Friday, December 29, 2006
More than likely, sometime, somewhere, whether you're a Christian or not, you've heard those words. God speaks.
I was writing out some bills this morning and with the start of the new year looming I decided to raise my rent. It might seem like an odd thing to do, but my rent is obscenely low, and property taxes are obscenely high (and rose even higher this last year), and so I decided it was only fair for me to pay more in rent.
I had a specific number in mind, but suddenly paused and prayed about it, asking God for a number that would be good - in case mine wasn't - and sure enough, He gave me a new number. His number was a bit deceptive in that if my parents (the landlords) don't pay close attention to the check, they might not notice immediately that something has changed. So I carried on and finished writing out that check with my new number.
The very next check I started to write was for my church. My tithe check. As the words I was writing on the check rolled through my head my pen paused as a new number rolled through rather than my normal tithe amount. I stopped writing and immediately sat quietly for a bit wondering if, indeed, my mind was just playing tricks with me. My mind questioned it and immediately I knew it was not just a strange trick, so I finished writing the check, with the new number, and moved on with life.
Are you a little bored with my story yet? Surely so, as stories about someone paying bills cannot be too interesting. The story wasn't even interesting to me until I began thinking more closely about what had happened.
The King of Creation, The One to whom every knee will one day bow, The Giver of All Life, The Healer that can raise the dead, make the blind to see, the deaf to hear, and the cancer to vanish, The One whose very name causes the demons to tremble; He was with me as I paid bills.
I wasn't sitting around praying for money to be able to pay my bills. I had more than enough to do that. I wasn't in need of a special miracle. Truth be told I was asking His guidance on how to trick my parents into collecting more money from me. Yet, He was here.
People will tell you He's always there, He's always listening, He'll always answer, but it never really feels that way unless you're doing something wrong. And while so many times I know He's there, I just fail to act like He's there. But as powerful and huge as He is, I often have to remind myself that He's also the God of the mundane. And He would allow Himself to be the God of the mundane simply because He loves us and wants to be involved in our lives.
So besides being the God whose very hands could hold the sea in the palm of his hand, He's the God that helps me find the right street to turn on.
Besides being the God for whom time has no meaning as He gazes into past, present and future indiscriminately, He's the God that helps me find a much needed item on sale at a price I can afford.
Besides being the God whose counsel is sought by Kings, and Sheiks, Lords, and Presidents, He's the God that used a friend to get me to try a vitamin He knew would practically cure the problems with my hands.
So while I believe a miracle happened today, I don't believe it was that God gave me a number to use. But only that I thought to ask.
Thursday, December 28, 2006
I don't have any.
As I started contemplating what they would be I started thinking about what God would have them be. But as I started thinking about that I realized, happily so, that God wouldn't wait until January 1st to start changing something about me.
He didn't wait to give me the Holy Ghost until the fresh start of a new year. He wouldn't even wait until Monday - a fresh new week - to start changing my attitude about something.
For God, change starts immediately. There is no reason to wait, and only regrets to hold onto if you do wait. So, in an ongoing effort to be more like Him, I'm not waiting either.
I hope, and I pray, that each day I wake up holding onto the resolution that I would be more like Him. That very resolution changes so much about me. It requires me to be more patient, a better listener, and would require me to grow in faith and understanding. It demands I be more loving and more considerate, more selfless and more passionate. It requires I be the most faithful steward I can be with my money, and the most generous giver with not just my money, but my time as well.
It means daily guarding against forming opinions about people based on rumors, gossip, and other peoples opinions. And on the flip side to that, it means being a master of my tongue so that if I influence opinions with my words it would only be for the good.
Harder still, this daily resolution to be more like Christ means that I can not hold onto grudges, past hurts, unforgiveness and bitterness.
It means living a life changing life and I can't waste a single day.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
I'm a member over at www.adoption.com They have a ton of forums, including Foster Parent forums by state. I spend most of my time at their site reading through Texas Foster Parent posts. So far it's been a great resource to find out what my home study would be like, how long the finger printing process should have taken and some of the scary/wonderful things that other foster parents have been through. It's a good place.
They have a feature that allows you to send a single user a private message rather than always having to talk publicly in the forum. Once a user found out about my CASA experience I received several private messages asking questions about CASA.
Well, I received an e-mail last week saying I had a private message and so I went to their site to view it. It was from someone claiming to be a 14 yr old girl and she, most simply put, asked me to adopt her.
After I got over the initial surprise I asked around and apparently this wasn't a common thing to happen. But, it reminded me of the many times I have been told that once a foster child is eligible for adoption that they'll often ask if you'll adopt them so they can stay where they are. So this might have been my first time being asked to adopt someone, but it probably won't be my last.
I remember during my home study the investigator asked question after question trying to figure out what I would do in certain situations. So often my first answer was simply a fervent "PRAY". She was stubborn and wanted another answer also but if this experience is any example, prayer is going to be a constant and necessary thing.
Every situation, every time.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
I'd done a small thing, not even by myself, but simply helped someone to do something and was later thanked. When I remarked that what I'd done was so very small, they indicated I was being thanked for something else entirely and believed I knew what they were talking about. By the time I got back to my car I realized that I really didn't know what they were talking about. My contributions to anything this person would notice are so small they are almost inconsequential. So if I'm not being thanked for that, what am I being thanked for?
And that started a whole list of things.
As I was trying to understand someones very sincere gratitude, I realized there are so many things that I don't understand.
I don't understand how people can sit down during a worship service.
I don't understand why one of our church ladies persists in kissing my neck rather than my cheek. I've seriously wondered if one day I will have to explain why I have lipstick on my neck.
I don't understand how every person in the world is not wholly addicted to Sonic's lemon berry slush.
I don't understand how I got so blinded by doing the "best" thing that I did it anyway despite making someone feel badly.
I don't understand how supposed Christians can not desire God.
Unfortunately, I've also never understood which blinker I should use if I'm merging right but turning left.
Life's full of things I might never understand.
But for once, at least today, I'm happy to be oblivious. I don't have to understand completely.
It's just enough to know that people are sincerely glad to have me around. That even though they sit for a worship service they're still moved enough to stand every once in a while. I'm grateful for the warm hug that just happens to come with an uncomfortable kiss.
I'm also happily grateful for the small pleasures in life that make you literally stop and thank God for taste buds. I'm grateful that I can have confidence in people that even though I'm taking better care of a tray of meat than a friendship, that my friend is still my friend. And I'm grateful that God still moves in the hearts of those that are His own. And nothing can make you desire God more than just a taste of Him.
