Saturday, August 30, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
1. Found a yummy, light recipe that I just consumed eight serving of. I wish I was kidding. I am stuffed, but how can you not love tomatoes, cucumbers, salt, pepper, cumin, fresh parsley, green onion, garlic, and fat free yogurt? I mean, fantabulousness! I can hear Sarah now..."I'm so not having dinner at your place." Sorry, girl. You're just gonna have to take my word for it--yummylicious. (I just love making up words. Two in this paragraph alone!)
2. I generally (read: always until this moment) try to keep this post a-political, even though I have some very strong interests and feelings there. However, I just have to say that this is shaping up to be a more interesting--and probably more frightening--election than I anticipated that it would be. I am prayerful and engaged. And (Forrest Gump voice here), that's all I have to say about that. :-)
3. Post-it notes are the very best invention in the world. Okay, maybe second to the printing press, but still mighty important. I don't think I could get through my day without them. And not just any post-it's--it's only pop-up post-it's, 'cause anything with a double-hyphen in it's name has to be the best! (Do you like how I just randomly inserted a hyphen in that phrase. That was just for you punctuation police out there!)
4. Since the last day of the month falls on a Sunday, we got paid today. And I am h.a.p.p.y. :-D
5. Things are really heating up at work as we start our fall season. We have three nights of dinner theater coming up in two weeks, and then two weeks after that, our six-event artist series begins. That same weekend, we host a hymn festival, and two weeks later have our fall choir retreat. Things are startin' to get crazy!
6. I'm excited to be in a position to really devote myself to the job for which I was hired. I started two years ago, but it wasn't until changes in workload were reformed in the late spring that I was really free to commit myself to the job I was intended to do. And I'm really happy--I like being fully devoted to a single area.
7. I have a Garfield cartoon next to my desk that I think perfectly illustrates the truth that life isn't always as it appears to us to be. Let me describe it for you:
Frame 1: Garfield approaches, looking bored. There is an apple sitting on the table.Tee-hee. *snort* For some reason, this really tickles my funny bone. But greater than the humor is the lesson: How things appear--causes, intents, outcomes, etc.--to you in life are not always how they are, especially when viewed from outside your 'frame' (of reference). Do you think God sometimes sees our reactions like we see the worms? Just thinking...
Frame 2: Garfield is holding the apple and smiling.
Frame 3: Garfield's cheeks are puffed out as he consumes the apple. And I quote: "CRUNCH. Munch. Munch. Munch..." You get the idea.
Frame 4: Garfield is returning to where he came from, leaving the apple core on the table and sharing an unseemly, "Burp" with us.
Frame 5: From stage left, two worms approach the apple (core) in a hurry.
Frame 6: Worm 1 says to worm 2: "Great goodly moogly, Gladys. We've got termites!"
8. I'm missing the Diet Dr. Pepper I haven't had today. Yet. I'm feeling a Sonic run coming on...Happy Hour (1/2 price soft drinks!), here I come!
9. It's 90* outside and I'm freezing in here. I can't wait to go outside. We've been having such lovely weather, with our extended thanks to the series of tropical storms that have been sending us cool weather and lots of rain. And yes, where I live, 85* to 90* days in August IS cool. Last August, we were sweltering with 105* to 115* days, though that was unusually warm. Welcome to the South. Wanna come for a visit?
10. Well, all good randomness must draw to an end. I hope you've enjoyed these wasted minutes of your day, 'cause I'm not authorized to give refunds. (Wouldn't it be wild if we could get refunds on time? Virtually every TV show and movie I've ever watch would owe me... I'd have so much time back, I'd be, like, 10 right now!) :0)
Hoping your day is filled with both poignancy and humor,
I recounted my ways and You answered me; teach me Your decrees. --Psalm 119:26, NIV
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Enter: Sunday worship. As part of our time of reflection (Scripture and songs), up on the screen pops a verse so familiar that for years I actually avoided it because it had ceased to have any meaning to me. I bet you know it too:
Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight. --Proverbs 3:5-6
WHAM! Right.between.the.eyes! He...Will...Make...Your...Paths...Straight.
Uhh...How do I arrive at my destination? It is NOT by fixing my eyes on my destination. It is by fixing my eyes on Jesus and trusting and acknowledging HIM, and then HE makes my path straight...even if I don't have a clue where I'm going. Even if my path seems crazily skewed, it is the straightest path possible on God's map. (I knew this on some level, but this is hitting a whole new level... Don't know if I'm explaining this well...)
