The Pioneer Woman show on the Food Network debuted today, and I just happened to catch part of it while eating breakfast/lunch this morning/afternoon when I woke up. And she is SO COOL! I kinda wish I had her life, although I’m not sure I’d survive on a ranch. I think I’d miss the coast. But now I’ve spent a good part of the afternoon reading her blog and I’m addicted. Plus, it’s awesome to see her talk about her faith, like she does in this entry, in her blog, which has some crazy amount of followers. So take a look, but if you’re anything like me, prepared to be hooked!
This week was the last week of our first mini quarter here in Beijing, so I am officially halfway done with Chinese, and all done with history! Now, we are leaving in about fifteen minutes for our trip to the Yellow Mountains, Thousand Island Lake and Hangzhou, a city in southern China, for 4 days (after we endure a 20 hour train ride), which should be an adventure!
Today, I watched the (Tivo’d) second half of Oprah’s farewell show with my mom, just another exciting part of being home. It was very extravagant, with lots of performances and guest appearances, but what really struck me was how everyone who stood up and spoke was so focused on the work that Oprah did to improve people’s lives, and reflected on her legacy. Maybe I’m just oblivious to have not noticed this before, but Oprah has really had a huge impact on a lot of people. For one person, she has done a lot of good in the world. One part in particular really struck me, when they talked about Oprah’s emphasis on education. They showed a bunch of clips of kids, who said that they went to school because of Oprah. Then, on the big screen, they put up the grand total of kids that Oprah had positively influenced to stay in school: 64,688. The audience was going wild, and Oprah was crying — I’m not sure if she knew the number before, but she looked genuinely overwhelmed. In that moment, with the crowd cheering, Oprah standing alone on the stage, gazing up at that number and the faces of the children she had helped, directly or indirectly, with tears in her eyes, I thought: This is what it will be like when we get to heaven. Not exactly, of course. But I was just so overcome with how awesome it would be to impact anywhere close to that number of people for Christ. Imagine the kind of life, the kind of faith that would be the product of! To get to heaven and hear the Lord say, Well done, good and faithful servant! To have the Lord look at your life and show you all of the people he put there for you to bring the gospel to, and how they were changed for eternity because of you. To be at the judgement seat of Christ in heaven and see people stand up who were impacted by you and your faith in Jesus. To see the majesty and power of our King displayed in the awesome ways that He works through us, that we might get crowns to throw at His feet.
I got chills while watching Oprah, not going to lie. Oprah was overcome with joy, and probably couldn’t even fathom how much she had impacted people. If this is her joy, in response to promoting education for 25 years, imagine what kind of joy awaits us in heaven for a life time of service to the God of the universe!
Through the many facets of social media that I find myself plugged into, I discovered the BBC Book List challenge - a list of 100 books, of which the BBC predicts most people have only read 6. I’m proud to say, I pass the test - I’ve read 22! As an avid book lover, who has little time to read, I dedicate this post (and my time procrastinating), to remember the days when I actually read books, and offer my thoughts.
1 Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen: To be fair, I did watch the Kiera Knightly movie before reading the actual book. I read the book for senior year English (the only book I read), and it’s legit. Jane Austen is HILARIOUS. And brilliant.
2 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien: Taking half credit for this, because I sat through all 3 movies freshmen year. Sorry to all the Middle Earth fans, but I don’t plan on reading those volumes anytime soon. 3 Harry Potter series – JK Rowling: If you know me at all, this is a no brainer. I have read all of the books. Multiple times. Usually in a matter of hours. 4 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee: Reading this during my freshmen year of high school, I feel like this was the first book everyone read for school and was like, “Yeah, that didn’t suck!” Plus we got to watch the movie, which was always a bonus time waster. It makes sense that Harper Lee didn’t write anything else after this - how do you top it? 5 The Bible: I can’t claim I’ve read the entire thing, but it’s definitely a goal of mine. It’s got stories, parables, trials, tribulations, victories…and the greatest truth ever. Bam. 6 Nineteen Eighty Four – George Orwell: Finally understood the references to “Big Brother” that had puzzled me for years. 7 Tess of the D’Urbervilles – Thomas Hardy: I have almost nothing to say on this book, because I remember almost nothing from it. There was an elaborate description of some farm equipment. 8 Complete Works of Shakespeare: Again, can’t claim the whole thing - but Shakespeare has grown on me over the years. Sparknotes helps. 9 Catcher in the Rye – JD Salinger: The classic teen angst novel. I will admit that I read it as a teenager, though I’m not sure how much angst I was harboring, and enjoyed it. 10 The Great Gatsby – F Scott Fitzgerald 11 Chronicles of Narnia – CS Lewis: The movies just can’t do CS Lewis’s brilliance justice. 12 Persuasion – Jane Austen: Having already expressed my love of Jane Austen, I’ll refrain from repeating myself. 13 Winnie the Pooh – AA Milne: I remember being very confused that there were two versions of Winnie the Pooh. 14 Animal Farm – George Orwell: Two legs bad. Four legs good. I’ll never look at a farm the same way again. 15 The Da Vinci Code – Dan Brown: So good. Despite disturbing theological suggestions, I can’t resist stories that are so intricate but come together so PERFECTLY! 16 Lord of the Flies – William Golding: There is no way to feel good after reading this book. 17 Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens: Reading this in college versus acting in it in a fourth grade musical are two very different experiences. Oliver’s life seems fun when you’re in fourth grade. It’s not. 18 A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens 19 Charlotte’s Web – EB White: Another book that I would probably view very differently if I read it now, as opposed to being in middle school. 20 The Five People You Meet In Heaven – Mitch Alborn: One of the first Christan fiction books I read on my own. Really interesting. Bibically based? Questionable. 21 Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad: Goes on the list of most depressing, but once you get past that - really though provoking. 22 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl: I think this is a weird pick on the part of the BBC. Really? Would not make my list of favorite books.
