Tag archive: Colleen Ann Guest

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Forgiveness – Faith in Action

When I first read a post on Facebook commemorating the 24th anniversary of the tragic and untimely death of Mckay Gell and her unborn daughter Megan, my heart gave pause. The date, 12/29, will forever be burned into my heart. The original date fell on a Thursday. I rarely talk about it and I live with a sense of shame that not many of you can fathom. Yet at the same time, I credit Mary’s (I never called her McKay) amazing family for giving me something more precious than gold – the knowledge of what Christ’s forgiveness looks like. I’ve never put this in writing before and I’ve rarely ever spoken of it outside the confines of my immediate family. Bear with me, after 24 years I need to tell the story. It deserves telling.
To make some extra money, my Aunt and Uncle took the job of cleaning the law offices where my Aunt and Mary worked. They would go on Tuesday and Thursday nights after regular working hours. On this particular Thursday night it was quite cold and neither of them wanted to leave the warmth of their cozy fire at home. So they flipped a coin to see who would go. My aunt lost, so she headed to the office. I had just finished feeding my kids and was settling in to watch a Cheers rerun when I received a frantic phone call from my aunt. She was begging me to come to her. At her office. Mary, who was 8 months pregnant,  had been raped and murdered. My aunt found her and the police hadn’t yet arrived.
You must know that my aunt and Mary were very close. Mary was like a sister to my aunt and she often referred to her as her best friend. Mary’s parents and my family had a long history of being good friends. I spent quite a bit of time in that law office where Mary and my aunt worked. I’d come down to go to lunch and hang out with the two of them. We’d talk about our kids and pregnancies since Mary and I had our first children pretty close together and she was currently pregnant with her second child and I had just given birth to my second child.  I called the office almost every day and was greeted by Mary’s cheerful voice. She was such a joy-filled person and I greatly enjoyed spending time in her presence.
So on that night, one of my cousins came to babysit and I got down to that office as fast as I could. By the time I got there, the police had just arrived and it was a crime scene. They let me see my aunt and be there to hold her while she was in complete shock. She recounted the details of the scene and it burned into my heart forever…. I don’t care to recount that for anyone. I’ll NEVER forget that night.
It was so incredibly hard to fathom my aunt’s pain at not only losing her best friend to such a heinous crime  but to be the first one on the scene to discover the crime was just  – unimaginable. I spent the next two weeks living at my aunt’s house trying to comfort her, counsel her, and pray with her. It was HELL.
Then it got worse. My aunt figured out that her own son had committed the crime and had to be the one to turn him in.  This son had grown up like a brother to me. We were together ALL the time as children. He slept over at our house so much it was like he lived with us. The events surrounding this crime was so mind reeling and heartbreaking that to this day I don’t think anyone in my family can fully express how we felt then or feel now.
Then came the funeral. It was like a wedding in a macabre way. It seemed like all of Mary’s family was on one side of the aisle and all of my family was seated on the other side of the aisle. My entire family experienced so many emotions collectively – – outrage, shame, guilt, grief – – we felt dirty and unworthy to be in the presence of this precious family. There were no apologies heartfelt enough to be of any comfort to anyone. I heard several of my uncles and cousins outside the church exclaim that they would kill my cousin if they could get their hands on him. With their jaws set and damnation in their eyes – I knew they meant it. Who wouldn’t feel that way??!
Then a miracle happened. A miracle for me anyway. I was already a saved believer in Christ and I knew that I was saved because of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross. God had forgiven me of my sins. Forgiven! I thought I knew what that word meant. But I didn’t know how little I understood until one by one Mary’s family got up and spoke at that funeral. Their words were full of pain and grief but through it, they ALL spoke of forgiveness and the mercy of God. They continued to be unwavering in their faith in our Lord and trusted Him to have all of this in His control even though we couldn’t understand it. If just one person spoke those words it might not have impacted me so much, but every single one of them spoke about forgiving my cousin and asked that the rest of us do the same. The ones that weren’t ready to forgive spoke of praying to the Lord asking Him to allow them to be able to forgive at some point. I felt like the roof opened and the Lord and I were the only ones in that room. He was telling me – THIS is what I’ve done for YOU! I have forgiven you EVERYTHING, therefore you have no right to withhold forgiveness from anyone including yourself. I cried knowing that I had received divine intervention and wished I didn’t have to learn this lesson in such a real way.
I saw side by side that day hate contrasted with grace. My family was full of hate and her family was full of grace. Mary’s family were the messengers of God himself and I am eternally grateful they allowed themselves to be used by Him to glorify His holy name. My prayer is that I wasn’t the only one who heard the message so clearly. I spent years unpacking the revelations of what forgiveness truly means. I have learned how to have empathy and grace in situations where most people would not. I learned that part of forgiveness is being able to forgive myself for my own sins and shortcomings. If the Lord could forgive a sinner on the magnitude of my cousin (if he chooses to ask for it – and to my knowledge he has not), then I must be able to forgive myself and others. Not to forgive, places me higher than the Lord. Am I greater than He who made me? Certainly not.
I haven’t been faced with having to say “I forgive you” to my cousin, and my prayer, like one of McKay’s brothers said the day of the funeral, is that I would be ABLE to forgive if the opportunity arose. In the meantime, I have lived my life looking through the lens of grace. I still experience extreme guilt and shame just for being related to the murderer. It pains me and torments me when I think of it. Every single time I see Mary’s family and friends I want to crawl in a hole and die. My life was forever changed that December 29th. God redeemed those events to make me a more humble and grace-filled person than I surely would have been otherwise.  Whenever I’m tempted to think ill of anyone I have a very real voice in my heart that says “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Acts 13:38-39  Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses.
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Sights and Smells of the Season

