only help my unbelief

Birth Control Emily starts a blog [Love and Limeade Slushes I]
December 22, 2008, 8:00 am
Filed under: Posts | Tags: , , , , , ,

Every week until we get married, I’ll be posting a short installment of the story of me and Christian. They’ll all be compiled at  Love and Limeade Slushes as I write them.

It used to be that when I heard of someone meeting their significant other online, I flinched. Maybe it was because I was highly engaged in blogging, instant messenger, Facebook – and I was afraid that if I ever met someone online, no one would really be surprised. I wanted them to be surprised, to be happy for me, to get to know him along with me.

Sometimes when I would meet a guy who was particularly good looking and charming, I’d try to remember those first moments of conversation, because one day when we were married, I’d want to be able to say, “Remember that time when we first met? How delightful!” And we would spend every day together, and all of my friends would love him, and my parents would invite us over all the time to hang out with them. And then we would get engaged and married, and what could possibly be better than that?

It didn’t happen like that at all. It actually resembled less of a romantic comedy and more of a trainwreck.

The story really begins long before I ever actually spoke to Christian. It all began in the first weeks of my sophomore year of college. Every Thursday night, me and a few of my best girl friends – Roommate Emily, Katie, Katelyn and Arielle – would eat dinner together. We used to do it at the student union, but once we were sophomores and much more mature, we expanded to the Moe’s that was a few blocks from campus.

One Thursday night, someone invited another girl who would soon come to be known as Birth Control Emily, because  few people, including Roommate Emily, wanted to be mistaken for the Emily that wasn’t planning on using birth control.

I was intrigued by Birth Control Emily. She was quiet and fairly introverted, but if you got her talking about something about which she was passionate, she was no longer so quiet and you’d never know she was introverted at all.

She also called herself a libertarian, but I had no idea what that was.

Every Thursday night for that fall semester, me, Roommate Emily, Katie, Katelyn, Arielle and Birth Control Emily ate Moe’s together. After the first few weeks, though, no one was about to bring up birth control.

Birth Control Emily was an enigma to me. She really didn’t talk that much. We had a dance party once at our apartment, but she just sat on a chair in the corner while Katie and I choreographed Outkast’s “Hey Ya!” I wanted to be friends with her, but I didn’t know how.

But late in the semester, Birth Control Emily (who I know referred to as simply Emily)  invited me and the other girls over to her house to watch a movie and hang out. I don’t remember anything about that night, including who was there or what we did, except for when Birth Control Emily and I started talking and she asked me if I had read any good books lately.

Let me interject and say that I have a very difficult time engaging in conversation of the “How are your classes going?” variety. Of course, I know how to be socially appropriate, but I always feel empty after a conversation that never gets past that point.

Birth Control Emily immediately endeared herself to me with her question.

“I’m reading a book called What is Reformed Theology? by R.C. Sproul,” I said.

Turns out Birth Control Emily was reading that, too, and so for the rest of the night, we talked about that book and what we were learning about the five points of Calvinism and infant baptism and church.

Our friendship was sealed.

One day, Birth Control Emily told me that she was going to write a blog. I had used LiveJournal some to chronicle my daily goings-on, but I’d never actually tried to write something that other people might read. She said she was going to write about theology and birth control, and that because I liked to write so much, I should start a blog, too.

And so, following in the steps of Birth Control Emily, I did.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Which I will recount, in detail, another day.


As if it hasn’t been said enough already
December 19, 2008, 11:33 am
Filed under: Posts | Tags: ,

I subscribe to more than 300 blogs. It would be an even higher number if more bloggers abided by the following guidelines:

1) Make sure your RSS feed is burning entire posts, not just excerpts. I only read one blog that doesn’t do that, and if she would start, my blogging experience would reach its pinnacle.

2) Break up your writing into short paragraphs. I do not have the mental acuity to bumble through a huge block of text.

3) Don’t change the color of your font in your post editor. Your yellow font may look good against your green background, but it does not look good at all in Google Reader.

I’m no Problogger, but those are my rules for blogging in a way that invites people to read what you’re writing.

I’m glad it’s not that easy to have your gender changed.
December 16, 2008, 1:36 pm
Filed under: Posts | Tags: , , ,

Mary Elizabeth, 3, is scared of non-dad men, so she calls Christian, my frequent babysitting companion, “Miss Crystal,” thus eliminating the problem.

I’m trying to win some kids’ books for my Sunday School class at church in a contest held over at Abraham Piper’s blog, Twenty Two Words.

The obsessive-compulsive’s guide to saving money
July 16, 2008, 5:00 am
Filed under: Posts | Tags: , ,

A few months ago, I learned about ING Direct at Jason’s Web site. Intrigued, I looked into it. Basically, it’s a high interest savings account. Nothing more, nothing less. It was appealing because I wanted to find a motivating way to save money for the future.

The clincher was, if I used one of the referrals on Jason’s blog and deposited at least $250, I got an instant $25 in my account. Also, ING was rated one of the most secure banking sites on the Internet. And so I signed up.

