Monday, December 14, 2009

I'm Con-be-fuzzled

Wow. I've posted a couple of times recently on the struggles I've been having with being single. Well here's an irony for you.

This evening during a phone conversation, a friend of mine said something about me wanting to be married. And--are you ready for this?--everything in my heart welled up and said...

"No, I don't!"

Talk about a woman who doesn't even know her own mind.

I suppose one could not want to be single and not want to be married...but that doesn't really leave you many options, now does it?

Or, perhaps I'm just vacillating. That is probably more likely.

Whichever it is, clearly I'm con-be-fuzzled.

Might just be as nuts as I sound,
-J

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. --Psalm 139:23, NIV

Joy vs. REjoy

Here's a quick thought for the day that has been banging around in my head for a week or more:

Joy is a something given, a gift.
Re-joy-ing (rejoicing) is our choice.

We are often told is Scripture to re-joice. But remember that the prefix 're-' means "again." It is God who first gives joy, then we get to embrace it again and again.

Don't we serve a good & gracious God?

REjoicing in His first advent and anxiously awaiting His second,
-J

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
--Luke 2:8-14, NIV

Friday, December 4, 2009

Repentant Blogging

Okay, so yesterday I realized that a lot more people try to follow this blog than I realized. ('Try' is the correct word, too, since there have been frequent and sudden stops to my postings since this summer.) Which lead to great remorse and self-flagellation...in spirit (no actual bruises ensued). And since I grow bored beating up on myself, I decided to try to blog more often.

See, problem easily solved! No bruises required.

Besides, I bruise easily and often anyway, so it seemed a bit redundant.

Anyway, I resolved to try to post more frequently. And thus, this. :-)

And that's pretty much all I have to say today. Bwhahahahaha!

But... I will be posting more frequently, so stay tuned. I might even accidentally say something interesting. It hasn't happened yet, but the laws that govern chance are with me.

Blessings all!
-J

Many, O LORD my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare. --Psalm 40:5

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Catching Up and Bearing Up

Well, I've been absent mostly because I've been struggling. Deep, wrestling struggling. The kind your own mind doesn't even recognize fully, so you're certainly not able to express it to anyone else. And frankly, it's pretty much consumed most of my spare energy. However, a few things worth noting have happened over the past few weeks:

1. My sister and her family returned from their 'far-out' service to our Savior...however, I haven't gotten to see them yet. I live a long way away from their 'home base' so I was the lone family member who didn't get to meet them at the airport. (Let's just say there were some tears involved in my evening that day...) But fair warning: I wouldn't stand between me and then come January when we all get together!! :-) Three and one-half years is a really long time...

2. For breast cancer awareness month (October), I decided to, just for kicks, get a biopsy done. My third one. And then, when everything on the biopsy was fine, I decided--again, just for kicks--to bleed internally and end up with one of the largest hematomas they'd ever seen following a biopsy of this type. Cool, no? And then (yep, there's more), I decided to not heal properly, so I keep having to go back and visit those fine folks. It's been a bundle of laughs. (Or, it's nerve-wracking every.single.time. One or the other.)

3. My mother had a major back surgery, which went well...until she caught a VERY serious staph infection and had to have a second major surgery, was placed on isolation, and given antibiotic transfusions twice a DAY. For six weeks. That poor woman has seen more health problems than most anyone I know, and she still keeps upbeat. (Which is why I had to type #2 first, 'cause my problems pale significantly in the light of hers.)

4. I shared the full testimony of my (weight-loss) Journey at a ladies event at my church. It was wonderful and amazing to see God's story impact others! It was exhausting to walk through that process. It has been exceedingly difficult to stand under the onslaught that Satan unleashed against me both before and since.

5. The lower level of my house took on some water...pretty much just in my bedroom, my office, and my closet. The cause is fixed and almost no actual damage was done (and I am GRATEFUL!), but only two out of the three spaces have been cleaned and reorganized. The mammoth job of cleaning up my office still awaits me. It may end up being a 2010 project at this point... :-) Although, crawling over the pile at the door does give me some exercise...

6. I've been a-workin'. The Christmas season is one of our busiest seasons at work (I work for a worship & arts ministry in a local church), and we added a big-name concert the week before Thanksgiving. 'Cause we thought we had lots o' spare time, apparently. Ahhhh.....!

7. I ate too much over Thanksgiving. Let's just say that the peanut butter fudge (oh mercy) and Chex mix and sweet potato casserole (which, I must say, I finally PERFECTED!) and 'lightened-up' pumpkin pie were just a tad too tempting for me. Or, more accurately, I gladly surrendered my long-term goals to short-term pleasures. However, I believe I am back on track. (Good thing, too, 'cause apparently you can cause a lot of damage in a short period of time. Ugh.)

But quietly, the biggest thing has been those 'stirred waters' I referenced last entry. God has only amplified these emotions and required of me to look deeply here.

And would it be wrong to say, I don't understand?

I'm not really one to need to understand God's ways. Me=pea-brain; God=God. I get that...and rarely question.

But I really felt I was content in the life God had given me...and I'm not quite sure why He has allowed--and perhaps even caused--it to become so much harder for me to be content.

...But I still choose Him. And I still choose to wage the battle to be content, though it seems to grow harder by the day.

Because no matter how challenging things get, this is my 'reasonable worship', no?

And because no matter how I feel, He IS good.

Still worshipping,
And still His,
-J

Oh, and P.S. You're awfully glad I wrote this today and not yesterday. Let's just say...I was kinda emotional about all this yesterday. You're welcome. :-D

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. --Romans 12:1, KJV

I say to myself, 'The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.' The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. It is good for a man to bear the yoke while he is young[-ish]. Let him sit alone in silence, for the LORD has laid it on him. Let him bury his face in the dust--there may yet be hope. Let him offer his cheek to one who would strike him, and let him be filled with disgrace. For men are not cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. --Lamentations 3:24-32, NIV

Monday, November 16, 2009

An Offering to a Good God

I live life on the verge of tears these days.

I am not PMS-y, nor has anyone died, nor has any bad thing happened in my life.

I am just very emotional.

And as crazy as this will seem, I'm pretty sure God's behind this.

I feel keenly that He has 'stirred the waters' in my life, and now I find that I am so. very. intensely, achingly...lonely.

I have, through the years, had moments/periods of struggle with being single, and have laid my life down again and again on His alter. I have learned the act of worship of laying down desires through a cloud of tears. I have said (and confirmed again and again), "Yes," to, "whatever He brings, whenever He brings it."

But God has begun a series of conversations with me that won't allow me to suppress my desire to have an earthly home. In fact, I really believe He has grown that desire. But He has also not opened that door.

He stirred the waters...and then asked me to live with the waves.

