Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hard Decisions

I should be showering right now, but instead I want to share something with you, my friends. I woke up early and went for a run this morning. Like booty early. Alarm went off at 4:45am early. When you run at dark thirty in the morning, it's best to run through your hood so you have some light, but there isn't that much road to run in my own section of Paradise Point, so I like to head up past the stables and the ohsoscarydark stretch of Stone to Watkins Village and Berkley Manor. In the dark. Because trail running in the dark is just awesome.  I always think that running in the dark, when I can't see the trail in front of me or my feet or anything really is the hard part, but it's not. It's making the loops through the neighborhood because I continually encounter intersections- decision points. I'm constantly presented with an easy way out. Do I keep going straight or should I just turn left now and head home. Every turn is a decision to make: Do I want to give up now or keep pushing? Do I want to run 3 miles? Do I want to run more like I had planned? Heck, even every step at some stretches is a hard decision. The decision to KEEP going when I could just stop. Nobody is watching. Nobody cares. But I always feel better when I make the hard decision. When I hang left instead of right, knowing its the difference between 4 miles and 4.5 miles. It doesn't matter that nobody sees, nobody cares, because I KNOW the difference.

It's this way in life, too. How many decisions do we make every. single. day. that seem unimportant or little, but they add up? A while back I posted this picture to my facebook page after a conversation with a friend. She was really upset that some of our mutual friends proclaimed to love Jesus, but the fruit of this didn't show in their lives. They loved each other, yes, and they did it well, but she didn't think they loved others. They weren't doing anything outside their circle to live the Gospel. I told her I thought we all had different seasons of life and that while many of us had small children, deployed husbands, were far from our families, etc, that maybe right now the best way they could be a witness for the love and grace of God through Jesus was to be the best wife and mother and friend they could be- modeling love and grace and patience and kindness.

Well, I was thinking about that this morning and I think I was right and I was wrong. I think it's true that at this time in our lives for many of us, making it to the soup kitchen to serve weekly, arranging childcare, working at the animal shelter, going on missions across the world maybe isn't the best way to serve our families and others right now, BUT being loving and gracious and kind and serving our children and husbands isn't really enough, either, if we're spending our free time shopping and indulging in ourselves constantly while others world wide are starving, living as slaves, unable to provide for their basic necessities. Ignoring the problems of the world and continuing to fill our homes and our lives with STUFF isn't REALLY being a good lighthouse, is it?

I don't mean to condemn. I really don't. I'm living the "American Dream" just like the rest of my friends, and most of you, but I'm trying hard to make the hard decisions every day. When it would be easier to give into my inclination to buy that pretty new scarf because fall is coming and I saw someone look, oh just so cute with one the other day, I make the decision to love one of the 5 scarfs I already own. When it would be easier to serve myself, I try to decide to serve others. Even in the little things. I challenge you to do the same. I know many of you think my BNN challenge is obnoxious or annoying or un-doable (it's not, btw) maybe you'll consider making a harder decision and fasting this October. Everytime you're tempted to buy that new necklace just because or a cute new pair of jeans or boots, think about what you already have. When you're excited that cooler weather is upon us, think about what that means for the family that can't afford to heat their home in the winter. When you want to buy that green jacket because you're tired of pink that you picked out last year, think about the woman that is probably tired of the holes in her jacket, and would love one that fits and isn't falling apart and could care less about the color. Take the month of October and fast in this way- when you are about to make a purchase- stop. think. And if it's unnecessary, don't do it. Take the money you would have spent and give it to the local homeless shelter, the food bank, the soup kitchen, the Baptist Children's Home down the road, wherever. Or at least put it aside and save that money to be spent on some quality outing with your children or family. It's only 31 days. You can do pretty much anything for 31 days, right?? It's a great exercise in self control (and we know that the Lord has given us a spirit of self-control, right??) and an opportunity to make some hard decisions. You can do it! I know you can. One step at a time.


  1. A. Nice picture.
    B. I might join you this October, save for 2 items I could use and have been waiting on for ages.
    C. Hmmmmmm..... this is a sticky subject. It's so easy to look at how much others have and think "they aren't doing enough". But in reality, two things are true:
    1. You don't really know how much they are doing. Maybe they donate more money than you think they do but they don't go brag about it to the world. (I don't mean "you" as in you, Ryanne Baker. I mean it in more of a collective "we".)
    2. While we are called to encourage our brothers and sisters to live fully for Christ, we are even more called to fully live OUR lives for Christ. How generous I think Joe & Susie Smith are doesn't matter- what matters is if I am generous and faithful to bless others with what I have been given.

    Keeping tabs on others just results in frustration, bitterness, resentment and sin. And, seeing as how God never placed a cap on what is "enough" for each person to live on, it's not my place to say someone has enough and live in expectation that they give more simply because they have more than me. There will always be a "they have more than me so therefore they should give more than me" situation. I can only do my part and pray and encourage others do theirs. Does that make sense?
    Basically, I'm just trying to say that while it may be true these friends aren't doing enough, we can't get caught in the trap of comparison. It steals joy.

    However, I would say, you are doing an EXCELLENT job of communicating Biblical truths about the need to give, give freely, give sacrificially, and live with less. Keep it up my friend.

