Monday, February 1, 2016

Blog is moving!!

The Non-Conformist Transformed is moving to

It is all a work in progress, but the goal is to make it cleaner, more friendly, and easier to read.  Go check it out and tell me what you think!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Psalm 37 Part 1

In church last week the sermon came from the first half of Psalm 37.  This was such a timely Psalm for me.  I have broken it down into several parts, and will post the rest as I pray through it.

Psalm 37:1-9 (ESV)

He Will Not Forsake His Saints

Of David.

37 Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
    be not envious of wrongdoers!

For they will soon fade like the grass
    and wither like the green herb.

·         Fret not… to fret or worry is to think a lot about something I have no control over.  Fret to me has a connotation of a fussy child – one who is uncomfortable and tired and incapable of being reasoned with.  You have to make them calm down.  This Psalm says three times, “Fret not”.  It is a command, and it requires deliberate action on my part.

·         Concern is different, concern is “what I am supposed to do, and how do I do it?”  Concern leads to action of some kind.

·         Evildoers – anybody or anything that goes against God.  Sometimes they seem to prosper on this earth, but their prosperity will not last into eternity.  Life on earth is indeed fleeting in the light of eternity.


Trust in the Lord, and do good;
    dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.

·         Trust is knowing that God will do it.  God will take care of whatever this situation is.

·         Often it’s really not my problem, or it’s something I have NO control over.

·         Go do the next thing – Do good.  If there is nothing I can do in this situation, maybe my role here is to simply pray and give it to God, and then walk away and trust Him to handle it.

·         “Befriend faithfulness” is better translated “cultivate faithfulness”.  The deliberate daily task of trusting God rather than fretting grows faithfulness in me.  Live life faithfully.  How do I do that?  Stay in the Word.  Pray about everything.  Go do the next good thing.

Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.

·         If I am delighting in the LORD, then the desire of my heart has become Him, and He promises to give me Himself.  This is key.  But how do I delight in the LORD?

o   I recognize what He has done for me: life, salvation, the sun coming up today, and everything in between.  And I thank Him for it all.  I spend my day looking for things to thank God for.  I keep a list in the back of my journal, and I add to it daily.  Big things, small things, people, things that make me happy – it all goes in my list of thanksgiving.

o   Stay in the Word.  This is crucial, it gives me the perspective I need to direct my thinking.

Commit your way to the Lord;
    trust in him, and he will act.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
    and your justice as the noonday.

·         Commit my way – I am all in: heart, mind, and soul.  Sometimes my emotions don’t agree, but that doesn’t matter if I am committed.

·         He will act – it is not something I do, it is something God does.  That has been a recurring theme here, right?  I am fretting over a situation that I have no control over, but it is not something I fix, it is something God will do.

·         And what will He do?  He will give me the righteousness of Christ, and He will bring justice to evildoers.  The rest of the Book, and experience, tell me that it may not happen right away, but remember, this life is fleeting.  Eternity is forever.  God’s justice is forever.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

·         Be still

·         Wait patiently

·         Fret not

·         These are things to deliberately do.  To be still and wait patiently are the opposite of fretting.  And it’s not just be still and wait, but be still before the LORD and wait patiently for the LORD.  He is the object.  When we focus on the prosperous evil man we begin to fret.

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
    Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
For the evildoers shall be cut off,
    but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land.

·         Fretting, being anxious, leads to a cycle of depression and anger; is that really what I want?

·         Fretting leads to evil, so what does that mean if I am fretting about someone else’s evil deeds?

·         Wait for the LORD.  He will cut off the evildoer, and He will reward His own children.

©Rebecca Givens, 01/30/16

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Just Keep Swimming...