And my insurance company is grateful, that regardless of which blinker I turn on, I've nearly always gotten to where I'm going safely. :)
I tried, I really did try. But nothing quite stuck.
Now that it's over, I almost feel let down. And I wonder how Christ feels. It was after all His birthday. I hope someone, somewhere, celebrated it with more gusto than I did. At least for His sake.
But now that it's over I'm trying to figure out what went wrong. Thinking back to some of the things I've said over the past couple of weeks, I realize now that one thing was seriously skewed in my mindset. Never once have I required certain weather conditions for my birthday to feel like my birthday. When my niece or nephews birthday rolls around, it could be snowy, rainy, hot, muggy, it could be a huge impenetrable blanket of fog and it would still feel like their birthday.
It's typical in my family for holidays and birthdays to raise up conflict, and while that elicits a certain amount of dread it's never made me wish away a single holiday or birthday. And even in the midst of conflict, it still feels like whoever's birthday it is.
Somehow, I wasn't able to give Christ that same consideration.
Not this year.
Monday, December 18, 2006
Have you ever stubbed your toe really hard?
Smacked your thumb with a hammer?
Shut your hand in the car door?
Banged your head into a low board?
I remember years back watching Home Improvement with Tim Allen, and every time he would go into his basement he'd bang his head on that pipe. He'd grab his head and let out string of (thankfully) unintelligible words while waiting for the pain to wear off.
Whether you've done or not done any of these things, I'm almost certain that everyone reading can equate to holding your breath in pain. The moment the pain lets up you let out air you didn't realize you were holding and you take a breath. You might even take a couple of deep breaths as your shock or surprise at the pain ebbs away.
I caught myself several times last week, doing just that. I wasn't busting my thumb or banging my head. There wasn't any pain involved at all. But there was something in me that was loosening that I'd never realized had tightened so very tight. It's simply one of those things where you walk around thinking you're alright until one day something changes and you find yourself wondering how you could have walked around like this so very long.
God is too easy to slip away from. I'm so good at holding people at arms length that I forget my relationship with God should be anything BUT that. As I distance myself further and further from God there is all the more room for things to stand in between me and God. Whether it's family or work, or health. Until one day I realize my only glimpses of God are what's available between the gaps of the mountains in my life. And that's just not good enough.
And thank God it doesn't have to be. It can be so much better. So much richer. So much deeper. So very wonderful.
So today, I can only say this: I'm sorry God. I'm sorry that I need reminders to talk to you. I'm sorry I wait too long and forget the depths of Your love for me when I talk to You. I'm sorry for every time I've talked to You professionally and courteously and failed to talk to You, a very personal God, in a very personal way.
And to you, my friends, my family, and any that wander to this post today: I pray you become passionate. Passionate enough to love God wholeheartedly with utter disregard to the worlds standards of love. Passionate enough to do whatever it takes to get as close to Him as you possibly can. Passionate enough that nothing could possibly keep you from Him.
"Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man. " Colossians 4:5 & 6
I remarked after the reading about what a good verse I thought that was. Fortunately since the reading is online they couldn't see me beating my head on the table declaring it to be very nearly impossible for me.
I looked up the word grace and was even more disheartened to read all the lovely words they were able to use to describe grace.
Grace: that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech
This is one thing no one will ever accuse me of. Yet, the bible wants me to speak words that afford joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness.
It's a wonderful thing that I serve the God of the impossible.
As I pondered over the words of the verse and the challenge they are to me, I remembered yet another verse that tells me that it's out of the abundance of my heart that I speak. So if I'm mostly concerned about the words then I'm just treating a symptom and not the root. If I develop a heart of grace, the words will flow as naturally as my sarcasm does now. What an honor it would be to be known as someone whose words were filled with joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm and loveliness.
But more than that, how peaceful would it be to have a heart that flowed with those same qualities.
As I turned to the One who seems to have such high expectations of me I could only tell Him that while I understand how He wants me to act, I don't know how to get there on my own. I will never be glorified for the way I act or words I've said. But, if He works in me long enough, and hard enough, He might just end up glorified, and I might be filled with pleasure and delight to be, in my Saviors eyes, a vessel of honor.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
and purple kool-aid grins.
Thank you Lord for extra laundry, and stains I can't get out.
Thank you Lord for giggles and laughs, and cries and shouts.
Thank you Lord for smudges of dirt on smiling cheeks, and ketchup on my rug.
But most of all Lord, Thanks so much for the sticky hands wrapped around me in a precious goodnight hug.
Friday, December 15, 2006
So often I find myself looking at my relationship with God wondering if it's actually true. If He was just a really great person that loved me but had no power... would I love Him this much? I have a hard time praying for others simply because He's done so much, and He's still doing so much, it's hard for me to ask for that little bit extra. Whether my words of love and thankfulness come before or after my request I can't get over the feeling that He'll scorn my words as a sick trick to manipulate Him into doing what I ask.
I don't believe I'm trying to manipulate Him, but I've seen the selfishness and wickedness of my own heart so I wouldn't put it past me. And even if the words are true, the timing of my words of love attached to your petition seem suspicious to me. Even if I try and separate the two, it feels as though I'm just trying to pad my account with God so I can get what I want later.
If you learn one thing about me from my blog, learn this, I over analyze everything.
I had nearly an hour of waiting around my church for someone yesterday and so as I paced the church trying to figure out the answers, and a way through this over-thought problem I realized that I'd lost something.
I'd lost the very thing that made my relationship with God special; the ability to tell God anything and everything at anytime.
Five years ago this January I moved into my home and I made the conscious decision to talk to God. Period. I was mad at Him at the time and had nothing good to say to Him, but I was determined to talk. And that very talking changed my life.
I don't know when I quit talking. Oh, I still talk to Him, but it was nothing like what I was doing before. I can pray, I know the right words for prayer. And that's what I've been doing for awhile... praying. I equate the word prayer with a hands-off religious type ritual. Talking though... Talking was like, talking to my best friend. I could explain the depths of my desires, ask about the things I don't understand, and somewhere in there my petitions for those I love and my declarations of love for my Friend and Savior always found their way in.
By the time the person I was waiting for arrived, I'd found the closeness of a relationship that I'd allowed to become far too distant. I'm so glad. I'm so relieved. It's easy to slip away and you forget how important some things in your relationships are until you've grasped them again wondering how you could have possible gone without this.
I don't want to forget this reminder. And I'm thinking I'll post a sticky note somewhere in my office so I won't forget again. Remembering my key to a good relationship with God is much like remembering where I put the key to my house. I can't get in without it, and it's where I'll go to rest.