And it's hard. So very hard. I can close the door to my heart and deny almost anything. It's a well-worn skill I picked up years ago. (I'm not saying it's good; I'm just saying I can do it.)

But He won't let me deny. The call is to face my aching heart full on...and still say, "Yes, Lord. I offer my heart and all it possesses to You. Again. And I'll do it again tomorrow. Though the pain increases. Ad infinitum."

My God is not cruel. He is good. And He works all things for the good of those who love Him. So--somehow--this process, this pain is good.

I long ago signed on for anything His hand had to offer. ANYthing. Because despite the fact that I deserve na.da, He gives good gifts to His children...and He was pleased to call me as His child.

So I wait. I wait for my God to see, to hear, to answer, to comfort. But just so I'm clear, I know that even the waiting is from His good hand.

Even if it hurts.

Completely His,
-J

But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
--Micah 7:7

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

On Being Known

It's been too long, and so much good and so much hard has happened in the interim.  And I'm sorry to say, I just don't have the emotional energy to go there.  So, I eschew the guilt that I feel, muster all the energy I have, and take you to tonight, to something that just happened...

In a Bible study I participated in this evening, they opened by reading this {Go on, read it}:

 1 O LORD, you have searched me 
  and you know me. 

 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; 
  you perceive my thoughts from afar. 

 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; 
  you are familiar with all my ways. 

 4 Before a word is on my tongue 
  you know it completely, O LORD. 

 5 You hem me in—behind and before; 
  you have laid your hand upon me. 

 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, 
  too lofty for me to attain. 

 7 Where can I go from your Spirit? 
  Where can I flee from your presence? 

 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; 
  if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 

 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, 
  if I settle on the far side of the sea, 

 10 even there your hand will guide me, 
  your right hand will hold me fast. 

 11 If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me 
  and the light become night around me," 

 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; 
  the night will shine like the day, 
  for darkness is as light to you. 

 13 For you created my inmost being; 
  you knit me together in my mother's womb. 

 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; 
  your works are wonderful, 
  I know that full well. 

 15 My frame was not hidden from you 
  when I was made in the secret place. 
  When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, 

 16 your eyes saw my unformed body. 
  All the days ordained for me 
  were written in your book 
  before one of them came to be. 

 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! 
  How vast is the sum of them!

Can I tell you something?  These words, these ideas used to freak me out totally.  I didn't want to be found/seen/known that often/much/well.  Never being hidden frightened me.

But tonight, I discovered it was different.  Tonight, I was in tears almost immediately.  As the young woman read these words, I felt known and loved.  And for just a moment, I didn't feel quite so desperately alone.  Alone as in capital A.  As in, not married and left to fend for myself.

I honestly don't go here much, but lately, this has been a harder and harder issue for me.  I just find myself turning to the Lord so often and saying, "I don't have a husband.  Will you be my husband here?  Will you counsel me, instruct me, protect me, provide for me?"

And you know what?  He does.  More and more I have ears to hear it, but He does.  And tonight, when those words were read, I felt known in ways I long to be known and loved in ways I long to be loved.  And though my sin may corrupt my reception or response, His love is absolutely perfect.

And I am grateful.

-J

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; 
  your love, O LORD, endures forever— 
  do not abandon the works of your hands. --Psalm 138:8, NIV

Friday, September 18, 2009

Slippin' and A-slidin'

So many victories have been happening in my life lately.  I've been incredibly humbled to experience so very many moments of Christ-made-evident.

And yet...

Tonight, I looked around and realized that an old area of sin and struggle had snuck up in the midst of the victories and latched its ugly head back on me like the leech that it is.

And I'm at a total loss.  This area--though I can go for very long periods of time without failing--when failed in, produces long periods of 'payback.'  And tonight, it seems too much, too great, once too many a time...

And all I can do is throw myself, again, on the mercy of the Lord, and ask for His grace.  Oh to be fully delivered!  Oh to simply be 'home,' never to succumb to my sinfulness again!

I cannot even express to you how very heavy my heart is tonight.  God forgives freely (and I am forgiven), but as I have learned over many years, He does not always (or even often) remove the consequences of our sins.  And these particular consequences drag on and on.  Oh that He would free and restore me fully!  My heart cries out...

O Lord, save me! (Psalm 116:4)

-J

HERE I AM:

Some became fools through their rebellious ways 
  and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. 
They loathed all food 
  and drew near the gates of death. 
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble...

HERE I HOPE TO BE: 
  ...and he saved them from their distress. 
He sent forth his word and healed them; 
  he rescued them from the grave. 
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love 
  and his wonderful deeds for men. 
Let them sacrifice thank offerings 
  and tell of his works with songs of joy.  
--Psalm 107:17-22, NIV

I must tell Jesus all of my trials;

I cannot bear these burdens alone;

In my distress He kindly will help me;

He ever loves and cares for His own.

I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus!

I cannot bear these burdens alone;

I must tell Jesus!  I must tell Jesus!

Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

(c) 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Timings

Today, I realized...

Despite that fact that I so often want God to move *more quickly* in my life, I know that it is His kindness that moves me slowly, for I would break at the speed I wish to obtain.

And despite the many times I wish He would *slow down*, it is His goodness that refuses to let me languish in my natural state.

This is exactly the pace needed to create in me the image of His Son and the holiness to which He calls me.

I serve a GREAT God!

That's what I'm thinking today.

Riding this boat at exactly the right speed,
-J

"But when the TIME had FULLY come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons." --Galatians 4:4-5

"You see, at just the RIGHT TIME, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly." --Romans 5:6

(c) 2009

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Cursed & Blind vs. Blessed & Verdant

This passage was in my inbox this morning:

5 This is what the LORD says:
"Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.

6 "He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.

7 "But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.

8 "He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit." --Jeremiah 17:5-8, NIV

Want to trust in man? Check out the results: you will be cursed by the LORD, and so very blinded that even when prosperity comes, you will not be able to see it! It's not that prosperity doesn't come, it's that you are blinded to its presence! Wowser.

Kinda makes the alternative even MORE appealing, doesn't it?

Just my ponderings,
-J

1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

--Psalm 1, NIV

(c) 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Seven Hundred and Thirty Days

As the world gets quiet and I reach the end of my day, I remember this:

Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2, KJV)

And I realize this:

He's also the author and finisher of the chapters within the books of our lives.

And He's just concluded one chapter in my book.

And I can hardly breathe at the beauty of the road He has taken me down, at the loveliness of the story He has written into my life.

Tonight, I "made Lifetime" in Weight Watchers.  This milestone means:

**I have lost all the weight I set out to lose and am now at a healthy weight.

and...

**I have maintained that weight (or within +/- 2 pounds of it) for 6 weeks.

God has brought me all the way.  He told me when I started this journey that we would go all the way to the finish line.  He didn't tell me where that line was, or what the journey would look like, or how long it would take, but He told me we would go all the way.