Me – sick and miserable. I covered my nose see?

TMI warning…
While being infirmed with the flu this past week, I have not showered and haven’t even changed my clothes. In a week. A whole week. Let that sink in a minute….Eww, gross I know!
But in my defense the thought of droplets of water hitting my fevered skin seemed like it would feel like someone peppering me with bird shot, not to mention how totally exhausting the whole taking-a-shower ordeal would have been. Changing my clothes meant I would have had to drag the fabric across my skin and that sounded excruciating. So I tried my best to ignore how icky I was getting. The greasy hair, the oily skin, the unshaven pits, etc . . . I ignored it all. With a hopelessly stuffed nose and super polite husband, I can’t even speak to how I must have smelled. I did however, muster up the courage to “wash up” and brush my teeth daily, but it was a quick affair and didn’t do much to scratch the surface of the growing oil slick taking over my body.
Late yesterday afternoon, my fever finally broke! Oh what a glorious moment, for I knew the creepy, crawly, skin prickles were on their way out the door soon! I woke up this morning still feeling sick, but without the fever – so I determined TODAY would be the day to reacquaint myself with that corner of my bathroom which holds the BB-gun shooter known as “the shower.”  I admit I was a little scared. With trepidation I turned on the water and thought . . . Do I REALLY want to do this? Maybe I’m being a little premature. After all it’s really only been a week . . . I turned away from the shower and one look in the mirror convinced me to turn right back and get in.
Fast forward…I survive the shower, blow dry & flat iron my hair, get dressed in some comfy CLEAN clothes, and make a cup of tea. About this time Neel gets home from church. He comes in the door talking about how great the service was and how glad he was that he made the effort to go even though it would have been easy not to since I didn’t go. All the while he is talking I think how odd that he hasn’t even said anything about how much better I look (and surely smell). He then says he needs a hug and will be careful because he knows how painful my neck, back and skin feels from being sick. So he comes in for the hug and I think – here it comes – he’s gonna hug me tight but gently and sniff my hair and say how nice I smell and say something about how great I look . . . and. . .  he hugs me ever so nicely . . . and . . . here it comes. . .  and . . .  I even hang on a bit longer than normal . . . and . . . and . . .
Nothing. . . He breaks away, makes some random small talk and then starts talking about putting up the Christmas tree. Are you kidding me??? I had hit the all-time low in personal hygiene just prior to his leaving the house and performed a miraculous overhaul in time for his return and he doesn’t notice?? Which is odd because he ALWAYS notices even the minutest details in a person’s appearance. I begin to wonder if he is not feeling well . . . Or if the body snatchers got him while he was out.
But I let it go and he goes about the business of vacuuming and putting up the tree. The hideous, falling apart, fake Christmas tree I bought for $10 about 10 years ago, which he doesn’t fluff up the individual branches so they just hang in terraced flat layers, stuffs a string of lights on it so all the colors and bright spots clump together, and there will be no further decorations added, and, and . . . and my OCD is about to explode – – but (deep breaths) that’s fodder for another blog.
About an hour later, after he’s done “decorating,” I finally engage him in the following conversation:

