Monday, February 23, 2009

Thinking it Through

I've been experiencing a bit of inner turmoil as of late. The reason? Well, a couple of weekends ago, I found myself at
Frontier Ranch, a beautiful Young Life property in Colorado, for a women's retreat weekend called Captivating. Captivating is a popular book co-authored by husband and wife team, John and Stasi Eldredge. You may recognize his name as the author of the New York Times Bestseller, Wild at Heart. Their books (along with their ministry, Ransomed Heart), aim to "reclaim the heart" (my words, not theirs). The basic premise is that our hearts are under attack from Satan, and we must fight hard to win them back so that we may be restored to the joy that God intended for us in Christ Jesus.

I went into the weekend with questions, and came out of the weekend with more questions. There is a lot I could get into here, but the focus of this post is to explain what I've been pondering over lately. I'm sort of an island these days-- bouncing around from location to location without much community (due to the nature of my job)-- so it's nice to use my blog as a forum to discuss this. I'd encourage anyone who has any thoughts on this to post a comment.

My questions stem from the idea of talking to God, or rather, hearing God talk to you. John Eldredge's most recent book is called, Walking With God. Talk to Him. Hear from Him. Really. Really? Eldredge makes the case that if we develop true intimacy with God, we will be able to talk with Him and he shall respond in kind. Eldredge asks questions like, "Should I go camping this weekend?" and awaits the response, "Yes," or "No."

That same weekend, I picked up two books from the Young Life Camp store-- one called, Closer than Your Skin, by Susan D. Hill, and the other by John Piper, called, When I Don't Desire God: How to Fight for Joy. I suspect I should have started with the latter, but I ended up reading the former instead. Hill makes the same arguments-- she prays to God and then waits in silence for His answer.

So, is it really that simple? Do you just ask God questions, and he'll respond back? This is the crux of what has been on my mind as of late. I became a Christian at the age of six, and in the twenty-three years that I have been a follower of Christ, I can say that only one time (with any reasonable certainty in myself) that I have heard what I tend to describe as the voice of God. It was not audible, only within my head, and it produced a feeling within me such as if I had been pierced with a ray of light. What I (allegedly) heard from God was not some new revelation, but Holy Scripture, "My grace is sufficient for you for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:9) It was as Hebrews 4:12 states

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul and spirit, joints and marrow, as it judges the thoughts and purposes of the heart.
Aside from that one time, I can only think of one other time that I believed that I was hearing directly from God, and in that time, it also came in the form of scripture. I certainly do not hear from God day to day, or at least not in the form that Eldredge and Hill recommend. I must say that I was, and am, very skeptical of this approach to relating to God. For one thing, how do we know that the voice we're hearing in our heads is from God, and not just ourselves, or worse, from Satan? At one point during the weekend, Eldredge told how when someone asks him to pray for them, he first checks with God to see whether God wants Eldredge to pray for that person. He told us that sometimes God says No, he doesn't want Eldredge to pray for that person. Again, Really? Is that really from God? Is it theologically sound to say that there are times when God does not desire us to pray for certain people?

Things get a little more sketchy for me. In Walking with God, John tells the story of the time he asks God, "Should I ride my horse?" but forgets to ask God, "Where?" As a result, he falls and is injured. Am I to draw from this scenario that all bad things that happen to us are a result of not properly hearing God's voice, or not following it when I do?

Still, I would be lying if I said that this conversational approach to God wasn't appealing to me. What if it were that simple?

BUT, after mulling it over a bit, and also being frustrated by people who say they are trying to "find God's Will" or who use circumstances (like encountering a little difficulty in the pursuit of something) to act as indicators of whether they're following God's Will, I'm sticking to my original conclusion that God does not relate to us in that way (which isn't to say that He can't, because He can do anything He wills, but it is to say that normatively, He does not).

To aid me in my quest for answers, I referred to a book that was given to me as a gift from my church when I graduated college in 2002. Finding the Will of God by Bruce K. Waltke examines the question of whether the concept of "finding God's will" is a biblical idea and whether the practices that many Christians use (such as following hunches, looking for signs, pointing to random Bible verses, trusting the first thought that pops into our heads after prayer, etc.) are sanctioned in scripture.

He writes, "When we talk of "finding God's will" we generally want divine guidance on specific choices, but it should be noted that this specific term is never used after the Holy Spirit came upon the church at Pentecost. The apostles, upon whom the church is founded, did not teach that we are to seek God's will in this way (pg 10-11)." He continues, "The New Testament gives no explicit command to "find God's will," nor can you find any particular instructions on how to go about finding God's will (pg 12). He also points out that "there are no examples of God stepping miraculously into the life of anyone in the New Testament in response to the seeking of His will. When the Lord does choose to do something miraculous, like sending a vision to Peter or transporting Philip to another town, it is not in response to a request for God to reveal His will." In fact, "both of these men believed they were already doing God's will, and the Lord stepped in to change their situations. (pg 160-161)."