And so we have.  Carried on the wings of His Spirit, I have been brought to the place of health in my relationship to food, in my perspective on exercise, in the actual weight of my body.  He has rooted out sin that fed into these issues.  I have been given a freedom I never imagined.  I am living.

For if you live according to the sinful nature, you will die; BUT if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will LIVE, because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship.  --Romans 8:13-15, NIV

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do in that it was weakened by the sinful nature, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering.  --Romans 8:1-3, NIV

Sweet liberty...I am free.  What I could not do for myself, Jesus Himself did for me.  This is the love of Jesus Christ made manifest in my life. 

There simply aren't words to convey the depth of my emotion, of my gratitude.

Seven hundred and thirty days.  This journey has taken seven hundred and thirty days.  Two years exactly.  And now, this chapter is closed.

And tomorrow, 9.9.2009, a new one begins.  May it, too, be ever and always,

To the praise of His glorious grace which He has freely given us in the One He loves (Ephesians 1:6, NIV),

-J

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.  --Revelation 1:5b-6, NIV

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Where I Went

Uh...Hi.

Remember me?

I've not been around here much this summer.

What I would like to say is that my two-month absence from blogging was because I bought one of those much-coveted, around-the-world tickets and did a quick tour to check out God's creation & handiwork on each continent.

Wouldn't it be amazing to be able to say that? I'd love to say that...if only it were true.

What's actually accurate is that I ceased blogging by accident. I:

1.) Got very busy at work.

2.) Did some vacation traveling.

3.) Updated my computer, which now won't use the 'paste' function in Internet Explorer...and it turns out I paste into my blog...a LOT. {This and future entries brought to you by Firefox.} I'm not sure why it took over a month for me to think, "Perhaps I should try another browser." I'm kind of a slow thinker sometimes. It's due to a coffee shortage, I think.

4.) I got overwhelmed by how much I had wanted to blog about but hadn't, feeling--as perfectionists are wont to--that I must catch up before moving on. Turns out, this isn't necessarily true. SWEET FREEDOM! :-)

...and the combination of these factors simply meant I didn't get here. And I've missed it. And you've missed it {wink}. I've composed many a pertinent and powerful post in my head over the summer. (The early morning alliteration is free!) But, to revel in the freedom I've discovered from the bondage of #4 above, I'm just gonna move on.

Okay...I might reach back a tiny bit and update you on a couple of things. 'Cause I'm a first-born, and we're all about order. {And tradition. And bossiness. But I digress..} But just a bit.

Okay, how about right now? I'll just give you a teaser: I hit a couple of big milestones in The Journey (code for my weight-loss journey). More on that soon...

Until then, I remain,
Mostly faithfully yours,
-J

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. --I Thessalonians 5:23-24, NIV

{Bye Now!}


(c) 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Making Choices

I recently ran into an acquaintance from college on Facebook, and discovered that she was struggling because the doctors had found a lump in her breast. Since I've been down that road a few times now, she dropped me a note, and I wrote a quick response. And I thought I would share it with you, as this is still a very real and active battle in my heart and mind. But listed here are the tools I call to mind to face the fears that surface on this subject.

L,
Truth is, most lumps felt are benign. I went in for felt lumps over several years, and the last time they found things not felt, and those are the things they are watching now. I have to wait and let them grow before they can determine what they are. (Joy! lol!) Things moved very quickly each time I had a 'discovery' so I think that is less "They are afraid," than it is "We don't wait to see if we should be worried about this." I hope that's comforting. :-} I've had two types of biopsies over the past several years, and innumerable ultrasounds and mammograms.

Anyway, I say all that to say that I surely understand the fears; it's not uncommon for concerns about this to surface in my mind, and since my grandmother died from breast cancer, it's a real concern. But I force myself to remember these three things:

1.) "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Psalm 139) My life CANNOT be shortened. I will live EVERY day God planned for me to live.

2.) In fact, even all the good stuff I would be called to do was predetermined, according to Ephesians 2: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Including good stuff like representing Jesus to the mammographer. :-}

3.) And, I choose to live each day in THAT day. Meaning, I don't borrow tomorrow's trouble. For all I know right now, I am perfectly healthy. I might, tomorrow, have some kind of disease...or I might meet Mr. Right! But today's trouble--and God's strength in the midst of that trouble--is enough. Nobody has ever borrowed the grace God was going to give them tomorrow, though they have surely borrowed the trouble allotted for tomorrow! No WONDER it seemed overwhelming, no? LOL! (Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. --Matthew 6:34)

I have certainly struggled, and still do at times, but I find these moments of fear and doubt have opened for me opportunities to renew my faith in the Words He has spoken, and to lay my life anew on the alter. There are few things like actually fearing pain and death to make you really understand the life/death commitment we have in Christ, no?

I hope these struggles bring you, too, to new places of worship. I know it's hard, and I have no magic pills. But, I will be praying for you, and me, as we face this journey together.

Hanging in there with you,
-J

Not much more to say. I am still,
Hanging in there,
-J

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. --2 Corinthians 12:9-10, NIV

(c) 2009

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Quoteworthy, On Prayer

"I strongly suspect that if we saw all the difference even the tiniest of our prayers make, and all the people these little prayers were destined to affect, and all the consequences of those prayers down through the centuries, we would be so paralyzed with awe at the power of prayer that we would be unable to get up off our knees for the rest of our lives."
--Peter Kreeft, Professor of Philosophy, Boston College

Wow. And probably true.

-J

"Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 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 the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! --Luke 11:11-13

Friday, August 28, 2009

When God Speaks

I'll explain my absence later, but for now, I thought I'd share today's Facebook status with you:

J is awed and humbled in His presence. Says to her God, "I love you, and I trust you." And He replies, "That's good. But better is that I love you, and I am Trustworthy."

I am awed and humbled...again.
-J

Then Job replied to the LORD :
"I know that you can do all things;
no plan of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, 'Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?'
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
"You said, 'Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.'
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes."
--Job 42:1-6, NIV

(c) 2009

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Ten Nice Things...

I am hoping to share about my holiday (July 4) travels soon, but am waiting to gather pictures in order to make that discussion more enjoyable.

In the interim, I thought I would share with you...

Ten Nice Things That Have Happened Lately
1. I had the opportunity to meet my newest niece!! She's the subject of the forthcoming pictures...

2. I got to see my bro & sis-in-law! Funny how they tagged along with their two-and-a-half month-old...

3. My bro said that the look I've got going on reminded him of my mother when he was little. I happen to think my mother is a lovely woman, so I took that as a compliment!

4. Someone told me that they thought I had skinny arms. Unsolicited! I happen to think my arms show more than other public parts of my body the ravages of my journey into obesity, but hey, I'll take the compliment!

