Friday, September 21, 2007

Ladies and Siestas: May I Present to You Nate Griffin...

Shelly has given me (Mandy) the privilege and honor, as BFF extraordinaire, to write this most embarrassing post introducing her mysterious “friend” to y’all. And, this is an honor indeed!

He is tall.
He is dark.
He is handsome.
And (be not afraid!) he does not read this blog!

He’s a missionary’s kid – grew up on “the bush” of Papua, New Guinea (seen End of the Spear?)… He’s traveled all over the world and has landed in Nashville working in “the industry” with a heart for THE Church worldwide.

He also has a heart for Shelly (but that’s not so surprising, now is it?)! He’s charming. And he very much wants to lead this relationship in a godly and healthy way.


He’s co-owner of a rather unconventional, but highly successful, business in “the industry”. “G.I. Inc.” is a production company that produces live multimedia events ranging from concerts to conferences to films (that’s “the industry”). At the heart of this company is a desire to influence the resounding voices of our culture and the world at large. He’s incredibly talented and passionate, and jumps at the opportunity to serve the Church with the revenue and resources of his company. Interspersed among business trips are mission trips, secret meetings with persecuted pastors of East Asian house churches, and trips to see Shelly.

Nate loves the Word of God, and gushes at the fact that Shelly is in Seminary. (this is important, since she’s headstrong about finishing!) And, as an eye-witness, I can attest to the fact that he is SMITTEN. As he stated, when he’s around her he feels like a 5th grader who can’t find the right words to impress her. “She’s just amazing… amazing.”

[everyone say it with me: “awwwww… Bless his heart.”]


Oh, y’all…. Oh, THIS is a story y’all are gonna die over!

They met in the Spring at a Beth Moore Conference. He’s on the production team for Beth’s events! (Many of you have already found him and introduced yourselves to him at the LPL events! Which - by the way - he’s amazed every time because y’all tell him you’re one of Shelly’s blog sisters…and that you’re blessed by this blog that he’s NOT allowed to read! LOL!)

Anyway, at a conference shortly after that, Shelly saw him and re-introduced herself to him… BUT, as Nate put it, he’d already seen this beautiful girl and wondered how-in-the-world he could find some way to strike up a conversation with her. Next thing he knows, she’s walking up to him saying “I know you.” From there, he devised a way to have her and her friend (Abby) eat lunch after the event. Then, he just needed to find a way to get her phone number… And after that, he found LOTS of excuses to do business in Atlanta over the next few months. Yes, he chased her hard – even driving 8 hours out of his way to be in St. Simons with her one weekend in early summer.

From there the relationship has consisted of a LOT of phone calls, emails, pictures, and laughs.

And a trip to Boston to see her:

At the harbor where the Boston Tea Party occurred

Christ Church in the city of Boston where Paul Revere signaled for the hanging of two lanterns (which was to inform that the British were arriving by land and not by sea).

Paul Revere's grave

Nate and Shelly

Paul Revere's house - built in 1680

The 'Old State House' - the oldest in the city, built to house the government offices of the MA Bay Colony

Ship in the Charlestown Navyard with the USS Constitution

USS Constitution

Nate and Shelly eating lunch in some extremely historical place that she has now forgotten the name of ... oopsies!

B/c she felt it only right to share the fact that he has to take pictures of her, with you...

It made them laugh!

A Ben Franklin statue is actually above their heads, but the man taking the photograph kind of missed that part! lol

In Manchester Bay...a beautiful bay town

Manchester Bay


I like him.

*Disclaimer: My dearest siestas, You should know that my face is terribly red upon reading this myself! So I had to include some pictures of our time in the city of Boston that weren't just Nate and I, but some of the things we really did enjoy. :) In case you could care less about the relationship of a 24 year old, you could always enjoy the tourist shout-out I'm giving to my new 'home.' :)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I'm fah'len for Bah'ston

My dearest (missed) siestas,

I'm so sorry I haven't had a chance to catch up with all of you this past week. We had our first full week of classes last week. And now I have a friend visiting until Thursday. So, if I'm not being a major Greek nerd, I'm being a major Bah-ston tourist. And I have good news: Jesus is giving me a love for this strange new city! In contrast, I have had my head so crammed with Greek this week, that it is beginning to hurt a bit. I had a heated discussion with the language recently, but we're reconciled now. So don't worry :) I have to tell y'all something though, and if it makes you feel like you need to pray for me, I'll understand. My bff (Mandy) and her hubbie were dying laughing at me because ... well ... I have Greek flashcards on my keyring. I'm for real y'all. And yes - I use them. But y'all, it lets me love Him more...I have to!

