Neoblogs: A New Home

We are currently in the midst of recreating our blogosphere in hopes to bring back the many neobloggers in the fellowship.

  • New additions include now a base site that displays all the most recent posts from current authors.
  • Linked sites for better navigation
  • Updated user functionality for both readers and authors

If you would like to start your own blog or migrate your existing blog back to our new home feel free to contact me at interns@neoxenos.org

Current users may also contact me for support with updating themes and looks for their blog site.

To access you blog site just click you name listed on the site to take you to your blog page, then just click the login link on the side!

UPDATE!!!!

As those of you who have blog sites may have noticed, you should have received an email to set up a new password. This was cause by a transition in our database to make future endeavors much simpler. If you have ANY issues logging in please contact me.

As far as linking social media with your blogs, we will be using Jetpack, you can find this on your dashboard. To do this follow these steps:

1) Log into WordPress and go to your dashboard
2) Towards the top left-hand side click on the “Jetpack” tab
3) It should go to a screen with a giant banner saying to log in with your wordpress.com credentials, along with 6 bubbles of options below it. Click on the giant banner to login and create a new user for yourself (its really easy)
4) After this go back to the previous page and click on the “Sharing” bubble.
5) Once there drag in the social media forms you would like, i.e. twitter or facebook. Make sure you are logged into those accounts. Then simply click the connect button.
6) Before you save at the bottom make sure to change the “Button Style” to “Official Buttons” and then on the “Show Buttons On” section, click the “Posts” tab.
7) Then save and it may take a few minutes to show on your blog, as always if you have any issues, shoot me an email (interns@neoxenos.org)

A whole LOT of UNFINISHED thoughts

When I run, my feet don’t hit
When I prod, it stays put
When I throw, it doesn’t zoom
When I hit, no impact.

It’s like I’m S U S P E N D E D

Like my feet don’t touch the ground
Like the air won’t fill my lungs
Like my fingers won’t curl

But I can think & feel
& everything is so fast around me

But IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII am suspended!
EYE can’t reach!
AYE can’t hit
I CANNOT GO.

I’m looking around at E V E R Y T H I N G
On me, in me, that IIII do.
So concerned, so consumed.
“Why can’t I hit? Why can’t I go??”
Repetition on & again
Examining every piece of me to find freedom

I cannot stop!
I must NOT be suspended any longer
My feet can’t take it
I need the solution. I need to solve this.
I need to move.

I flail & jerk & bend & scream & kick,
but I’m still suspended.
Unrelenting my anguish, unforgiving of my captor
My flesh, it’s crawling & yelling & hating
& I burn because I…
I’m suspended…

fullsizerender

Come here, stupid sheep

Last night was one of those extremely wonderful nights that you don’t get all the time. I started the evening in a sour mood. I got home from work, ignored my husband, and just cleaned/cooked/folded to get my pent-up rage work usually brings out of me. I felt that way even when one of my sisters walked in, 15 minutes earlier than the rest. She was sweet and could tell I wasn’t in the mood. Then, the other girls showed up. This was my high school cell group meeting, so these days require a bit more energy and fun. I was NOT feeling it.

Brenda started sharing what she had studied out of the book we are going over prior to the school year: “Crossing the Line of Faith”. The content arrested me: people matter to God. 

Lately I’ve been hooked on how amazing it is that we get to know God and how life changing it is to get closer & closer to Him. This was definitely an addition to my findings: as you get to know God, you see how remarkably people matter to God. Yes, it seems so obvious: God loves people. I mean Jesus died on the cross for us, didn’t He? But the passage we went over just focused on the weight of God’s care for us so well. The passage was Luke 15 – finding of the lost. 

There are three examples of things that become lost in Luke 15 – a sheep, a coin, and a son. As we read through the process of each thing being lost it was SO relatable! A woman loses her coin and she begins to carefully search EVERYWHERE for it even sweeping! HA! How funny. When I lose something important to me, I lose my shit. It’s on my mind ALL day if I do not find it and if I want it right then & there. Such great efforts, emotion, and time is spent looking for things we care about when they are out of our reach. We think, we strategize, we PRAY for that we could just find what we are looking for – whatever it is! (I think I search for lost items of clothing weekly. Oh, the frustration and turmoil I go through over a pair of pants… How funny.) 

