Thursday, January 31, 2008

Old words

I don't think it's vain to say that I've really enjoyed some of the things I've written in the past. I haven't written anything lately that really struck me, but some of my past entries I've really appreciated looking back on them. I read my blog more than anyone else ever will.

In looking at some of my page stats, I noticed one person got to my blog after googling "being a pentecostal" and it took him to this post: "
Being Pentecostal."

But it was towards the end of the post, I wrote a few paragraphs that gave me a little nudge. And I thought I'd share them again.

May I weep because I long to be in Gods will. May I weep because of the wickedness of my heart. May I weep in gratitude because of the goodness of my God. May I weep because He is indeed MY God.
I hope I never weep for a new car, new house, more money. Some things just aren't worth crying over.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

A link.

Dan Edelen over at Cerulean Sanctum has written some really great posts. He's not my typical choice for writers though just because his subjects don't always fall along the lines of something that will grab my attention. Randomly he makes me feel like I should be growing a garden, raising my own animals for food, and fighting to destroy the enemy that is the wal-mart corporation. I honestly, don't know how he has time for that. And yet he seems to do it all while working endlessly and naming the birds in his backyard.
No kiddin'.

And while all his posts don't quite capture me - blame my immature tastes.. I still read the comics too - this post most certainly did. It's called "We had a choice, and we chose..." It was good. Convicting even. Maybe it won't change anything for you, but it will at least make you think.
We're far too easy on ourselves sometimes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

What am I here for?

So I'm outside working around the house when a car pulls up two doors down. I'm nosy, and not ashamed of it so I openly watch to see what's going on. A man gets out of his car, followed by a woman I assume is his wife. He's in a nice suit, bible in one hand, she's in a dress with a beautiful jacket. They're rather stereotypical of pastor and his wife. I hate stereotypes. Especially since I am one.

But, as they walked across the road to the door of a modest brick home, I noticed something...

They left the car running.

No, seriously... they left the car running.

He's carrying his bible... his bible... and yet he left the car running.

Sure enough, not three minutes later (and yes, someone was home) the couple got back in their car and drove off.

And I realized, that they'd spent far longer preparing for their mornings ministry, than they did actually ministering. She'd done her hair and makeup, and he'd put on his good suit and slicked his own hair back. A mornings preparation, for 2 minutes of ministry.

I'm not judging them. I don't know the situation and there could be an incredibly good reason for what was going on that I, being only as well informed as a nosy spectator, didn't know about. I really don't care. My thoughts really aren't about them. They were just my jump off point mentally.

From there, I just kept going. Is my priority in the preparation or the ministry? I received hours and hours of training to become a foster parent, but the biggest ministry is in the quiet moments when I stop preparing Little One for the days routine, and simply love on her for a time. Yet, those are the very times that often get neglected.

When I kneel and pray, is my priority getting through my list or getting through to God? Am I here to talk to God, or commune with God? When I go to church, am I singing in a song service, or am I singing my worship?
What am I here for?

I think too often the answer is obligation, routine, sometimes it's even that you are suppose to keep pushing on even when you don't feel like doing the things you're to do, most of all, I think most people just really don't think about it when they go to do something. What am I here for?

As I was thinking about this, I remembered something that David recently said in one of his posts: "The first night we were there it seemed very difficult to minister as the people were very content to just receive prayer. “I believe I am healed,” they would say. “I believe that God will heal me soon.” We continued to press in individually and tell the people that we aren’t here to pray for God to heal them, we are here to see God heal them."

What if, for just a day you forgot about your list of things to pray about and you simply went with one and said "God, I'm pressing in until it happens." What if one thing got our undivided prayer attention until it happened?
Do you think we'd see more things happen?
Or is it better to dabble in 8-10 prayer requests giving them a heartfelt mention?

So many times God gets shoved to the side as we enforce our time limits on Him. Yes, I'm here to worship, but a song service should only last 15 minutes or so. Yes, I've got more to say but a sermon surely can't go past 12:00, Yes, I've got more to say God, but everyone else is done praying so..., Yes, I'd talk longer Father, but it's late and I've got to get up in the morning.

We just forget what we're here for.
It's not about worshipping, or teaching or praying.
It's about worshipping, and teaching, and praying.
That's what we're here for.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Back to basics

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

I never really paid any attention to the fact that this verse is red lettered. Jesus said this about His Father.

