Thursday, October 18, 2007
This really significant to me because some years back I suffered through a clinical depression. If you're not familiar with this (and I hope you aren't) this is a period of serious depression (not just the blues) that lasts for 6 months or more. In my case, I began to heal at somewhere between 12 and 18 months. When you are depressed like this, you really cannot see the good, 'bright' and lovely things of life.
This period was a dark, terrible time in my life unlike any other. I ached physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I couldn't understand what was happening to me, and I didn't know how to 'get out of it.' I became such a different person from the person I had always been: from optimistic to complete pessimism; from self-reliant (in a healthy way) to helpless; from happy to desperate; from open to closed. I wouldn't know what had happened to me or have a descriptor (depression) for it until 3-4 years after it was all over. Having no words for it meant I couldn't even tell anyone. All I knew was that I wanted and needed OUT!
And when I say that, know that all options were on the table. Had I not had confidence that God knew what was going on and was still at work in this crazy world and life of mine, I promise you that I would not be here today. Because I had this confidence, suicide was never a serious option, but it did cross my mind. I just could not see the light at the end of this tunnel. It felt more like a cave in which I was lost, traveling ever deeper into the earth, and the voice in my head just kept saying, "Quit."
Since I pulled away from almost everyone during this time, almost no one knows how bleak my life was. Looking back, I can see classic triggers (onset of severe, undiagnosable physical pain, job loss, financial trouble) and classic symptoms (withdrawal from people, complete lack of motivation such that even dressing was a challenge, long periods of weeping though I couldn't have told you what was wrong). And classic responses--being so far away, my family didn't understand what was happening (who would guess depression?!), and this caused conflict between us. It was a truly dreadful time. I often prayed from Psalm 13:
How long, O LORD ? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death...
Now on the other side of this trial, I can understand all kinds of things about it:
· I was correct; God had not abandoned me.
· This was a very real spiritual battle, one that I was crazily losing for a long time.
· There was sin in my life that God was ferreting out.
· There were very hard lessons that I had to know that could only be taught through just such an experience.
· That a real friend is one who will tolerate you when you are in such a terrible shape.
· That healing can take a long time, but it does happen.
· What real compassion looks like, both to me and from me.
I share all this to say, that seven to eight years later I am so grateful that God has restored to me a heart that can see and appreciate what He has given and done. In some ways, I'm even better able to see... And so I know, even more than ever, that He is lovely and worthy and all.
Psalm 116 (My Testimony)
I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live. The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me; I was overcome by trouble and sorrow. Then I called on the name of the LORD : "O LORD, save me!"
The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. The LORD protects the simplehearted; when I was in great need, he saved me.
Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you. For you, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living.
I believed; therefore I said, "I am greatly afflicted." And in my dismay I said, "All men are liars."
How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.
LORD, truly I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant; you have freed me from my chains. I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD. I will fulfill my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the LORD—in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the LORD.
In praise of His Name,
And I'm so grateful...
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
His life had been long, healthy, joy-filled. His love for Christ was constantly evident. He asked most everyone he met, "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven?" Many learned from him to answer with confidence. Yet the respectful silence of the crowd was only followed by gentle murmurs of loss, of comfort. No wailing nor undue outburst were shared, though gentle songs were. Here in this gray, quiet place, people shared a farewell.
But on the other side, perhaps it was not so gray and still. Perhaps a welcome home party was being thrown, with rainbows of colors and people of all varieties, with important dignitaries and loud declarations of, "Well done, my good and faithful son!" In this other place, where sorrows seem a dream and pain a memory, a renewed man lays low before his Savior's feet, understanding completely for the very first time exactly what all the sacrifices and sorrows were worth.
As gentle good-byes are given on earth, heaven celebrates the reception of a son, a prince, a brother. What we phrase as 'homegoings' here are really 'homecomings' there, with all the pomp and glory and thrill we remember from younger days, multiplied. Two sides of the same coin, only one tainted by sin.
As I stood in the grass sheltered by an umbrella, I considered homegoings and homecomings. And it seemed to me that He really does bring beauty from ashes. And so even now, this work of the Anointed One makes lovely this corrupted side of the coin, even as He did a cross. How much more is yet to come? How much more lovely will He be revealed to be?
How sweet the gift of being grafted in. How unfathomable His ways...
1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Aliens will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,
and in their riches you will boast.
7 Instead of their shame
my people will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
they will rejoice in their inheritance;
and so they will inherit a double portion in their land,
and everlasting joy will be theirs.
8 "For I, the LORD, love justice;
I hate robbery and iniquity.
In my faithfulness I will reward them
and make an everlasting covenant with them.
9 Their descendants will be known among the nations
and their offspring among the peoples.
All who see them will acknowledge
that they are a people the LORD has blessed."
10 I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise
spring up before all nations.
SCATTERGORIES...it's harder than it looks!
*Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following... they have to be real places, names, things...nothing made up! Try to use different answers if the person in front of you had the same 1st initial. You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question .
· What is your name? -- J
· 4 letter word -- Junk
· Vehicle: Jaguar
· Boy Name: Jonathan
· Girl Name: Janna
· Occupation: Judge
· Something you wear -- Jewelry!
· Celebrity -- Jennifer Lopez
· Reason for Being Late -- "Just a few more minutes..."
· Food -- Japanese
· Something found in a bathroom -- Jets
· Cartoon Character -- Jerry (as in, Tom and)
· Something You Shout -- Joy!
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
You gotta love this!
Sunday, September 30, 2007
I'm not sure I remember even questioning directly, yet the thoughts still lingered around the corners of my mind: Why am I here, in the South, in this city? I, who yearned and prepared for 20+ years to go to the mission field, why am I not allowed to go? What could God's purpose be in this?
When God said stay, I said yes. And I would NOT want to move or to stay outside of His will. (Remember when the Israelites tried to take Canaan after God said they couldn't for forty more years? Disastrous!) But I think on some (and various) levels, I just wondered why. Had I done/not done something that would disqualify me? Was there sin in my life, or bad habits, that God needed eradicated? Had I so misunderstood His call as to have been misdirected for so many years? (To this, I can pretty quickly say no. I don't understand the contrast between go and don't go, but neither did Abraham when God said to offer up the son of the promise.)
I cannot fully answer this question, and perhaps I may never be able to. God doesn't promise answers. He gave us the only answer we needed in Jesus Christ. However, one thing I have seen clearly--if only in bits and pieces--is that there is purpose to God's words, and when He says something like, "Stay," there is a reason, and usually many.
Here's one. The greatest joy in my life right now is working with youth in a variety of teaching and discipleship settings. I cannot believe how wide this door has swung open to me and how effective God has made me. I am truly humbled week by week to see His Spirit speak through me ('...as if speaking the very words of God.'). Yet here is what I realized recently: To the students I teach and to their parents, I can say, as Paul did, "You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance..." (2 Timothy 3:10) This is a privilege that having time in/roots here has earned me. If I hadn't lived here, been proven in ministry, having simply spent the time in fellowship with and in service to this local body, I could not say, "You know all about my way of life."