Luke 15 includes my favorite passage from when I was a child: the lost sheep. Oh, how unreasonable the shepherd is!! He has 99 fine, smart sheep, but he leaves them to look for the one lost sheep. How STUPID did that little sheepy have to be to leave the comfort of his flock and the safety of his shepherd and get himself lost? He must’ve been the idiot sheep. I think I’ve always related to this little dull sheepy… What does the shepherd do when he finds his lost sheep? “Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep!’” I have found my stupid little sheep! YES! He cares so deeply for the little, stupid sheep that he gathers a party for its return. 

Lastly, there is the prodigal son. He has everything: wealth, comfort, love… But he was ungrateful, demanded money, then left. How heartbroken his father must have been. (I think of my parents watching me go through my various spurts of rebellion… How much more could I demand of them when they had given me everything?!) Then, the world drags him through shit, and he returns home. Upon his return, there his father sees him and throws a celebration! He did not care what he had done, only that he is home now. 

When we were done, one of the girls voiced a concern she has: that even though she has a relationship with God, she thinks that something will happen in her life to make God look at her after death and reject her from entering into heaven. At this point, I knew I could relate. How often do we think this way that my status with God is conditional?! That if I mess up, he must really be upset with me or annoyed with me or he will ignore me! He won’t be there for me anymore. This is SO sad.

Something I realized during the pain of a brother committing suicide was something beautiful. I wasn’t even too close to him, but I felt the weight of his absence. The body of Christ is so built upon each other, his death left a glaring hole. But then, as a friend and I spoke, she said: “I wonder what he did when he got to heaven… I bet Jesus walked up to him, threw his arms around him and said: ‘This is why I died for you. You are home.”

No matter what we do we have an amazing standing with God. That is how much we matter to Him. He will go to great lengths for us even if we’re as stupid and naive as a sheep or as demanding and rebellious as the son – he will ALWAYS welcome us with open arms. 

Seeing this teenager get it, seeing the tears well in her eyes as we talked about this made me realize I was getting it, too. I had to be reminded. I had to rejoice in this. I forget too often. And we cannot forget. We CAN’T FORGET how solid grace is, how unshakable God’s love is because it affects the basis of our relationship with him. If I think he judges me, it will not be a good relationship. It will be based on pressure and fear. But with the freedom to come to the Lord as David does and voice whatever concerns you have – that’s a real relationship! That is why your best friend is SO cool. No matter what my best friend does, I will always be on her side. Even if I’m mad, even if she annoys me, even if I’m being a jerk: we committed to being best friends. If you mess with my best friend, you better watch your back. She’s my person. (Silly, but for real.) 

God is staggering. 

The second part of the lesson is this: as you get to know God, people start to obviously matter to you.  15:1-2 “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.’”

During our discussion, one girl said: “This is something I struggle with, though, is caring about people…” Although, as she spoke she came to the realization that she has started to care more about people. One of the greatest motivators for caring about people enough to invite them to Beta or tell them about God is heaven. She realized that maybe I don’t care about them, but how much of a bitch do I have to be not to tell them about heaven. 

I really loved her honesty. Yeah, it isn’t natural to care about people – especially this deeply! I could TOTALLY relate to her. As I thought about this, I realized how important people have become to me. Not all the time, obviously, but how much joy I’ve realized I have in others.

I believe this comes with getting close to God. As you see his value in other people, you start to value them yourself. Also, it must be the right thing to value if the God of the universe values it, right?! 

Anyway… this is long and I could go on & on, but I’m so thankful I matter to God enough for him to love my sin-filled being and teaches me to value others. 

Thoughts on Knowing God…

For the past few weeks I have been writing down every encounter I have with verses that mention “knowing God” in the Bible. Yeah, I could probably just do a word search or whatever and they would all come up, but I decided to do it this way out of curiosity… Well, it just sort of happened. I think I really started this list because, for the first time, I started really noticing how OFTEN the NT authors mention the IMPORTANCE of knowing God!

These verses have so much passion to them. When I read them, my heart started racing. I read them out loud to myself, and tears would gather. They read like words on fire, like poetry, like the most important truths in all of the world throughout all of time… the words about the importance of knowing God.

I made this list out of curiosity because, when I began, I was a little confused about knowing God. I knew that He was important to know, but I was not sure why it was mentioned so often just that we should “know” him. I mean, really, you’d think the passion that swirls and surrounds these verses would be better around a different topic. Maybe one like serving God? Or evangelism? Yes, these topics do have their fair share of passion, but I realized that knowing comes first. It must.