Twitter never ceases to amaze me. After making one this summer out of necessity on project in Ocean City, I’ve actually started to enjoy using it from time to time. Even though I had to google what the number sign in front of a word meant (to those of you who don’t know, it’s called a “hash tag”, and is used as a way to sort one’s tweets), I’ve now come to appreciate how unique it is that we have something that can tell us at any given time what’s being talked about all over the world.
Well, the other day I was doing my weekly Twitter check, and noticed the name Rob Bell “trending”. I couldn’t place it, but I knew the name sounded familiar, so I clicked it, and was promptly confronted with a slew of tweets that seemed to be either outraged or encouraging. After some further investigation, I remembered where I knew the name — Rob Bell is a Christian author/pastor who makes these Nooma videos that I had watched in Bible study in middle school. Outside of these videos, I really know very little about him or his theology, but his latest books is causing a lot of controversy. In a promo for his new book, Bell seemingly suggests that a judging God is incompatible with a loving God, and if we believe God is truly loving, how can he send people to hell? Though his book hasn’t been released yet, a lot of Christian theologians are saying that the few previews we’ve had of the book are enough to show Bell as a universalist, that is, someone who believes everyone is saved regardless of their beliefs.
Reading this was a wake up call for me. Here was a guy whose teachings I had heard and discussed in bible studies, whose little 5 minute, hipster-esque, sequences had been thought provoking at the very least, who was now basically denying a fundamental truth of the Christian faith. I’m no theologian, but if I’ve learned anything, it’s that belief matters. Belief in Christ as God and Savior, who died for our sins so that we could experience life through His Spirit here on earth, and eternal life with the Father in heaven. I don’t think it’s incompatible to have a just and loving God - I think it would be a shame to have anything less.
God loves the world, we are His creations and He loves us infinitely more than we can know. But sin is our separation, which is why our fellowship with God is severed, and why we live in a broken, despicable world. If we want the gift of salvation, to be freed from sin, there has to be a decision to separate ourselves from this world in order to be allowed into a better one. There has to be a choice, a belief that draws us nearer to the God who loves us. Otherwise, we are stuck. If we don’t believe that God is true, that Christ is real, then why would we be saved by Him? If there is no belief in God, why would there be any reason to believe in a heaven? Or a hell for that matter?
I don’t know what Rob Bell believes. I haven’t read his book. But I know the truths that I cling to and the loving and just God that I serve.
Snowmaggedon, SNOWMG….the weather is hitting Evanston big time! This is definitely the harshest weather I’ve experienced in the midwest. Thunder, lightning AND a blizzard!? What is THAT? Luckily, I’ve been able to stay inside all night and avoid having to brave the blizzard. There is so much snow that you can’t distinguish streets from sidewalks, and the university JUST canceled classes for tomorrow!!! YES! First snow day in over 30 years at Northwestern, and my first snow day ever!
"Behold, I bring you good news of great joy that shall be for all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger."
swimming date with my daddy. made it fairly successfully through a set of my own crafting, but still can’t keep up with him!
successful grocery shopping for my mother. for those who know the abysmal state of domestic skill, this is truly an accomplishment.
sorted through all my old high school pictures, clippings, report cards and other odds and ends. I’ve have decided that I’m a pretty sentimental person, because I couldn’t bring myself to throw anything out!
organized (at last) all the OCSP training material that I had shoved in my binder at the end of project.
began writing my testimony for Sunday. key word = began, as in, I’m procrastinating on that right now to reflect on the other things I achieved today :)
“Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”—Philippians 4:8-9