If God had no other purpose for planting me in the South for nine years--and I know for a fact that He did have other purposes--this one purpose would be worth it. For it is my life, lived before this community over time, that has opened up these opportunities to minister. Because of God requiring me to stay, I am allowed to serve at levels I could never have otherwise achieved.
His plan always brings an overflow of blessings, and this is one: That I may be a known and proven quantity so that I may serve my King. I really couldn't ask for a better explanation of His direction.
As if He was required to give one.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
You know, if God never did one more kind or good thing for us, if He never answered, "Yes," to one more plea, He has already given us more than we can ask or imagine. We (believers in Jesus), rescued from His wrath, have NOTHING to complain about and EVERYTHING for which to praise Him. This is how Paul can write in I Thessalonians, "Give thanks in all circumstances." This is how he can write to the Philippians, "Do everything without complaining or arguing." This otherwise insumountable task can be accomplished only when we understand what God has already done for us.
If the only thing God ever did for mankind was to send Jesus to be our atoning sacrifice, eternity would ring forever with His praises. Can you imagine what celebrations await us since He has given us so much more?!
"Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" -Matthew 7:9-11
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
I wish it didn't take those things to keep me ever mindful, but I think that is just part of the reality of living now on planet earth. Just think how marvelous eternity will be, when we are fully and constantly infused with His presence and undistracted by sin and those things that so easily entangle! I really cannot wait, except that I have to! LOL! :-)
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I am spending much time working on lessons for various discipleship activities that I am involved in, and I am enjoying both the preparation and the presentation, and I am LOVING seeing people engage God and His Word more and more.
I teach a middle school discipleship class on Sunday mornings. Some would call this Sunday School, but I like to be very specific about my intent: discipleship--Intentional training in righteousness through relationship. I find this very cool.
For years I thought I had not been discipled, but you know, that is exactly what my parents were doing all along. And while many others, mostly relatives, input into my life, I never really had someone come along and say, "I want to mentor you and help to train you in the Scriptures. I will commit myself to this." And I was so hungry for and open to this. So now I am very intentional about trying to do this for others.
I must admit, however, that this is a recent development. It took me many years to translate what I received from my parents into something I could give. I'm pretty sure that I would have no trouble discipling my own children, because this is what I saw modeled, but since I don't have children, that isn't very useful just now. But how do you do something like that when you've never seen it modeled? Jesus' primary command was to MAKE DISCIPLES, but I just never really saw people doing this. I learn best by watching others and then diving in and trying it myself. I'm very hesitant to try something I've never seen done before, so it took God's intervention to start me moving...
A few years ago, okay more like five or six, a friend of mine from church asked me to disciple her. That was pretty weird to me for a couple of reasons:
- I had never done it. (And I wasn't anxious to try something I'd never seen done before.)
- She was the same age I was. (I always pictured this older to younger.)
- She was married. (How could I help her? I've never been there.)
- It didn't matter that I hadn't done it or seen it done. He could handle it; I just needed to jump in.
- It didn't matter that I was the same age. In this case at least, I had quite a few years on her--in the Lord.
- It didn't matter that she was married. Almost all of the basic issues of life are the same for married and single, and those that weren't, well, His Word was sufficient for that. I just needed to share His Word.
And so , choosing between obedience and disobedience, I jumped in. We typically met for two hours a week, and it was wonderful. At first, I was really nervous, thinking that I needed a curriculum (not bad a bad idea in some circumstances), but really, once we opened the floodgates, it just became a Bible Q&A session. My friend was inquisitive and (mostly) willing to apply God's Truth to her life. The few instances she wasn't interested, she would still hear me out. It was a wonderful first step. We met for two years, and I learned that:
- God could handle whatever was thrown my way. My only need was obedience.
- God had already supplied me with most of the knowledge and education I needed to handle this situation, and where I was insufficient, He was plenty so.
- His Word answers all the questions and needs in each person's life, no matter how different we are.
"Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." --Matthew 28:18-20
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
But I hate what it takes, how much it takes. I hate that there is still so much in me that isn't 'Jesus'; how much pride and self-service still surfaces in me. I hate that ferreting it out almost certainly requires pain, and that pain almost certainly means that there is something else to be ferreted out. If it weren't God's hand and God's process, it would be cruel indeed. If Jesus' glory weren't so beautiful and worthy to be reflected, this process would not be worth it. Indeed, if I hadn't seen His glory, the Father's glory in the Son, I do think I would quit.
But I have seen it; I know it to be true and lovely. I know that whatever bit of pain I suffer here and now will be incomparable to the joy and glory yet to be revealed. And so I land at hope...biblical hope--a confidence in what is unseen. Perhaps this is why and how the psalmists almost always seem to end on a note of praise: the price measured against the prize.
Perhaps this is why there is so much discussion in the Scriptures on what is to come, for how can we hope without having a place to focus it? Perhaps this is part of the reason for the pain: it magnifies the prize. The sacrifice shows the value. This is what glorify means. And if this is so, then I land where I started...
Whatever it takes, Lord. No price is too high, though my heart lay trampled on the floor, though all I love is removed, if it brings glory to You, bring it on. Make it so. Though all I ever longed for goes unfulfilled, oh please, glorify Yourself in some small way through me.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. -Romans 8:18
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ... Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. -II Corinthians 4:6, 16-18
We have a dinner theater this week at work (I'm not in it, just assisting), and tonight was dress rehearsal, so I just got home about 40 minutes ago, and will do so for the next three nights. Busy, but not bad. And the play is hysterical! The Importance of Being Earnest. I liked the Reece Witherspoon version a couple of years ago, but the play really is better. Intelligent humor--So much fun!
Okay, we have a cricket who has taken residence *in* the house. Every few minutes he sounds off. This is especially weird because just two nights ago I was thinking about how that hadn't happened in this new residence (in the 2-1/2 years we've lived here). Go figure. We've got a mind-reading, trouble-making cricket in the neighborhood.
I just bought tickets to go to Texas in October (to visit family), and whenever I buy tickets I always wonder if I have done the right thing. I kinda get freaked out to spend so much money on something so far away. I think I am a gen-x-er in this regard: very uncomfortable with commitment. LOL!
The cricket story continues...as I was typing the last paragraph, a small cricket emerged in the living room. Assuming him to be the singer, I, uh, (Jiminie Cricket lovers cover your ears), 'disposed' of him. As soon as I finished cleaning up, up pipes the real singer. Not nice at all, not at all!
Long day, so I'd better run. I want to add an entry from my journal too, so I'd better make it quick.
Blessings to all,-J
Monday, August 27, 2007
This is a principle that got me through living overseas, though I hadn't heard this expressed before. I just called it gathering grandkid stories! LOL!
JUST TWO THINGS ...