ME: Honey, didja notice anything?

HIM: Whaddaya mean?

ME: (smiling)

HIM: (looking bewildered) About the tree?

ME: No. About me (smiling my best)

HIM: (looking panicked and scrutinizing me) Um . . . Your hair is getting longer?

ME: NO Dummy, I took a SHOWER!!!!!

HIM: Oh. . . No, I didn’t notice.

ME: ARE YOU KIDDING??? I was a greasy, nasty, filthy mess and I must have stunk to high heaven and you, Mr. I-can-spot-a-lip-sore-on-a-midget-from-100-yards-away, DON’T NOTICE????

HIM: Well, you looked fine and you honestly didn’t smell bad at all so, nope, didn’t notice.

 I love this man!
I smile with marital contentment as he heads down the hall to put away the tree box; I pick up my tea cup and begin to sip while reflecting on the moment.
Then, in mid sip and with sinking realization, it hits me! So I shout after him down the hall . . .

 

“DANG – I could have gone another week EASY!”

Neel’s mad tree decorating skills!


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Fashion a Better World

“…and Kirchstein’s final look, a fiery dress, was a showstopper.”

WHAT WHAT? HOLY COW!!! The reviewer was talking about the dress I was modeling!! Whoo hoo – I wore a showstopper!!  Let me tell you, hitting the catwalk to sounds of cheers and cameras flashing is a pretty heady feeling and but to see the accolades in print is out of this world. Not bad for an old lady who JUST started this modeling thing! OK, not old, but middle aged.  Just goes to prove that you’re never too old to try something new! I’m so excited to be part of a world that traditionally doesn’t recognize women if they aren’t 17 years old,  skyscraper height and rail thin. I do believe that there’s room for REAL women in the modeling world after all and I’m living proof!!

Last weekend I was so very blessed to be asked to walk a runway show for the “Fashion a Better World” event at Top of the Hill Distillery in Chapel Hill, NC.  It featured women entrepreneurs in North Carolina focused on sustainable fashion whose aim is to encourage artistic minds to bloom where they are planted, creating an ecosystem of creativity within North Carolina.  Brooks Bell, entrepreneur and champion of women-led businesses, was the keynote speaker. They also featured a surprise celebrity guest which you can read about here. The event was sponsored by UNC as part of Global Entrepreneurship week, along with Triangle organizations, to give designers a platform to talk about the significance of their work and promote the growth of the fashion industry in NC.

I modeled for the fabulous Kim Kirchstein of Leopold Designs who is not only an amazing artist but she is one of the sweetest, most down to earth people I’ve had the pleasure of working with.  I’m proud to call her my friend! Check out the UNREAL dress I got to wear. It’s actually  108″ x 45″ of hand-batik silk, with wet-into-wet dye and brushed-on wax strokes which create the soft textures in this design. Kim tied it around me in what she called “the pantsuit” tie. The feeling of silk enveloping my body was heavenly and then to wear it down the runway was just icing on the cake! Read this awesome review from Scope Magazine and the wonderful blog from Pretty Little Snipets to find out more more about all the brilliant designers and how incredible the night was. BRAVO to everyone and a special thanks to Symbology for hosting the event!

