My Confessions...

Today is Ash Wednesday, and living in a prominently Catholic society, this was a big deal today. Last night was Carnevale, and we celebrated the night away with a masquerade, confetti, a silly string fight spanning a few Piazzas, and a street parade in front of the Duomo. It was definitely a night to remember. Today, though, it got me thinking. Last night Kyle asked me what I was giving up for Lent. Jokingly, I said studying, but it really got me thinking about what I could do. I've done lent before giving up chocolate and cokes. One lent season I did something kind of different. My best friend was raised Catholic, and she told me that many times instead of limiting you time from something, you add your time to something else. That year we used our spare time to do volunteer work at a nursing home. This year, as I started thinking about what I could give up, I went through the usual...food, facebook, shopping...but nothing seemed to be right. It was then that I realized that what I need in my life is not to give up a single item, but rather to seek an internal balance.

So as Jason would say...here's my confession.
I don't have the balance that I should in my life. I struggle to find the ways that the four areas of my life fit together. I have a very skewed perspective of the spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical areas of my life. During these next 40 days I want to focus on that. For Lent I am going to bring schedule into my life. Living here in Italy, we don't have any kind of regular schedule. That is something that has made it hard to balance the time in my life. Every night before I go to bed I am going to make a schedule for the next day, trying to find a balance in my life.

Another side point...and maybe another confession. I've been frustrated with God for a while about my relationships. I know without a shadow of a doubt that he has got everything under control, but somehow that still doesn't keep me from worrying. Anyway...Tonight I went on my first date in several months, and it was really nice. Although bike riding isn't my strongest aspect, I still had a great time. Who knows if there will even be a second date, but it was definitely a very comforting touch from God tonight. Also, living in a house with 20 Christian boys has really inspired me to be the Christian girl I should be. These boys lead my chapel services and are leaders in daily life, and I truly appreciate the challenges they give me daily.

Confession number three...I read this passage several nights ago in my quiet time, and it has really stuck with me.
"For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of Jesus Christ.
-2 Peter 1:5-8
WOW. There is so much in this verse that convicts me. First, a big fear that I have had lately is being idle in my life with Christ. I want to live a faith that is proactive...so when I read this, I thought to myself...this is the key I've been looking for! Secondly, I have felt for a long time that if my religion were to hinge on one word, it would be "Love." Our greatest commandments are to love God and love people. I have been very sold on the LGLP movement for a long time, and I think that it is the key to life as we know it. What I see in these few verses is my third point; our new life starts in faith, but that is only the beginning. When we begin to grow faith in our lives, we begin to mature and produce even more. To faith we add goodness, and to the goodness, we add knowledge...and what is the end goal? To me it is clear here yet again. Love. We are here because of love. We are given mercy because of love. We are given grace because of love. We are on this Earth to learn how to love. Point blank. Now, I'm not claiming I now know the key to life and all things are set in place, but I do think that this is important, and a fairly simple concept that we should be sharing with the world. Love God, and Love People. (now of course, that is much easier said than done, but if we do not even tell people, how are they supposed to try? Let's give people the key to life. Let's give people the love of our Lord and Savior.) Point four, and it's the last one (I swear), to live the life we are called to, we must "possess these qualities in increasing measure." If that isn't a great commission, I don't know what is.

Today I have been greatly humbled. I hope that you, too, will take time on this Ash Wednesday to really search for God's plan in your life.
God speed.

At the request of my readers here are a few pictures of my travels. Here's to new things!

My Italian floutist
Getting coffee across from the Duomo
Firenze football game
Boarding in the Alps


My newest friend is going to Africa this summer...check out the trailer. They are currently collecting donations for their upcoming trip. Please pray for them.



Reflection of the Day

After every day of onsite classes, we are assigned to reflect on one thing that stood out to us...whether that be a work of art, the architecture of a building, a historical event, whatever it may be. Today we visited Santa Croce and the Bargello, and I thought I might share my reflection with you.

Santa Croce
Tombs of Galileo, Michelangelo, Machiavelli, and Rossini

I guess what really got me thinking today was seeing all of the "famous" tombs. I've toured Europe before, and I've stood on top of a lot of dead people, and when we started talking about tombs, I started to tune out thinking, "What's so special? This tomb is just like the others." Then Cindy (our guide) started talking about Galileo, and suddenly his tomb became more important, because I knew of his great achievements. I studied astronomy last semester, so I'm very aware of the impact he really had on our world, and it got me thinking..."What will people remember about my life?" Am I going to make a difference in the world that I'm living in? I sure hope so. I'm not saying we all have to be internationally known to be successful, but I do think that we are called by God to make an impact on the world. We cannot drift through life idly letting it pass us by. We must be proactive. We must take risks. We are called to be what the world would see as "reckless" in the name of our Savior.

So at the end of it all will you have made a difference? Will I?


Week 2

So I've completed week two of my self challenge...and my first complete week in ITALY!!! It was a little rough coming in...I think most of it was the time change, but the lack of sleep made me completely, irrationally overemotional, and being thrown into a house with 40 unknown people didn't help much. Now, things are much better. I've made new friends and the town is just beautiful. Living in the house is like having 38 brothers and sisters who all love each other...for now....and getting some time alone is quite the treat. I can't wait until it warms up and I can spend some of my afternoons outside reading in the hammocks of our olive plantation. I have gotten up early this week to spend some time with God before the villa gets hectic, but I haven't made it habit yet...that's something that I'm hoping to change. I think that as sleep habits settle in a little more that will be a little easier. It's really hard to get to sleep when no one gets tired until after two. I think that as long as it's not raining in the mornings, I will try to make the terrace connected to my bedroom my alone place so that I'm not as distracted by people in the common rooms.

On a side note...Jason Illian and I are now friends on facebook...haha. If you read my last post, you will appreciate this.

I am taking each day one step at a time, and I am really blessed to be here.
10 days till we go skiing in the Alps.
Less than a month till free travel...maybe to Spain??? I haven't decided.

Hebrews 11:4...I want a faith like that! A faith that speaks even after I am gone.