You link the ING savings account to your checking account at your bank. Transfers from the bank take 2-3 business days, and once the money is in the ING account, you can’t get at it for 5 days. That means you shouldn’t put all of your money in the ING account, because in an emergency, it won’t be helpful.

The best thing about it, I think, is the ability to create multiple accounts. For people with OCD like myself, this is basically paradise. Why is it so good, you ask? Because you can name the accounts whatever you want.

The main account I transfer all money to is called “Chelsey’s Money.” Then I’ve got “Living expenses,” where I’m aiming to put six month’s worth of living expenses; “Presents and gifts,” so that I won’t be blindsided when Christmas comes; and then there’s one called “Future,” which is just for unforeseen expenses that I couldn’t possibly predict.

Oh, and then there’s an account with a very small amount called “Interest,” where I transfer all the cents from the other accounts once the interest gets added each month. This may sound silly, but being the way I am, I can’t stand seeing an account balance of something like $121.56. $121 looks so much better, so I just move $0.56 into the “Interest” account. It may not make sense, but it makes me feel better. I know. Don’t worry about me. I’m OK.

So far, I’ve been so encouraged at how ING has motivated me to save. If you decide to try ING out, then consider using one of my referrals. If you sign up through my referrals, you get $25 in your account, and I get $10. As Michael Scott would say, it’s win-win-win. Oh yeah, and I won’t know that it’s you who started an account – I’ll just know that someone did, so your privacy will remain intact, if you’re worried about that.

To get this special deal, just send me an e-mail. I’ll send you the referral e-mail, and we’ll both be on our way to saving more money.

For more information on online savings accounts, check out this post from Five Cent Nickel.

Offending others or offending God?
June 19, 2008, 1:31 pm
Filed under: Posts | Tags: , , ,

Note: I hesitated before I wrote this post. In fact, I wrote it yesterday (Wednesday) evening, but didn’t publish it because I wanted to think some more and also run it by someone else. I talked about it with someone I trust, and that person said that it sounded gracious. I hope it does. Even now, after it’s been up for several hours and a lot of people have found their way here through Pastor Lukaszewski’s blog, I’ve gone back in and tweaked some things that I felt could be misconstrued. I apologize if anything that was in the post previously was unedifying or disrespectful.

I read a lot of blogs on a daily basis. I try to read a wide variety: Some are personal finance, some are news, some are from moms, some are from people I know, and some are from pastors.

One blog I read is by Michael Lukaszewski, pastor of Oak Leaf Church. I had planned to leave my thoughts on this as a comment on his blog, but he turned off all comments a couple weeks ago, so I wasn’t able to.

Yesterday he wrote a post about offending other people. Let me first say that although I generally tend to feel uncomfortable at a lot of stuff I read on his blog, when I think about it, sometimes it’s really just things that are a matter of opinion or of personal liberty in the Lord. So even when I do disagree, it’s still not something that I feel the need to comment on.

I say that because when I read this post, I really felt like I needed to say something, because it got me thinking.

His basic point is that it’s Christians who get offended at things that go on at his church. He’s right in that Christians can be really sensitive about a lot of things – sometimes to an extreme. He goes on to say that the things his church has done that have bothered Christians haven’t bothered unbelievers.

And it seems like his conclusion is that this “silent approval” by unbelievers is what the church wants, because they don’t want unbelievers leaving the church.

If I were to get pregnant and decide to have an abortion, I think that a lot of Christians I know would be offended. But most of the non-Christians I know wouldn’t be. That doesn’t mean it’s OK. (I know this is an extreme example.)

I’m not saying that the stuff that goes on at Oak Leaf Church is on the same level as abortion; it’s not. In fact, I think Pastor Lukaszewski would argue that the things Christians got upset about were methods of reaching unbelievers for Christ; in fact, he calls them “over the top” methods in this post.

Where I think his reasoning really falls apart is when he says:

If a Christian gets offended at something we do, he will get mad and go to another church. If a non-Christian gets offended, he may go to hell.

I don’t disagree. If a non-Christian gets offended by something at a church and decides to leave, that person might go to hell. But what does it mean to “offend” a non-Christian?

Derek Webb said something once about how the cross is both beautiful and offensive. It is beautiful to us as Christians, because on it we see the body of our dying Lord, who died to save us from our sins. But for non-Christians, it is offensive, because it tells them they are sinners who deserve what Jesus got.

If a non-Christian gets offended at the cross, they might leave the church and never know more about Christ’s saving work. But if a non-Christian attends a church where the cross is never preached, they can stay at the church and rack up the attendance count for years and still go to hell.

But the important thing isn’t so much about which group is being offended. The real issue is whether God is offended that a place that calls itself His church isn’t really preaching the gospel.

I’m not saying Pastor Lukaszewski doesn’t preach the gospel at his church. I don’t know; I’ve never been there. His church is doing a study on the book of Joshua right now, which is awesome. But I do know that what saves people is not entertainment, or smoke and mirrors, or catchy sermon titles, or cool videos, or all the things that so many churches are using today. God saves people. And God’s been saving people for thousands of years without all those things. What He asks of us is a commitment to prayer and evangelism – but, more importantly, a commitment to preach the gospel as God sets it forth in Scripture.