Do you remember that old adage, "The shortest distance between two points is a straight line"? I think I view life kinda like that. Maybe not the shortest distance part, but that the journey should be linear. I remember when my dad taught me to draw a straight line...by looking at where I wanted the line to end, my destination. But God's paths don't seem to work that way. In fact, I'm starting to think that God-journeys may be more geometric than I first imagined. And yet somehow, those are the straight paths.
All of this was brought to mind again today when I stopped by my friend Beth's website. She had this verse posted (on a lovely printable card, too, if you wanna stop by):
"Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth." -Psalm 46:10
What was my focus through that overwhelming decision-making process? God, what would bring you glory? But what does He say here? J, don't fret so much. I am God; don't lose sight of that. Rest in me. Don't worry; I am working out the 'exalted' part. I WILL be exalted (glorified). Really. You don't have to stress this one.
Exhale. Deep inhale and exhalation again. Not only am I on the straight path, but God is accomplishing the goal that He made my heart claim: His glory. How good He is, and how good He is to me. Pure grace. Such mercy.
It may take awhile yet for all parts of my heart and mind to grasp this--I am filled with uncharacteristic doubt right now--but the Truth has a way of always routing out the falsehood. And so I trust that at some point, even if my route seems circuitous, I will truly know that I am still on--and have never left--the straight path. And somehow, I'm guessing this is a tiny part of the glory He gets, at least in my little corner of the world.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. --Hebrews 12:1-3
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
I just finished a conversation with someone I work with, and here is what I discovered: She is angry and resentful toward someone else in the Body, and refuses to go to that person to resolve it.
I discovered this when I got a bit blasted because of my relationship/response to this other person. That hurt. It did. I had acted in love, trying to do what was best for someone, and I got smacked for it. But that's not why I'm grieved.
I am grieved because someone in the body of Christ is willingly entertaining sin in her life and in the process, she is breaking the unity that Christ Himself declared as His intent when He prayed to the Father for us (see John 17:20-21). She does this (at least now) despite having been urged strongly to go to that person and resolve the problem. And as she carries this bitterness around with her, she begins to taint and weaken not only her own self, but the whole of the Body.
And thus, I hurt. Jesus' prayer was specifically related to these kinds of things--there should be no protracted periods of anger, bitterness, etc., among us. Why? Because when we live there, we cease to be a witness of Jesus to this broken, sin-filled world that so desperately needs to know that He has come (see John 17:23)! We cease to declare that there is LIFE to be had in the midst of this cesspool of death in which we live.
Don't misunderstand. I'm not angry with this woman. I'm not saying I haven't done exactly the same thing, 'cause I am opposed to lyin' and that would be a big one. What I am saying is that my heart longs for us to live as Jesus called us to so that we might reflect the light of His glory to a world full of walking corpses. I ache that we, who have been cured from the cancer of sin, eagerly imbibe it again and again, willing the disease back into our very own selves, and thus into this Body of which we are a part.
I cannot make this woman release her anger and bitterness (though I wouldn't mind if she didn't release it on me again (-;), but I can and will pray. This I know: The God who cured us can drain the poison we drink anew. Jesus has promised to someday present His pure Bride to His Father. And He knows well what it will take to make us pure: His very own life, which He has already willingly given. Therefore, I do not lose heart, for He who has promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).
May it all be to the praise of His glorious grace.
"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world. Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them." --John 17:20-26
Monday, August 18, 2008
Thursday, August 14, 2008
I found myself posting a comment on Pioneer Woman's blog in reply to this question:
How similar is your life now to how you imagined it ten years ago? Twenty years ago? Are you exactly where you imagined you’d be? Or are you constantly asking yourself, “How did I get here?” Do you mourn the unrealized plans in your life? Or are you happy no matter what your circumstances?
And I thought I would share my reply here:
My life is in no way similar to what I pictured. Not at all. I really thought I would be traveling the world now, teaching ESL [and sharing Christ!]. Instead, I am living in the deep south (I'm from the midwest), with a nice job and bills out the wahzoo (though I did manage to get the Master's Degree--thus the bills out the wahzoo!), but loving learning to be content...appreciating the beauty and the people in this place at this time. I guess I thought I would be married with kids; I don't know that I consciously planned that, but I'm seen myself mourn those conspicuous absences over the years.
I've also learned that pretty much no one's life turns out exactly the way they planned, and that mostly, that's a good thing. (Remember Moses the murderer who ended up being God's spokesman for a brand-new nation? Or David the shepherd who became a king?) Just because it doesn't look the way I thought it would doesn't mean God isn't working out beauty in the midst of it all. And, though I still miss what I thought would be, just perhaps, this is the best path for me....
What about you? How would you respond to this Q?
In His plan,
Many are the plans in a man's heart,
but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails.