Colleen Ann Guest wearing a Leopold Design by Kim Kirchstein for Fashion a Better World Colleen Ann Guest wearing a Leopold Design by Kim Kirchstein for Fashion a Better World

Colleen Ann Guest wearing a Leopold Design by Kim Kirchstein for Fashion a Better World Colleen Ann Guest wearing a Leopold Design by Kim Kirchstein for Fashion a Better World

On the Runway - Colleen Ann Guest wearing a Leopold Design by Kim Kirchstein for Fashion a Better World. Photo by Josh Kongmany On the Runway – Colleen Ann Guest wearing a Leopold Design by Kim Kirchstein for Fashion a Better World. Photo by Josh Kongmany

Front - Colleen Ann Guest wearing a Leopold Design by Kim Kirchstein for Fashion a Better World photo by Josh Kornegay On the Runway with Kim – Colleen Ann Guest wearing a Leopold Design by Kim Kirchstein for Fashion a Better World photo by Josh Kornegay

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Ginger Lime Veggies – Grain Free, Vegan and Yummy!

I constantly post on facebook or twitter about my grain free living but rarely do I take the time to post recipes of what I eat in place of all those poisonous grains.  Today I’m going change that. I will share an amazing ginger lime veggie bake I just whipped up on a whim this afternoon but first,

Some History…

Grain free eating and living is a way of life for me. It has to be!  Grains are poison to my body and most likely they could be to yours too. But when people turn up their nose at the thought of not being able to eat pizza or give me the sad puppy eyes of pity, I just laugh to myself. They have NO IDEA how well I eat or how tasty my food is! My husband and best friend have been lucky enough to experience my cooking and they will tell you – it can be restaurant quality AMAZING!

This week my husband has voluntarily chosen to give up grains for one week to see how it makes him feel so I’ve had to think a bit more creatively to keep his interest. He’s on day 4 and hasn’t cheated or felt deprived; on the contrary he’s LOVING IT! So far so good… Today I offered to make some roast vegetables for him since we totally pigged out on eggs and grass fed pork sausage from our local farmer’s market yesterday, but I wanted to change up my usual veggie bake. Normally I throw some veggies in a casserole dish, drizzle them with olive oil and shake some Italian spices over them and let them bake for about an hour. Walking around the grocery store on my lunch break, I had a stoke of brilliance! I was going to make a ginger lime Oriental flavored dish…but I didn’t know how. But how hard could it be? All I needed was ginger, lime, and veggies right? Easy! Well, I got a bit more creative than that and I’m glad I did. The results were worth it.

The Recipe

Now “Recipe” is a VERY loose term in my world.  Keep in mind that I don’t have a culinary degree and I don’t measure. I just wing it but I usually make out OK. You’ll have to be brave and trust yourself to add just the right amount of spices and ingredients if you choose to replicate my creations.  I rarely replicate them myself!

1 sweet onion – cut up
1/2 bulb of garlic – peeled & pressed
2 red bell peppers – cut up
2-3 heads of broccoli – cut up
1 bunch of asparagus – woody ends cut off
1 lime
sliced raw almonds
ground ginger
curry
red pepper flakes
paprika
sea salt
coarse ground black pepper
1/2 cup or more olive oil

Saute the onions and garlic in a frying pan with some olive oil until soft and a bit caramelized.  Place the broccoli and red peppers in a casserole dish and add the onions and garlic. Place the asparagus on top of the other veggies, keeping them all lined up in one direction (I don’t know what that does for the flavor but it keeps my OCD from spazzing out!). Sprinkle plenty of sliced almonds on the top.  Mix together in a bowl about 1/2 cup olive oil, and the spices – I cannot begin to tell you how much; I don’t measure remember?!. Squeeze the juice from the lime into the mixture and then zest the lime over the veggies. Pour the oil/spice mixture over the veggies. Place in a 350 degree oven for about an hour.

My husband RAVED over this dish and I honestly was pretty impressed with myself too. I imagine a few sesame seeds would be a tasty addition too. So if you try it yourself, you’ll have to let me know how it turns out!