Jesus doesn't announce that He loved the world so much He was willing to come. Instead He announced that His Father loved the world enough to send His Son.

As I was thinking about this verse though, I thought about all the songs about the cross. Thanking Christ for the cross, glory to Christ for taking away my sin at the cross, Christ took my sins away, Christ paid a debt... it just seemed like there should be a song (or more songs) thanking God for the cross. Not dividing the gratitude, but multiplying it.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

An Eight Dollar Hot Dog

Found at Revival Blog

Our adoption story

It's an adoption story with an adoption story. And it's profound.
It's a post called "But he is an invalid" over at Recovering Perfectionist.

Thanks to Milton at Transforming Sermons for the link.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My readers...

You've changed my life, you all have. Or at least significantly impacted it. In times past I've seen obvious changes in things that I've requested prayer for and so I'm going to do it again.

Little One... things have changed for her recently, with the visits becoming longer, and unsupervised, and this past week CPS agreed I'd 'prepared' her enough that the parents could have her in her home for the visit (they'd kept her from it before in case it confused her).
Well, it has still done a number on her.
She's still a great kid, still doing wonderful in so a thousand respects, but nights are almost as hard as when she first arrived. She's 3, and she misses her mommy and daddy something terrible.

For my wonderful, faithful readers, I'm asking you to bring up her situation next time you talk to her Father.

He's an Obvious God.

I'm one of those people... those frustrating people... that in a crowd, if you point at me and motion me forward I'll look behind me and assume you're talking to someone else and never look back again so I won't be confused by the fact that you're still looking at me/my general direction and motioning.

So, that said... I'm glad God sometimes drops all the subtle hints and does everything but say my name.

My boss, the big boss in my department, just happens to be friends with the superintendent of the whole facility. The superintendent is the highest, most powerful voice in our facility. And today, while I sat at her kitchen table, she cooked me lunch. I admit, I chuckled at the places life takes you the whole way to her house.

And sitting there, at her table, the superintendents kitchen table, I kept thinking "For such a time as this." The words that always reference to Queen Esther having been placed in the palace for reasons unbeknownst to her. I couldn't get that phrase off my mind today, though just like Esther, I certainly don't have a clue as to what any future reasons for my working where I work are. Maybe one day they'll show themselves. But, all through the day and on the drive home, those words just kept ringing in my ears:

For such a time as this.

Then suddenly the radio guy - I have no idea what program was playing - but the speaker on the radio referenced to Queen Esther and said he wanted to tell us that we've been placed where we are for such a time as this. He went on to explain some things about our positions to us, and Gods plans, and he just happened to not use my name. But that was the only thing lacking.

I'm glad I serve a sometimes obvious God. One that not only can but sometimes will make His words so plain that even I can catch His drift.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Thinking out loud because I can.

So John the Baptist, wanders off shouting at people to "Repent! for the Kingdom of God is at hand", and offers to baptize them for the repentance of sins.

What made him not dismiss the idea entirely? Back then, people were not without self-doubt surely... didn't he imagine that everyone would think he was crazy? Didn't he wonder himself at the very truth of the idea in the first place? I mean, everyone always tells you that the way to know whether it's God speaking to you or not can easily be tested by looking in His word - if it disagrees with His word then it's pretty well certain that the voice in your head ain't the goodun.

Yet John didn't seem to tell people to kill birds, or lambs, or sprinkle blood this way and that. Instead, he was told to baptize them in water for repentance. Did the people still go out and kill the goat afterward? or did this suffice?

And what could he have said when someone walks up with their scroll of OT scriptures and says, "God said to do it this way."
Maybe they did still go off and kill their birds, and bulls, if so what was the baptism for then? It certainly wasn't to show Christs death burial and resurrection. It wasn't to show they were baptised "in the name of Jesus" ... they didn't even know the name of Jesus.

There's a lot not mentioned in the Bible. Having heard and read the bible my whole life, it's hard to me to stop and think about how different some of these things were for the people living in those times. Like Paul speaking about 'gifts' of healing or gifts of interpretation - sure you may have heard of it now.. but who was the first person to interpret someone elses words in tongues and know for certain that they weren't just saying other words that God gave them, but indeed a translation of what was just said?