--Proverbs 19:21, NIV
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
I'm not despairing, just sorting. I am actively working on learning and growing through this process, and sometimes that means that I just have moments where I am really hanging out there emotionally. Thus, Friday's note (in blue in yesterday's post).
And I know that this journey has been for a reason, and frankly isn't over yet. God has me headed somewhere...I'm just impatient to get to the destination. :-)
That said, how about another edition of Ten Things for Tuesday? Let's play a little Life Catch-Up, shall we?
1. Just discovered http://www.pandora.com/ . If you haven't heard of this, it's a great website. Just plug in the name of an artist or song you love, and the program will create a (ad-free!) 'radio' station for you based on that style. And you can mix several stations so you don't get bored. Right now, I'm listening to my Sarah Vaughan station, though I started the day on a Baroque station. I'm going to switch to a Big Band/Swing station shortly. I'm lovin' this! :-)
2. Finally getting my office organized. I should throw an open house once I do, as I don't think it's been fully in order since I moved in. Most recently, it became a storage/dumping area for everything I didn't know what to do with. Saturday, I com.plete.ly emptied it, except for some books on a wall shelf--it took 2-1/2 hours just to empty it!--cleaned it, and added an area rug. Then I put all the furniture back in, in a whole new arrangement. Love it! Can't wait to get it up and running! It's not a 'cute' room, but it will be functional...and I love functional.
3. Ooooh! Diana Krall just came on. I love Diana Krall. Wishin' I had those kinda skills. ;-) They're also playing Carmen McRae, and Lena Horne, Billy Holiday, Ella, Nat...all my favs! Yea for Pandora!
4. Today I learned how to clear a series of hyperlinks from an Excel spreadsheet without deleting the data. I know, I know. You, too, wish you could lead this charmed life.
5. I am totally addicted to caffeine again. I know I should go off of it, but the last three months have been too challenging to manage without a little help. The Diet Dr. Pepper craze I'm on is probably financing the company through these challenging financial times.
6. I don't think I've had the strength to share about some of the family concerns we've been facing this summer. #1: One of my sisters is severely handicapped, mentally and physically, from a brain tumor she had as a 6-month-old. (But seein' how she was supposed to be dead by her first birthday, and how she will turn 29 in December, we're all pretty happy.) Anyway, this sister started a series of not-breathing episodes about a month ago. She's had a dozen or so times where she just stopped breathing and slumped over or had serious trouble breathing, and no one has been able to figure out why...Until about 10 days ago, when they finally confirmed that the battery in her vagal nerve stimulator (does for the brain what a pacemaker does for the heart) was going wacko. They replaced the battery yesterday, and all appears fine so far. But we've spent 5+ weeks wondering if the next time she stopped breathing they would be able to bring her back to us.
7. Family concern #2: My mom. Things are settling down a bit now, but we're not out of the woods, nor may we ever be. Here's the post I started on July 1, but just couldn't bring myself to finish:
I usually really love to blog, to share where I am in life and what God is teaching me. But I have to admit, that SO much is going on in my life and in my head, that right now, it just makes me tired to think about sharing all of it. I just keep waiting for all the dust storms to settle so I'll know where I stand, but the pressure continues and the portents of change keep flowing into my life... I'll be able to share more in the coming weeks, but not today.
However, there is one area that I feel I should update you all on, and that is my mother. Ten or eleven days ago, I asked you to please pray for her. Well, the ground under our feet keeps shifting, but here is where we stand now:
My mother has Interstitial Lung Disease. It is a serious, permanent condition which involves scarring and nodules in the lungs. She has been having trouble breathing for some time now, and trouble sleeping too...which is a problem considering she keeps needing more and more sleep to make it through the day. If you've ever met my mother, you'll understand how serious her condition is when I share that this woman who cannot stop moving is requiring 1-2 naps per day in addition to many hours of sleep at night.
The initial biopsies revealed no cancer, but honestly, what they did reveal may be worse than cancer. Mom has Interstitial Pneumonia, regular and chronic. Don't look this up. What you will read is ugly and disheartening, defined by terms such as "deadly" and "life-expectancy." I cannot believe that I am typing those words in connection with my mother.
I think you can see why I couldn't finish. My mom's doctors haven't come up with the stuff my accidental google did (Don't ask how I could accidentally come up with that; just trust that I didn't mean to.), so we don't know exactly what her prognosis is. And right now, I'm okay with that. She is responding to treatment, but it is not a cure. It just suppresses the symptoms for now. And I'll just take that for now too, if you please.