I’ve been through a few changes in my life. In fact, 2016 has been the craziest year and we’re only in June! I started the year looking forward to a wedding, I was hospitalized, I started a fast-paced full-time job, friends have left, I got married + moved in with my new husband, and I have been trying to juggle functioning, submitting, and keeping my thoughts centered on God. It has NOT been going well. My walk has been suffering a little and weeks go by where I do not feel even an ounce of passion like I did before for the Lord. I feel like I’m dragging behind, and often forget the involvement of my creator in my own life. I feel pretty forgotten, left out, and keep piling expectations on myself that I keep failing to meet. Being a grown up sucks. See, I’m still a kid – just in an adult body.

So, in the few times I have reached out to God through his words for comfort, direction, and help all I can see is the importance of knowing God. At first, it was frustrating. But now, I know why this is all I can see: if we do not know God, then we burnout. We act apart from him, which is not how he intended us to live. We start reverting back to our own ability and forget his power.

There is no action here… Maybe just opening a Bible and flipping pages. It is a mindset change, a commitment to remember your need for the Lord. A humbling experience that reminds me I cannot without him. A restoration of hope in who He is and what He has done for us. Getting to know God is the most wonderful thing I have ever experienced.

Over the weekend, we got to hear Keith talk about David – the man after God’s own heart. He spent all of his time getting to know God, didn’t he? He still fell, he still experienced fear and sorrow, he still failed miserably… But he knew God well enough to give his life to him – over & over. His knowledge of God took him to great heights and made his life complete. When you read the Psalms there are mixed emotions, but there is an overall sense of security and hope. David knew the breadth, depth, width, and height of God’s love and stood in it. God was his best friend, his rock. What an amazing best friend.

I want God to be my best friend. I feel like I’m starting over in this phase of my life. Everything has changed. But one thing I know is the same is God’s love for me. How patient and kind he is with me. How much He wants for me. I want to be like David. I want to be like Howard. And Martha. It’s possible to know God without getting swept away in the insanity of life.

Knowing God intimately, as a best friend, propels us into a relationship that results in the outpouring of love. That results in peace in our own lives. That results in answered questions. That results in security and stability in every situation, even the bad ones… Because: we know God.

Maybe I’ll post again about more of my findings… Until then, what are your experiences or encounters with getting to know God better? Anyone else have this sort of revelation?

(Didn’t list the verses bc it might be fun for you all to find them yourselves! Keep an eye out while you’re in your word, maybe?)

God is Passionate

Thirteen years ago today I lost one of the most important people in my life – my dad. That means that today, I have spent half of my life without him. He has missed some of the most important moments in my life: high school graduation, going to college, getting drunk for the first time, the first boyfriend, my wedding, getting a dog and all the hard times in life when all I wanted to do was go cry on my dad’s shoulder and have him make me laugh in spite of it all.

But that got me thinking about the other half of my life – the one where he was still there. What did he teach me during that time? What do I remember about him? What was his legacy?

While I think I still have a lot to learn from him, for now one of the most important things he taught me was about God’s passion. But he didn’t sit around and tell me about what God was like or why I should believe in him. Instead, my dad became the living, breathing example of God’s passion.

Here’s what I’ve learned about God’s passion because of my dad:

PASSIONATE ABOUT FUN
DSC_0058My father was the life of the party. He was the guy who could walk down the street and make five new friends. Even if you were enraged at him, you could never stay mad for too long because he was just so busy having fun you couldn’t help but join in. But he was so much more than just a fun guy. He passionately loved the Lord – so much so that he took our family to Russia, a country renown for it’s frigidity, to live there and love the people into God’s Kingdom. Not unlike Jesus.

People came from all over the Jewish and Gentile world to follow Jesus. For his first miracle, he became the most wanted guest at every party because he turned about 120 GALLONS of water into wine! Talk about the life of the party.

PASSIONATE ANGER
My dad was also the sort of dad that you got really scared to be around when you knew you had done something bad. Like when mom says, “Wait till your father gets home and hears about this.” You want to run for the hills. Like my dad, God could be angry. I mean really angry. But when God gets angry, that’s a lot more scary than my dad getting mad.

