Amy Scott's Thoughts

Sharing the thoughts that bounce around in my brain!

Thoughts from Ecclesiastes August 29, 2011

Filed under: Bible — Amy Scott @ 4:37 pm

I started reading the book of Ecclesiastes in my Bible reading plan today. It’s always one of those books that I kind of don’t know what to do with. Solomon has moments that depress me and make me feel like everything is meaningless and then their are hardcore nuggets of truth that I totally agree with and I’m engaged with the text. It’s an odd mixture to me. A book of extremes.

Today, I notice an interesting parallel between two passages. The first passage that jumped out to me was Ecclesiastes 1:8-9, “All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” As dreary as a passage this is, I found that I could relate to it. It does seem that things grow wearisome. It seems that things will never be enough and nothing is truly new. Just doing the same things over and over again, it’s never enough and it grows wearisome. Happy thoughts, right? Well, at times I can feel that way about many things. It’s true that weary moments do settle into my soul and make me wonder is the point of it all. At this point in my Bible reading, I’m was feeling pretty down. Solomon was so not encouraging me and I was nodding my head in sad agreement.

The second passage that really jumped out to me was Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yetno one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Okay, same book of the Bible, but it seems like Solomon woke up on the right side of the bed when he penned these words. So much more inspiring than the words in chapter one. I love that this verse say God makes all things beautiful in His time! Not my time, but that is okay, because just as the verse says, only God has the whole picture and can see things from beginning to end. I may not see the beauty in all moments, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. I just don’t have the whole perspective.

I think a lot of the meaningless feelings Solomon wrestled with are based on the line that God has set eternity in the hearts of man. We know that we are not meant to be here on earth forever. Everything we do will seem meaningless and grow weary if this present life is all we are concerned with. The truth is that each day we have the opportunity to impact eternity and work for eternal rewards. I think about the relationships that I have with my students, with my friends, with my family. I know that they are not meaningless. I know that they have eternal implications and that I’m not living with just this lifetime in mind. It seems like the two passages balance each other out. Yes, things grow weary and nothing is new under the sun, however, when you realize that God makes all things beautiful in His time and He sees the whole picture, we can have confidence in building things of an eternal importance. Those things will not grow weary and will not be meaningless because they will last forever.

 

One Day August 28, 2011

Filed under: Simply Me — Amy Scott @ 8:01 pm

Today I participated in a community wide event called One Day. It was a Lewis County based community service project with the tagline, “One Church, One Mission, One Voice.” Bethel Church dismissed our services early today to send our people out in the community to do various projects. The cool thing is we gave everyone t-shirts, so you could literally see them all over Lewis County. Driving to the project I was helping with, I saw many groups along the sides of the road. They were cleaning up parks and cleaning up the street. Some of the faces I recognized from my own church, some of them were from different churches in Lewis County. Today instead of being a bunch of denominations and organizations, we were one – one church!

I got the pleasure of painting a hallway at our local dance center. The dance center is an experiencing great growth and they just recently acquired the next floor in the building they are currently renting. The 3rd floor had been used by a tae-kwon-do gym and the last tenants had just left… leaving behind a bunch of their stuff and the floor in sad condition. I arrived at the dance center and really didn’t know what to expect. I was given a roller and I started to transform a hallway from a dull creamish/gray to a bright white.

Now I’m not really handy… I don’t often desire to work with my hands, unless you include typing! I love my job teaching students about the Bible, but it was so nice to do something different. It was nice to do something! It’s been awhile since I’ve really done a service project. Yes, I keep things tidy around the church and around my own home, but this was doing something for someone else. No real benefit to me other than the joy of serving and knowing that I was blessing someone else. It was a great feeling and I surprisingly had a great time, even though I got very warm and my hand started to blister from holding my paint cup and brush. It’s a good ache that my arms now feel.

I’m currently reading a book about what it looks like to be missional church and I feel like this day was right on with the true heart of being a church on a mission – God’s mission. It’s not about denominations and it’s not about meeting in a building once a week, it’s about blessing the world. It’s about living out the promise God gave to Abraham. He said he would bless all nations through him (Genesis 12). We’re a part of that promise because we’ve been brought into God’s family. Now that we are apart of this great promise, we need to keep extending it to the world. It’s not about doing church, its about being the church. It was exciting to be a part of special day like that today.