    1. I enjoyed our conversation today, friend! I'm sorry my phone died and I couldn't plug it in at the soccer field! Like I said, I didn't mean to imply that these friends or anyone in particular wasn't doing "enough". I know I am not doing "enough" but that's a completely personal conviction. I can only know this sort of thing about myself and nobody else other than my husband because, as you know, we're one flesh. My response to this friend (who was hurting, btw, likely genuinely discouraged and upset by her inability to get people on board with helping her help others in a certain project) was along the lines of the picture I posted- everyone can do different things in different times and we need to be concerned about ourselves and what WE are doing, not with what everyone else is doing. However, I don't think it's incorrect or unfair to encourage my friends to step back and take a look at how they're living (right along side me- I'm not encouraging anyone to do something I'm not willing to do) and to challenge them to live more simply. Notice I suggest giving but also saving $ to invest in family outings, etc. When I was thinking this morning about that whole conversation with the friend and the lighthouse painting I was just thinking about what it really means to be a lighthouse. If my windows are all gunked up with a preoccupation with stuff and busyness and selfishness, I'm not all that shiny- so my whole stand there and shine situation isn't going to be working out so well. Just encouraging my friends to clean up their windows along side me so we can all shine a little brighter. Love you!

  2. Can I admit something? When I first read this post I was like "well, la-di-freaking-da for Ryanne!" But then I realized my pride was getting in the way of understanding what you were trying to say. I think it was Paul who said, in essence, "here's what I'm doing. Live like me" and think it's ok sometimes to say that. You are a huge inspiration to me! That said, I 100% agree with Megan in that we really don't know everything about other's lives, nor is it necessarily our responsibility to point out their shortcomings. Keep fighting the good fight! And please keep blogging!

  3. Thanks for your honesty, Kristin. I really don't think myself better than anyone. I don't know the hearts of others and I didn't mean to communicate that. If I started comparing myself to others thinking I'm better, then I'd also have to start comparing myself to the priests and nuns that dedicate their entire lives to the Lord, the folks that pick up and move their entire families to Africa to work with the orphans and the oppressed, and so many other people that are so much more awesome and selfless and loving and amazing than I am in even my wildest fantasies. I would lose every time. Thankfully, it's not a competition. But that doesn't mean I should give up. Nor should anyone else. We can always be better. We can always be growing. And I think that's what we're called to strive for. <3

  4. Sounds very similar to a thought process I've been struggling with for some time now. I have no problem finding people who call themselves Christians, my problem is finding those who really are.

    I try not to judge others, because like someone mentioned above, you don't really know what others are doing, thinking, saying, etc.... and I try to give the benefit of the doubt.

    The quote that's been stuck in my head since my visit to Mississippi is "The single greatest cause of atheism in the world today is Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable"

    However, reading your blog today reminded me how much harder it is to be a lighthouse when you are alone. By alone, I mean not fellowshipping with others. Not sure if any of that made sense. My coffee has worn off.

  5. Arrrrggggghhhhh.... and that's why I called you after I left my comment because I wasn't sure what I was trying to communicate came across correctly.

    Let me try again...

    A.I agree 100% with trying to be a better lighthouse.

    B.I agree 100% with encouraging OTHERS to be a better lighthouse. Duh, isn't that a huge part of what the church is for? :) To edify and build up believers? That includes building up believers to follow Jesus into all parts of the gospel. ALL.

    C. The majority of my comment was directed more at the attitude and disappointment the friend was experiencing. Being disappointed by the perceived lack of doing "enough" is just not a feasible way to live. You'd ALWAYS be disappointed. However,doing as you are (you as in Ryanne Baker), is way more feasible and comes with blessings.

    Keep letting that little light o' yours shine. :)

  6. I've been thinking about this post a lot and other than agreeing with your friend Megan (great name, she must be smart) I think I would add a couple thoughts...

    1) Just because people have nice things doesn't mean they are spending a ton of money on them. My husband and I rarely buy things new, in fact we make a living by selling things that are used. I buy lots of stuff on eBay and LYS and very rarely go out and shop for new things. There have been many times that someone has made a comment about me having a nice iPhone. Yes, I totally feel that cell phones are indulgent, however my husband buys, sells and fixes them so it makes sense for me to have one, especially since we will can just re-sell it at any point if we needed the money. Same thing with all our electronics. See what I mean? That woman next to you with the nice new Jcrew coat might have gotten it as a hand-me-down from her mother in law (like me!) or at the thrift can't assume she spends frivolously just because she has nice things.

    2) Although I certainly believe people need to be doing things outside their circle like you said, it's very important that we focus on doing things inside our circle and do them well. Growing up in a pastor's family I can tell you that there have been many times that the most giving, generous, and seemingly Godly people on the outside have destroyed their testimony by the things living in their closets. This happens more than you would think. So it's easy to look at one person and think "Wow they must be really Godly, they spend so much time giving!" When they're going home and beating their wives (not joking)... The reverse is also possible...I can think of many families that we've known who quietly gave large amounts of money to missions, welcomed people into their homes regularly, befriended their neighbors, and were the last ones to leave the church nursery on Sunday mornings. You might not know those things about them, however, and that's fine! Not everyone with a pocket full of awesome blogs about it. :)

    3) God wants us to be faithful and I think that means more than jumping onto the latest spiritual "diet fad." I think it means following through with our commitments, being people of our word, and doing the behind the scenes dirty work that doesn't look as glorious. Consistency is a great witness.

    The bottom line is...we are expected to serve those around us, I believe that fully, but everyone has their own maturity process as well as their own gifts...and we all fall short of the goal...thankfully God doesn't base our salvation on our works!

    "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." Eph. 2:8-10