Two names you go by:
Two things you are wearing right now
2. Sandals - new for me!
Two things you want VERY BADLY at the moment:
1. To be debt-free
2. To go see my family in Texas
Two things you did last night:
1. Babysat for a meeting at church (turns out this is NOT my spiritual gift-HA!)
2. Started reading a book on Scriptural infallibility and hermeneutical principles by J.I. Packer
Two things you ate yesterday
1. Ravioli with tomato-cheese sauce
Two people you talked to last:
1. A bunch of people at work
2. My best friend
Two things you are doing today:
2. Laying out my curriculum for my fall Discipleship (read: Sunday School) class
Two favorite holidays:
1. Thanksgiving - low stress, high people-interaction
2. Christmas - family, gift-giving!
Two favorite beverages (non alcoholic) In addition to water...
1. (Diet) Dr. Pepper
2. White Grape Juice
Two things about me:
1. I am thrilled at the discipleship & teaching opportunities God is opening up for me.
2. I really miss traveling
Two jobs I have had in my life:
1. Worst - Shoe salesperson at a specialty store (completely nasty. It scarred me for a long time. This was my freshman year of college and I've only just this summer been willing to wear shoes that show my perfectly-fine feet.)
2. Best - ESL Teacher in South Korea
Two places I have lived:
1. Masan, South Korea
2. Belton, MO
Two of my favorite (types of) foods:
Two of my favorite books: Other than the Bible...
1. Chronicles of Narnia
2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
Two of my favorite TV Shows:
Two places I would rather be right now:
1. New Zealand
2. New England
Friday, August 24, 2007
Last night as I drove home from work, the far horizon wore dark clouds that taunted us with the unfulfilled promise of much-needed rain. Yet the sun shone on over me, so I put on my sunglasses. Suddenly, off to the left, I saw a rainbow. It was if it had just popped into the sky. I pulled my sunglasses down and looked over them, but now the rainbow was barely visible, and only if I squinted hard. Slipping the shades back up, a symbol of a promise appeared before my eyes once again. With the glasses on, the rainbow was perfectly visible; with them off, I wouldn't have known it was there.
This was a perfect metaphor for things God has been teaching me. Over the past few weeks, he has brought me to the end of myself in several areas. I have a very clear mental visual of me coming weakly before God's throne and placing before Him some marred, wadded up paper which is a particular area of my life. I say, "Here's this area of my life (again), Lord. I'm sorry it's a mess (again), but I offer it back to You to make of it what You will."
One area of my life like this has been my work. Over the years, I have often found that I have created a monster in my workplace: creating high expectations of what I'm capable of by working too much, too hard, too long. Recently, I have found that I have been working 60+ work weeks, trying to get everything that has been handed to me done. Yet my bosses have repeatedly told me, "You cannot get it all done; we know that. Just do what you can and go home." But in my pride (and it was my pride), I stayed. I wanted to be known as someone who could do it all and do it well.
Last week, after a week of vacation which provided no relief from the intense stress I've been living under, I buckled. I went to my bosses Monday and shared with them how bad things were. I confessed my culpability, but was so overwhelmed that I couldn't offer a solution. By Wednesday, things had continued to build, and by the end of the day, I cried for the third time that week. This time, I sobbed all the way home.
That evening, one of my good friends called, a beautiful woman who had been fighting Christ's offer of salvation for the entire seven years I had known her. I have prayed so often for her, and that night she shared that she had accepted Jesus. She could have spoken in Swahili and I would have known, for there was a joy in her voice that could have only been placed there by Jesus Himself! My friend had entered into the kingdom of light! She was no longer hell-bound, but would spend eternity in heaven!! I cried again (and am threatening to now), but this time filled with exceedingly great joy.
Suddenly, my perspective was different. Though my work was important, it was not what was really important. Eternity with God--now that's at the top of the list. That night as I talked with my friend, something clicked in my heart and I suddenly understood something that has been said to me by every important person in my life: if they give me too much to do, and I’ve told them so, and they tell me to let things fall off my plate, then it’s not my responsibility to get it all done, just to work as hard as I can. It's not my responsibility...my new mantra!
Perhaps this doesn't sound earth-shattering to you, and perhaps it is not. But it is significant. God brought me to the end of myself and then, when I had humbled myself before Him, He gave me new lenses through which to see. I cannot articulate the boulder that was removed from my shoulders as I looked through these shades. With this understanding, I saw a new a promise: "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)
I think life looks pretty good in my new shades.
Friday, August 3, 2007
The only survivor of a shipwreck was washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him. Every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions.
One day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, with smoke rolling up to the sky. He felt the worst had happened, and everything was lost. He was stunned with disbelief, grief, and anger. He cried out, "God! How could you do this to me?
Early the next day, he was awakened by the sound of a ship approaching the island! It had come to rescue him! "How did you know I was here?" asked the weary man of his rescuers. "We saw your smoke signal," they replied.
The Moral of This Story: It's easy to get discouraged when things are going bad, but we shouldn't lose heart, because God is at work in our lives, even in the midst of our pain and suffering.
The next time your little hut seems to be burning to the ground, remember: It just may be a smoke signal that summons the Grace of God.
I've been a sky-screamer when I should have been an on-my-knees-thanker. How about you?
Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!
Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
Therefore, since through God's mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart.
2 Corinthians 3:7-4:1
Thursday, August 2, 2007
I just wanted to put something out here so you know I'm still in the land of the living. :-) Better get to work!
P.S. Believers: I'd take your prayers. I am facing discouragement and temptations in ways I haven't before, and I'm being a little slow in catching what I am encountering, thus a little slow in applying spiritual responses. At least it's only a little slow, but it is still a problem. Thanks!
Friday, July 27, 2007
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Check out this connection I just made. What are we to think on?
· nobility (in archaic sense)
· things that are admirable
· things that are praiseworthy
What are you thinking on when you are anxious? PROBLEMS. I'm probably behind all of you, but I don't think I ever made the connection before that these two verses sit in juxtaposition to one another. Don't be anxious....pray with thanksgiving....think on positive things.
Unless you have a physical disorder, you aren't anxious unless you are considering, on some level, things that trouble you. What if you considered things that don't trouble you? Things like the list above? I think I've always thought the verse meant don't think on bad things, which it certainly covers. But today I'm thinking it also, and perhaps more directly, means don't think on negative things. This may be related to why we are to do everything without complaining--because complaining is thinking on negative things, and that surely leads to anxiety!
I hope this makes sense. I've just come to this realization and haven't really spent time processing it until right now. Perhaps I should have pondered first, but I just got so excited! (I already know that I'm a complete freak! )
Hope you're pondering on non-negative things today!
Thursday, July 26, 2007
About an hour ago, someone came to me and told me that it looked like rain. I noted this because I had left my car windows rolled down a bit. However, I glanced out the window, and it appeared to me that the sun was shining. (I couldn't actually see the sky from that angle.) I decided to ignore this warning.