He came to encourage us to give that last mite in the temple treasury; to give without expecting to receive in return; to give of ourselves lavishly and extravagantly to people we barely know, or don't know at all. He came to ask us to sell our possessions and give to the poor, with no expectation that we could ever redistribute so evenly that there would never again be the poor.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Somewhere in the chorus of all the praying, my pastor asked me to raise my hands. Immediately a faithful and kind woman supported me by holding up one of my hands.
For me, those very actions were like the ripple effect of a tiny pebble on a pond.
Immediately I was panicked. I can't tell you the specifics of why, but I've rarely been able to raise my hands like that. If you ever read or hear that I died during a bank robbery it's probably because I couldn't make myself "stick 'em up". If you see me with my hands raised at church, it's only because of the Spirit enabling me.
In this situation I felt imprisoned, by a very kind and quiet lady who had no idea that my sudden intense emotions were anything but the normal actions of someone seeking the Holy Spirit.
After she had released my hand I tried desperately to pull myself together. I can understand rational problems, but I have very little tolerance for irrational problems in my life. Freaking out because someones holding your hand up is definitely in the irrational category.
With my arm finally freed I wrapped my arms around myself as a flood of unwanted emotions seemed to run away with me. As I tried to wait them out an almost overwhelming chorus of thoughts began colliding in my head. 'I was worthless', 'my church family didn't want me there', 'I cause trouble everywhere I go it's only a matter of time before I cause trouble here' and a thousand different reasons why I would never be filled with the Spirit and why I shouldn't have told my church family that I was seeking it and how they'd all be disappointed. While everyone else was praying I'd receive the Holy Spirit, I was begging God to please just make this horrible cadence of thoughts stop. It's hard to describe, but I literally could not think another thought but those and the mad scramble of those horrible thoughts literally made me walk out of the building.
I can only imagine what they were thinking as the person they're praying for just walks out. I don't even know what I would be thinking if someone I was praying for did that. It's definitely not a shining moment in my life and this will be one of the few posts that I might not end up having the courage to post.
In case you're wondering, I was only gone about 5 minutes and I did come back.
With all that said, feel free to join me as I take a long deep breath, exhale slowly and totally shift my focus.
I was writing to a friend yesterday about the grace of God in my life. God's grace in my life; His amazing grace that has covered my past, my present, and leads me into a grace-filled future is well worth meditating on. Too often I stop meditating and simply forget. And when I forget it's harder and harder to fight when my enemy challenges my very right to exist.
Nothing has any value, whether silver, gold, jewels, computers, ipods, mp3 players, Xboxes or sports cars. Nothing. Except to the person that knows how to use it. Someone that has a plan for it. At the hands of this world I have no value. I will be used as nothing less or more than a worker bee for all the days that I'm able. Then, more than likely, I will live off a holed away pocket of money until finally I die and someone sticks me in the ground.
Solomon had it right when he adamantly declared all things to be vanity.
But, there is a Father that purchased me by sending His Son, a part of the God-head, to be brutally beaten and murdered; a Friend that at the beginning of the world made provisions so that I might be able to live in Him, know Him, that I might know life and know it more abundantly; and a Saviour that purchased my life at such a high cost because He knew exactly how He planned to use it. Under the hand of that powerful and loving a King my life has a value that is beyond my comprehension. He can and does draw anyone He pleases, and He chose to draw me.
The King of the universe chose me.
I don't understand how I can forget such a thing. In a marriage it seems like there should be a very special feeling of knowing that your spouse has chosen you, they looked at you and decided they wanted to spend the rest of their life with you. God chose me; He chose me. He has a plan for my life. And just like it was promised in Jeremiah, He's given me a hope and a future.
I know the cure for my 'less than shining moments'. I just tend to remember the cure after I've gone through the torment of fear and doubt. What must God think as He offers me royal robes and I stubbornly don my rags? How many times will He see an empty place at His feasting table while I gather crumbs? There is so much He's offered me that I'm just simply blind to or don't comprehend how to reach out and take it. It seems as though the simpler the answer is, the harder it is for me to grasp. Accepting God's gifts never needs to be difficult.
He's offered me so much.
I have so much to be grateful for.
I'm so very grateful, that there is One that by seeing value in me gave me value.
Father, Friend, Savior, help me live up to Your estimation of me.
What other desire should any creation have, but to live up to the expectations of the Creator?
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
For 3 days I've spoken as absolutely little as possible. And it's just amazing how people respond to that. Mostly they talk more. I've also been called more endearments the last three days than ever before. Inappropiate endearments though since "baby" isn't a good thing to call the lady considering you for a job. But it just simply wasn't worth correcting at the time.
I got a crazy sore throat that made swallowing nearly impossible and talking one of the most painful activities I've endured for awhile. Granted, bear in mind that I don't get myself injured too often and there are a lot of worse things than a sore throat.
I haven't eaten or had anything to drink since Monday. Today, things have eased up enough that I went in search of something cold to hopefully help things along. After Sonic tried to charge me a dollar and a half for a cup of ice I quickly remembered the joy of a Wendy's .99cent frosty. That satisfied my sense of right/wrong far better than a $1.50 for a cup of frozen water so I went with that.
An hour later I sit here, still very quiet, but very sincerely thanking God for the invention of ice cream. Almost sick-free is very nearly as good as sick-free after you've experienced sick. I rarely get sick, and when I do it's almost always a doozy. Last time nearly a year ago I spent 4 days running a 104/105 temperature. My parents actually visited me. They brought water. Family is nice sometimes. Always interesting at least.
I've also marvelled at the human body's ability to fall into a state called "sleep". It may seem insane to anyone else but me, but to be able to lay down and slip into a world where you don't hurt anymore, be it only for an hour or two, absolutely amazes me.
Just a touch of this itty bitty germ, reminds me of the compassion to be felt for those that suffer regularly from constant ailments. I can't imagine spending every day fighting a bad back, cancer, or a thousand other things just beat a person down, whether with pain or just the constant maneuvering your life around to deal with it.
My understanding of such things is limited to some of my own experiences, and thankfully those have been few. But I hope that at least through God's wisdom and understanding I might be able to gain some understanding.... though... I've always been ok with crossing my fingers and hoping something I say works out for the comfort. And when I'm entirely not sure I simply resort back to the trick that's worked so well the last three days. A quiet nod and lots of uh huming.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I think the last time we ate together, alone, was 14 years ago.
It's amazing how two people can sit right next to each other and not really say anything. We talked about a lot of important things, but they were all technical things. He even began each new topic with the number it was on his list of things to talk about. Not that there was anything wrong with that, it was just a reminder that we weren't talking as friends.