 

One Thousand Gifts Challenge Update 2 August 26, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 8:54 pm

I broke 100 gifts! Only 900 gifts more to go! It took me about a week to come up to 100 gifts. I wonder if the pace will pick up as my eyes are opened or if this will be a 10 week project. I’m not sure… It’s a good exercise, but the perfectionist in me wonders if I’m doing it wrong. Yes, I wonder about such things. I’m finding that the things I’m writing down seem so material. They almost seem shallow to view as gifts. I wish there was more depth to the gifts I am seeing. I think that this is just me projecting what I read in the book on to myself. Ann Voskamp has a way with words and she made everything sound magical and sacred. My list doesn’t sound that way and for some reason I wonder if that means I’m doing it right. Maybe it will develop over time, maybe it’s a personality difference, and maybe I’m weird for even pondering these things. This week has been good. As I mentioned earlier, week one has already delivered me a light bulb moment. I hope many more are in store for this journey. More than anything I want to grow, I want to be changed by this project. I don’t want to read something and just leave it to thoughts. I want these thoughts to become actions. I want these actions to be stirred from the depths of my heart. I’m looking forward to what the next 900 gifts have in store for me.

 

One Thousand Gifts Challenge Update August 25, 2011

Filed under: One Thousand Gifts Challenge — Amy Scott @ 3:11 pm

On Sunday evening, I started my one thousand gifts challenge. It was very exciting and I thought from how easily the gifts seemed to flow that this challenge might not be as hard as I thought it was going to be. In fact, the first two days were quite blissful! I was able to see God’s gifts in so many things and I was able to write down gift after gift. It seemed to be flowing…

Well, the first two days of the challenge were days that I had a lot of freedom. I made my own schedule and decided what tasks I wanted to do. They were days sheltered for the real world and I was in vacation mode. I wasn’t really living my normal day to day life. I was living the fun, vacation lifestyle. Now that I’m back in the real world I have found the recognition of gifts isn’t flowing from me like it did those first two days.

This has sparked an interesting realization in me. I like things when I get my way. I know that is a “duh” statement, but it’s true. I’m happy has a clam and I see good gifts around me if my life is going the way I want it to, when I’m calling the shots. However, most of life isn’t like this. I am going to have to work harder to see God in the everyday, ordinary moments. I’m going to have to look harder for gifts on days where I slept funny and my back hurts in the morning. I’m going to have to work harder to see gifts when my computer is running slow and it’s keeping me from getting my work done. I’m going to have to work harder to see gifts when things don’t go according to my plan.

During this one thousand gift challenge, I’m going to have to open my eyes further and look harder. I’m praying to see the gifts in everyday, whether I think it’s a good day or a bad day or a just so-so day. I’m already amazed to see how truly documenting my gifts gives an accurate perspective to the condition of my heart. It’s not about God being good when I’m in control, it’s about God being good – period, end of discussion!

 

Being Intentionally Slow August 24, 2011

Filed under: Women in Ministry — Amy Scott @ 1:57 pm

Being in ministry keeps my life at a fast pace. It seems like there is always the next event to be planning, people that need contacting, the weekly classes that need to be prepped. There is always something to do and focus on. When God called me to ministry as a high school student, I knew that this was the life for me. I wanted to the pace and I wanted the action.

Now that I’m a few years out of college I have realized that I don’t quite have the energy level I once had. Now that I’ve been living the ministry lifestyle, I truly know how much goes into keeping up the pace. It’s different than I expect. I’m different than I expected. Turns out I’m more of introvert then I realized. The more I spend time with people, the more I need to spend time alone. It can be hard to balance it all. Commitments, to-do lists, trains of thought continuing on the work track when I’m at home… I’ve had to learn a lot about intentionally slowing down my life. I’ve had to learn where to say yes and where to say no. It’s easy to fill up every second of everyday, but it isn’t necessarily wise.

I’ve made some tough decisions over the last couple of years to help myself intentionally slow down. It seems like everything comes at a cost, even quieter living. One of the major decisions that I have made is to not work full time and be content with a part time job. This is something I’ve struggled with over the years. In a society where most people without kids have two incomes, Jeremy and I decided that a part time job allows me to invest myself more fully in other areas. It seemed like the more hours I worked, the less energy I had for mentorship and doing things after work. I would just want to come home from work and be a blob at home to recover for the next day. I may not be paid or considered “on the job” while I’m mentoring and hanging out with students, but I know my reward will be greater in heaven then it will be right now on earth. When I have a kingdom perspective, I can see that the things that get little to no credit are of great value because they are done with a pure heart and the right intent.