I just looked out the window. Very dark, very wet. I'm guessing my car is in the same state. I kinda feel like a non-Noah-family-member (only alive). Guess I should heed the warnings sent my way, huh?
Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
But what if God's will has a bonus attached to obedience (as, frankly, He so often does)? Check out what I read a couple of days ago:
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. --Psalm 50:23
Wow. Check that out. Thanksgiving does two things, according to this passage. One, it honors God. This is nothing to breeze over. Is not part of our mission in life to bring honor to His name?
However, it was the second one that really struck me. Giving thanks prepares the way for God to move in our lives. There is something in my life that I am almost daily asking God to deliver me from. I need His salvation in this area, for I don't see a way out on my own. I want to be fully prepared for God to move in my life, and I suddenly realized that, while I am not an ungrateful person, I should be more focused on giving thanks!
I have started a little 3x5 card file. At the top is the date (e.g., July 26), and then on the first line, I list the year. Next to that, I write the highlights of the day, and for fun, the weather. I fill 3-4 lines, and plan to write on the same card on the same date for the next four years, at which point I'll start a new card.
The cards are a simple way to chronicle my life, and they doesn't stress me out like writing in a journal does. Journals have too much space, and I feel like I should write the whole story, and then I get overwhelmed and just don't write. The cards force me to identify the main forces and events of the day. It'll be interesting to see the comparisons when next year comes around.
Anyway, in response to this verse and also a sermon I heard recently, I've decided to add one line to each entry, titled TF--Thankful For... This means that at least at one point every day, I will be consciously thankful for something God is doing/has provided in my life. So far, I find that the struggle is to narrow it down to just one line. :-)
Just thought I'd share that thought with you. Thankfulness as a doorway to God's salvation in my life. That's a door I want unlocked and open!
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
It’s strange how we can be motivated to ask for things that we would not usually desire. Such is the work of the Spirit in our lives. May my heart be ever more motivated to ask for what I really need, not the shortcuts I desire.
Friday, July 20, 2007
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. --Romans 7:14-25 NIV
In hope (confidence based on Christ's work),
So, I bet you can guess how my day is going. (I know I've been gone awhile, and I'll try to catch up soon, but this is where I am right now.) I feel irritable and angry and sad and mad all at the same time.
I dumped my cereal in my lap on the way to work (don't...I've already been told that that's what I get for eating in my car). I was substantially late before that happened and turning around and going back to find a new outfit didn't really help with that condition.
At work, I got a phone call that, though I had specifically asked the parties who should know (the bank), that the paperwork that it took me over a week to get signed was signed by the wrong person. The right person is not available, and, oh, I know you've got a deadline, but I'm going on vacation so if we don't fix it now, it'll be a week or more...
These things do not make for a happy day, but the worst thing is this: I know that these things aren't why I am so unhappy. I know that it is because I have been choosing self over Savior and entertainment over relationship for the past week or more. And right now, what I'm really struggling with is that I want both. I want what I want and I want to be in right relationship with my God. And if my heart were right and not selfish, maybe I could have both things. But today I must make a choice. I put off making choices I don't like. It's a lousy mechanism for life, but it is my natural fall-back.
A popular quote around my church is, "We must preach the gospel to ourselves daily." It took me a while to unpack this one, but I think that this is where I've gone awry this week. I tend to--and probably always will until I receive my new body--forget Who and why I serve if I don't rehearse these things to myself regularly. I haven't preached the gospel to myself in quite some time now, and wow, does it show. (And to my roomie, I am really sorry, 'cause I know it shows most at home.)
So I guess now is the moment of truth. Do I repent of my sin, or continue to engage it? The reader is probably thinking I have reached some wonderful (and obvious) conclusion here. But the truth is...a few words later, I still want both.
There is real ugliness inside us, even after Christ. I hate that this is true. I hate that I am still capable of such nastiness, such selfishness. Right now, I really long for heaven, for perfection, for my heart to no longer wrestle with what will, in that place, seem so ridiculously petty that I'll be embarrassed for it. Maranatha means something like, "Come quickly, Lord." And so I beg...
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Saturday, June 30, 2007
I would like you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord's affairs—how he can please the Lord. But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife—and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord's affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. (vv. 32-35)
Being free from the affairs of this world and being undividedly devoted to the Lord see to me to be really good things. But I have often struggled with this passage, because while I do want these things, I also want to marry. So many people have ideas or opinions on, or interpretations of, this passage. Based on the above passage, some say that unless you are called to marriage, you should remain single.
Others say that unless you are called to singleness, you should marry. They say that if you are to remain single, you’ll know because you’ll be able to accept your singleness (some even say, without desire toward marriage). They take this from the first part of Matthew 19, where Jesus speaks to the issue.
Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."
The disciples said to him, "If this is the situation between a husband and wife, it is better not to marry."
Jesus replied, "Not everyone can accept this word, but only those to whom it has been given. For some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have renounced marriage because of the kingdom of heaven. The one who can accept this should accept it." (vv. 8-12)
I have always told the Lord that I am willing. Either way, I am willing. (This hasn't always been true, but it has always been my goal.) There have been times when I thought that because I could accept being single, I should just remain so. Other times, I thought that because I desire to be married (and because the Lord has refused to take away that desire, even when asked), that perhaps the Lord was calling me to marriage in the future. As I pondered the kingship issue on Sunday, I could hear God’s Spirit asking me, “J, would you ask me for a king?” And crisply and—I am so thankful—instantly, my heart said, “No. Lord, if the choice is between you and anyone/thing else, I choose You.”
I don’t know if this is the choice I am (or others are) being asked to make, but if there’s a choice, I choose my God. With finality. Always. Forever.
From the moment of my response, I have had such peace. I can live without looking (ladies, I know you know what I mean). I can live without another. In ways that I have never experienced before, I have contentment on levels I didn’t know existed. How sweet is the ministry of His Spirit and His truth.
Perhaps I am single for a season, perhaps for a lifetime, I cannot know. I don’t know if tomorrow I will be content or distracted, filled with joy or sorrow. But I know in whom I have believed, and I know that He is mine. Forever. And that is worth everything.
Friday, June 29, 2007
But when they said, "Give us a king to lead us," this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: "Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do." -I Samuel 8:4-9
Have you ever asked for a king? I have. Not a real king, as the Israelites asked for, but a tangible person or thing that would lead me, rather than following my Savior alone. Let me back up and supply a little context/history for this passage, and I think you'll understand (and perhaps identify) with what I mean.
Up to this point in Israel's history, they have been led by Moses, Joshua, and then a series of judges/prophets, all people who were directly led by God (God's spokespersons, so to speak). This lasts for a couple hundred years, give or take. God speaks to his people and leads them directly. Under the judges, they go through cycles of sin, repentance, and restoration (many, many times), but each time, God restores them to His leadership.