We're all concerned about my mom who seems to be going far too quickly. And we're concerned about him having surgery possibly this month, and how his being in the hospital for a week will affect mom. He's also concerned about a constant legal battle he's fighting over the land my house sits on.
All in all, it was a heavy meal.
The thing that always surprises me is, even listening to things that are of great importance, and great sorrow, there's the underlying and constant assurance, at least in these areas, that everything is going to be alright.
I can't tell you why, I can't tell you how, and I can't tell you that "alright" means it turned out the exact way I wanted it to. But it will be alright.
I've watched my friend, and my co-worker, Lisa, struggle through so many things. I've watched her fight legal battles, emotional battles, I've seen her suck it up when her own dad had alzheimers and finally passed away. I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that the "it's going to be alright" does not transfer itself to everyone -especially those that don't know God - during rough times.
There's just a peace that comes from knowing that God is in charge.
I don't mean to sound sacrilegious or ungrateful, but doing what God wants you to do, with no reassurance that you're going to do it well or right, is downright frustrating. Frustrating and scary.
I've thought back to the thorn that Paul had in his side, and how God said it was to be used to display that in Pauls weakness He was strong. There's no doubt in my mind that I, Jeanette, am destined to be a horrible foster parent. But I'm trusting, that without fail, when my weakness at parenting appears, His strength in parenting will take over. He will lead and guide and I'm just going to be along for the ride.
Cause let me tell you, if I'm driving... we're in a whole mess of trouble.
Monday, December 11, 2006
"To believe in God is impossible - to not believe in Him is absurd" - Voltaire
"We turn toward God only to obtain the impossible." - Albert Camus
Just to take Him at His word
Just to rest upon His promise
Just to know thus saith the Lord.
Once I've gotten past my initial knee-jerk reaction I will probably change my mind. But I'm telling you right now, I'm two seconds from yelling "hogwash" at the idea that trusting is sweet.
When an army is chasing you and God's plan seemed to be to march you into the sea, trusting seems anything but sweet.
When you're in a crowd of over a hundred thousand hungry people, and someone informs you that your source of food is going to just... fall from the sky tomorrow, trusting seems anything but sweet.
When you're about to battle a people too great to number and God chops your army down to 300 men, trusting seems anything but sweet.
And sweet or petrifying, the only reason you would dare to do as God says to do is only because God says to.
I'm not above trying to convince God that He's most obviously got the wrong person.
I spent Saturday and Sunday proving in my own strength I stink, absolutely stink at caring for children. Two poor little girls were knocked over, and had their little toes stepped on more times than I can count. It was like having a new pet that is always right behind your foot.
I turned the children over to their parents after 24 hrs of "care" and sat down right then and there and informed God that he had the wrong person. If I didn't know, beyond a shadow of a doubt that this was His plan I would have literally called my worker at the agency and put a stop to the whole thing. I would have called them the very moment the children left.
The giants in my life may be 4 foot tall. But I can barely swallow for fear.
Here's the only good part.
Other than an almost constant cadence in my head reminding Him to equip those that He's called, there is no question as to whether or not this is going to happen.
For all the fear, for all the ways I know I'm going to struggle in this, I am more grateful than I can tell you that I am confident in God. There are so many things I think about God, and so few things I know about God. I'm just so glad He made sure I knew this.
Friday, December 08, 2006
But I don't. I've said more words today than I think I've said all month long, and maybe combined with all next month. I've just finished four hours of questioning.
I have completed my home study.
I have nothing more to do except wait for the call saying that I am approved of and a time arranged for me to go there and be licensed.
Licensed to raise someone elses child.
I can't even fathom.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
So, I'm posting this because I'm hoping one day I'll be able to look back and see a month after this post, I posted the answer to this prayer.
I need something.
I've put myself into a position where I am responsible for doing two things at the exact same time at church. Unless God raises up a person to do this second task, I just simply wouldn't be able to do my original task, which is to play the piano for the worship service.
I can't do both tasks at the same time, and quite frankly I refuse to be satisfied with having to ask a random person that just happens to be "there" to take care of the second task. I want better than that. I want better than that not just for myself, but for the church, and for the sake of having the task done right, and to the best it can be done.
I'm not at a decision point yet, but I'm praying. Our church has so many needs, it seems selfish to focus so intensely on the one need that concerns me most. But, our church needs a piano player too. I can't even imagine walking away from that in order to fill the second role, but if I have to I will.
So I post this to the public. Look at it. Read it. I'll tell you the specifics of my request as soon as I am able to post that the prayer has been answered and the need provided for. God doesn't leave anything undone. If He wants a job done, He'll provide workers for it. I believe that, and I'm trusting and praying in that.
I pray for so many things. Mostly I pray for God's will to be done quite simply because I know I can spend a lot of time praying for a specific thing to be done the specific way that I think it should be done. Usually I find out later that God didn't have that in mind at all, His way wasn't my way, His thought wasn't my thought. So you will rarely hear me say I'm asking God for xyz and He's going to provide xyz.
But this time is different.
So I ask you, if you're saved or not saved, watch this blog for the next 2 months. I tell you this with confidence, because I believe you will read very shortly of God answering a very specific prayer in a very specific way.
You're so small, and so tiny, and delicate. You can't even lift your head. How can I expect you to save the world?
I can't imagine you on a cross, can't imagine you creating the world, can't imagine your clear eyes having seen the depths of hell. I can't imagine confessing the horrible sins of my heart to someone so innocent and pure as you. I shudder to imagine tiny baby fingers curled into a fist, this precious hand, one day being marred by a spike.
The world thinks things of your mother that you should never hear said.
I just want to tell you I'm sorry.
I'm sorry for every pain you'll endure for my sake. I'm sorry for the things you'll see me do, or hear me say that will make you wonder if we're actually part of the same family, or ashamed that you are. I'm sorry for all the times I'm going to forget your birthday. I'm sorry for all the times I'll celebrate doing the things I've made a habit, rather than asking you what you'd like planned for the day like I would any other family member.
I'm sorry for all the meaningless things in my life. From meaningless gifts chosen, to meaningless places gone, and trivial things spoken.
Imagining your tiny childish face makes me want to be a better person. It makes me hope for even just one less sin committed that you would bear on your shoulders one day. One day you will stumble under the weight of a cross, carrying my guilt and shame. As I picture a stable and cows and imagine the smells of your birthplace, it almost hurts to wish this hard that my life, should it be well lived, could ease your burden.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
I can't tell you how pleasant it is for me to read something I've written and reach the end of it feeling satisfied.
