus on, I like to use my Intro to Psychology course for a look into what I am learning in the classroom. Professor G teaches in a matter-of-fact way, drawing from examples in everyday life, filtering it through her worldview.

Last week, she covered the concepts that humans learn in different stages of their lives.  (For the record, I have no beef with Piaget’s theory of cognitive development.)  After this, we delved into moral development (we're studying Kohlberg's theory).

Morality is a pretty tricky concept, whether you believe in God or not.  To me, it seems like the Kohlberg theory says "The height of morality is selflessness," and when I suggested that to Professor G, she agreed.  Unfortunately, this knowledge is completely useless since my textbook could not even offer a solid definition of what morality is.  When I got home, I referenced the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  It says:  "The term ‘morality’ can be used either 1) descriptively to refer to some codes of conduct put forward by a society or, a) some other group, such as a religion, or b) accepted by an individual for her own behavior or 2) normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons."

Morality is talked about in the classroom as if we all agree on what morality is/what moral behavior is, but this could not be further from the truth.  In today’s world, morality is subjective.  As small as the world seems to be in modern times, it is still so big, and a lot of the time, one person’s morals clash with another’s.  As it is, morals seem to be largely a matter of personal opinion and feeling.  In order for morality to be 100% objective, there would need to be a standard to base morals on, like a law that reaches to every corner of the earth.  Such a thing doesn’t exist, does it?  There isn’t someone who can lay down the law and say “This is right – this isn’t."

I mean if everyone would look to God as the authority, this would all be quite simple.  But not everyone believes in God, and even the people who do believe in God tend to disagree on what they think He says is right.  So the entire concept of trying to get everyone to adhere to morality with no standard and no solid definition of morality is ludicrous.  What now?  What do the atheists and believers in evolution say?  What do the believers in God say?

If you’re vague on evolution, Berkeley has a basic overview of evolution from an evolutionary perspective and Answers in Genesis has an article on evolution from a creationist/young earth perspective.  I am not going to comment on how evolution can or cannot explain why we even have any concept of morality (see Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy again for morality from an evolutionist’s perspective, specifically section 2.1, and the Answers in Genesis contributor Dr. Jason Lisle’s creationist perspective) but you can think about it for yourself, read both perspectives, and think about the moral challenges we face every day.

Just for kicks, here’s one of Kohlberg’s dilemmas:
In Europe, a woman was near death from a special kind of cancer. There was one drug that the doctors thought might save her. It was a form of radium that a druggist in the same town had recently discovered. The drug was expensive to make, but the druggist was charging ten times what the drug cost him to make. He paid $400 for the radium and charged $4,000 for a small dose of the drug. The sick woman's husband, Heinz, went to everyone he knew to borrow the money and tried every legal means, but he could only get together about $2,000, which is half of what it cost. He told the druggist that his wife was dying, and asked him to sell it cheaper or let him pay later. But the druggist said, "No, I discovered the drug and I'm going to make money from if." So, having tried every legal means, Heinz gets desperate and considers breaking into the man's store to steal the drug for his wife.
1. Should Heinz steal the drug?  Why or why not?
2. Is it actually right or wrong for him to steal the drug?  Why?
3. It is against the law for Heinz to steal. Does that make it morally wrong?  Why or why not?
4. In thinking back over the dilemma, what would you say is the most responsible thing for Heinz to do?