5. I received two invitations that I'm excited about. And no, not of that kind, wishful thinkers.

6. When asking to borrow an outfit from a friend, she asked my size. When I answered, she asked, "Are you sure? You're looking more like [a size smaller] to me." Nice lady. ;-)

7. I finally figured out how to Tweet. And how to post it to my blog. Hope you enjoy even MORE of my DRIVEL! :-)

8. It rained. We needed it.

9. The sun came out. I needed this. ;-)

10. Several of the students from my Sunday School class have accepted Christ this spring! AND, two of the girls I disciple are being baptized in two weeks. YAY GOD!!

Well...that's all I've got for now. I have more thoughts on The Journey, but I need a bit more time to formulate them, so I'll sign off for today.

May you have many Nice Things in your life today, too.

Very blessed,
-J

And just by way of reminder for us all...
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. --Titus 2:11-14, NIV

Monday, June 29, 2009

Ten Things I Did Today


There's no good reason for this post, so I hope you enjoy random drivel, 'cause here it comes...

Ten Things I Did Today:
1. Awoke on time. (Yea! And rare!)
2. Found TWO.GRAY.HAIRS at the nape of my neck. {Ewww.} (They are no longer present, btw. I don't mind getting older, but I do mind looking older.)
3. Wore new-to-me-pants and -sweater. And took a picture of the sweater for you. :-) (You're welcome. {laughs at self})
4. Lay on the hot brick sidewalk try to warm up in the 95* heat.
5. Ran my heater in my office...in the 95* heat.
6. Ate ice cream bar anyway.
7. Drank an entire two-liter of Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper. {Uh, Oops!}
8. Visited the ladies room an inordinate number of times, for some reason...
9. Cooked up my lunch in the kitchen at my workplace: sauteed fresh zucchini with fire-roasted tomatoes, black beans, turkey sausage, garlic & herbs. {YUM!}
10. Oh, and worked.

Plenty to do, but slightly bored,
-J

P.S. Today's verse on BibleGateway.com was my life-anchor verse (meaning, God comforted me with it years ago, and continues to use it to reassure me), so I share it with you:
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me;
your love, O LORD, endures forever—
do not abandon the works of your hands.
--Psalm 138:8, NIV

(c) 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Vacating (Or, as the plebs say, 'Vacationing')

Ahhhhh...
There's nothing like a vacation to soothe your weary soul...
I can recall only a few times in my life where I truly took a vacation. I have often been blessed with visiting family--which I adore, truly--but there is something different about just taking off for the express purpose of unwinding and enjoying yourself. I think I've done that about three times ever (even growing up, family 'vacations' were spent visiting family).

1.) A friend and I took off to visit Hong Kong when I was living in S. Korea. That was a FABULOUS trip, while we were there (the before and after we some of the WORST experiences of my life, but I'll save that for later).

2.) Two years ago, my much-loved brother came to visit, and we took in the sights all over the southern state in which I live. And it was GREAT. Here we are:
3.) A week ago, my best friend and I took two days off of work and headed to the beach to camp. Ahhhhh... I truly didn't think it would be as WONDERFUL as it was.

This most recent vacation provided much blog fodder (actually, they all did!). I will definitely have to tell you about the screaming banshees/Visigoths we encountered. And the 'castle' we toured. And about getting lost--twice--walking five minutes from the bathhouse to our campsite (really! I usually have a good sense of direction!). And the exotic insects. And the marsh. And the sea turtles. And the glorious water... Okay, it was a really great trip.
But today, I thought I would just whet your appetite with a few (rare-on-this-blog) photos. My dear friend loaned me a camera (I haven't owned one since mine died a decade ago in Central Asia :-( ) and shared some of her pics, too (those would be the good photos). So, here we go...

Pickin' up the ice (Can you see that the back AND the backseat of the truck are completely full?):
Setting up camp (Yes, that is SWEAT! It was mighty hot in that tent until we got the flaps down!):
But the reward for all that sweaty work was this:
And this:
And THIS! (See, I TOLD you I was pasty!):
Day Two: the marsh preserve, and a million crabs:
And 'castle' for touring (Do you love my backpack? KISS!):
A lovely, lonely, empty beach for hiking (1 mile each direction to the jetty):
And a hiking buddy:
The Jetty:
Day Three: We were finally able to catch on film one of the beautiful butterflies that called our campsite 'home':
And then, we got ourselves some sun!
All in all, it was a little gift of refreshment from our Father. And I am grateful.
Love,
-J
P.S. Just to keep it real:
Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. --James 1:16-18, NIV
(c) 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring

This tune by J.S. Bach is quite common, especially in weddings. But have you ever heard the words? It was originally written in German, but the translation reads:

Jesu, joy of man's desiring,
Holy Wisdom, Love most bright;
Drawn by Thee, our souls, aspiring,
Soar to uncreated light.


Word of God, our flesh that fashion'd,
With the fire of life impassion'd,
Striving still to truth unknown,
Soaring, dying, round Thy throne.


Through the way where hope is guiding,
Hark, what peaceful music rings!
Where the flock, in Thee confiding,
Drink of joy from deathless springs.

Theirs is beauty's fairest pleasure;
Theirs is wisdom's holiest treasure.
Thou dost ever lead Thine own
In the love of joys unknown.


Isn't that beautiful? I love the imagery of Jesus as the fulfilling joy of our desires. And God as 'uncreated light.' And His breath infusing us with the fire of life. And Hope guiding us. And drinking from deathless springs of joy. It truly is lovely. I hope you enjoyed it too.

-J

Praise the LORD, O my soul.
O LORD my God, You are very great;
You are clothed with splendor and majesty.
He wraps Himself in light as with a garment;

He stretches out the heavens like a tent
And lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters.

He makes the clouds his chariot
And rides on the wings of the wind.
He makes winds His messengers,

Flames of fire His servants.
He set the earth on its foundations;
it can never be moved...

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
May the LORD rejoice in his works--
He who looks at the earth, and it trembles,

Who touches the mountains, and they smoke.
I will sing to the LORD all my life;

I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
May my meditation be pleasing to Him,

as I rejoice in the LORD.
--Psalm 104:1-5, 31-34, NIV

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Perspective

The images and data alone are worth digesting; but more, they will leave you with a truer sense of the v..a..s..t..n..e..s..s of our Creator's love.
Enjoy.
-J

#1:


#2:


#3:


#4:


#5:


Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand,
or with the breadth of his hand marked off the heavens?
Who has held the dust of the earth in a basket,
or weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance?
Who has understood the mind of the LORD,

or instructed him as his counselor?
Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him,

and who taught him the right way?
Who was it that taught him knowledge
or showed him the path of understanding?
Surely the nations are like a drop in a bucket;

they are regarded as dust on the scales;
He weighs the islands as though they were fine dust.
Lebanon is not sufficient for altar fires,

nor its animals enough for burnt offerings.
Before him all the nations are as nothing;

they are regarded by him as worthless and less than nothing.
To whom, then, will you compare God?