But then we get to I Samuel 8 (above), and the Israelites decide they no longer want God to reign over them, "...they have rejected Me as their king." They want to be like everyone else, "...now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have." In order to be like everyone else, they reject God's authority in their lives. (This seems especially grievous in Israel, since the very thing that set them apart was the fact that God had called them out from among the other nations: "For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession." Deuteronomy 7:6)
This is where my life takes on similarities. It occurred to me this past week that this danger of 'asking for a king' is open to us today also. Specifically, as women, we can want a husband/our husband to be our king. But though a husband has specific responsibilities for guidance and leadership in a home, he isn't a king, he doesn't take the place of God's authority in our lives. Single women tend to ask God for a 'king.' Married women tend to view their husbands as their king. But God never releases a believer from direct responsibility to His voice and guidance in his or her life. Our sin natures lead us toward usurping God's authority--that's the very nature of sin--but God's Spirit tells us to be listeners to His quiet voice.
The good news is this: Even when we reject God's authority and ask for something else, God works all things for His glory. David--a man after God's own heart--came to influence as Israel's third king. And from his great line, came yet another king, the ultimate one, Jesus. So even if we’ve messed up and sought other authority in our lives, there’s still hope. There’s always hope in Jesus. Psalm 107 repeats this phrase four times: “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.” A simple ‘restart’ is all it takes to return to the Lord. For believers in Jesus, repentance is always an unlocked door.
I realized Sunday that I had been in danger of asking for a king. It’s not wrong to ask the Lord for a husband; if that is a desire, you should express it to God. But there is a subtle difference of the heart when you substitute the word 'husband' for what you really mean--'king.'
My old nature clamors for a king, my new nature yearns for The King. The din can be overwhelming at times.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Where have I been? Well....after wearing myself out during Music & Arts Camp, I spent time trying to clean up the mess I had left behind at work. Then, my mom came to visit (yea!) and I took some vacation time. Then I spent some time trying to clean up the mess I had left behind at work. (I have one of those jobs where the work just sits and waits for you when you’re gone. Actually, I suspect it's making like a rabbit and multiplying, but I can't prove that.) Then I wasn't feeling very well, so I took a sick day, and since then I've been spending time trying to clean...well, you get the idea. :-)
I don't have long now, but I wanted you to know what was up. I'll post more (and better) later.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
The same was true in Jesus' time on earth; the same is true now. However, in CHRIST, the veil is removed, and we become reflections of Him, with 'ever-increasing glory'! How great is His gift to us; we can be as Moses once was, as the angels are, gazing upon His very glory. We can bring the very beauty of the Lord to the presence of those around us.
2 Corinthians 3:13-18: "We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."
Oh I so want to be so in His presence that even when I turn toward others, His face is seen. "One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple." -Psalm 27:4
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Somehow, by God's grace alone, that message came together in my conscious mind the fall before I turned...four. I know, I know, but you know, I remember it. I remember understanding that I had done wrong things and that I couldn't go to heaven to be with God having done those wrong things, EXCEPT that Jesus died to pay the price for my wrong things, and that I COULD go if I believed that. Pretty basic, but that's all it takes.
I was alone, kneeling on the bottom bed of my bunk bed set. I remember understanding, and then I prayed, telling God all of this. I walked out of my room, so confident that I was now a believer that I told my daddy, "Dad! I'm a Christian now!" He doesn't remember this conversation, but he replied with a very good question, "Great! Why do you say that?" I sensed that he was reticent to believe me, so I responded by committing my first post-salvation sin. I got really mad and stomped back into my room to pray again--just to show him!
2. What difference has #1 made in your life? Oooooiiiieeee! I asked this question and I find it difficult to summarize. All the difference. There hasn't been one thing in my life that has remained unaffected by that decision 30 years ago. It is so sweet to trust in Jesus. And even when I don't want to trust and run away, even that is a reflection of and a reaction to my relationship with Jesus.
3. What is your favorite Scripture passage? Why? I love the Scriptures SO much! It's very difficult to narrow down my answer, but I guess I would say Psalm 116. In so many ways, this is my testimony: "I love the LORD for He heard my cry, he heard my cry for mercy. Because He turned His ear to me, I will call on Him as long as I live." Especially continuing through verse 9. This was my song as I emerged from my clinical depression, around 2001.
4. Tell about a time God answered a specific prayer in your life. How did that affect/change you? Well...here's the biggie. Many of you know that I spent my entire educational career--through grad school--preparing to go the mission field. (This is not an exaggeration; I began pursuing missions by the time I was entering 1st/2nd grade.) The experiences I sought, the degrees I pursued, were all oriented toward going to creative access fields. Well, as soon as I finished my degree, the Lord impressed upon me to stay put, right in the city where I lived. Okay, sure. I figured this was a short-term proposition. But year after year, I kept getting, "Wait," as the response to my prayers about missions. Finally, five years in, I asked the Lord, "Please tell me, am I staying or going? I just want to know which direction to point my nose."
That evening, I picked up right where I left off reading the Scriptures the day before, Ezekiel 3. God is commissioning His new prophet, and He says (vv.4-6), "He then said to me: "Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them. You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and difficult language, but to the house of Israel- not to many peoples of obscure speech and difficult language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely if I had sent you to them, they would have listened to you." The words popped off the page to me just as if they were 3-D! It was one of the most indescribable moments of my life. Then the Spirit of God said to my heart, "This is the answer to your question."
I couldn't talk about that experience without crying for almost 2 years. It was such a shock to me. In Bible College/Seminary, everyone asks themselves if they are "willing to go." That was never my question. Mine was, "Are you willing to stay?" That day in 2004, God called my bluff, and told me to stay. So here I am... :-)
5. Do you remember a time that God made a Scripture passage especially clear to you? Tell! I was in junior high the first time I ever really remember seeing God's truth for myself. I was reading in Philippians 4, and saw this (vv.4-7): A+B+C+D=PEACE
A--Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!
PLUS B--Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
PLUS C--Do not be anxious about anything,
PLUS D--but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
EQUALS PEACE--And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
I had never before noticed that this promise--peace!--was conditional. It was the start of a love affair with God's Word.
That's enough for now, I think. Ta-ta until tomorrow!
So many lists circulate these days, and while they can offer interesting tidbits (and occasional TMI moments), they rarely cover the things I want to know about someone. So...Here's my list. Lurkers, join in too! If you don't want to post to your own page, submit it as a comment on this one.
I hope you will consider answering some of these, 'cause these are just some of the things I'd want to know about you! Don't feel pressure to answer all of them, though; this isn't a test! Pick the one(s) you like or have time for today. Have fun!