These are my new friends – Smaug the Beta fish, and Nessie the snail.  They are quite entertaining and beautiful to watch (yes, even the snail!).
Before they came, I set up their new home - I got the filter and air system going, I planted the live plants, I made sure the temperature was just right.  I even had to make a second trip to the pet store to see the new Betas that were scheduled to arrive.  As I looked at fish, one caught my eye; he was red and blue and purple, and I knew he would be perfect in my aquarium. The lady in the pet store was just putting him in a new cup of water when I saw him, and I snatched him up and took him home.  I carefully acclimated him and put him in his wonderful new aquarium.  He went from a small cup of water to 2 gallons with plants and a lovely environment, and I thought he would be happy.  But he swam listlessly to the bottom and sat there, his tail curled unnaturally.  For days he sat there – occasionally swimming to the surface for a gulp of air (Betas actually breath at the surface as well as with gills), only to fall back to the bottom.  He wouldn’t eat, I feared he would die.  Five days passed.  I woke up one morning and he was looking at me through the glass, not bent on the bottom but floating gracefully midway up.  I dropped in some food and cheered when he ate it, and he has been fine ever since.
What was wrong with my fish?  He was stressed.  But he went from a bad environment to a good one, why wasn’t he happy and healthy?  What can be stressful about being in a better place?  It seems that even good change is stressful.  His entire system was in shock and he was depressed, even in his beautiful new home.  I know how he felt.
I look at my future and it looks good.  I am excited about the path God has me on.  I am happy with my life.  Yet I still find myself occasionally sitting crumpled at the bottom of the tank, unable to function, wondering what is wrong with me.  Sometimes it is just too much change in a short period of time, and I have to stop for a while to acclimatize myself to the new environment.  It just doesn’t feel normal anymore – in fact nothing feels normal or comfortable.  Home is a whole new paradigm, a while new definition, and my emotions have taken a while to catch up.
I don’t think my fish ever contemplates the past.  I envy him that.  He just lives life today – no regret, no what if, no thought as to how different his life turned out to be.  Just an acceptance of life as God brings it.  Swimming into the current, enjoying the flow of water over his fins, resting on the plants, eating the food that falls from the sky, looking at me when I talk to him, he accepts his new life from God.  May I do the same.
Philippians 3:12-14 – Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Sunday, January 17, 2016

IT proficiency/fluency continued

To continue yesterday's thoughts on IT proficiency and fluency...

Some of our reading discussed age and fluency - stating that "most of the Baby boomer generation are digital immigrants.  Digital immigrants are individuals who were not born into the digital age, but based on interest or job requirement have adapted technologies."  Going back to our language picture of fluency and proficiency, it is pretty common knowledge that young children can learn a new language without an accent, but the older an adult is the harder it becomes to learn a new language at all, much less become fluent and speak with no accent.

I spoke with some friends about this issue, and asked them questions about their use of computers.

The first of them is a 42 year old female.  She remembers her parents having a computer at home when she was 10 or 11, with a DOS operating system and floppy disc drive.  In speaking with her, she is definitely IT fluent.  She operates easily and intuitively in an IT environment as a user, and understands the design aspects of websites as well.  Her husband is a leader in his field of website design, I think he is one of those geniuses that pop up in every generation that advances the field, not just uses what is there.  I went to high school with at least one of those.

Contrast her with my friends that I talked to at church this morning.  This is an older couple, he is 91 and she is 84.  He knows nothing about how to use a computer; literally does not even know how to turn it on and off.  He said to me this morning (with a big smile on his face), "I have a young wife who can do it all for me!"  And she does.  They bought a computer some 30 years ago, when he was writing a book.  She taught herself to use WordPerfect (we think that was the program, they weren't sure), and sat with WordPerfect for Dummies beside her and typed and edited his book into the computer.  He has written a number of books since then, with her doing all the typing and editing.  She also uses email to communicate with her family and the book publisher, and the baseball card dealer.  (Yes, she collected baseball cards with her grandsons and some boys at church, and now continues that tradition with her great grandchildren.)  She can download, resize, and print pictures of her great grandkids and for her friends too, and she uses the computer to research whatever she wants to learn about.  About 9 years ago she set up a church library, with nothing but a typewriter.  Soon she progressed to software and a computer and taught herself how to use it.  She still refers often to printed manuals, but also uses the built in help functions of programs.

As I look at our stories, we all got into computers at about the same time, roughly 30 years ago.  And there does appear to be a pattern of IT proficiency, with the youngest of us becoming fluent, and the oldest of us teaching herself to do what she needs to do.  And there are the prodigies like the young husband, and the totally outside the tech world older husband.  My older friend considers computer technology to be a wonderful blessing that has enabled her to do so much.  IT is not just computer hardware and software, it is humans interacting with hardware and software.  It is using the bits of metal and plastic to learn and communicate and enrich lives.

Pun Tech

Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Non-Conformist Transformed in the Library with IT

As many of you may know, I have returned to school to get a Masters in Library Studies.  This blog post, and several more to come, will be part of a class assignment.  I have been wanting to do some library/reading related posts anyway, so this will be a good place to start.

Today I want to talk about IT proficiency/fluency, in particular, my own IT proficiency/fluency.