What image will you compare him to?
As for an idol, a craftsman casts it,

and a goldsmith overlays it with gold
and fashions silver chains for it.
A man too poor to present such an offering

selects wood that will not rot.
He looks for a skilled craftsman
to set up an idol that will not topple.
Do you not know? Have you not heard?

Has it not been told you from the beginning?
Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,

and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.
He brings princes to naught

and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.
No sooner are they planted, no sooner are they sown,

no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.
"To whom will you compare me?

Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.
Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:

Who created all these?
He who brings out the starry host one by one,
and calls them each by name.
Because of his great power and mighty strength,
not one of them is missing.
Why do you say, O Jacob, and complain, O Israel,

"My way is hidden from the LORD;
my cause is disregarded by my God"?
Do you not know? Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
--Isaiah 40:13-28, NIV

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Breathless...Wordless

Sometimes, I get the tiniest glimpses of how very great our God is. And when I do, I simply can't breathe.

Try wrapping your mind around this: Consider an expert. Any field of study. Just for an example, let's go with science, specifically biology. How many experts--people who have committed their lives to the study of biology--would it take to form a team that knew all that is known about biology? Certainly not one man, not even one great man, would know all there is to know about just this one subject. Probably not even 10 men, or 100.

But God knows all that man has discovered about biology. And, he knows all that man has not yet discovered about biology.

And he also knows all that there is to know--both what man knows and has yet to know--about physics, and mathematics, and languages, and sociology...

There is not one subject on which God is not a complete expert. Not one.

If I dedicated my entire life to the pursuit of complete knowledge of just one language--say, my native tongue, English--I would still not learn all that there is to learn of this subject.

Can you feel the weight of the comparison? Not even one subject can be truly mastered by man, yet God holds mastery over them all. And not even because He learned it, but because He created it.

How infinite is that mind? How vast is that kind of creativity? Even considering this humbles me. And I'm pretty sure that's the right response. I'm pretty sure that is what God was going for when He began to speak to Job at the end of that book. Have you read those final chapters lately? Go, now, and do so. I'll print some at the end of this post to get you started. Read, and tell me if you don't end up humbled, just as the psalmist did:
When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3-4, NIV)

Or David, in Psalm 139:

How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand. (NIV)

Consider how vast are the very thoughts of God. Consider just His knowledge (we'll save His attributes and kindnesses toward us for another day). Consider, and remember your true place in this universe.

Placing her hand over her mouth,
-J

Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:
…Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?

Tell me, if you understand.
Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!

Who stretched a measuring line across it?
On what were its footings set,

or who laid its cornerstone-
while the morning stars sang together

and all the angels shouted for joy?
Who shut up the sea behind doors

when it burst forth from the womb,
when I made the clouds its garment

and wrapped it in thick darkness,
when I fixed limits for it

and set its doors and bars in place,
when I said, 'This far you may come and no farther;

here is where your proud waves halt'?
Have you ever given orders to the morning,

or shown the dawn its place...?
…Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea

or walked in the recesses of the deep?
Have the gates of death been shown to you?

Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death?
Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?

Tell me, if you know all this.
What is the way to the abode of light?

And where does darkness reside?
…What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,

or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?
Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,

and a path for the thunderstorm,
to water a land where no man lives,

a desert with no one in it,
to satisfy a desolate wasteland

and make it sprout with grass?
Does the rain have a father?

Who fathers the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice?

Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens
when the waters become hard as stone,

when the surface of the deep is frozen?
Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades?

Can you loose the cords of Orion?
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons

or lead out the Bear with its cubs?
Do you know the laws of the heavens?

Can you set up God's dominion over the earth?
Can you raise your voice to the clouds

and cover yourself with a flood of water?
Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?

Do they report to you, 'Here we are'?
Who endowed the heart with wisdom

or gave understanding to the mind?
Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?

Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens
when the dust becomes hard

and the clods of earth stick together?
Do you hunt the prey for the lioness

and satisfy the hunger of the lions
when they crouch in their dens

or lie in wait in a thicket?
Who provides food for the raven

when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?
...

Then Job answered the LORD:
"I am unworthy—how can I reply to you?

I put my hand over my mouth.
I spoke once, but I have no answer—

twice, but I will say no more."
--Job 38:1, 4-12, 16-19, 24-41; 40:3-5, NIV

(c) 2009

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The [not-so-nice] Things I'm Thinking

Wowser. Ever just feel like you're looking at yourself from the outside--very third-party-ish--and not like what you see? UGH. That's how it's been for me recently. And when I see me from the outside, I don't really like what I see. For example...

--When did I become such a complainer? I can't STAND complaining! Yet lately, I hear myself twisting even perfectly fine situations into something to complain about. Yuck.

--Why must I be so negative? Why must there be a down side to everything? A downside I feel the need to express audibly? I used to be a "here's the blessing in this" kinda gal.

--What's up with the irritated voice I now seem to possess very frequently? I hear myself speaking, and even to me, I sound irritated. Yet, I don't generally feel that level of irritation.

And all I can think is that I must be really hard to be around lately. And I don't know why I am being this way. It seems very distant, as if that's not even me speaking or my emotions flowing out. Yet your actions pretty much do reflect what's going on inside you.

And I don't like that one bit.

All I know is that this isn't Jesus. This is the ugly, old, full-of-sin-nature me. And I don't like that me. And since I know that that isn't who I now have to be, I'm going to seek out some answers in the only place I can get really good ones on topics of this sort:

His throne.

And I'm hoping to report to you an attitude adjustment to you really soon. 'Cause I don't think I can live with the me that is emanating from my lips for much longer. And I don't think you should have to, either.

Looking for loveliness,
-J

Surely you desire truth in the inner parts;
you teach me wisdom in the inmost place.
Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow...
Hide your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquity.
Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
--Psalm 51:6-7, 9-10, NIV

(c) 2009

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Smells Like...

They say that scent is our strongest sense, and from the way it can instantly transport me to places I once was and remind me of people I once knew, I believe it.

Yesterday, I took a trip down olfactory lane. As a gift to a friend of mine who just graduated from high school, we went to the mall to find her 'signature scent.' [The male readers just tuned out. Sorry, guys! :-)] We went from bottle to bottle and store to store sniffing and thinking and commenting on myriad perfumes. And after almost every inhale, you would have heard us say, "It smells like ________." We were always comparing the scents to something we had already experienced, something of which it reminded us [gardenia, oranges, coconuts, etc.].

And this morning, I found myself pondering how this is related to Paul's statement in 2 Corinthians 2:

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?