As for me… I’m stuffed! Where’s my glass of wine….

 

Ginger Lime Veggie Bake - Grain Free and Vegan! -Colleen Ann Guest Ginger Lime Veggie Bake – Grain Free and Vegan!! -Colleen Ann Guest

 

 

 

 

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A Butterfly in Waiting

One year ago on September 8th, I made the decision to cut off all my hair and quit coloring it. It was one of the most liberating and revealing things I’ve ever done in my life. I noticed that while my super short, spiky hair felt foreign to me, it garnered a ton of attention. Most, if not all of it, was positive! Random people stopped me on the street, grocery store, wherever, to tell me they LOVED my hair. I enjoyed the compliments but was a bit unsure how to internalize and embrace them. Having long, beautiful hair had been my signature look for most of my life and I knew how to work it. I was exploring all new territory without the locks but was gaining confidence in the new look. If not for a financial crunch for us in January (salon services every 2-3 weeks is expensive!) I probably would have hung onto the new do long enough for it to become more “me.” So the regrowth began. It is now September, nine months since it was last shaved and one year since the the mighty scissors made the initial cut, and I can feel my hair catch the breeze again. Now that is a feeling that I am familiar with. While anxiously waiting for it to grow to ridiculous lengths again, I have recurring dreams that I wake up and  it’s magically long – only to really wake up to a choppy, mop head. That’s discouraging. I press on though with hats, clips, gel, anything that allows me to be out in public without scaring children and causing people to recoil in disgust. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but suffice to say the random compliments have long since stopped. But I’m a big girl and this journey has taught me that my self-worth doesn’t lie in outward appearances. I am a caterpillar in the cocoon stage…in a few months I’ll emerge as a beautiful new butterfly!