1. When did you come to believe in Jesus? Tell your story! (as long or as short as you like) :-)
2. What difference has #1 made in your life?
3. What is your favorite Scripture passage? Why?
4. Tell about a time God answered a specific prayer in your life. How did that affect/change you?
5. Do you remember a time that God made a Scripture passage especially clear to you? Tell!
6. Who has influenced you in your spiritual walk (family, friends, mentor, pastor, authors, etc.)? In what ways?
7. Sometimes we get to share His story with others. Is there a particular story that you want to tell about that?
8. Is there something in your history that you would change if given a chance to?
9. What's a vice in your life? Any virtues? ;-D
10. What's your favorite way to worship God?
11. If you could possess one (real) talent or gift that you haven't already been given, what would it be and why?
12. What is an important lesson you have learned? How did you learn it?
13. What things are you really passionate about? What sets you ablaze?
14. What do you love or appreciate about God?
15. Where have you be especially effective in serving God? (This isn't prideful; if you've been effective, it's because of His Spirit in you, so really it brings glory to HIM.)
That's a plenty good start! Next post, I'll give my answers. Looking forward to yours!
Monday, June 11, 2007
Even as I reached this conclusion, I realized that this lesson applied to life, my life at least. What I have wanted, where I thought I was going, was a life where my responsibilities were clear and defined, with no lag time left over. What God called me to do was to be available and ready. I don't know that this ends up being more important, but for me, it does end up being harder. If I were a missionary on the field now, I would know my path, my responsibilities (generally); if I were married, someone else would be in the lead. But as it is, God has called me to pull back and simply be available. That is a tougher task, but it is my calling nontheless. Sometimes I wonder what will come out of this--something great? something wonderful? valuable?--but I suppose it's not mine to know. So I'll focus on being ready, on being available, and know that the defined tasks belong to others, at least for now.
Thanks to those of you who prayed and supported me through this time. I am hoping to return to 40-hour work weeks now, not the 60-70 hours I have been working. I am tired just thinking about next year...ooooooiiiieeee!
Wednesday, June 6, 2007
I ended up at Wal-Mart, and since I went in to just get a couple of things, I didn't grab a cart (known as a 'buggy' in the South). By the time I had looped most of the store, my arms were literally full, and my knee ached so much I wasn't walking to the door to get a cart. But I *NEEDED* a salad (I've eaten almost no vegetables/fruit for the past 4-5 days and my body is not happy for it! It's very unusual for me, but I've been so busy...)
So I'm standing in front of the lettuce bags and I literally turn to a stranger standing there and say, "I'm sorry, but could I ask a favor? I didn't get a basket when I came in. Could you put a bag of lettuce on top of my pile?" She takes one look at me and says, "Here, take mine," and gives me her (almost empty) basket and goes and gets another one for herself. By this point, I've worked 12 hours, and I hurt and I'm tired, and I was just so grateful and encouraged by this one woman's generosity, so freely given that she MUST have been a believer. There was no hesitancy at all. Or maybe she was an angel. :-) I just know that I was so blessed by her kindness.
He is beautiful, even in the little things... :-)
Tuesday, June 5, 2007
1)How old do you wish you were? I kinda like now; anytime between 30 and now (34).
2) Where were you when 9/11 happened? At work. I worked at a church then. We got a call when the first plane hit, so they turned on a TV and had everyone gather around. At this point, remember, we don't know it's a terrorist attack; it seems like a terrible plane accident. I remember thinking, "Why did they call us together to see this? Bad things have happened before and we didn't stop the work day." We went back to work and a few minutes later...well, you know. It was an awful, awful day. I still won't watch things that reference that day/week/month. I still cry thinking about it.
3) What do you do when vending machines steal your money? Push the refund button. If that fails, well, I just walk away.
4) Do you consider yourself kind? I think I'm generally so. I try hard to be.
5) If you had to get a tattoo, where would it be? If? You think I don't have one? I am a woman of mystery.
6) If you could be fluent in any other language what would it be? Probably Spanish just for practicality's sake, but I'd rather be fluent in Russian or French. French is beautiful and Russian so interesting. What I'd really like is to be able to speak whatever language is being spoken. Wouldn't that be a cool superhero power?!
7) Do you know your neighbors? Yes and no. Two of my neighbors are *very* close friends, but the rest I only know so-so. Go two houses down and I don't know them at all. :-(
8)What do you consider a vacation? Traveling away from home and exploring someplace new. No offense, but I don't consider visiting family a vacation. I have rarely had vacations in my life, even as a child.
9) Do you follow your horoscope? Nope
10) Would you move for the person you loved? Absolutely.
11) Are you touchy feely? Occasionally, but not generally.
12) Do you believe that opposites attract? Often, but not always. I think it makes things interesting, but not always smooth.
13) Dream job? Wife, mother, discipler.
14) Favorite channel(s)? With cable, HGTV. Since we don't have cable, channel 10. LOL! Okay, NBC.
15) Favorite place to go on weekends? I rarely go anywhere. Sad for someone who likes to travel so much.
16) Showers or Baths? Always showers. I don't enjoy baths at all.
17) Do you paint your nails? No. My nails hate all forms of remover, and my eyes hate chipped nails.
18) Do you trust people easily? Depends. To a certain degree, I afford everyone trust immediately, but on a deep level, very rarely.
19) What are your phobias? Hmmm....I can kinda get carried away on germ-free hands, but I can turn that off if I need to.
20) Do you want kids? Yes. I'd love to have bunches (assuming I still have the energy to manage them), and I'd love to adopt from all over. Think Angelina Jolie, only I'd be married.
21) Do you keep a handwritten journal? Periodically. It's not usually what is happening, it's more what I'm thinking or learning, especially spiritually. Kinda like my blog.
22) Where would you rather be right now? New Zealand, Europe, in the mountains. You name it, I'm there!
23) What makes you feel warm and safe? Hmmmm....No special thing usually.
24) Heavy or light sleep? Heeeeaaaavvvvyyyy.
25) Are you paranoid? Who's asking?
26) Are you impatient? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
27) What is your favorite candle smell? linen
28) How do you feel about interracial couples? Love them! Wish I was one. My babies deserve to have some dark-skinned genes mixed in with my pasty ones. To pass on such pasty-ness is surely cruel and unusual punishment.
29) Have you been burned by love? Not really. More like...not yet found. :-)
30) Whats your life motto? When in doubt, don't. (from Romans 14) I'm working hard on it being something more like, "Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
31) What's your main ring tone on your mobile? Ringing. I don't hear the other rings.
32) What were you doing at midnight last night? This is unusual, but I was actually sleeping. Music Camp wore me out.
33) Who was your last text message from? I don't usually text, but one of my aunts does all the time.
34) Who's bed did you sleep in last night? Mine, and mine alone. :-)
35) What color shirt are you wearing? Granny Smith Apple Green (It looks pretty awful on me, but it matches the color of the Camp shirts, and I didn't have time to wash mine from yesterday.)
36) Who is your favorite artist? Name an impressionist.
37) Name three things you have on you at all times? Watch, ring, and earrings.
38) Are you wearing underwear? Always.
39) How much cash do you have on you right now? About $60. That's my food budget for the next 10 days.
40) What is your favorite part of the chicken? Breast
41) What's your favorite town/city? Chicago!
42) Who got you to join Yahoo 360? Me. I was looking for a free space to blog.
43) What did you have for dinner last night? Applebee's appetizer sampler, split with my best friend.