Anyway, I've got to get back to things. I'll leave with you just a few pictures, but I promise to give you a lot more on my next post. (I'm just a visual person that loves photos, don't you?). I can't wait to give you all a big blog hug in catching up with your lives this weekend.

In Starbucks studying today. And yes, those are my keys on the ledge behind me with the flash cards attached.

Being tourist in front of the Paul Revere statue. It was really cool.

See all of those signs pointing in the respective position for its street? Seriously, could you even begin to know which direction to go? My mind feels a bit like this still when I drive around here in this city :)
Love you girlfriends!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

A Seminarian's plea

My dear sweet Jesus,

I love you so much. I love who you are to me: my Father, my Portion, my King, the One who sustains me by His very Word. You are Life to me Lord. Thank you for being my Friend - for I fear that my southern accent has nearly scared everyone up here in New England away. Lord you know that I am not really an extrovert. So why is it that whenever I see someone that I haven't met yet, I have this compelling need to introduce myself with way too much passion. It really must be a bit overwhelming for them to try to interpret "Hey yaaaa'lllll. My name is Shelly! I'm from Geeaaoorgiaa!" Please help me not to hug the new girls that I meet (as we southerners do) and at least give them a little time to decide if they can stand me or not.

Lord how I thank you for the opportunity to learn. I am begging you Jesus to balance the passion of my heart for you with the passion of my mind. I ask never to trade knowing who You are for merely learning about You. Let no textbook, no discussion, and no professor minimize You as the Glorious One; may they only be vessels for which I fall more in love with You. May the academic equipping You have provided me with serve only as means to love and know You more. Anything else must be an overflow of You being my First Love.

I went to Greek class on Friday Lord. I know you saw me. I was very nervous. Downright petrified to be honest. I tried to dress cute to redeem my emotions, but it didn't help much. I've had my first chance to study since then Lord. Can I confess something to you? I loved it so much that I studied until midnight one night! Really Lord...You're going to have to help me not be such a nerd. So I don't know what to do. Today is my Sabbath, so I won't allow myself to study. But my heart is really breaking a bit to not be able to pick up some Greek flashcards. I saw this other student with some today and I kind of wanted to snatch them away from him so I could look at them. I'm guessing that when passion leads to stealing it's probably not a good idea huh? Please love me despite my nerdiness...I trust that You do.

And please help some of the young men here know that as much as I love Greek, the following doesn't exactly serve as the best pick-up line for me: "Hey, I can help you with your Greek anytime you may need it. Just let me know." The Jesus dork in my heart resonates with such, but I would prefer some chivalry instead...really... :)

It's cold here Lord. I wore a sweatshirt and jeans today, but it is only the beginning of September. Please let the cafeteria serve more cookies and cake...I'm going to need it to survive the winter time.

And Lord, I know that just here lately my heart has been so overwhelmed. Thank you for the privilege of constantly being aware of my depravity. It so keeps me in love with who You are and the promises over my life. I thank You that regardless of whether or not my circumstances change, You remain. I am surrounded by new friends, a new climate, and new academics. The young man didn't understand me when I told him I wanted the 'fried chicken' option at lunch. And then I had to hold back the tears a bit that their fried chicken wasn't exactly like GA fried chicken. (Bless them!). Some young man was also saying the word "ruf" the other took me a while to figure out that he was referring to the "roof." (Bless them!). I still say 'yes mam' and 'no sir.' If that is not okay with them, bless them. And for all the changing/molding that You are doing even now in my heart and mind, bless me!

You are the One whom my soul loves...