How interesting it must be to write history.

Monday, January 21, 2008

I hate cobwebs.

Cobwebs. I hate them. Sticky little suckers, almost invisible if the light isn't hitting them, and entirely too difficult to get rid of. You might try and brush it out of your hair, off your clothes, get that last string off your arm, only to discover just a few minutes later that there's yet another piece sticking to you, or that a line of it had clung to the back of your shirt where you couldn't see it but everyone else behind you could.

Just like sin.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


Jim Martins post about whether his work really mattered or not really got me to thinking.

The problem with significance, is that it's all about you.

When Jesus fed the five thousand, the little boy with the loaves and fishes probably felt awestruck at what Jesus did with his lunch. But, as the crowd focused on receiving the food, Jesus focused on His breaking of the food, and the disciples focused on passing out the food, I imagine a little boy in a sea of people, being handed pieces of his own lunch to eat, probably didn't feel very significant. And what sense he did have of being a small part of a big picture was probably dampened somewhat by the fact that all these people were eating his lunch but they didn't know it.

Even so, standing there, watching Jesus work, I can't help but think that the little boy did not really feel like he'd done something significant. The disciples didn't even seem to ask his name before they asked him for his lunch. And though John at least gave the boy a hat tip, Matthew didn't even bother to mention that a kid was involved at all.

And as the crowd unknowingly ate his food, no one knowing his name or his very special story...I bet he never would have imagined that one day he'd be be identified as "a boy", and included in the best selling book of all time.

That's another problem with significance. It takes a long time to mature into something noticeable.

I want what I do to matter, of course, I want to know that what I did counted for something, that it wasn't a waste of time, money, energy, or creative thinking. But, when you think about it, the hope of being significant is just simply a burden. I don't know that I'd ever be able to stop wishing for it, but if I did accept that every single thing I do is insignificant... what a load off that would be. It doesn't mean you stop doing what you're doing. It just means you accept that you're human, Christian, but human, and the only thing that brings significance to what you do is when Christ picks it up and uses it. Significance doesn't begin with us. We just go along doing our insignificant things waiting until Jesus steps in and does something significant with it.

And that's the third problem with significance. It puts more responsibility on you and less on God.

If that little boy had thought that his lunch would need to be a significant contribution to help even a few people, in an effort to be make a significant difference, I bet he would have packed more food.
I know I would have.
If I even think that a specific day is an opportunity to do something significant, I practice for it, take more care with what I say to those I meet, make sure I bring a little more cash, or have extra of what ever it is I'm bringing, or make sure the house is clean. I'll want to be prepared when someone calls on me to do something significant.
That's part of why God had Gideon keep whittling down his army until there would be no way they could legitimately claim the victory was done in their own power. He wanted to show that He was the significant victor, not the people.

It's quite a heavy load, a burdensome responsibility, to attempt to be significant. It's a load that I might could lay down, but it means simply trusting that only God can do something significant with my insignificant amounts of time/talent/ability/faith.

Maybe, the only thing that makes us truly significant is that we're willing to give our lunch away.

Or maybe, if we truly desire to be significant, we should embrace our insignificance with passion and excitement never knowing what God is making significant, or when significance might blossom from long ago deeds.

Over the last year, a song writer has befriended my parents. And since my mom is a singer, he asked her if he could record her singing his songs to send off to some label that he's talked to that is willing to use them.
Ultimately, if everything works out for him, my mothers beautiful voice will be heard over the radio... in Poland. From here in the United States, it feels far, and distant, and insignificant. She'll never drive herself somewhere and suddenly hear herself on the radio. But, some guy in Poland may one day be driving around in his goofy looking car, listening to the radio and, touched by the words this songwriter penned, God may very well do something eternity changingly (yeah, I know it's not a word) significant for that one man. And for a song to travel from one mans mind here in Texas, all the way to Poland to change one life... well, that's pretty significant.

He's a God that knows me.

I have a habit - I don't know if it's a bad one or a good one, maybe someone can tell me - but I put everything on God. Everything. Something bad happens, I grunt at God. Something good happens I grin at God.

I'm grinning now though all because something bad happened.

I woke up this morning, only to discover that my shower had no hot water. I pulled out my tools and took the plastic doodad off the faucet and pondered the fact that I didn't know what to do beyond that.
So I did what I always do.
I googled the problem.