It takes a lot of tweaking sometimes, and often a post you read yesterday, if you went back and read it today you'd find that a few things about it had changed. I tweak even after you've read it. I want it to be right and I usually keep on tweaking until I can read it all the way through without something bothering me.
I wouldn't call myself a writer at all, but this part of me has become important and almost vital. This blog has been an outlet for the best and worst of me. I'm glad I started this.
Through this, I've seen specific ways this is a gift and responsibility from God. I've got a few drafts of posts that never made it to finish, and some horrible topics that never made it to light either. And sometimes, when I didn't have anything good to say, God made sure I wasn't able to say it at all. You would think a person that likes to write could write anything, anytime, anywhere... but so often my brain has sat murking around with a wordless tumble of thoughts that couldn't exactly be translated into writing.
That's what happened yesterday.
I spent the weekend thinking so much that by the time Monday came, it was too jumbled to be coherent. This is going to be my best attempt to unjumble things and write once again.
I realized this weekend how much we take family for granted. We have expectations of family that changes our appreciation of the good things they do for us. And those of us with a lot of family don't appreciate each member of the family as much as we should.
And while I am the last person, the very last person, that should dare to give advice on family relationships here's what I want to tell you.
Love your family. Wholly and completely. Don't love them quietly or expect them to understand your love. Explain it in the same clear and uncertain terms that God, with deliberate intent, explained His. Remember that you have never been guaranteed tomorrow. Some of the most painful regrets concern words not said.
Say you're sorry. Say it even if you're not sure you've offended. Say it every time, and often. Give thought to your words before you say them. It bears repeating again, give thought to your words before you say them. Love your family.
Don't be offended. I don't care what they said. I don't care if it sounded like they were talking about you. I don't care if they even used your name when whatever was said was said. Unless they're saying you robbed the local 7-11, let it go and don't be offended.
That said, your fear of rejection or worse, indifference will tempt you to love your family quietly. Your fears will convince you, with surprising vehemence, that your family knows the depth of your love. Fear lies.
Your pride will convince you, that love means never having to say you're sorry. It will inform you that you were entitled to say whatever you said, or do whatever you did. It will tell you to never apologize for the truth. Pride will rob you of your friends and family.
Your emotions will convince you that no one loves you. It will remind you of every hurtful thing past and present. Your emotions will hear things that weren't said, and interpret tones that weren't intended. It will tell you things unsaid, or undone are out of spite or vengeance. Your emotions will kill no one else but you. Nothing destroys the body quite like a running commentary of hurt and bitterness.
There will be moments when it's difficult or next to impossible to do any of those things. And that is when you go to your Counselor. You head to the One that loves you. The One that loves you perfectly. The One that loves you in all the ways you fail at loving. You confess your fear, your pride, and your emotions. You pour out the worst of you to a Savior that sees the best in you despite your flaws. You give Him your disappointments and your hurts, your dreams and desires, and the worries you dare not speak to anyone else. And once you've picked yourself back up, you start all over again.
Then, with all that done, be one of those people that treats everyone like family.
Friday, December 01, 2006
I'm sitting here staring at this crazy looking toy. The only difference between mine and the one pictured is that mine is green, and the nose lights up yellow. Looking at him, I quite literally can't help but smile. His name is iZ by the way.
Do you have an iZ in your life? Some foolish thing that brightens your day, has the power to change your mood, and best yet, something about which you have no complaints?
It seems like the majority of the words I hear are complaints. I've wondered if I've just got a bad attitude and that's why my ears are picking up on those words, and focusing on them, rather than all the good words I'm sure I hear each day also. So, that's how I ended up sitting here staring at Mr. iZ
Mr. iZ has taken up residence on my desk, as a constant reminder for me to stop complaining. So many can complain about the weather or time or money or a hundred other things. Mr. iZ reminds me to watch my language. God has created all things, and anything that has happened, ultimately it's because God allowed it. For friends that I highly respect, I don't complain about the petty stuff. Often, between friends no one even complains about the important stuff. For the God of the universe, I believe I can take that even a step further.
Mr. iZ represents utter foolishness to me. And God promised me that's what our Christian walk is all about. Because His method of saving me was foolishness. To this day it confounds the wise. Intellectuals everywhere ridicule my faith. Scientists accept even crazier lies to combat it. But ultimately, everyone will accept it as truth. And, for the time being, Mr. iZ will remain on my desk as a reminder.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. "Are you a good farm hand?" the farmer asked him. "Well, I can sleep when the wind blows," answered the little man. Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, Hired him.
The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk, and the farmer felt satisfied with the man's work. Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand's sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, "Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!"
The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, "No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows."
Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops, and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed to also sleep while the wind blew.
A friend sent me a link to this story and the timing of it is wonderful.
I've chosen to make sure that I don't have any regrets. Or at least the regrets I do have will be as few as possible.
So many times I would fail to witness to someone because I wanted to keep their friendship. I'd fail to point out a problem in a relationship because I was afraid the relationship would only get worse.
And now, I'm talking more than people are use to. Things are changing.
So when a storm comes, and it will come, I'll know I haven't left anything unsaid that actually needed to be said. I'll rest easy, knowing that those I love know I love them. I've found myself apologizing to people that didn't even realize I'd done something wrong. Found myself writing more letters telling people how appreciated they are, and most challenging of all, found myself putting those "appreciate what you do's" into verbal conversation more.
I hope that in my daily work I will always take care to cover my friends and family with prayers. To put away grudges and old hurts. And most of all, I hope I never forget, to bar the door of offence. So when the storm comes, things will be ok. I can rest easy through storms knowing that I've done everything that needed to be done is done.
May I love daily, right and well.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Seriously, the Federal Bureau of Investigation - lost me.
I'd started calling Arrow (my foster agency) and pestering them about when my results would come in, and after they did some checking they discovered that, and this may sound repetitive, the FBI lost me.
But now, the results are in and sure enough I'm as innocent as I've always claimed. I play another waiting game while they schedule my home study. Hopefully they'll call soon with a date for that. Or, I suppose I'll have to go back to pestering people. It's my duty, can't be helped. :)
Anyway, that's your update for today.
Does He stop doing other things just so He can watch us as we glimpse some piece of our future that God has twisted around to amaze us? Does He chuckle as He turns the page in His book and sees that a part of the story in our lives that He was looking forward to is coming up? What must it be like, for the King of creation, to mess with not just my heart, but my head.