I've always loved this illustration, for I can picture it so clearly. I have a very sensitive nose. [Beware smokers; I know.] And people DO have scents--some of them pleasant, many of them not (in my humble opinion). So when Paul says we (believers) are spreading the fragrance of Christ in our wake, I 'get' the illustration.

And you know what I love? It is GOD who is spreading this fragrance through us. It is HIS work. Which is a good thing, 'cause sometimes, if He weren't a-workin', I wouldn't smell so good, ya know? I truly wouldn't be equal to the task without Him doing it in me.

So, here's to the fragrance of Christ: to some it stinks of death, to others it is the perfume of life. But either way, I hope when I walk by, that each one says to themselves, "That smells like Jesus Christ." Kinda makes the journey more valuable, no?

Spreadin' The Scent, one day at a time,
-J

Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume...Jesus replied... "It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. --John 12:1-3, 7b NIV

(c) 2009

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

If I'm Not Retreating, Why Am I Moving Backwards?

The illustration rolling around in my head is that of a soldier. Think WWI or WWII. It's probably from the Memorial Day documentaries I watched, but I just can't get this picture out of my mind.

I'm a soldier (a much-used spiritual illustration). Picture me in a trench. Picture me poking my head up above the trench. Picture a sudden onslaught of shots from the enemy, pinning me in place. Perhaps wounding me. Certainly disabling me from being effective in my mission.

Got the picture? Here's what I mean.

Ever since I wrote the One. One. Zero. entry, I have felt absolutely pummeled. I had about three glorious days to bask in what God had done for me, and then the temptations, setbacks, and discouragements began. And it's been bad. I have felt completely under attack, and have discovered how weak so many of my defenses are.

And though I haven't surrendered--though I still battle--I feel as if I'm fighting on a moving sidewalk. One that is moving backward.

And since the victory I declared was a spiritual one, I'm pretty sure that the battle I'm fighting is also a spiritual one. It's like the moment I realized and declared God's work, my head stood taller than the trench's edge, and I became the target.

And it's been hard.

Really hard.

I've failed a lot.

I am really struggling. But I have not surrendered. This is a journey I must complete, because that is what God declared I must do. Therefore, it is a journey I will complete, and I will do so in His strength alone...for I haven't any strength left of my own.

I am in the battle, and I will survive the fray. But I might very well leave with scars. But since Jesus Himself bears scars from the spiritual battle He fought on my behalf, I'm not too upset about that.

But I would like to take a breather from the front lines, if I could.

Under fire, but in His care,
-J

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. --Ephesians 6:10-13, NIV

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Ten Things for Tuesday - A Un-Themed Event

I haven't time to compose the real blog entries rattling around in my head, so I thought I would resurrect the "Ten Things for Tuesday" entry that I used to do weekly. I often did them on themes, but I don't think I have a theme for you right now, so here's a lot of nothin':


1. I'm not feeling great again. However, my roommate is much sicker than I am. I'm sure we make a pretty pair for our new roommate.

2. Did I tell you about our new roommate? The new youth intern from the church where I work (vs. the church where I attend; they are not the same) needed a place to live for the summer, so...pop! Open door! It's been a week and a few days, and so far she is incredibly...great! Talk about easy to get along with. I only hope we're not too weird for her. I mean, we do watch mostly educational television...

3. Random Thought: I prefer drinking water through a straw but milk & carbonated beverages directly from the cup/glass. I'm not firm on this, but this is my preference.

4. Work is really heating up now. And this makes the timing kinda bad for me to not be sleeping much/well. :-(

5. Random Thought: It matters to me where the seams on my socks land. There's a very narrow area of appropriate placement across the toes, and if the seam moves outside of that, it really irritates me.

6. I've missed my weights routine/class for almost two weeks now due to scheduling conflicts and not feeling well, and I'm kinda startin' to feel jiggly. Eww.

7. Random Thought: I almost always eat cereal for breakfast, and sometimes I eat it for dinner/snack too. It always settles well on my occasionally temperamental stomach.

8. I had a nice time cooking this weekend. Simple recipes, more on-the-fly formations than recipes, really. But I enjoyed just getting to create. I also made snickerdoodles, which are really yummy still hot--crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. YUM! Therefore, I had to give them all away.

9. I made the cookies for my boss & his wife, and took them over and left them on their porch last night, along with a thank you note and instructions to put them in air-tight container with a piece of white bread to maintain their texture (otherwise, they get hard and crunch). Yeah. Fast-forward to this morning when I remember...My boss is at the beach until tonight. Do you think the [now very HARD] cookies are even still there, or do you think dogs got to them first? Bleh. I am such a numbskull sometimes!

10. Random Thought: Empty-ish rooms make feel uncomfortable. If there's too much 'white space' or not enough furniture, it feels very sterile and unwelcoming to me. Ergo, European designs tend to make me feel stressed.

Okay, there you go! Completely random and probably inane information, placed in a list to create a blog entry. Ah--the wonders of the numeral and a period. :-)

Hopin' your brain is less fried than mine,
-J

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. --Philippians 2:12-13, NIV (Sunday's sermon text. It was a great sermon! More on that in the future...)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Celebration Ideas - Your Assistance Needed

Today, this Journey's end seems impossible to reach. I had the roughest week I've ever had at the scale, and for reasons I mostly cannot explain. The numbers were so aberrant that I actually weighed on two different WW scales and questioned them thoroughly about their calibration processes. I don't have any idea how I gained so much weight in a week. Actually, I'm not sure I did; my scale and my clothes don't tell the same story.  I'll have to wait and see how next week's weigh-in goes.

However, even though I don't think I actually gained all that their scale said I did, I am still discouraged by the number...and by the distance it puts between me and my goal (It tripled my pounds-to-lose.). So, to combat the discouragement, I am focusing on a future celebration (kinda like thinking about heaven when life here gets really tough).

It is a common thing for WW members to plan rewards for reaching certain goals. And the reward should NOT be food related! :-) I've not really done that throughout this process, but always thought that I would do one big(-ish) thing at the end of the Journey. So many ideas have come and gone through my head--and frankly, I'm not sure how I will afford any of them. But, today is about dreams not reality (unlike heaven!), so let's dream a little.

I'd like your feedback...and suggestions! Here are some ideas I've had along the way:

** Viking Stand Mixer ($$$) 
** iPod w/Nike+ Sport Kit (running system) ($$)
** Wax Job (sorry guys!) & spray tanning session ($)
** Dutch Oven (like this Le Creuset one) ($$)
** Professional Photo Shoot (I love what I see here) ($$$$)
** A New Wardrobe (though my new-found hobby of thrift shopping has pretty well fixed me up!) ($)
** New Running Shoes (but I had to go ahead and get these before I reached goal lest I hurt myself) ($)
** A Giant Party (so everyone can celebrate with me what Christ has done!  Perhaps in conjunction with another reward.) ($$)
** A Trip to _______ ($$$)
** A Digital Camera ($$)
** Some Other Fabulous Reward You Are Going to Think Up for Me! ($$$$$$$$$$$--send cash!)

