Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bring It On

Wow! Time has really crept up on me (probably by wasting time with stuff like that last post). With only 4 more work weeks and 30 short days left until by departure for Zambia, I have been a slew of emotions. I have had multiple meltdowns. I've been happy, sad, apathetic, anxious, nervous, excited, joyful and everything in between. Welcome to the tragedies of being a passionate person...you feel everything...to the extreme! I am so thankful to God that He has created me with so many emotions because through all of them I understand and love Him more.

My house is now on the market going on 4 weeks, and I am praying that it will sell before I leave. Next week is my birthday, and that would be a super ridiculous birthday present from God. Although I am not terribly excited about moving out of my house, I know that God has better plans for me somewhere else and I look forward to finding out what that is.

Maybe it's because of my impatience, or immaturity rather...but it's not all that fun to wait on God. It's kind of frustrating, even though I know it is for me, for my sanctification. Well, I've told God in not so many words, to BRING IT! I'm ready. But I don't know what I'm ready for. Do you see how this gets confusing?

So, in the next month I will have alot on my plate...moving, packing, last minute preparations. I'm excited that all of you are joining me on this adventure and I hope to be reading your comments on my blog while I am in Africa. PLease write me comments, it's how I know you have connected with me half way around the world!

Prayer Requests:
1) God would ready my heart for the children of Zambia and show me how to love them
2) Psalm 23 is our verse for the summer, and I have been meditating on it. Pray the Lord really opens and unpacks that scripture in a way that it can impact the kids.
3) Pray for my house to sell before I leave.
4) Pray that my heart and mind might be quiet enough to hear God's direction for my future.
5) Pray for the strengthening of my spirit and faith during this waiting period.

Thanks, y'all!

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Spoiler

One of my co-workers recently challenged me to "Google" myself. I first despised the thought, but in my ignorance was talked into this silly venture. And I kid you not, this is the first thing that popped up:

Stephanie Brown is the daughter of the Cluemaster, one of Gotham City's third-rate criminals. Stephanie's father spent most of her childhood in jail or away from the family, and though he claimed to be rehabilitated upon his return to Gotham, Stephanie was furious to discover that he was actually returning to crime without his need to leave clues behind. She decided something needed to be done.

Stephanie tailored a costume for herself, and called herself the Spoiler. She knew where her father was hiding out, found out his plans, and left clues so that the police and Batman could stop him. Robin tracked her down, and she joined in on the capturing of Cluemaster.

Each time Cluemaster would escape or start some new plan, Stephanie would don her costume again. Eventually, she decided she liked being a hero, and began regular patrols as Spoiler. This also brought her into regular contact with Robin, on whom she had a bit of a crush. The two worked as sometimes partners for a time, but eventually, romance blossomed.

That's right, a comic book character. The little kid, the feminist and the crime-fighter in me really loves that this is what popped up when I "Googled" my name. :)

Turtles Pt 2

I had the opportunity to watch a baby turtle make it's insurmountable climb to the top of a log the other day. I sat there and watched this thing for a good 30 minutes, easily. At first the turtle just kind of swam up to the log and contemplated the work it would take to climb it, and would sit there for a while. Then it would put one claw on the bottom of the log, and then when it felt secure it would put the other claw up...one by one until all four claws were attached to this log.

And then he began to climb. It was hilarious. He would put one claw forward, and pull himself a little, and then another. And then much to his chagrin, he would fall back into the water. Yet he would get back up and try again. One claw and then the other. He would make a little progress upwards, and then slide a little. A little more progress and then fall a little again, each time digging his claws in deeper and deeper...until he finally summited the log to lay with the rest of his friends.

I think the process of our sanctification looks much like that turtle's journey up that log. I think sometimes, as humans, and especially as Americans, we are always hurrying forward as fast we can. We want to know what we can do to get to the top as quickly as possible. We will do whatever it takes. We get frustrated when we fail and we fall back. I know I am personally overcome with guilt at times that I fail, and I am disappointed with myself that I should have known better. Because I can't do it well, and I can't do it fast, sometimes I want to give up. But sometimes falling in the water is part of our progress.

But as I watched that turtle, I heard God tell me that this is what my life will look like. A slow, sometimes painful climb to the top. God will change me, He will make me look more and more like Jesus everyday. Some days, when I am discouraged, or afraid or sad, humiliated or a really big sinner...I will just have to sink my claws deep into the log of life and keep going because I know that He has purposed it. Some days I will feel the weight of success and will be glad. But I probably won't see the progress each day. I'm pretty sure I will see the failures of each day. I usually see my daily failures at the expense of ignoring my daily successes, and that is something I want to work on. But with success, more than likely, one day I will wake up and think...when did I get so much closer to the top?

