Monday, August 27, 2007

Great Quote

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.- GK Chesterton

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, Just for Fun

I stole these from a stranger's blog. I thought it was fun.

Two names you go by:
1. J
2. Mocha

Two things you are wearing right now
1. Glasses
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
2. Salad

Two people you talked to last:
1. A bunch of people at work
2. My best friend

Two things you are doing today:
1. Working
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:
1. Thai
2. Lebanese

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:
1. Heroes
2. Numbers

Two places I would rather be right now:
1. New Zealand
2. New England

Who's next?-J

Friday, August 24, 2007

The View Through New Lenses

Well, I've killed myself at work to take a vacation, taken the vacation, and had a little (read: major) breakdown at work since I last wrote. Most importantly, I've come to see life through a new lens. Here's my story.

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 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.

(c) 2007

Friday, August 3, 2007

Are you a Sky-Screamer?

This is an email pass-me-around, but I thought it was kinda cute...and kinda true:

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

Earning My Vacation

I am too busy again. What's really sad is, there is a lot going on in my mind, things that it would be useful to journal/blog about, but I don't have time. I am taking vacation next week, so, as a co-worker told me last night, I am working an 80-hour week to take a 40-hour vacation, to be followed by an 80-hour week. :-( It's not quite that bad, but it's not good either.

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!

(c) 2007