There were different issues online and people were told to replace cartridges and such, they mentioned that if it wasn't a cartridge problem they could only hope that the problem was contained enough that they wouldn't have to tear into a wall.

Armed with that knowledge I returned to the shower and stared at it a little harder. I twisted the little plastic thingy that I assumed makes the water turn on and off and still nothing happened. Then I sat and thought some more. Could the water have froze in the pipe?
I don't quite get why the hot would have frozen and not the cold, but... since I had very few no other ideas I decided I was going to hope that was the problem.

In my very plumbing proficient way, I assumed the easiest way to unfreeze it was to warm it up. I pictured plumbers everywhere laughing at me as I then proceeded plug a little heater up outside and point it under my house where the pipes were. They can laugh. Two hours later I was laughing as water slowly began to trick out of my faucet. Not long beyond that everything was back to normal.

And I celebrated, as I always do, the joy of having fixed something. And I grinned at God.

He knew I would enjoy it.

Friday, January 18, 2008

A link/post clip

The whole post was good, but here's a clip of what Jim Martin had to say about whether his work for God really mattered:

I do not want to be focused on myself, or the scorecard, or who seems to be ahead, etc. Rather, I want to be focused on my vocation or my calling before God. I want to believe that if my work is offered up to the Lord, then it is significant ministry. I want to always believe that God does not measure things the way we do. Rather, he is the God who is able to make much out of little. He feeds thousands with five loaves of bread and two fish. He is the God who blesses the most unassuming ministry and turns it into a powerful force for his purposes.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Update on Josh

I mentioned him back in November. His name is Josh, nephew to a friend of mine. When I first told you about him it was because he had just slipped into a coma after being attacked. It's now mid-January and he's still in a coma, in a long-term rehabilitation center, and beginning to respond to simple commands like 'blink' or 'look to the right'. It might seem slow, but it's all progress for him which is a good thing.

I just wanted to update the information on him. He still needs prayer. His mom, who has been with him through every step of this journey, posts daily updates on him at I'm sure she wouldn't mind your prayers for strength for her and her family either.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Laying it down.

I see the 3 yr old in me. The one that doesn't see the big picture, but only sees that playtime was cut short, or candy was not readily available, or bedtime interrupted her playtime.
Except I did it with God.
And I did it with the straightforwardness to inform Him that I hated the big picture and wanted what I wanted when I wanted it. Or else I'll throw a fit. I'll cry and scream and stomp my feet and make any random spectator either roll their eyes at me or glare accusingly at Him. Either one.

So, for the record: I was wrong, and inappropriate. I was untrusting and disbelieving. I was annoying, bullheaded, controlling, disbelieving and I could cover the other 19 letters of the alphabet but the buck stops here.

A song came to mind today, and the chorus of it says "leave your sins for the blood to cover". And today I've done that. I'm setting them down, and I'm going to do my best to remind myself that they're not tomorrows issue.

I'm Gods. He's proven it in the last 6 months. Even though, strangely enough, the last 6 months is when I would have sworn I wasn't His. Each and every time I cried uncle and said I was walking away, it proved impossible. I couldn't. If there was ever a time God should have wanted to chuck me out the door... anytime in these last months would have been it.

And that belonging feeling is pleasant. Even if I don't always understand and throw a hissy fit. If He'll stay through these months... well, no one else would have stayed through the last 6 months.

I haven't found that place of sweet communion that I had before. But, when I do get there, I think the biggest change I'll see is that I'll be listening more than I'll be talking.

Monday, January 14, 2008


The last two weeks have really been a relief to me. It's been nice to vent out the questions and confusion. It's been nice to not stamp down the questions, the hurt, and the doubts.

I've almost come to think that it's impossible for me to walk away from God. I don't believe in once saved always saved, I believe I can choose to forsake God, but I've discovered that no matter how loud I rant, no matter how bitterly I write, I still begin and end each day yearning for God.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I need God. Every hour, every second, every minute of every moment. I need God. It's so frustrating.

A quote

A quote found at Raw Christianity

"The question regarding glorifying God becomes this: “Does He see Himself in me?”"

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Bunches O'stuff

I'm still feeling more liberated at the idea of David's Psalms. He seems more like me. Or maybe I feel a little more like him and that makes me feel better since God still liked David no matter how much David threw at Him.