Another way I am intentionally slowing down my life is by investing in the things I do, beyond mentoring and people. Starting this blog has been a great outlet for me. When I am in the quiet of my home, I pick up my laptop and write about the things that matter to me. It’s been a lot of fun to come up with blog ideas and dream about the things I would like to share. Even though the readership of this blog isn’t on a national level, I am greatly affected just by writing the entries. Yes, I hope others are touched and intrigued by my ramblings, but really my blog has been a chance for me to develop myself and the person I am and want to become.

I have learned that some days need to be viewed as sacred. Just like the Old Testament called for a Sabbath. There are days in my life where I know it’s important for me to keep them free from the clutter of a busy life. The day of the week might not be the same each week, but for the most part Fridays are my sacred days. I try to make no ministry plans on Fridays so that way Jeremy and I can keep our one day off together focused on us. It’s not possible to keep every Friday free from plans, so I’ll often keep certain nights of the week free for just hanging out at home. I’ve learned that I can only go so long with something schedule on each day of the week before I burn out and start to resent my schedule. Being protective of certain dates and keeping things sacred has helped me to build in slowness to my schedule and my life. It gives me time to breath and time to relax.

I realize that not everyone has the freedom to make the decisions I have made. Some people have to work full time jobs or over time to make ends meet. Some people might think that I’m even lazy for balancing my schedule and trying to keep some time sacred and slow. I’m still in the learning process because the opinions of others do matter to me. The truth is that I can’t make everyone happy and I can’t make people see things from my perspective. All I know is that I am called by God to live a life of sustainable ministry. The longer I do this, the more I can see the importance of building slow moments into the schedule. It looks different for everyone. I’m definitely more introverted than most, so I have come to realize that my down time needs are greater than others. At first this frustrated me immensely because I felt that I wasn’t being “Super Amy.” God is working my heart to show me that I don’t need to be super, I need to be healthy. Even the things that I have made time for in my life, I know will have eternal rewards and I feel like the balance I have struck is one that allows me to be filled so I can empty myself out with others and not run dry. Living at a slower pace is counter-cultural and that is why it takes serious effort to be intentionally slow.

 

One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp August 21, 2011

Filed under: Amy's Bookshelf — Amy Scott @ 10:29 pm

Let me just start by saying this book has to be one of the most amazing books I’ve read this summer. I was deeply challenged by it and I plan on reading it again as soon as possible, so I can make sure I squeeze all that I can out of it. It’s such a simple concept – dare to live fully right where you are. The impact this book had on me was powerful. I was changed and inspired.

The beginning of this book doesn’t start out happy and cheery. In fact, it started out surprising relatable. Life is painful. The author, Ann Voskamp, recalls the death of her three year old sister in their front driveway. Her sister, Aimee, was hit by a truck driver who never saw her coming. Ann watched as her parents held on to their bleeding, dying daughter. This traumatic event shaped the course of Ann’s life and the family she would grow up in. Not all of us have experienced such a life altering circumstance, but in many ways, we can see how life has brought us pain and we have been hurt. We live on a fallen planet and we see the evidence of it all around us.

Each chapter of this book is like a layer. Each chapter builds the foundation for the next. I found it really interesting that it would seem like each chapter in itself could be the end of the story, but as you read you discover that there is more. This was reassuring to me. God didn’t give Ann this great revelation over night. Her transformation took time. She didn’t go from bitter to thankful in the course of twenty four hours. It was a long term process. In some ways the journey to thankfulness was a goal, a determined direction.

Ann was challenged to make a list of one thousand gifts from God. She started to jot down the little things she saw around her that she knew were gifts. This gave her a new found happiness. Through the process she learned to be looking for God’s gifts at all times, always keeping her eyes open for the work of the Lord. She always learned to see God’s gifts in the pain and the things that she wouldn’t claim as positive. The process from joy to pain, from distrust to trust in God, from bitterness to thanksgiving (or thanksliving as Ann puts it) is astonishing.

I loved the simple nature of the challenge. One thousand gifts… it may be many, but isn’t each moment a gift from the Lord. The good moments and the hard moments? I loved seeing Ann discover gifts in the simple moments of everyday life. She is a home-school mother to six children. Her husband owns the farm they live on. At times I found myself so swept up in her domestic life and finding the blessings in the simplest of moments. It wasn’t about big flashy times with God. It’s more about taking the moment to notice how the bubbles in the sink reflect the sun. It’s about smiling as you watch children play in the snow. It’s about the sights and smells of home. It’s about the love that is in your life.