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His Last Supper – Film Screening September 9, 2012

~~~~~~Mark your calendar~~~~~~

The Second Sunday Film Series at the ArtsCenter presents…

HIS LAST SUPPER, the world premiere!

Sept 9 | Doors open 4pm – Admission $5

http://www.artscenterlive.org/filmseries

“His Last Supper,” a Rob Underhill short-film will be presented with other films as part of the inaugural Second Sunday Film Series event.

A WAKE DRAMA & ZONING MEDIA Production…

Starring COLLEEN ANN GUEST, GREG WAIT, OLIVER FLYNN

Voiceover by KEVIN SILVA | Also featuring MARYIA KROTAVA

DIR/writer/producer ROB UNDERHILL | DP/producer ARAVIND RAGUPATHI

Associate producer JASON CASELLI | AC/editor RANDY BERNARD

Line producer KATIE JONES | Script supervisor LEANNE BERNARD

Loc. Sound CYRUS YUNKER | Lead grip PATRICK NEILSON

R O B  U N D E R H I L L
Award Winning Director . DP . Editor . Writer . Producer
cinema – music video – promotional – corporate
www.RobUnderhill.com

 

ALSO SCREENING:

“Foodie” – Directed by Christopher G. Moore

“Laws of Attraction” – Directed by David Pemberton-Smith

“Perfect Family” – Directed by Foodie’s own, Nick Karner

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Buried in the Waters of Baptism

Buried in the waters of Baptism, raised again to new life in Christ!

 

Those were the words I heard going under and coming out of the cool water on the first weekend in June. But more than the words in my ears and the water rushing over my body, I felt something that I rarely ever do. I felt the Holy Spirit moving and speaking to me. The words  “Well done good and faithful servant”  played out in my head as I was briefly transported away from this earth and back again in the few seconds it took to go under the water and come up out. I honestly and truly believe I died and came back in some sort of literal sense..not symbolically. A few inches under the cool water I felt a peace, calmness and beauty that cannot be described and most of all I felt the overwhelming presence of the Holy One right there with me the whole time. “Supernatural” comes to mind. And I was COMPLETELY caught off guard by the whole experience.

Romans 6:3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?

In the moments leading up to the actual “dunking” (as I’ve affectionately called it) I was thinking about how I should be feeling about it. In fact, for days  prior to the big moment I was struggling with how I should feel. I was saved as a child and I’ve always known Christ was my Lord; my salvation has never been in question for me. But being raised in the Methodist church where people are “baptized” as babies, it never crossed my mind that I should do it again as an adult even though I’ve been attending evangelical Baptist churches for the past 10 years or so. In these churches we are taught that being baptized after salvation is an act of obedience and a testimony to the world that  we are believers in Christ. While baptism itself is not a prerequisite to salvation, this simple act is one that Christ himself asked us to do as a demonstration of our faith. Even Jesus himself was baptized  – and there was certainly no question about his eternal home.

Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Mark 1:4 This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.
Matthew 3:15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.

Soooo….what to feel? I knew in my head that I should do it, my church was requiring it as a part of my membership, and I had no good reason why I hadn’t done it before.  So there I stood, waist deep in the water along side hundreds of fellow believers and over 30 people who were in the process of being baptized themselves and suddenly something sparked. I watched intently as the children’s pastor baptized the very children that he had the privilege of sharing the Gospel with. Kids that he taught for years and prayed over daily. Those precious little ones who heard the Word and were convicted by it were joyfully doing the thing I had avoided doing for decades. While watching each child go under and come up I was overcome by emotion. How wonderful must this pastor feel to actually baptize the people (in this case many children) with whom he shared the love of Christ? My heart broke once again for all the people who I had failed to share the Good News with, and that in one day this pastor welcomed more people into the kingdom than I had done in my entire lifetime. I renewed my conviction that my sole purpose in life is to share the love of Christ – all other things are insignificant if they don’t ultimately aid me in that intention.

If nothing else happened that day I would have gone home feeling that being baptized was worth it for that conviction alone. But something else did happen. I was not prepared for and I did not ever suppose that the Holy Spirit would invade my personal space during any moment of the day. After I came up out of the water I gleefully waded around to others for jubilant hugs of congratulations. I tried to put into words what I heard and felt. I couldn’t come up with the right words or descriptions, but one of our pastors did for me –  He said I was Obedient.

Obedience – – YES, that’s it!! That’s what I had done that I had failed to do for such a long time. And even though my salvation was never in question, I had not been obedient to the calling of Christ in this one area. I had no idea how much it pleased the Lord and how much His pleasure would spill over to my very soul for such a simple act as  proclaiming Jesus as my savior with my lips and then being dunked under the water for a few seconds in public. Being baptized isn’t about me or doing some ritual to join a church, it’s about being obedient. And for that alone my Father is well pleased with me. My husband put it best when he said, “If it’s good enough for Jesus to do, then it’s good enough for me.” I walked away a changed person that day and I will never be the same again!

Romans 6:4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives.
Galatians 3:27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.


Colleen Ann Guest Lake Baptism

Colleen and Pastor Jim Gillespie

 

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Parlay – cast announcement

Olivia dreams of becoming a pirate but her Aunt Beatrice is determined to turn her into a proper young socialite. Can these two co-exist throughout the summer while her parents are away?