That said...

I had a last minute encounter at church that surprised me. And I came home from church wondering why I'd popped my little protective porcupine needles out. In thinking about it I realized why I don't like asking for help. Spontaneous kindness is easily accepted. But kindness that comes in the middle of problems makes me feel like a ministry requirement. I actually haven't visited someone for the last 4 months because the last time I saw them they gave me money. I'm the dumbest mule kind of stubborn.

Even so, I understand some things better now than I did before. Note that I say "better", I certainly won't claim to entirely understand or to have grasped the full concept of these things but...
I understand why people don't return to church. Why they don't feel they fit in with the 'group'. Real people, have real problems. And sometimes those real people don't have that whipped cream and cherry to put on their problems saying that Gods gonna fix it or that He's got a plan. They walk around scowling because it hurts. And they don't enjoy being around people that are smiling and telling the world that "Gods gonna fix it" and "He's got a plan."

It's not about whether or not those things are true. And I'm not saying our churches shouldn't be a place that exudes the confidence that God is gonna fix it, and has a plan. But... sometimes it's not about that knowledge. It's about what helps. If someone wants a shoulder to cry on now, I think now they'll find me simply crying with them. Not trying to say the right words. As for me, I'm sick of crying. But I've learned a value to it now that it didn't have with me before.

And speaking of valuable things...

Little Ones first unsupervised visit with her parents took place Saturday. At the end of this month the courts will more than likely approve overnight visits, and it's likely that by March Little One will return to her family. Her parents miraculously are doing wonderful. For me there is still the question of LO being protected from certain things, and as the time gets closer I find more of my time spent praying for her future than for her present. In a world where the State of Texas has custody of a child, LO became neither mine nor her parents, and in that void I told God she was His. In a few short months I won't be there to protect, and I need Him to. She needs Him to.

She sat down to supper tonight and informed me we needed to pray, so she quickly folded her hands and said "Thank you God for me, thank you God for food, aaaamen." Maybe she'll make her parents pray. At least I know she'll make them sing about the B-I-B-L-E being the book for her.

In other things... the web is just bursting with good posts lately. And I want to link to an interesting article. Today At The Mission posted a clip from David Hansens The Art of Pastoring - Ministry Without All the Answers" and to give just a snip from their snip:

"Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and did not help you?" He will reply, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matthew 25: 44-46)
What an irony: many social-activist Christians have rejected the doctrine of eternal punishment because they think it detracts from social concern. But if Jesus' words are taught straight from the Gospels, social concern will become central to every Christian, since our eternal destiny hangs in the balance.

It was an interesting article. Also, the post TATM had written before that: "Movie Night" was encouraging. The post talked about how people are always trying to add "ministry" to love. And they were saying that love is what Jesus did all the time, and it didn't always come with a sermon or testimony, or a walk through the salvation process. I'm paraphrasing. You can read the article for yourself.

Also, at some point I'm going to have to take time to update my 'links' section. I've got about 40 regulars that pop up on my google reader now. I won't give out all of them but this one I wanted to make a special note of. Once I update, this one will definitely be in my referral list.
It's Tolle Lege
And, for the best idea of why I love their blog so much, hit their 'about me' page here where it describes their blog. I'd love to spend a week in this guys library. As it is, I'll still be spending several weeks trying to take in as much of their archives as I can wheedle time for.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

A grrrrrrrrreat post.

I wasn't planning on posting till tomorrow night... a girls gotta have time off ya know.

But then I came across this post... this post... wow. It just makes me feel better. Even the title makes me feel better. It's titled "What can miserable Christians sing? by Carl R. Trueman"

It's foundation is from the Psalms and how a large percentage of them are songs asking Where is God? why did He leave me? Chapter 74 of Psalms even starts out "Why have you rejected us forever, O God?

I'd forgotten about that. Entirely.

The very last paragraph washed over me and eased the outcast feeling of being the only discouraged Christian that's not trying to will my way out of it.

This last paragraph I'm about to show you...I want to make a point of saying that I'm not posting it because of what it says about worship. That didn't move me. I'm not saying yea or nay, I'm just saying it didn't move me. What did move me was the idea that there were more of me out there.