Living life to the fullest right now means truly feeling everything. Ann says, “Joy and pain, they are but two arteries of the one heart that pumps through all those who don’t numb themselves to truly living.” This hit me like a ton of bricks. How many people have allowed themselves to become numb because the pain just hurt too much? How many people are missing out on joy to save themselves from pain? Another quote that deeply impacted me was, “Darkness transfigures into light, bad transfigures into good, grief transfigures into grace, empty transfigures into full. God wastes nothing – ‘makes everything work out according to his plan.’ (Ephesians 1:11).”  Grief turns to grace, empty turns to full. This is what I want in my life, what I crave.

I could go on and on about the scope of this book. How it can take you so far in only a matter of pages. It has challenged me to look for one thousand gifts. I started a journal just this morning and I plan on documenting one thousand gifts just as Ann did. I expect my journey will look different than hers. I desperately pray that the destination will be similar. I want to have the joy of seeing God in all things, I want to get to the place where I can see the good in pain, and I want my life to be a testimony of thankfulness. One last quote to end, “Spend the whole of your one wild and beautiful life investing in many lives, and God simply will not be undone. God extravagantly pays back everything we give away and exactly in the currency that is not of this world but one that we yearn for: Joy in Him.” This is my prayer, this is my calling! I want to live my one life giving to many lives knowing that it will be more rewarding than I will ever expect to experience.

 

More Goodies I love! August 20, 2011

Filed under: Cooking Experiments — Amy Scott @ 4:00 pm

I couldn’t leave my foodie blogging just about the cookie book when there another equally great cookbook in my life. One of my most treasured possessions is a church cookbook from Shueyville United Methodist Church. My mom lived in Shueyville, Iowa as a girl and this cookbook is from 1972. It was given to my mom as a wedding present and it has handwritten notes in from my grandma.  It’s tattered and torn. The cover has certainly seen better days (it is no longer attached). Every time I pull it out, I feel like I am pulling out a piece of family history.

I actually had the thought once to cook through the entire cookbook. It’s full of old Midwest recipes that I’m sure would be a hoot to create. The terminology is so different. I had to ask my mom what oleo was when I first started using it. It would be like cooking a blast from the past. However, I have still only made two recipes out this cookbook and I plan on sharing them with you today. These recipes are some of my favorites to bake and I know exactly where to find them in this unusual book. It’s almost like the book flips right open to them as if it knows me that well.

No Bake Chocolate Cookies (submitted by Darlene Lindemann)

¼ cup oleo (translation – butter)               3 cups oatmeal

½ cup milk                                                           1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups sugar                                                       (I add about a ½ cup of peanut-butter to the recipe)

1 tablespoon cocoa

Bring first four ingredients to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes and remove from heat. Mix in oatmeal and vanilla (peanut-butter if you choose) quickly. Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper.

Banana Bread (submitted by Ruth Ziskvosky and a note from grandma saying “This is your bread!”)

1 cup sugar                                                         ½ teaspoon baking soda

2 large or 3 small bananas                             1-1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 tablespoons milk                                          2 cups flour

2 eggs                                                                   ½ cup nutmeats (chopped) (I don’t add this)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract                            ½ cup butter or oleo (melt)

Mix ingredients in given order except oleo. Then add the ½ cup oleo. Bake in 2 bread pans (9×5 inch) at 300F for 1 hour. Bananas can be sliced real thin instead of being mashed)

The great charm in this book is that when my mom gave it to me, I discovered a calendar from April 1997. It was made by my dad and it is of April and I’s little league schedule. The hand written notes are great because I know what recipes my grandma loved (and what ones she didn’t like). She also has little suggestions and tips here and there. It also has little sayings typed at the bottom of every few pages. Here are some you might find interesting:

  • Money will buy a fine dog but only love will make him wag his tail.
  • Laziness often is mistaken for patience.
  • Few men have ever repented of silence.
  • Sad facts of life: square meals make round people.
  • We get our parents so late in life that is impossible to do anything with them.

Like I said, the charm of this book cannot be denied! It’s a good old fashion Midwest cookbook and maybe someday I’ll make more than two recipes out of it!