Of course, I've forgotten many of my ideas--because I wasn't bright enough to write them down when I thought of them--but this is a start.  So what do you think?  What kind of reward should I plan for reaching my weight-loss goal?  Or should I plan one at all?  After all, this was more about God's work in me than it was about the weight itself.  Perhaps I should just let the marker roll, and continue walking in the truths He has carved into me in the process.  Perhaps I should set up more of an Ebenezer*.  Or, perhaps, I should go get a pedicure and a massage.  So many options...

Anxious to hear your thoughts,

-J

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.  --Philippians 3:20-21, NIV

...what is due me is in the LORD's hand, and my reward is with my God.  --Isaiah 49:4b, NIV

*Ebenezer: lit., stone of help.  A physical reminder of God's intervention on your behalf.

(c) 2009

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Food, 'Drugs', & 'Rock-n-Roll'

I'm not feeling my best. Mostly it's because I've got a muscle or a nerve in my shoulder that is being exceedingly temperamental...and painful. I've been living on Advil & Tylenol & the heating pad for the past several days. This morning, I felt slightly better, but seem to have lost some feeling in three of my fingers. My body is SO weird.

And then, I waited too long to eat my 'second breakfast' this morning, and my blood sugars dropped and I felt doubly yucky.

But...it's amazing what a little food, some 'drugs', and a touch of music can do to restore a soul. The Tylenol eased my pain, lunch made my sugars stabilize, and then Billy Joel came on my radio singing The Longest Time. I forgot that I used to like Billy Joel, and that tune is so positive and catchy; it made me smile.

And now, I am pain-reduced (not exactly pain-free, but better), full, and happy. That's nice.

But it is only temporary. I will again need to eat. And I know I'm gonna need more 'drugs.' And music, well music is eternal--though God may not choose Billy Joel for us in heaven--but until I reach eternity, I will always be looking for new music to listen to.

And you know, it just made me long even more for that eternal, glorified body we will receive and that most glorious home waiting for us.

I am so grateful God has provided for my temporary needs. But I am MORE grateful that my future holds permanent answers to my permanent needs. Our Hope is so much more than 'fire insurance.' What a generous God we serve!

Now, going back to work while the pain meds are still working,
-J

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. --I Peter 1:3-7, NIV

(c) 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009

A Good Reminder...

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
~Attributed to both T.H. Thompson and John Watson

Found I needed this today. Pretty sure that says something not great about me, but at least God sent the reminder... ;-)

-J

Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. --Colossians 3:12-13, NIV

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Faithfulness-ish

Earlier this week, I dove into my blog archive trying to find a piece I had written some time back. And in the process, I learned that I am a s..l..o..w learner. Not the happiest of revelations, but perhaps--since the lesson in question is one of life-long value--it might be worth taking the time to really get this one down.

Over the years since God called me to stay in the South and not go cross-culturally to proclaim Him, God has spoken many truths into a heart now better prepared to hear them. I was reviewing some of that journey/those truths in the blog entry Great Things for God, and was hit again by this particular lesson:

"I don't need you to do great things for Me, J. I AM great, and I WILL show Myself mighty. I am calling YOU to be FAITHFUL."

And last year, this is what I said about that:

Oh, how I still wrestle with this last one, at least in part. I have found peace in the knowledge that God doesn't need great things from me. In fact, I have found relief, as I am pretty sure I can't do great things anyway.

But being faithful, day in and day out, in the little minutiae of life, in the mundane things in my world, this is where I am weak. If you ever need someone to tackle a project or to 'come to the rescue,' I am your woman. I am great in the exceptional moments of life. I am terrible at coming through day after day after day in the piddly details.

This, I might add, is the lesson I am learning in my weight-loss journey. I could easily fast for a day or two. But being consistent in reducing my caloric intake and adding exercise to my schedule regularly are much harder tasks. They require dying to self daily. They require faithfulness in everyday moments.

So here I sit, not going, but growing, learning how to be insignificant, a minutiae-managing pro. It is a lesson I must master, for though perhaps someday God will see fit to add something else to my plate, I will never need to stop being faithful. That is where my calling lies...in the daily. So today, I'm not attempting great things for God; I'm just trying to be faithful. If anything great happens, you can be sure it was all Him. *

And then today, I read Sarah's blog entry from yesterday. It was really wonderful...and convicting. And I found myself saying to her:

Sheesh. Do you live in my head too? Yep, I get this completely. I get overwhelmed quickly (that is my (old) nature) and want to quit immediately, especially if there is ANY sort of a snag or pain involved. But God is teaching me--through weight loss, through exercise (even running, though not as far--yet--as you), through the discipleship & teaching He has me doing--that I must learn to be FAITHFUL, not great. My old nature wants to be GREAT and doesn't want to be there if it's not. My new nature wants GOD to be GREAT, and seeks for me to simply do as required, day in and day out. There's not nearly as much glory for me in that, and I'm pretty sure that's His plan, no? ;-) *sigh* I am so grateful that He is a patient God. It is so very necessary to deal with this wandering child.

Now regular readers may have figured out by now that sometimes I have no idea where my thoughts are leading until I start typing, and that I am often more surprised than you are where I end up. This blog is my processing place, and place where I am forced to formulate into coherent sentences and paragraphs the truths and lies and Truth tumbling through my brain at any given moment. And my reply to Sarah was no exception. Suddenly, I saw this lesson/struggle for what it is:

My old nature vs. My new nature
Self vs. God
My plans vs. God's plans

When I seek greatness, I seek it for me. Others may be able to seek greatness for God, but my motive is--at some level--that I might receive a share of the glory (a particularly repugnant truth when written down and faced with it...). But this daily-grind business God has called me to is surprisingly non-glorious. And thus, if any good at all comes out of this 'Nazareth'**, it could ONLY be God. And that, I know, is how it should be.

So here I go...back to much mundane. My life is good, and I learned long ago how to thrill in the little things. But a blockbuster epic it is not. And I now suspect that God planned it that way. It seems, the glory lands where it should when I'm walking through life's daily muck in faithfulness. And that, I know is my heart's deepest desire. So, though I have yet to master this lesson, I press on and reaffirm again: whatever it takes to be...