44) How tall are you bare foot? I claim 5'9".
45) Have you ever smoked heroin? What an odd question. Don't you smoke crack and snort heroin? Anyway, the answer to both questions is no.
46) Do you own a gun? No, and don't plan to. Don't mind if others do so responsibly, but I don't feel the need to.
47) What do you prefer to drink in the morning? Coffee, strong, with one sweet-n-low, and lots of French vanilla creamer. It should be the color of caramel.
48) Do you have A.D.D.? I'm sorry, what did you say?
49) What time did you wake up today? 6:20-ish. VERY unusual for me. This is because of music camp. Usually I wake up around 7:45/8:00 a.m.
50) Current worry? Paying off stupid (aka, credit card) debt. I've come so far, but have so far to go.
51) Current hate? This is silly, but I hate having an exhaust fan on when taking a shower. I really like to steam up the bathroom.
52) Favorite place to be? One of my favorite places to be is the public library. What a great invention. I also like being at the Biltmore (Asheville, NC).
53) Where would you like to travel? You name it and pay for it, and I'm there!
54) Where do you think you'll be in 10 yrs? I'm afraid to answer this question.
55) Last thing you ate? Soft peppermint candy.
56) Song that you sing in the shower? I don't usually sing in the shower, but if I do, it would usually be a worship song, or maybe something from old Broadway.
57) Last person that made you laugh? Some of the youth workers at our camp this week.
58) Worst injury you've ever had? Having my gallbladder removed was awful. I'm pretty sure he botched something, but I eventually recovered, mostly.
59) Does someone have a crush on you? One can only wish...
60) What is your favorite candy? Varies daily.
Monday, June 4, 2007
The only hard part is having to say no to the parents who want their kids moved (classes are full and closed) or, worse yet, want their kid enrolled (registration ended over 3 weeks ago). I know we even have a couple of kids who were very upset today, but I don't know how to help them without opening Pandora's box, so to speak. Oh well, 99% happiness will have to do I suppose. :-)
Well... I'm gonna drag my tired hiney back to work for a little bit to prepare for tomorrow. Then, I'm gonna head home. (I have to wash my shirt asap, as I sweated a good bit today. Nasty!) The good news is...I'm gonna sleep well tonight! LOL!
Sunday, June 3, 2007
When I think back over the 23 years we have been friends, I see some really good reasons why we are (still) friends:
1. We share history. That little saying that says "New friends are silver, but old friends are gold," is absolutely accurate. I can look to her and know that she "remembers when," knows my family, understands the circumstances surrounding my growing up. She's seen me be selfish and ugly, frightened, anxious, and sad. She's seen me wrestle with my sins, and (hopefully!) grow. She has held me up when I needed support, and she's done so without ever asking for anything in response.
2. She is faithful. She wouldn't let me go. I am a lousy communicator and a lousy initiator. She never let my failures stand in the way of our friendship. She called me, wrote me, even sent me packages. She is the reason our friendship has remained. I hate that it is true, but my weakness would have let such a valuable relationship slip away. She was strong in place of my weakness. For her faithfulness, I could not be more grateful.
3. She is beautiful. Though she is beautiful physically, I am most grateful for her beautiful spirit. She brings beauty, joy, and grace to those around her. She offers of herself in so many ways. Here is an example of her thoughtfulness. When I lived overseas, so far from home at Christmas, I received from her and her mother a GIGANTIC box filled with all things Christmas, including a small tree with ornaments, candy canes, and even pictures drawn by the children in her daycare. Ooooiiieeee, I cried! It was wonderful! My students in Korea were stunned and my co-workers jealous, but I was just so thankful to have her for a friend.
There are so many more reasons why I am glad to have her as my friend, but today, especially, I just want to say,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RACHEL! You live a life worth living. And I love you.
Thursday, May 31, 2007
It was Palm Sunday and, because of a sore throat, five-year-old Johnny stayed home from church with a sitter. When the family returned home, they were carrying several palm branches. The boy asked what they were for. "People held them over Jesus' head as he walked by."
"Wouldn't you know it," the boy fumed, "the one Sunday I don't go, He shows up!"
I Wish You Enough
That you may have a life filled with just enough good things to sustain you.
I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright no matter how gray the day may appear.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun even more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that even the smallest of joys in life may appear bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.
I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye.
It put me in mind of the prayer of Agur, contained in Proverbs 30:7-9:
Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches,but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the LORD?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
It's a good prayer, one I have often prayed myself (so don't expect to hear of me winning Publishers Clearinghouse Sweepstakes!), and one that seems, at least in part, to be summed up in the word, 'enough.'
Jesus stated this same idea in Matthew 6:11, "Give us today our daily bread." Just enough for today. It is the lesson of the manna. Fully enough, never more. The idea is reiterated in verse 34, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.".
Jeremy Camp has expanded on this theme in his worship song, Enough.
All of you is more than enough for all of me
For every thirst and every need
You satisfy me with your love
And all I have in you is more than enough
You are my supply, my breath of life
Still more awesome than I know
You are my reward,worth living for
Still more awesome than I know
You are my supply, my breath of life
Still more awesome than I know
You're my coming King, you're my everything
Still more awesome than I know
More than all I want, more than all I need
You are more than enough for me
More than all I know, more than all I can say
You are more than enough
Maybe what I long for in life isn't 'more;' maybe it's just... 'enough.'
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
And more importantly, I am so tired that I am not walking in the Spirit well. I've always said that 50% of the battle to stay filled with the Spirit is 8 hours sleep. Well, I'm getting some sleep, but I'm still not winning this battle regularly. I have been very 'fleshy' this week.
I am leaving work now to go home and spend some time in the Word. May I find there the refreshment He promised, that tomorrow, "rivers of living water" may flow out of me. I'll take your prayers on that. :-)
Hope you are 'spring'-ing forth!
I want to be a bolster pillow, in a spiritual sense.
Now if you are wondering what that has to do with anything, I am able to agree with you. I have NO idea what this means or what I was thinking as I left dreamland this morning. Perhaps someone out there can interpret dreams and supply me with the sense of this. Until that happens, I'll just use it as confirmation that the mind is a crazy thing when let loose and unguarded at night. :-)
And for those of you unclear on what a bolster is: it is a round pillow that is shaped like a tube or pipe. It's great for slipping under your neck when lying down, or behind your back when sitting, but mostly it’s used for decoration. See how random I am?
Better run! -J
Monday, May 28, 2007
I understand His greatness better now than 'then.' I understand the depth of my unworthiness more today than yesterday. It is truer in this moment than last that I love Him more than I ever have before.
I love that I am quicker to realize that my lack of desire to worship is tied directly to the sin in my life. I can choose faster (or sometimes, grievously, knowingly choose more slowly) to confess and repent.
I am thankful I understand better how His Word and His Spirit work in my life to allow me to worship in spirit and in truth. I am humbled by how His Spirit weaves His Word throughout my prayer, enabling me to pray in ways that are ever more in line with His will.