I am at the very tail end of the baby boomers, and I was not born into technology like younger generations.  I was briefly introduced to computers in high school, where some of my friends were in a computer class.  Several of them have gone on to careers in computer fields.  In college I was required to take an Intro to Computers class, and I have played with computers ever since; always looking for reasons to have a computer or spend time on one, but never really diving into that world.  I am proficient, I can figure out how to do things or find things (I've always been good at finding information, in any context), but I would not consider myself to be IT fluent.  The difference between fluency and proficiency really makes sense if you think of it in a language context.  I can get by in the computer world, but I often have to stop to figure something out, just as a non native English speaker might be able to function well in an English speaking country, but sometimes has to stop to think about how to say something.  As an example, I have had this blog for a very long time (and yes, it is way past time to update all of it).  These past few years I have noticed that I like the "feel" of Wordpress blogs, so I got on their website this morning with the idea of maybe switching over.  But ugh.  The learning curve is more than I can manage at the moment.  I am sure that I can figure it out, and I intend to do so eventually, but it is going to take some time.  I have also been reading a book on productivity, Do More Better by Tim Challies (great book, I will review it soon).  He advocates using Google Calendar, Todoist, and Evernote.  I have been using Google calendar for a couple of years, but Todoist and Evernote are brand new to me.  Todoist was easy to figure out and is rapidly becoming part of my daily life.  But Evernote... again, I can figure it out, but it is taking time.  I have to look up instructions, but there is no obvious instant way to do that and it is a struggle for me.

I am not IT fluent, but would like to become so.  Obviously the only way to increase proficiency and fluency is to keep learning and keep practicing... I am sure this Information Technology class will provide a lot of both of those.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Hospitality is just more important than my imperfect house...

Tomorrow night I am having a Christmas party, for my adult students, at my house for the first time ever.  I’ve not had company in years, for various reasons… mostly centering around my inability to keep a clean house, or get rid of clutter, or find time and energy to do anything but the bare minimums.  But this year is different.  Moving last spring was a great time to get rid of a lot of stuff.  Admittedly, I still have a large pile of boxes I am storing for my kids.  And I still haven’t unpacked my room.  And what books are not in boxes are piled on shelves.  And let’s face it, I have a high tolerance for messes and keeping house does not come naturally easy to me.  My house is not, and will never be a showpiece.  Here’s the cool thing – I don’t care.  I grew up in a house that looked like nobody lived in it.  The place was immaculate, uncluttered, and absolutely dead.  We never had company either.  I don’t know who my mom cleaned for, but life did not happen in those rooms. 

This past year my entire life has changed.  As I evaluate the past and head into a very different future from the one I thought I had, I’ve thought a lot about what is important and what I want in life.  I want life.  I want joy.  I want to be with people I enjoy.  I want a homey home, where my kids and their friends and my friends are always welcome.  I want a home that is lived in and comfortable.  If my friends see the pile of boxes, so what?  I am taking care of my kids’ stuff.  If I have old furniture, so what?  I am not living beyond my means.  If they glance in my bedroom (gasp) and see the piles of stuff that I have not yet unpacked or put away after 8 or 9 months, well, we will all get over it (but really, it would be better if they didn’t look there).  And if they look in my refrigerator and it’s not clean, or they notice that I didn’t get around to mopping, I hope they will overlook it.  Because I don’t want to wait for it all be perfect.  It’s not going to ever be that way, and really, so many other things are more important.

So I am kind of excited about tomorrow night, not because I have a wonderful house to show off, or a wonderful menu to serve, but because I look forward to hanging out in my home with a few of my friends.  And I plan to do it more often, even while I am crazy busy in grad school working three jobs struggling to get by.

This is my home, and we live here, and I am glad to see you.  Welcome, and Merry Christmas!



©Rebecca Anne Huffman Givens, 12/13/15

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Thoughts on Sunrises

I’ve watched a lot of sunrises in my life; yes, I am a morning person. A lot of mornings this past summer I’ve been up early enough to be sitting on my deck with my Bible as the sun came up. There was a morning a few weeks ago that was so spectacularly beautiful it brought tears to my eyes – every shade of red and orange and yellow imaginable. This past morning, and the last few, have not been spectacular. The sky gets lighter, the ball of fire breaks the horizon, the sky is a beautiful clear blue. Not that that’s not amazing and wonderful in and of itself – it just isn’t the light show that happened a few weeks ago.