To the praise of His glorious grace,
-J

* Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. --I Corinthians 4:2, NIV
* But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness... --Galatians 5:22, NIV

**Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked. "Come and see," said Philip. When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false." --John 1:45-47, NIV

(c) 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009

Who I Was vs. Who I Am

In response to my Aftermath post from last Friday, one anonymous commenter noted:

"Not to nit-pick, but you might consider changing your captions to "What I looked like then" and "What I look like now", as neither of them truely [sic] indicate who you WERE ore ARE in Christ."

A great observation. Spot-on accurate. By grace through faith I was saved through the blood of Jesus Christ, and at that moment--unalterably and for all eternity--I was fully justified, standing in Christ's perfection before the throne of God. My photos in no way reflect who I was/am in Christ, as I was and am whole in Him.

And yet...

Weight gain/loss is one of the very few areas on life where your subjugation of your will to the balance Christ calls us to is evident to all. Liars don't wear their lies hanging off the tip of their noses as they walk around this world, nor do adulterers have an actual scarlet 'A' emblazoned on their chests. Yet for the one who has repeatedly and consistently--for whatever reason--not 'beaten their body into submission,*" his or her sin IS worn for all the world to see. And there is no person who carries significant extra weight that does not (whether they admit it or not) feel--to some degree and at some point--the shame of the public nature of their struggles.

And so, though my standing as righteous before God through the sacrificial blood of Jesus Christ is completely unaltered by my weight--whatever it may be--the evidence of Christ's work in me in IS truly evidenced by the photos I posted. Christ's authority over this area of my life is noticeably absent in the first photo. And while the establishment of His authority is not a prerequisite to the second photo (many have lost weight without victory in Christ), my declaration of His transforming work is confirmed and visible in the second. I was a different person in photo one, a woman whose sinful will was hopelessly triumphing over her. In photo two, I am a woman who has found victory in Christ, one tiny step at a time.

Even as I type this, I find myself trepidatious. There are many toes to be stepped on when you discuss this area of life, even if I only apply these truths to me. I have been on the receiving end of hurtful or convicting comments about my weight, and I didn't like it one bit. So please know that I indict no one. I offer only my story, my understandings, knowing that there are a million caveats, exceptions, unique stories. I make no claim on what other's lives should be (that is the Holy Spirit's job), and I find myself ever cognisant that I live in constant danger of falling back into my previous sins and falling under the judgment of the very words I am now typing. I am NOT saying I have arrived. I am NOT saying I am perfected. My testimony is simply the declaration of what I have seen God do in the past 19 months. But I understand that the truest test is found over time, much time.

I once suffered from really significant, whole-body joint pain. I have described it a couple of times in this blog. The doctors could find no cause nor could they find solutions. No changes I made in my life/lifestyle significantly changed the level of my pain. Even strong medications simply dulled it, and I lived in that pain for almost five years.

Then one Sunday evening, the elders of my church offered--as part of an evening prayer service--to offer to pray over anyone sick in accordance with James 5's admonition: "Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord." I went forward, and they did pray over me. The very next verse in James 5 says, "And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven." And it turns out, God was pleased to heal me that day. But I didn't truly know if I was healed until I had gone off the medication and been off long enough to prove that it wasn't returning, a several month process.

It has now been five years since that day, and I am still pain free and medication-free. It has been time that has proved my healing. It was affected at once, but it was affirmed over time. And so it will be with this Journey.

A few years ago, our church had a guest preacher who said that while he read modern Bible commentators/authors, the ones he liked best were the dead ones, the ones whose lives proved all the way through that they were Christ's man/woman. And so, perhaps, should we view this Journey. It is a journey until this wretched body is glorified. And then...O then...the truest victory. Life over death. Glorification over debasement. No more struggles, no more 'beating our bodies into submission.*' Only perfect rest. And, hopefully, a trail of smaller victories which will echo His greatness throughout all eternity.

So thank you, Anonymous Commenter, for highlighting truth, and for giving me opportunity to consider it. May the rest of my days declare both His saving grace and His transforming grace, so that I may always be...

To the praise of His glorious grace,
-J

Eternally, in Christ, I am:
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times will have reached their fulfillment—to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, in order that we, who were the first to hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession—to the praise of his glory. --Ephesians 1:3-14, NIV

*1 Corinthians 9:26-27 (NIV): Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

(c) 2009

Friday, May 8, 2009

Aftermath

I am still reeling from Wednesday's emotion/post. You should just know that I had a complete breakdown after posting that. (And I'm not really prone to breakdowns.) Suddenly, it all became real. The weight and gravity of God's work in my life completely overwhelmed me, and I just started sobbing. First at my desk, then in the restroom, then at my desk again while on the phone with my best friend. Then again when my boss came into my office. And later when I shared a bit with my other boss and his wife. (Well, for that one I just teared up a bit.)

Then yesterday, I found myself discussing the goodness of our God with a member of the church here...and the tears (not sobbing at least) started again. Then someone came in who had read my post, and the saltwater started to flow again. My daddy always said that God gave us tear ducts for a reason. And apparently, there aren't daily limits set on usage. :-)

A friend suggested that I must have really increased my prayer life with conversations starting, "God, please help me not to think about [food item]..." Totally appropriate in many areas of life, and I have absolutely prayed those prayers over many things. But in this area, things were different. Here was my response:

You know, I actually didn't have many conversations with God about "Help me to not think about..." When I say He set me free, I really mean it. Through His providential grace, one day food simply stopped holding sway over me. I had a few moments were I decided to visit the place of my imprisonment, but it became a (sinful) choice at that point, not a mandate. In so many ways, this journey has paralleled and illustrated what Paul is trying to describe to us in Romans 6 - We are DEAD to sin; therefore, it no longer holds sway over us. (Ergo, quit living like it still has power over you! my paraphrase) Max Lucado wrote a wonderful children's book about this that keeps coming to mind. Of course its name does not... :-( (Anybody know that book?)

Yesterday, I found myself sharing this with a friend, and I feel it really sums up well:

Just to be absolutely clear: This was in no way 'me.' It was in EVERY way Christ. Even my obedience was fueled by His strength. There has been nothing in my life that I've known to be so fully & completely His work as this journey.

I don't know *exactly* how we get from point A to point B, but point A is our struggle, and point B is our victory, and the path there is Christ. Somehow, freedom is found in Him. In my life, the tools He used were Weight Watchers & a gym membership. But they were tools only; the transformation was His.

I have so many thoughts and emotions rolling through me on this subject that I can't even sort them out well here, the place where I sort. I'll work on it, though, 'cause I'm pretty sure this Journey is a story worth telling well. But this one thing I do know, I AM FREE and JESUS WAS THE ONE WHO SET ME FREE! And yep, I'm yelling it. It is that important. :-)

Who I was:























Who I am:
Outta here for now,
-J

P.S. Oh yeah. I'm crying again.

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang:
"Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!"
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:
"To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!"

The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.
--Revelation 5:11-14, NIV

(c) 2009