I was at work this morning and at 3:40 this lady I had known for less than 30 minutes for all intents and purposes asked me if I'd like to take a huge flying leap of faith and offered me something. She phrased the question a bit differently, but it's my blog so I can paraphrase. :) We'd been talking for the last 30 minutes about different things, her foot (which she'd crushed which was why I was helping her work) her other job, her upcoming move, my church, and her husband and daughter.
In the course of the discussion, she almost absently asked me if I'd like to come to her house and consider a decision. For me it'd be a big decision, and certainly a scary one.
This comes not even 24 hrs after posting that I felt I was at a turning point.
The question this lady asked me isn't necessarily the turning point that God wants me to take. It could just be a subplot in His story of me that would lead to nowhere. Just a mention on a page. I'm good at talking myself both in and out of things. So there's no real telling where this subplot goes. But that just brings me back to the idea of God messing with my head.
And let me tell you, I like that idea. I've mentioned before on this blog that I like tests. If you give me information and then hand me a piece of paper to quiz me on it, I'm perfectly happy. If I missed something I want to be corrected on it, and if I didn't miss anything I want to enjoy making that perfect score.
For me, this is more like a hearing test though. Shutting up and figuring out if I heard something, was it what I thought it was, and am I confident enough in my decision on what I heard to take a step like this.
Most of all, I'm just pleased because this feels like motion. At least a direction to fiddle around with until maybe the real direction comes along, or foster care begins leaving me too busy to worry about little things like lifes directions. :)
For all the trouble, confusion, and sadness of this world, I'm so glad to be alive. To have a mission and purpose and specific ways that I'm able to bless my Savior by my life.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Every year on the blessed Friday after Thanksgiving I have a tradition. That's the day that my house is decorated and I honor the traditional watching of Miracle on 34th St. No one beats Mara Wilson as Susan. No one. You might consider that to be an opinion, but I would steadfastly defend it to be fact. :)
Anyway, as I pulled out all my decorations I started thinking about which ones meant something to me.
Two years ago, a family that I'd been with a lot (I stayed with their children while the parents went through adoption training classes) knew I was waiting until after Christmas to buy some decorations for my house. My mother raised me well in that I know that decorations are unfortunately, best bought after the holiday has already passed. Well, this family did the same thing. Right after Christmas they went shopping for decorations and wrapped them. I was then called to their house for "Christmas". The girls had decorated the fireplace with a banner for me and I opened gift after gift of insanely discounted Christmas decorations.
Those are the decorations scattered around my house right now.
When I got to decorating the tree though, that's when I realized something. I wasn't interested in decoration for decorations sake this year. I might not do this every year, but this year I wanted only the ornaments that meant something to me. I have some crocheted decorations from friends in New York. They sent them to me for my birthday, and I remember waiting until we were all online to open their gifts. Those beautiful and unique ornaments grace my tree right now.
They grace my tree right next to the snowman made of felt and cotton and a bell and lots of glue. That was the gift from one of the girls I had stayed with. The other girl made me a reindeer that unfortunately I haven't been able to find.
And last year, after my niece and nephew got up in the middle of the night and seemingly ransacked my tree, (seriously, when I started taking the tree down after Christmas I discovered my nephews sock in there) I didn't have much "Christmas spirit" in me to want to redo the whole thing. That very day a package arrived, again, from my friends in New York with some ornaments, and 4 very delicate and precious glass ornaments. It was just the boost I needed to remember Christmas wasn't about the tree so much as my Savior that knows my needs before I need them. The Savior that put a package in the mail for me before I ever needed it. The Lamb that was born to die thousands of years before I would ever live to need Him to do that. Those 4 precious and delicate ornaments are on my tree right now.
Last year my family all went out to an event called "Ice" and walking out of that amazing display I noticed some gingerbread man ornaments. I blabbed on for too long about how much I liked them, and the next thing I knew my brother had grabbed one and headed to the checkout. Moments later I was holding my own gingerbread man ornament. As I look at it today I'm reminded of a God that loves us enough to give us the desires of our hearts.
This year my tree is meaningful. I like to think of it not as decorated, but adorned. And as I look at my tree, I'm more than alright with the bare spots. Those spots leave me room to grow. They tell me of so many memories yet to be had. And I can hardly wait.
But reading my more recent blog entries it's a little hard to see that in myself. Everything that I've written has been very serious lately.
I've succeeded somewhat in not thinking lifes problems into a huge rut, but I've only recently started thinking about the weight of them. It's hard to throw off the weight of sadness. And while I'm happy for so very many reasons, it seems like sadness weighs more than happiness. I hope that somehow makes sense to you.
I'd like to believe that if somehow I became a better Christian, followed God a little closer, mimicked God a little more precisely, that somehow other things would change. My church family would grow, my family would love each other, and those I'm praying for wouldn't hurt anymore. And while that might happen a bit, to some extent, for the most part a change in me won't change the world. At least not the world I'm specifically hoping to change, and most definitely not the overnight change I'm wishing and praying would happen.
That, that disappoints me.
I feel, strangely enough, as though I'm at a turning point in my life. As though I'm running a race, but am looking at a dead end.
Have you ever been lost? Lost in the woods, a big city, long strange corridors of a hospital? The first thing you do when you realize you don't know exactly where you're going is to slow down. You might even stop, stop and think a bit about the last things you saw that told you where you were or the right way to go. Your mind races as you slowly begin moving again searching, searching trees, or street signs, or room numbers. Anything that will tell you where you should turn.
I'm not lost. At least not spiritually speaking. But I'm searching for something. I'm in the waiting period for my official licensing for foster care. It might just be that that's the turn that's going to happen and I just have to trust God and wait. I'm ok with that. But I'm going to keep searching. Going to keep reading my bible looking for signs, listening to my pastor who might mention a direction, but most of all, listening for that Voice. The Voice of the very one I'm chasing.
I pray that I will walk steadily and confidently in good works. To walk in faith. To walk humbly in love, mercy, compassion, reverence and wisdom. I wouldn't take anything for my journey now.
Monday, November 27, 2006
There is a lot going on. A lot. The only aspect of my life that doesn't feel a little battered is my work. Suffice it to say I'm enjoying my work more than ever now.
I'm disappointed. Disappointed that so many in my church choose to not go to church, more often than they choose to go to church. Disappointed that some of them literally can't attend every service. Disappointed that I haven't seen my niece and nephew in too long by my standards. Disappointed that my family can't just love each other. Disappointed that my family, that calls itself Christian, isn't something I can reference to when talking of God's love. And where my family is concerned, I bear the brunt of the responsibility for us not loving each other. That disappoints me as well.