Sometimes those seasons of pain or sadness will be longer than I want them to be. Sometimes those seasons of joy will have me feeling so high, I will think life couldn't be better. But in any season, I know that God is there, He is holding me up and helping me forward...until the day that I will be united with My King. Until then, God's creations is painfully groaning and awaiting the time when we will no longer flounder around in the stream of life, but will make it to the top of that log and praise Him forever for bringing us there.

So today, don't focus on the failures. Forgive yourself, as God forgave you...and try to think of one success today so that you can remember it for tomorrow.

Turtles on a Log

I went for a run at town lake yesterday. I love running down there. Sometimes I think if I can just keep running for the entire loop, that I can keep running forward in life, too. (Obviously I'm not much of a runner, or that task wouldn't seem to big for me). But mostly I love running at town lake because I get to encounter God.

Sometimes I find myself tremendously frustrated at not being able to see God. The One thing I find all satisfaction and joy in, the One who loves me and holds me as a child, and who holds all things together, who grieves with me and who rejoices with me, the One who made a way for me....God is so majestic, and yet I can't seem Him. Does that resonate with anyone else? I can't physically interact with my greatest satisfaction which sometimes still leaves me feeling like He is far away.

But when I am running, and surrounded by God's beautiful creation, I can see a little piece of Him. I can see the creativity of an ENORMOUSLY CREATIVE GOD. I can see the creation that He worked out with such painful detail. Lately, I can find joy in the beautiful breeze and sunshine, and a little piece of me lights up inside. And somehow, that makes me feel closer to Him.

As I was winding down my fun, I stopped to admire a row of turtles sun bathing on a log in a side stream. I was kind of laughing to myself while I sat there and watched them just hang out. I saw two of them start to claw at one another. I'm not sure if they were playing or arguing, but once one was mauled by a claw, it would retract it's head into the shell, and disappear. A few minutes later, it would reemerge and claw at the turtle that had clawed him to begin with, and then retreat again for fear of retaliation.

I started thinking to myself that (even though turtles are a much simpler being than humans) turtles are a reflection of the way we react sometimes. Someone hurts us...says something rude and inappropriate, or breaks our heart, or cuts into our pride, condemns us...and we automatically retreat. We crawl into ourselves and refuse to let that person "harm" us again. Sometimes this happens after one offense, sometimes after repeated offenses, but our reaction is the same: to retreat. And usually the people that hurt us the deepest are those who are closest. It makes sense, those closest to us know our deepest vulnerabilities and struggles. Sometimes relationships get ugly. And by retreating we miss something bigger than the hurt we just experienced. We also miss the joys and blessings we could be having in that relationship, if we would just reconcile. We miss depending on God to bring healing and restoration.

No thanks God, I just don't want to be hurt again. I've had enough, not going through that again. So and so offended me...deeply...repeatedly. We retreat and so separate ourselves from God...and from friends. We are left alone to work out our hurt, or maybe to let it grow and foster bitterness. It's so much easier that way, isn't it? To be left to ourselves? IT takes so much more work to reconcile and flesh out emotions and hurts...and it usually gets worse before it gets better.

I am such a prideful person, and usually want to react the first way. To close up, and to shut out people who hurt me. But Jesus says in Matthew 18:21 that we are to forgive each other as many times as we need to be forgiven. Colossians 3:13 says forgive whatever grievances we have with each other, as the Lord forgave us. And above all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. This takes work for me. I don't think there will be a time in life when I won't struggle with needing to forgive someone at the expense of destroying my own pride.

But, I have also seen the Lord bring unparalleled reconciliation to some relationships in my own life, and that is a beautiful thing. Because I know that He restored my relationships because of His great love for me (and my friends). And it is what He has done, because I know that Stephanie is not capable of that kind of healing. He loves us so much, and wants us to love each other so much, that He can bring healing to us and to those we love, so that we may continue to love and serve each other in a way that glorifies His name.

I pray that if there is someone you need to be reconciled with today, that you would make the first step towards them in love, the kind of love that Christ offers us. I pray that He brings that kind of healing and restoration to your relationships, so that at the end of the day (like the turtles), we can all sit on the log together and bask in the light of a Savior that is gracious and good.