Here’s the thing. On those spectacular sunrise mornings there are clouds. Lots of low lying clouds that reflect the sun before it rises above the horizon. The red and orange and yellow flaming through the sky before the ball of fire breaks the horizon is a feast for the eyes. But these sunrises do not turn into what we would call “a beautiful day.” Clouds are often signs of storms and turbulence.

Life is like that. Clear blue sky has a beauty of its own, and life that’s cruising along without a hitch does too. But clouds reflect the sun better than clear sky, and a life full of trouble reflects God’s glory in a way that it otherwise could not. Nobody wants these bad times in life – but look to God, cling to Him, and let your troubled life reflect His spectacular Glory in a powerful and beautiful way. This Sonrise will set the sky on fire.

2 Corinthians 4:6-11 (ESV) - For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.


©Rebecca Huffman Givens, 10/17/15

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Where will you run?

This morning I read 1 Kings 19:1-18, and was blown away by it. Great victory comes crashing down for Elijah, and he runs. They want to kill him, but what else is new? Didn’t they want to kill him before? Didn’t they have the power to kill him before? What’s different is his fear. This is a man who stood before the prophets of baal and laughed at them publicly. Suddenly he is afraid. He is crashing from the high of spiritual victory, he is exhausted, and all he can see is an angry queen seeking his life. He can’t see God in that moment.

So what does Elijah do? He runs. But get this, He doesn’t run from God, He runs to God. He runs to the Mountain of God.  He is so depressed he wants to die, yet he runs to God. Along the way God listens to him, God feeds him, God gives him the strength to continue running in the right direction. Through his dark night of the soul, in the midst of a depression so deep he wants to die, Elijah runs to God.

He ends up in a cave on the Mountain of God, and God asks him, “Why are you here?” Elijah tells God his problems. God doesn’t berate him for being depressed, God doesn’t fuss at him at all. God’s answer was “Stand before me. Look at me. Listen to me.” Did you catch that? God’s answer was to move Elijah’s focus back onto God Himself.

So Elijah waits as God’s power blows by in a hurricane force wind. The earth shakes in an earthquake as God approaches. A consuming fire sweeps across the landscape in front of the cave. It feels like God is saying, “Elijah, remember who I am. I am the All Powerful Creator. I am in control of everything.” And then, best of all, God speaks in a low whisper. An intimate loving whisper to His child. “Elijah, why are you here?” Tell me your troubles. And God listens. God is there, present with Elijah, loving Elijah, and He still doesn’t berate him for his depression. He just listens as Elijah pours out his fear.

And then, God gives Elijah the next job. Go do the next thing Elijah; you have three men to anoint, two rulers of nations, and your own successor. Elijah, you have a job, something important to do. Then God tells him what will happen to his enemies. Elijah, I am not abandoning you in your fight. And lastly, God tells him there are thousands of Believers still. Elijah, hear me, you are not alone.

Elijah obeys. He does the next thing. His circumstances had not changed in the least, the queen of the land still sought his life. But Elijah gets up and does the next thing. His gaze is now on God.

To me there are several things that stand out in this story.

In Elijah’s great distress He ran toward God, not away. He was physically exhausted, his life was in danger, he was so depressed he wanted to die. Yet he ran to God.

God’s reaction to Elijah was not, “you shouldn’t feel that way!” He didn’t even point out how much worse off someone else was. It was simply, “Elijah, look at ME.” And then, “Elijah, go do…” and finally, at the end, reassurance that God’s plan would take care of Elijah’s enemies.

Elijah immediately got up to obey. Obedience was important. Elijah trusted God and so He obeyed.

In your dark night of the soul, be like Elijah. Not the strong victorious Elijah, but the terrified exhausted Elijah who wanted to die.

Run to God. Hear Him; you have His Word to read. Look at Him. Trust Him. Obey Him. Because like Elijah, you have an important job to do. God will not abandon you in your struggle. You are not alone.


©Rebecca Huffman Givens, 09/13/15

Saturday, September 5, 2015


I am struggling today. Reality is that the future is good. I can see that, and most of the time I feel it. But today my emotions say celebrating 28 years would have been better. Clearly God had a different path, and God’s plan is always good no matter how it feels. Even in the valleys and forests and hard places God’s plan is always better than mine. Going back now would be going back to Egypt. No, I will not long for that. I will walk the road through the desert if Christ is with me. God will dry the tears I continue to shed along the way.


©Rebecca Huffman Givens