One of my girlfriends, Shaney, and I. She went to UGA, but I don't hold it against her :)

My roomie (Teal) and I being dorks under a big bell on another college campus :) Y'all, she is the coolest and I love her.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

For the joy set before you

"Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling? Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people Israel?" 1 Samuel 2:29

Hophni and Phinehas, sons of the priest Eli, were wicked men with no regard for the LORD (vs. 12). Whenever a man of Israel came to offer a sacrifice unto the LORD, the two sons demanded the choicest part of the offering for themselves, and threatened to take it by force if it was not given to them. Rather than let the fat of the sacrifice be offered first, as commanded (Leviticus), they required it for themselves. "This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD's sight, for they were treating the LORD's offering with contempt." (vs. 17). Additionally, the two brothers were sleeping with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting (vs. 22).

The father Eli provided only a verbal rebuke to his two sons (vs. 23-35) and disregarded the laws in Leviticus that prescribed the consequences for such rebellious sons. The LORD asked Eli why he scorned the sacrifice and offering that He had prescribed for His dwelling.
"Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering...?"

If I were a parent, I'd probably start pointing my finger at the parental faults of Eli here. However, I am not. And I've told you ladies that I could not and would not speak upon something of which the LORD had not already brought me through, or taught me. So, I'll let you contend with that one for me :)

My heart has been attached to this part of the verse: "
choice parts of every offering." The two sons demanded the first part of the offering, the best portion, for themselves. And I ached. I ached for the occasions in which I have demanded, and sometimes even kept by force, the choice part of my offering from the LORD. (Is it really even an offering unto Him at that point? Surely not). I ached for the moments when I deceived myself into thinking that the 'choice' part of the offering God had called forth from my life actually belonged to me. What ownership do I have over anything? None.

The KJV rendering actually poses the question in this form: "Why do you kick
at My sacrifice and at My offering..." To 'kick' here means 'to trample down.'

Have I not at some point participated in the same kicking session that Hophni and Phinehas have? Have I not trampled upon the altar of God with my demands to keep what I believed belonged to me?

Have we not clung tightly to the 'best' portion of our offering, pridefully convincing ourselves that what we did offer to Him was enough? Have we not allowed the sin of unbelief to inhibit us from offering our all to Him, believing that if we did, it wouldn't be for our own good?

Even more, as the sons slept with the women outside of the Tent of Meeting, have I not spiritually prostituted myself to another god en route to my sacrifice? The god of self undoubtedly was an idol that kept me from offering my choicest parts.
I have done as the father Eli: honoring myself above Him, "fattening myself with the choice parts of the offering".

I am not here to bring a spirit of condemnation against you ladies. I am only claiming that I have worn a Hophni, Phinehas, and Eli name tag during moments of my life, and it has cost me far more than what the 'cost' of the offering would have. And I don't want that for you.

Because you see, when you get the privilege of gaining more of Christ Jesus, the 'cost' of offering the choice part of the sacrifice is really no cost at all. When the Lord asks you to sacrifice something unto Him, He wholly consumes it. (Leviticus 9:24). He knows what your heart has had to lay upon that altar. But do you know the One who consumes it? Do you grasp that anything He has asked you to lay down has been for a greater gain for His glory and your life? Can you comprehend that one of the greatest blessings in the offering is the possibility of 'simply' getting to know and love Him more?

Why do you scorn my sacrifice and offering that I prescribed for my dwelling," the LORD asked Eli. And yet ultimately, the sacrifice and offering of the very indwelling form of God, made man, had to be scorned, kicked, and crucified. Our LORD did not keep for Himself the choice part of the offering - He gave it all: His Firstborn, the One and Only, His Son. "For the joy set before him, He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2)." He knew that a greater joy awaited His obedience to His Father's will. It is the same for you siestas. He Himself is the exceedingly great Reward (Genesis 15:1). Where there is a sacrifice of death to something in your life, there is always resurrection power on the other side.

May we cease kicking at the altar of our hearts with our self-exalting 'sacrifices.' May we identify the lie that if we gave Him the 'choice' part of the offering, we would be left with less. He Himself is the joy set before you. Sweet sister, He is a for you God that is willing to give you all of Himself in place of that which was offered. Grab hold of the nail-scarred hand of your Father. What more could we ask for?