8. I think numbers 6 & 7 may put the emotions and struggles I've shared about this summer into a little more perspective. My mom, my sister, the job-thing...and there is more, but I'm just not free to share all of it. It's been a tough summer. :-} But it hasn't been a bad summer. Hard and bad aren't the same thing. In fact, I don't recall ever pressing into find the heart and face of God more than I have this summer. And that, I know with certainty, is good.
9. I'm such a woman out of time. I'm listening to all this 40s, 50s, & early 60s music and thinking how I was so born in the wrong era. (With the obvious caveat of God knew what He was doing and all...) I love the music, the clothes, the dances, the manners...I'm a really old woman in a young-ish body!
10. Well I'm actually in pretty good spirits now. I should probably wrap up my lunch break shortly. Thanks for hanging with me, first through my silence, then through my emo, and now through far too many words.
May your day be filled with quiet whispers of His love.
Firmly in His grip,
P.S. As I'm closing, Fred Astaire just came on singing The Way You Look Tonight. Sing it to me, Fred... MmmmmHmmmm.... ;-)
So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness....Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
--Colossians 2:6-7; 3:1-2
Monday, August 4, 2008
Thank you, my dear friends, for sharing your journeys with me last week. [Or rather, three weeks ago. I started this on July 22. Sorry about the late posting.] Your insight, sympathy, and prayers really did make a difference.
The decision was made, but it wasn't a simple smooth landing. And once I made my decision, others had to respond to it, leaving it all up in the air...for so long. Ugh. Let's see what I can clear this up, at least a little.
After two months of 'process,' I was offered what I once described as my dream job. A job I would love to do, at a place I already know in substantial part. But I wasn't able to take the job due to a salient point that simply would not work itself out. And getting to that conclusion was the longest, most drawn out process in my life to date.
And God made sure it was a little bit of an extra challenge, when He shifted slightly the manner in which He directed me. That's where this question came from. God has always directed me through a profound peace in the deepest place in my heart. But in this scenario, He would neither give me peace nor let me release it...and it took me (quite) awhile to figure out that there was another option.
When I finally figured out what my response should be to the offer, I really believed that in some miraculous way, God would open the door. And it would have taken a miracle to bring it all together.
But He didn't. And I freely admit to being stymied. I don't fully understand this process yet. That doesn't throw me too badly; I've lived long enough to know that the lessons aren't usually learned in the process but in the reflections after-the-fact. But I am anxious to understand where I've landed. Why did God do all that hard work in me, opening my heart to a different place and position, and then say, "No"? Or at least, "Not now"? It has thrown me more than I anticipated, more, perhaps, than I know how to deal with smoothly. Why do I say this? Well...I wrote this post last Friday (8/1):
Today, I feel so alone.
It's hard to put words to it. There has been so much swirling in my life and around my life for months now. There is much that I cannot share here. But the effect has been to leave me feeling sad, empty, and alone. Feeling like my life is adrift, without value... I understand that these things aren't true, but I still feel that way.
Sometimes I feel friendless, homeless, helpless...naked and unsure... See, I told you that it was hard to put words to it.
Sometimes, I long for adventure, love, purpose. And in the mundane routine of life as is, these things seem ethereal, and distant.
In moments like these, I know that I stand at a crossroads. I could focus on these feelings and walk down a road of self-indulgent pity, or I could put my big girl panties on, turn toward the truth of my life, and live. And I almost without fail turn toward the truth.
But it haunts me that I find snatches of truth in what I am turning my back on too, and that I know I will find myself back here again at some point...
I don't know where I am or where I'm headed. I just needed to put this down and begin to process these thoughts, 'cause I don't like feeling adrift and awash. It's time to figure this out...
The conclusion of the matter remains to be seen. Even what God has started has yet to be fully revealed. What I know is this: I am on a journey, one He is directing. I am not lost, even if I feel rudderless. I am reminded of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee when the storm came up and they were certain they were gonna die...while Jesus slept in their very boat. I can't imagine all the scenarios that ran through their heads (or all the friends they may have lost in that very way). What I know is that Jesus was directing their destiny--whether that be by life or by death--even as the storm raged. As one whom He has confirmed as His own by the presence of His Holy Spirit, I can adamantly state that He still directs my boat through the storm. And I refuse to entertain thoughts (lies) to the contrary.
But you might have to give me a little latitude for processing. I suspect that this process may dig deep into me, and those kinds of refinements require, well, a lot of processing. He's never started me on a journey that He didn't finish. I'm just looking forward to seeing where we land.
At peace in His plan,
Others went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
They saw the works of the LORD,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
They reeled and staggered like drunken men;
they were at their wits' end.
Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for men.
Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.
--Psalm 107:23-32, NIV