I'm disappointed when I read that if you know to do good, and you don't do it, it's a sin. I'm disappointed because all around me I'm seeing good things that need to be done. I'm disappointed that I spend more time thinking about how there's not enough time or emotional energy to do all those good things, than I spend doing those good things. I'm disappointed that I just keep sinning.
I'm disappointed that I seem to fail so very often. They say failure is only counted if you don't get back up when you fall, but I don't count it that way. I'm disappointed because I hoped that somehow once I had the Holy Spirit that I'd be a better person. That I'd love better, and fail less. But I didn't (my fault, not His). I'm disappointed because I don't have nearly as much of God in my life as I know I could have. I'm disappointed because, even knowing how amazing God is, I still hold on to pieces of myself that I don't want to give away.
I'm disappointed because I see potential on each line of this post, yet am afraid that those that can't see it will only be discouraged further. I'm disappointed I'm not a better writer when it comes to writing of God's mercies.
If I have discouraged you, then read on and I'll give you the only hope I've got.
I'm encouraged in the fact that I can clearly see that I'm the source of my problems. And that God is the solution to my problems. Should I track my way to God, the way I'm suppose to, at the end of every journey I'd find Him there. Actually, I'd find He was beside me on the whole journey. There isn't anything too difficult for Him to fix. Whether it be relationships, hearts, lives, or souls. In Him there is strength.
I'm not searching for a God that doesn't want to be found, I'm not in a one sided relationship with someone that doesn't want to a better relationship.
When my niece and nephew play hide and seek with me, they stuff themselves into some nook or cranny (generally one they've hidden in a hundred times before) and wait excitedly for themselves to be found. They're hiding, but the most exciting part of the whole game is being found.
You see, if I am cooking dinner and the kids are in the house I can stay where I am and turn my head and probably be able to find them. But, for hide and seek, I have to drop everything I'm doing. Finding them may be simple, but I have to stop what I'm doing and go to where they are at for us BOTH to enjoy the thrill of the find. I can enjoy God's company while I'm cooking dinner, but to find Him, to enjoy the find and celebrate it, I have to stop what I'm doing, go to where He's at and then enjoy the growth, change, blessings, encouragement, strength, joy, peace, love, friendship, and comfort available to me as I find Him.
My disappointments lie in hindsight. The number of times I let the kids play by themselves and didn't search. The number of times I didn't search for God. I will always be disappointed in a sinful world. But, for me, utter disappointment is good in a way.
You see, if I weren't so disappointed, I wouldn't want to change so very badly.
Unfortunately, or maybe not unfortunately, those are all going to be shoved aside while I get this out of my system.
I feel misguided, deluded, maybe even a little cheated.
You see, when I was seeking God for the Holy Ghost everyone constantly told me how the Holy Ghost would empower me. None of that was especially encouraging while I was seeking. It's almost mean to tell someone how great what they're not receiving is.
Now that I've got it though, I have to tell you, I couldn't feel less empowered.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I love the thanksgiving poem I did last year and so I'm giving it to you again this year.
I hope you all have a wonderful day today, but more than anything I pray that on this special day we'd all be overwhelmed with a realization of our many many blessings. I pray that for this day, Our Father might look down on us and be honored and pleased by our thankful hearts.
So enjoy your turkey, and, if you can't be thankful for anything else, be thankful you're not a turkey. :)
The Turkey shot out of the oven
and rocketed into the air
it knocked every plate off the table
and partly demolished a chair.
It ricocheted into a corner
and burst with a deafening boom
then splattered all over the kitchen
completely obscuring the room.
It stuck to the walls and the windows
it totally coated the floor
there was turkey attached to the ceiling
where there'd never been turkey before.
It blanketed every appliance
it smeared every saucer and bowl
there wasn't a way I could stop it
that turkey was out of control.
I scraped and I scrubbed with displeasure
and thought with chagrin as I mopped
that I'd never again stuff a turkey
with popcorn that hadn't been popped.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
I've posted the lyrics to this song before, but I thought it was especially appropriate for me to post it today.
I remember bondage all too well.
If you had asked me 5 years ago to imagine my life today... I wouldn't have described anything like this. Under my Saviors tender ministrations to my heart so much pain, and anger and fear has just melted away. To imagine feeling this feeling - a feeling of love and protection. I walk with a feeling of perfect security as I follow The Shepherd who will do whatever it takes to make in me a reflection of Him.
He's forgiven me, adopted me, and loved me.
And that is why I am thankful.
A man was on holiday in Kenya. While he was walking through the bush, he came across an elephant standing with one leg raised in the air. The elephant seemed distressed so the man approached it very carefully. He got down on one knee and inspected the elephant's foot. There was a large thorn deeply embedded in the bottom of the foot. As carefully and as gently as he could he removed the thorn and the elephant gingerly put down its foot.
The elephant turned to face the man and with a rather stern look on its face, stared at him. For a good ten minutes the man stood frozen -- thinking of nothing else but being trampled. Eventually the elephant trumpeted loudly, turned and walked away.
For years after, the man remembered the elephant and the events of that day.
One day the man was walking through the zoo with his son. As they approached the elephant enclosure, one of the creatures turned and walked over to where they are standing at the rail. It stared at him and the man couldn't help wondering if this was the same elephant. After a while it trumpeted loudly; then it continued to stare at him.
The man summoned up his courage, climbed over the railing and made his way into the enclosure. He walked right up to the elephant and stared back in wonder. Suddenly the elephant trumpeted again, wrapped its trunk around one of the man's legs and swung him wildly back and forth along the railing, killing him.
Probably wasn't the same elephant.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
I've noticed I'm having more strange dreams than I can recall ever having. I wonder if Kool-aid effects your dreams. That would certainly explain what's going on with me lately.
My most recent dream had more dead bodies in it than I could count, and I won't go into detail but I saw Ronald Reagan shot multiple times. I told you it was strange.
I woke up and pulled up the dream dictionary which informs me that the dead bodies obviously symbolize that I've got a negative relationship in my life that needs to end.
Strangely enough, a guest preacher at our church Sunday encouraged us to not give up on relationships. When in doubt I always tend to follow a Godly source rather than all the strange sources I can pull off the internet.
So I'm standing up.
I believe I've sat down for quite awhile, and I actually had to repent of that as God made something clear to me Sunday. You see, I have a problem.
Somewhere, sometime along the way, I lost my best friend.
I knew this person better I knew anyone else on earth. We thought alike, we believed alike, I knew where he was going to go in a song before he ever went there. We have a shared history of pain and secrets together that no one would probably imagine. There is no one on earth that I've enjoyed spending time with more than my friend. But somewhere along the way, I'm not even sure what or when that point was, but we came to a fork in the road and we each ended up taking a different path.