He says that our attempts to "discover" God's will using the aforementioned strategies are actually a form of divination, which is the way pagans sought to make decisions, rather than the way Christians should go about it. "If we are going to find His will on one specific choice, we will have to penetrate the divine mind to get His decision... we are attempting to discover hidden knowledge by supernatural activity... '(f)inding' in this sense is really a form of divination. (pg 11). And, lest you are unaware of what God says about divination, you can turn to Deuteronomy 18:10 (The Lord says, "Let no one be found among you... who practices divination").

He adds, "Simply because God has a plan does not mean that He necessarily has any intention of sharing it with you; as a matter of fact the message of Job is in part that the Lord in His sovereignty may allow terrible things to happen to you, and you may never know why... Instructively, the outcomes of faith for the first three heroes of faith celebrated in Hebrews vary considerably. Able believed God, and he died; Enoch believed God, and he did not die; Noah believed God, and everybody else died! The only thing they had in common is that they believed God and it pleased Him (pg 15)."

So, what's a girl to do in order to determine God's will for her life? Namely, we turn to scripture where God's will has already been revealed to us. 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 says "See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another, and for all men. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

We (in this order) read God's word (the Bible), develop a heart for God by spending time with God each day in prayer and in His word, seek wise counsel in the form of other men and women of mature faith, look for God's providence-- or the working of cirsumstances in our lives, use our own good judgement, and as a final outlet, we may find that God has divinely intervened, although we do not seek this out, nor wait for it to occour in order for us to act. Waltke develops several chapters around these themes, and I would direct you to them, and his book as a whole, to further understand how these activities work to reveal God's will in your life.

I also like this book that I just found on Amazon. It is called Just Do Something: A Liberating Approach to Finding God's Will or How to Make a Decision Without Dreams, Visions, Fleeces, Open Doors, Random Bible Verses, Casting Lots, Liver Shivers, Writing in the Sky, etc. The book is due for release on April 1, 2009 and shall make a welcome addition to my library. The product review reads

Hyper-spiritual approaches to finding God's will don't work. It's time to try something new: Give up.

Pastor and author Kevin DeYoung counsels Christians to settle down, make choices, and do the hard work of seeing those choices through. Too often, he writes, God's people tinker around with churches, jobs, and relationships, worrying that they haven't found God's perfect will for their lives. Or— even worse— they do absolutely nothing, stuck in a frustrated state of paralyzed indecision, waiting . . . waiting . . . waiting for clear, direct, unmistakable direction.

But God doesn't need to tell us what to do at each fork in the road. He's already revealed his plan for our lives: to love him with our whole hearts, to obey His Word, and after that, to do what we like.

No need for hocus-pocus. No reason to be directionally challenged. Just do something.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this long post. I know this sort of thing is a bit of a departure from what I normally do, and I apologize if it turns some people off. However, these are things that I have been thinking about lately, and it is near and dear to my heart. I must say this has been helpful for me as an exercise in clarifying what I'm thinking.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Redeeming Science

"All scientists-- including agnostics and atheists-- believe in God. They have to in order to do their work.

It may seem outrageous to include agnostics and atheists in this broad statement. But by their actions people sometimes show that in a sense they believe things that they profess not to believe in. Bakht, a Vedantic Hindu philosopher, may say that the world is an illusion. But he does not casually walk into the street in front of an oncoming bus. Sue, a radical relativist, may say that there is no truth. But she travels calmly at 30,000 feet on a plane whose safe flight depends on the unchangeable truths of aerodynamics and structural mechanics."

These are the opening words of chapter one of Vern S. Poythress' Redeeming Science. I picked it up at church tonight after hearing him speak and it promises to be an interesting, if difficult, book to read.

Test Shoot

I promised some time ago to share pictures from a photoshoot I did in December. It took me a while to get the pictures, and then my computer broke, but I am finally getting around to posting some here for you to see.

I wasn't completely happy with the pictures-- I gained about ten pounds (4.5 kilos) during the holidays (thanks to an anti-anxiety medicine I was on), and haven't been able to shed them since. I'm not big per se, but I'm bigger than I'd like to be, especially when I make a living by being able to fit into clothes, and I can't even fit into my own clothes anymore (no kidding-- I went through several pairs of jeans yesterday before I found a pair I can wear).

Friday, February 20, 2009


I received my first blog award-- which was really sweet and completely unexpected. Thanks to Audrey.... Are You In for remembering me!