His value is ever increasing in my understanding, and that is His hand at work in me. And I'm so grateful.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
I decided last night that no matter what else I post, I want to be sure to remark regularly on the simple, beautiful, sometimes unperceived things that God has done, has given. I'm going to call these 'Pleasing Meditations,' or PMs. I take this from
"May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer." --Psalm 19:14
Please feel free to add your own!
PM #1 On my drive home yesterday, I was parked at a stoplight. In a thoroughly urban space, with radios playing, everything in sight paved, with wires crisscrossing the heavens and a motor rumbling at my feet, I suddenly spotted two birds, diving into the middle of the intersection. Whether they were at play--as I like to believe--or whether they were fighting for territory, as is more likely, the interjection of God's creation into man's creations was immediately refreshing. While man imitates God, and not wrongly, still he never produces the effect that true creation does. The birds at play were simple, beautiful, fresh.
And I am grateful.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but man is tested by the praise he receives.--Proverbs 27:21
I know I must have read this before; I've read through Proverbs many times. But this verse has never struck me before. Today, I realized how true it was. We gladly welcome words of praise, but through them our lives are purified, our hearts tested. Praise so often draws to the surface the pride in our lives, at least it does in mine. I suppose this is good; impurities are skimmed off when they come to the surface of gold and silver being heated. Praise lights that fire so that God may draw out the taint in our hearts.
It's starting to feel hot around here...
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
It's always morning somewhere.
Suddenly, I was thinking of the verse in Lamentations 3, that states that,
[the Lord's] mercies are new every morning.
Immediately, I understood in a fresh way that His mercy (defined as the withholding of what we deserve) is renewed every moment. It is a beautiful picture, isn't it? The sun is rising continually on mankind! Glory to the Son, who imparted such grace (defined as the giving of what is undeserved) to us!
Enjoy your morning glory--New Mercies!
Monday, May 21, 2007
He asked a young man (actually, he’s asked 1400 young people, with no right answers) why he believed the Bible was true. He couldn’t give an answer. The next day, he came rushing up to Josh, very excited. He said, “I know the answer!” How did he know the Bible was true? Because he believed it. It was true because he believed.
I literally groaned out loud. My stomach hurts. How fully Satan has corrupted our very thought processes. How much harder it is for this generation than the previous to understand God’s Truth. How critically important it is for us to know truth, to be able to define truth, to live truth before a very, very lost world.
Oh, please stand. Please press on. We cannot give way now. We must, having done all, stand in the gap for a decaying, dying world. We must have an answer.
So, reader, do you believe the Bible is true? Why? How do you know?
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Ten Random Admissions, to bore or brighten your day.
1. I am sitting at work typing this email. However, I feel no guilt as it is after 8:00 p.m.
2. I had a little breakdown earlier this week at work, and I'm not sure I've really recovered from it.
3. I really only enjoy shopping if I have money. I don't have to spend it, but the possibility must exist.
4. I want to get rid of my cat but can't bring myself to do so.
5. I really miss traveling.
6. I think the early excitement of my life (teen's and early twenties) makes the routine-ness of life now harder.
7. I think I actually like vanilla ice cream better than chocolate, but my new favorite it butter pecan!
8. If someone else would pay, I would be a perpetual student.
9. I would love to know how someone figured out rubber bands. What a strange (but wonderful) invention!
10. If I could visit any time in history, I would return to the late 1800s/early 1900s. So many cool things were happening in the world, but world-wide wars hadn't yet squelched people's (misplaced) optimism.
Just restoring your faith in my random-ness! :-)
Mother's Day: a day for celebration, for remembering one of life's most precious persons.
Mother's Day: the one day of the year Mom can be assured of getting a flower (in church, at least), even if it is only a carnation, and a phone call, if she has adult children! :-)
Mother's Day: an opportunity for some, like this first-born, to call their mothers and offer them a sincere, "You're welcome," (for of course it is her first-born that makes her a mother.)
Mother's Day: when exhausted, harried mothers get to remember that motherhood is actually a good thing. I have one friend who has wanted a child for so long, and she received one through adoption a couple of months ago. Mother's Day was an especially special day for her.
Mother's Day: a hard day, for some. Three of my good friends have lost their mothers recently, and this weekend was especially hard as they grieved in a new way the passing of these special women. I have one friend who lost her first-born in utero a couple of months ago, and Mother's Day was a difficult one for her also. I have married friends who have tried for years to become pregnant or to carry to term, and Mother's Day can seem a mockery of their pain.
Mother's Day: a day for irony. I can't tell you how many times this past weekend I was wished a happy Mother's Day. If you don't know me, perhaps you won't know that I am single, never married, no children. However, I am in my mid-thirties (I hate typing that-lol!), and virtually all of my friends are married and do have children. That is a wonderful thing, and it allows me to live a bit vicariously without having to wake up every two to four hours for months on end. I like that very much!
Mother's Day: to the woman who wants children but has no prospect of having any, a painful period. And this year, for me, it seemed more so than most years. Don't misunderstand. I'm not pining away; really, really, truly, I am not. I think my friends and family would testify to this. I really do love the life God has provided me, and I am keenly aware of the benefits of singleness and of this season in my life. I would NEVER wish for me what God has not provided. I would not want a husband/children/a picket fence/two dogs/a cat/and a goldfish if that wasn't God's calling on my life. (Okay, I wouldn't want some of those anyway! I've already killed enough goldfish for a lifetime!)
Mother's Day: a day to grieve the passing of time. I don't begrudge time traveling on. I just miss the things that will never be because it has moved along. For example, I will never, no matter what happens from this moment on, be a young mother, a young parent. Unless I have better genes than I am pretty sure I have, even if I was married tomorrow and pregnant the next day, I wouldn't have nearly the time with my grandchildren that my grandparents have had with me. In fact, the more time passes, the chances of me ever being a mother grow slimmer and slimmer.
Mother's Day: a day to feel old. I'm not old, but I'm not young either, and on most days, I kinda like that. I have the benefits of some experience without the aches that prove my history. :-) The lines have started, but not really settled in for the duration. :-) But on Mother's Day, well on Mother's Day, I feel old. I feel bypassed. And I feel very, very alone. For while many people go through this, maybe even some of my readers, I went through this alone. I didn't feel free to share this out loud with anyone. I didn't tell anyone that I cried on Mother's Day, and I've cried every time I've thought about writing this blog. In fact, I'm crying right now.
I would never want what God didn't plan and provide for me. But on Mother's Day, I miss the possibilities that youth offered. I know now that no one's life turns out the way they plan it; this knowledge is one of the benefits of age. But it doesn't stop you from planning it when you are young, and the releasing of that plan is what hurts the most, sometimes even on Mother's Day.
P.S. Don't forget this blog is where I process what I'm feeling, what I'm thinking. These are my thoughts, my process. This isn't where I 'live,' so you don't have to worry about me. :-P