Exodus 32:8-10 They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”

Wow! Is that a passionate statement or what?? But he was never carried away by his anger. He could be reasoned with and he could change his mind. God was not afraid to express how he really felt. He wasn’t afraid to tell Moses how mad he was that people were worshipping other gods instead of him even though they would all be dead if not for him. And in this case, he didn’t act on his anger. Moses talked him down. Think about that last statement for a second. MOSES talked GOD down. What?? God put himself in such a vulnerable position that he would allow a mere mortal change his mind??? That’s crazy.

PASSIONATE JEALOUSY
But God was also passionately jealous:

Numbers 25:3 So Israel joined themselves to Baal of Peor, and the Lord was angry against Israel.

Maybe my dad wasn’t jealous like this, but he was definitely a protector of what was his, which is a lot like the jealousy of God. God’s jealousy is not like our envy of things other’s have. It’s more like he’s possessive of the things that are supposed to be his – like our worship. When I was 12, some missionary friends of ours invited me to France to spend two weeks at a Christian summer camp. The only catch was that I was going to have to fly from Russia to France by myself because my parents couldn’t afford to take a two-week vacation in France while I was at camp. So reluctantly my dad agreed to let me go.

My dad and I flew from Rostov-on-Don (our home town) to Moscow together. Then, even though no one without a boarding pass is supposed to be allowed in the gate area, he haggled his way in. When it came time to board, he let all the stewardesses know that I was flying by myself and he made sure all of them were going to look out for me. Later I found out that he had also written some very strongly worded emails to the missionary couple who was going to pick me up at the airport and take me to the summer camp. Essentially he let them know that if they weren’t at the airport on time to get me and if they didn’t look out for my safety, they were going to have some big problems (and like I said before, my dad was not the kind of guy you want to make angry).

PASSIONATE SADNESS
I also remember when we left America to move to Russia. My dad was very excited for the new journey and life ahead, but he was also incredibly sad. He was leaving behind his parents, brothers, close friends and the college ministry he had been leading at the time.

And God, too, has been passionately sad:

Genesis 6:6 The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.

In this case he saw the destructive path that mankind was on and had to put a stop to it before we all destroyed ourselves. Thus, the flood happened. But God was so sad about this. He didn’t want to do it, but he wanted even less to sit around watching us kill, take advantage of and ravage each other.

PASSIONATE LOVE
But probably the best illustration of God’s passion is The Passion: “We know love by this, that He laid OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAdown His life for us” (1 John 3:16) This is the single greatest act of love in all of history. And it was passionate. I’m not sure you can get any more passionate than laying down your life for your enemies. And we were and are still often God’s enemies. And yet, God made us heirs of his kingdom. He adopted us as sons and daughters.

My dad may not have died for the sins of the world. But he did give the rest of his life to loving and caring for the people in Russia. He spent five and a half years of his life dedicated to befriending, loving, teaching, exhorting and enjoying the people God had put in his way in Russia. Then on February 5, 2013, he did give his life for God’s ministry in a sledding accident while he was out having fun with some of the college and high school students who were a part of the Bible study he started.

The truth is that my dad was so dedicated to these people and to God’s Kingdom, that I figured that there had to be something really powerful and meaningful about this God my parents served. He was willing to give up his job, friends, family, position in the church to move halfway across the world to give his life for a people he didn’t even know. This attitude was a huge part of what convinced me that God was not only real, but that he was worth everything.

My dad’s passion for God and for God’s people was the reason I came to know Jesus personally. And a lot of the reason that I’m still walking with God today. That’s my dad’s legacy: his passion for God. It’s so powerful, it’s still affecting me today.

Even though he’s not here with me anymore, I hope his legacy will continue to work itself out in my life as I learn more about the Lord. And one day, I hope to be reunited with my dad and thank him for being a living, breathing example of God’s passion for me. And for now, I hope the Lord can teach me to be an example of God’s passion, too.

Student Loans

Me and Scotty are writing a workbook about how to be a good steward of your money. One of the subjects that we are tackling is Student Loans. This has been a big struggle for me so I would to tell you the story of me and my debt. So expect some more blogs in the coming months about money. I hope that you can learn from some of my mistakes.

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Starting Over and My Future

I gave my blog a bit of a makeover recently. Its a new theme, new content and new objective. I will probably re purpose my old blogs but for now I set them aside. The past couple years of my live have been very eventful and I thought it would be appropriate to start new. Hopefully with less spelling errors :)