Anyway... The whole article is here: "What Can Miserable Christians Sing? by Carl R Trueman"

The last paragraph:

By excluding the cries of loneliness, dispossession, and desolation from its worship, the church has effectively silenced and excluded the voices of those who are themselves lonely, dispossessed, and desolate, both inside and outside the church. By so doing, it has implicitly endorsed the banal aspirations of consumerism, generated an insipid, trivial and unrealistically triumphalist Christianity, and confirmed its impeccable credentials as a club for the complacent. In the last year, I have asked three very different evangelical audiences what miserable Christians can sing in church. On each occasion my question has elicited uproarious laughter, as if the idea of a broken-hearted, lonely, or despairing Christian was so absurd as to be comical — and yet I posed the question in all seriousness. Is it any wonder that British evangelicalism, from the Reformed to the Charismatic, is almost entirely a comfortable, middle-class phenomenon?”

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Three links.

If you haven't figured out that I'm searching for a way to ... I don't know what... then you must not be reading my blog.
I'm reading a lot, just looking for something to speak to me.
I'm praying a lot, though not saying much, just looking for Someone to speak to me.

And I wanted to make note of a few things.

For all I've said, for how intent I may talk of getting through this, I am constantly letting out deep sighs of relief that I've come through the worst. God brought me back to peace and for all the things I might say I don't understand about God, I'm grateful. I don't want to overlook saying that.

I called myself all sorts of names this morning as I told God how much I needed Him. Wanted Him. I feel weak for hanging onto Him. But I've had 5 and a half amazingly wonderful years, and 6 horrible months. When I look at it in that light, I'd be a fool to walk away.


Either my regular blog stops have been more inspired lately, or I've just paid better attention this last week, but there have been some really good posts that spoke to me and I wanted to link to them.

Chris Hamer-Hodges posted Turn And Be Filled. - And I finished reading it saying "There, that's what I want!"

Today At The Mission posted From The Second Of Three Dreams. -And I finished it wondering at the answers to the questions.


On Becoming Truer posted Maturing To The Point Of Demanding Nothing... Again. - And it stirred in me the idea again of God asking me to give up a little, in hopes of giving me everything, yet I'm clutching my little too tightly and fiercely, angry that He'd ask me to give it up.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Emergency leave.

So early this week I'm digging through a rather large stack of time cards, making corrections, putting peoples leave time in the computer, things like that.
One man, I noticed on his time sheet requested emergency leave because Christmas week his moms house burnt down, and he immediately went to Louisiana to help her put life back together.
He wandered past my office this morning and I stopped him, explaining that I'd read the comments on his time card, and asked about his mom. He told me she now has more things than she had before the fire. He explained that she's been a giver her whole life, that she raised him to treat everyone around you well, because you never know when you might need one of them, she also raised him to trust in God, and by the time he'd left she had a new house, more money, more stuff, and a larger outpouring of love than she ever could have dreamed. She was cheerful, and glad that she'd lost her home to gain so much.
I get that.
In the conversation though, suddenly this man moved from the doorway of my office and stepped in lowering his voice. He said he hadn't planned on telling anyone, but... then he proceeded to tell me of a heartbreaking event that had happened to his mom just a few months prior to this. As he spoke of how God knew exactly when she would need all this love, this brand new start, he said how sometimes God holds back to see what you'll do when you can't see Him there. To see how you'll live.
I wonder what He saw.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I don't think I sing well, and if someone gets a little too generous in their compliments on my piano playing, I don't believe that either. But Sunday, someone told me about something God did while I was singing. And after reflecting on it for a bit, I realized it doesn't mean that I sang well, it means that God can use even my singing. God's used my playing a few times too, and again, it's no reflection on how well I play, but how God can use it anyway.

If I were to stop and actually think about it right now, I'd say I live even worse than I sing. My life's hit so many wrong notes, the melody speeding up when it should have slowed down, or slowing down when it should have sped up, all the different qualities/fruits that all blend together to make a Christ-like life seem to have mold on them and leave me smelling bad and swatting away gnats. But every once in awhile someone will mention something God did while I was just trying to live. And I see now, it's not a reflection of how well I lived, but of what God can do despite me.

But I'm tired of condemning my life.