I'm sharing the love. Here are the rules:

1. Put the logo on your blog or post
2. Nominate ten blogs you think are FABULOUS
3. Let them know you nominated them by commenting on their blog
4. Be sure to link your nominees in your post
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received this award

Here are blogs I think are FABULOUS!

Thanks to all these blogs for inspiring me! I love reading and seeing what you do!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

25 Random Things About Me

I was tagged on Facebook to write 25 random things about me. I thought I'd repost them here. Enjoy!

1. I'm a twin. We're fraternal, which means we came from different eggs, and my sister, Erin is three minutes older than me. I'm so thankful to have a twin-- I think I am so blessed!

2. My mom didn't know she was having twins-- the doctor told her that she was having one big baby, and then in delivery, there was two of us. I was born last, which means that I was a complete surprise!

3. I bite my nails. Really badly. It's a terrible habit, and I lose modeling jobs over it. Once I was booked for a $12,000 Japanese shampoo commerical, and they changed models after one day of shooting because my nails looked so bad. I've only stopped biting them once, for about two months. I was on a medicine that helped with that, but it made we gain weight, so I stopped taking the medicine.

4. Reading is just about my favorite thing in the world. I always have a book on me, and have been spotted reading in the crowd at a concert, and at obnoxious night clubs.

5. I'm 29 and still don't have a proper place to call my own. I've spent much of my adult life living in "model apartments." These are apartments that agencies rent to models, but they usually cram up to 8 girls or more in one bedroom apartments filled with bunk beds.

6. I have friends all over the globe-- and have lived with people from all over the place. I've lived with Brazilians, Aussies, New Zealanders, a Hungarian, a Dane, Iranians, a Spaniard, Icelanders, and a whole host of others.

7. Growing up, we moved a lot. My dad worked for Dupont, and they moved us every two years. It was really hard always having to make new friends, but now I am glad that I had that experience as it showed me different parts of America, and because I now feel I am able to adapt and make friends wherever I go.

8. I would love to write a book one day. I haven't figured out yet what it would be about, but maybe one day it'll happen.

9. I keep a blog. It's all over the place, but I do enjoy writing it. You can check it out at

10. I've wanted to model since I was 12 years old. That's the year an agent stopped me on the street and planted that idea in my head. I had always been extremely awkward, with sticks for limbs, and glasses and braces. It had never occured to me that I could model.

11. I was on MTV in 1998. I won a modeling contest that they did, and they came to my house and made a program about me. They also flew me to Miami, where I got to do a fashion show, and co-host MTV Jams. It was a lot of fun!

12. I play violin. I started playing in second grade and continued playing through college. I played with a community orchestra in NY a few years ago, but I haven't played lately, so I'm definitely a little rusty.

13. I really love old movies. I've seen more than anybody I know! I think Louise Brooks is fabulous, and I adore Cary Grant. I love Audrey and Katherine Hepburn, but also like lesser known stars such as the lovely Linda Darnell and Jeanne Crain.

14. One of my favorite movies is called _Two for the Road_. It stars Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finney and I just love it.

15. I was born left-handed, but my parents didn't want me to grow up left-handed in a right-handed world.

16. I studied fashion design in college, with a minor in leadership. I don't use either of those today, but I do work in the fashion industry. I really enjoy sewing, and make things for myself and friends.

17. My favorite place I've ever visited is India. I spent three months there and was completely blown away by the scenery and culture. It's not for everybody, though-- it's a hard, hard place.

18. The Christian classic, The Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan, changed my life. I read it at a low place in my life, and this timeless allegory totally inspired me and has shaped my walk as a Christian.

19. I love small dogs. We always had chihuahuas growing up, but now I love Miniature Pinchers, who are considered "the king of the toy breeds."

20. I often get told that I look like Anne Hathaway. Other people that I have been told I look life are Madeline Stowe, Julia Roberts, Kiera Knightley, Natalie Portman, Angelina Jolie, Brooke Shields, Cindy Crawford, Hillary Swank... pretty much anybody who is a brunette! Ha Ha!

21. I was born in Augusta, Georgia, home of The Masters. My family is from Aiken,South Carolina. Everybody in my extended family lives there, with the exception of my parents, who are in Delaware. They hope to retire to South Carolina, though.

22. I'd love to go to grad school one day. I would love to study English Lit, or possibly teaching English as a foreign language.

23. Cities I have called home are New York City, Paris, Athens, Mumbai, and Dubai. I'm hoping to add a few more cities to the list this year... possibly Istanbul and Brisbane or Sydney.

24. My first job was as a hostess/waitress/dishwasher at the family restaurant, Friendly's.

25. I love to send and receive letters. I've probably written and received over a thousand letters in my lifetime. I started writing letters when I was a kid and we were moving around a lot.