Colleen Ann Guest is super excited to be playing the part of Fanny Boyle in the upcoming family comedy Parlay by Deano Pictures!! It’s written and directed by Dean Garris, produced by Dean Garris and  Spann Brockmann, and stars Helen Kearney Konen, Tate Clemons, Owen Daly, Rebecca Morris, Nick Karner, Linda Guth, Colleen Ann Guest,  and Leah Caruana.

Click here to visit and LIKE the Parlay Facebook page!

ARRRGGGGGG!

 

 

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Redress Raleigh Sightings in the Media!

 

 

 

 

The professional shots are starting to roll in and you can see some incredible shots of all the fashion and models! I have to say though, I’m especially partial to the designer I walked for: Margo Scott of Rocket Betty Designs! She has a Facebook page too!

 

 

 

If you have any Redress Raleigh sightings, then by all means post them in a comment here! I’ll post more links as I find them too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mother Nature’s Got Nothin’ on Father God!

I was very blessed to be asked to walk the runway in an eco-friendly fashion show this past weekend during all the Earth Day festivities. I love fashion and the whole idea of using eco-friendly techniques and up-cycling vintage products to create garments and accessories makes me super-duper happy. It was a joy and a thrill to be a model for this particular show. The people involved are conscious of the environment and are very giving and loving individuals. Every designer I met and every person I spoke with glowed with their love for nature. And…I’m right there with them! Love me some nature!

Yet by the time I got to the second day of events and made an appearance at the outdoor festival which took up several city blocks of downtown Raleigh, something that was gnawing at me in a teeny-tiny way suddenly took on a ravenous appetite and began to devour my heart. I passed by a statue of a person posed with it’s arms wide open, face turned up towards the sky, and clearly in a position of worship. I looked around me and saw a myriad of birds, animals, people, celestial bodies, and all forms of created things replicated in some fashion (paper mache, statues, artwork, etc). And as I looked around some more,  I saw rapture and awe on the faces of festival goers as they gazed upon the re-created things. Yep, I was right square in the middle of over seventy thousand people WORSHIPING.  Worshiping not just created things – but RE-created things (can we say idolatry?). And I could almost feel the contempt for the CREATOR of the organic creations in the midst of all this “love.”

Whoa. Eye-opening and soul-baring moment. I needed to leave. It was time to sort out how to reconcile my love of nature with my love of the one and only God Almighty who created the earth, sea, heavens, and all things in them!

Let’s be clear about something. I firmly believe God calls us to be good stewards of the resources and creatures we are coexisting with. I do NOT advocate any practice that harms the environment! Yet at the same time, I fully recognize that it is my Father God who deserves my adoration and my worship – NOT his creation. So how do I share my love for God and not alienate/offend my environmentally conscious yet utterly lost friends? This is what scares me!! I don’t want people to dislike me and I certainly don’t want to say or do anything that would make them hate the Lord!

So I dug into the Scripture.  Romans chapter one really spoke to me this morning. The Bible is very clear about the dangers of worshiping the created rather than the creator. I talked about this with my husband, prayed over it, and then I went to church with all of this burning on my mind. And in the middle of the teaching, the pastor said, “If all we do is love people (and not share the truth of the Gospel), then we are just making them happy on their way to hell.”

WOW!

OK, so I’ve now feel both led and commanded to share what I’ve been thinking and feeling – fear be damned! If someone gets offended, then I just have to take that chance. I would hate to have someone whom I loved dearly but was too afraid to offend,  look at me and say, “You knew this and you NEVER told me?” as they stand in judgement when the Lord sentences them to hell. So here goes…. (All bold and italicized emphasis is mine,  New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica)

Let me share Acts 14:15-17 from this morning’s teaching:

15 “Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. 16 In the past, he let all nations go their own way. 17 Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy.”

And here is what stood out to me from Romans (1:16-25,32)

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

BAM! STOP RIGHT THERE!! Is that me???

Do I continue to do such things and approve of those who practice them? ………………………………………….Um………no? (There’s that fear of offending people creeping in.)

Wait…let me use my big girl voice and be more definitive – NO. I do not!

(let the de-friending and nasty remarks commence while I duck and cover…)

 

Are you still here? whew….. Ok, well, then let me just sum it all up with some conclusions I’ve drawn about myself. After pondering, praying, and reading this morning, I’ve decided that I must take care that I keep perspective on my own environmental and animal rescue efforts so that I don’t get caught up in inadvertent worship of the creation. I must continue to immerse myself in scripture and surround myself with fellow believers so that I can be an effective witness to the great and awesome mercy of Christ; that He died for us while we were still sinners! And I must set my self apart from others who choose to worship the created rather than the creator. But by being set apart I don’t mean that I should abandon or remove myself from having relationships with folks outside the church – I need to be an example of Christian love and Godliness in every circle I am involved with. And I need to be involved in every kind of social circle available to me so that I have the opportunity to share the gospel with everyone and all may come to know the saving grace only offered by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

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Top! © 2017 Colleen Ann Guest
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