I've had so much to say to this person, that I never said, just so I wouldn't make them angry. I sinned, in that I wanted to preserve that friendship more than I was willing to follow God. I was afraid angering my friend would keep me from visiting his children, so I sinned in loving his children and placing them over my love for obeying my Saviour.
Ultimately now, the end result is that my relationship with my friend seems beyond repair, I've been kept from visiting with the very children I had made so important in my heart, and I've still never said the things that God continuously prompted me to say.
With hindsight I see that I wasn't putting these other people before God as much as I was putting my own desires before God. Facing a God of justice I have no excuse, and no option but to seek His mercy over my sins. The very idea of coming before my King with my wayward self, pains me. And I find myself calling on His mercies with a simple plea of 'one more time'.
In all of this, I've learned more about God's love for us.
You see, my friend promised me all kinds of physical support for when I begin doing foster care. And while I appreciate him thinking it, inwardly I felt something near physical pain as I wished he'd understand a love that simply desires him as he is. Not because of anything he could do for me. I wish I could hold onto the bond that held us together. I want things to be like they were before. I wish they'd never changed in the first place.
It made me wonder how many physical things I do for God when all He wants is my time. As I tell Him I'll go clean the church for Him, does He groan and wish I understood He'd rather me spend that 45 minutes just talking with Him? As I concentrate on how much I'm able to tithe, does He wish I'd just read His word more so He could tell me something?
God forgive me for holding onto so much so tightly.
Monday, November 20, 2006
I am so very thankful that God is hardheaded about loving me.
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38 & 39
Not necessarily just staring at the wall, but close. My job is to help people get jobs and no one wants a job the week of Thanksgiving.
So here I sit.
So I thought, being the season and all, that I'd take time to tell you of my blessings.
I've got a good job. An amazing co-worker (Lisa), truly nice people in our other offices, and the bosses couldn't be more generous.
My house, has survived a fire, and has the flimsiest looking roof you could picture yet doesn't leak. Not even a drop. When a tornado went through town this year water seemed to be blasted into the house through the windows, but that was the only damage to my home. Around town trees were uprooted, homes destroyed, at the very minimum most houses had multiple broken windows from huge balls of hail. Not my house. My house stood, solid and steady. Home.
My dad has prostate cancer. He's edging closer and closer to the end. I'm able to peacefully consider not just his death but his life as well. To remember back 14 years to a time when I easily considered taking his life - to now, the change in my heart overwhelms me.
My hand has become a serious issue for me, but almost immediately a blessing came from it as immediately after my struggle started someone came to me needing me to understand their struggle. And I could. I never would have before.
Last February an 18 wheeler plowed into my car and totalled it. Amazingly enough it was totalled in every way except the ways that would effect the driving (except for being able to see out the back). I walked out of the car with a headache and glass all over me and not one scratch.
I drove that same car home - a 14 hr drive. Within 10 hours of arriving home another car was sitting in my driveway. A gift to use as long as I needed it, or could pay for later if I wanted to buy it. I bought it, for the exact price I told God I needed a car for, and am still driving that car today.
My niece and nephew (ages 8 & 5). They're new blessings in the way that they're blessings each time I see them. They have taught me more about love and patience, acceptance and disciplining than I could have ever hoped to learn. I couldn't have asked for a more precious gift than those two.
I've noticed myself thinking and saying more often about how I might have thought I had peace and happiness before but back then I had no concept of what true peace and happiness really is. The something will happen the very next day and I'll tell you again how I have peace and happiness now that is so amazing that I surely didn't have even the slightest concept of what true peace and happiness was yesterday. I love going deeper.
This year I've finally spoken in tongues, and sang in tongues. It's become a whole different subject to study and grow in, and I'm enjoying every minute of it.
I'm truly blessed to know my pastor and his wife. I wish I could tell you what a difference they've made in my life. I don't know what all they've had to go through to become exactly what I needed, or what all happened to bring them to the place I needed them to be at the time I needed them to be there, but happen it did.
For all the struggles and trials, for all the lessons I keep repeating over and over again, I am so truly blessed. I don't have time, nor the memory to tell you all that God has done this year so far. But there has been time after time after time that He's given me exactly what I needed for the exact price I needed, or when I counted my change it just happened to be the exact amount that whatever I was buying cost. I can't tell you how many sermons I've heard that taught on the very issue I was dealing with. The "coincidences" in my life, are far too many to be anything but God's handiwork in my life.
I am blessed. And I am so, simply because of God's love and His mercy, His goodness and His grace.
I didn't dispute the point, but I did spend far more time thinking about what the man had said than he probably would have expected me to.
As I walked to work this morning I was thinking it over. I actually had a completely different post planned for today, but this one ended up taking precedence. I thought about where I would be if I weren't hardheaded. I thought about the things that threaten to challenge my hardheadedness. And I came to one solid conclusion. Hardheadedness might not be a virtue, but it is most definitely an asset.
Because I'm hardheaded, doubts don't penetrate as deeply as they could a "soft" head. It's a stubborn attitude of 'I can do it and I will do it'. It doesn't allow me to take the easy route usually, in the particular case of yesterday it refused to allow me to stand back and do nothing while I waited for someone to be available to do something for me.
Hardheadedness rarely allows me to be weak. It rarely allows me to crawl back under the covers and give up. It rarely allows me to think something is too hard, too dangerous, too tall, too heavy, too far, too deep, or - and most importantly sometimes - too costly.
It tells me it doesn't hurt too much, physically or emotionally to stop.
It tells me that if something needs to be done that it's obviously possible to be done.
It tells me, every day, that I can keep going.
Hardheadedness is fearless in the face of fear, strong in the face of weakness, and practically laughs in the face of doubters.
If anything, I hope I become more hardheaded.
Unfortunately, there's also a drawback to it.
You see, it was my hardheadedness that caused the need for apology that I mentioned in my last post. I got so set on "I can do it and I will do it" that I failed to listen to someone telling me not to do it.
So as I made my trek to work I prayed simply this.
Father, balance me. Help my eyes to see, my ears to hear, my mouth to speak Your words, my feet to go where You'd have them go and my hands to help where You'd have them to help. Help my head to grow harder, that the doubts and fears and worries that so often try and find entrance to my mind would not be able to penetrate. But Father, more than any of those things cultivate, soften, and strengthen my heart until the only thing able to rule over every aspect of my eyes, ears, mouth, feet, hands and mind is a heart that is ever longing for You.