It's strange, but I've started to see how not knowing how to talk to God anymore has been a good thing. I've found myself sitting in very emotional silences until I finally have one thing to say. And that one thing is usually sharper and more meaningful than what I might have said before.

Praying with Little One tonight, I said something differently, something about God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. And doing it made me think, wonder really, if I've ever really imagined myself as a child of God. GOD. So much of what I think about may use the term God, but I'm thinking more along the lines of the person of Jesus - someone easier to relate to and imagine. I think if I were to divide them up, I would say that I trusted Jesus but was afraid of God.

It my head, it doesn't have to make sense.

Monday, January 07, 2008

An AWOL prisoner of Christ?

So I went to the link that Nancy referred me to.
The article lays out the idea that worshipping God based on your feelings is the same as baal worship.
That's very simply put so you'd have to click the link to get the writers whole point.

I've heard concepts similar to that my entire life. Faith, not feelings. But I've always had a hard time with that idea because I'm a very sincere person. If I say it, I mean it. I really really mean it. For me, the idea of acting/saying all the right things, carrying on even when you don't feel it anymore, is like yelling out how much you love carpentry when you hit your thumbnail with a hammer.

Several different thoughts have passed through today, leaving me a bit overworked trying to grasp all the depths of the thoughts. As I considered not wanting to say things to God that my heart doesn't feel, I considered how it would be using God. Giving Him lip service just to get into heaven. But then I thought about how despite all this, I still feel saved... so what if I'm still holding my free gift of salvation, but not doing my part for Him... I considered verses about how I've been bought with a price... even now, typing this, I realize that I've wondered about Gods level of commitment to me. And yes, I realize how that sounds.

When I first started tonights post, I ended up struggling with what I was saying, and I stopped for a moment and in the quiet of my thoughts the words Ephesians 2:13 came to mind. I recognized it as the verse God had pointed me to several months back, but I couldn't remember what it said. I pulled out my bible, and read again "But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." After last nights post, it was really hard to read that verse.

I sat, trying to digest that verse and all the confusion of thoughts about how to respond to God right then, when my eyes went back to the pages of the bible. Darting from a random section to a random section on just the two visible pages I noticed something
...I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus...
I became a servant of this gospel...
For this reason I kneel...
As a prisoner for the Lord...
completely humble...

And I wondered how Paul felt. Did he feel painfully burned away from all the things he might have held onto? Is that what he did ever day when he 'died daily' crucifying his flesh?

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Drawing farther away

It's one of those thoughts that you think... "that's not new.. I already knew this before" yet sometimes you've known something, but never really thought it.
Tonight we were singing the chorus to I am Thine Oh, Lord. And as we all started singing "Draw me nearer nearer," I suddenly gained the image in my mind of walking, drawing ones self like a moth to a flame. A person, was walking towards utter brightness, but the brightness was intense and the sheer heat and power of it, the closer you got to it burned - not you - but the flammable things we hold onto. A purse, a blanket, the clothes the person was wearing, the person was yelling in pain because of the heat, but at some point it became obvious that their hands were only being burned because they were clutching at the things that were being burned away. A random scripture came to mind, and I began to think about the cost of 'drawing nearer'. I spent the early part of 2007 speaking rashly about God. I kept saying "More More, More of God" only to find myself thinking that if this is God, He's just too much for me. Too much.

I've regularly thought to myself that I am either in a time of profound growth, or profound correction. I hesitate to say it's growth, because it seems self-righteous. I hesitate to say profound correction because it sounds like false-humility. In truth, especially from what I've pulled out of the scriptures the last few days, I find myself hoping, and believing more that this is a profound time of both growth and correction. I just haven't started growing yet.

I don't say that with any spiritual strength at all though. It's simply a thought spoken out loud. I find myself going to God over and over again saying "Now what?" I don't know how to approach Him or talk to Him and my prayer times, and thousands of random moments throughout the day are simply filled with "what do you want from me? and what do I have to do to get it to You?"

I feel broken. Yet, I don't kid myself that I couldn't be broken more. And, right or wrong, I've come to fear God as the 'breaker'. It's just a different world now.

This is my story.

This post was written several days ago, but I've been very nervous about publishing it. So I didn't. I'm ready to move on to figuring more things out, how I reached this low a depth, and figure out just how to find my way again. I listened to a sermon online last week about the woman with the flow of blood who touched the hem of Christs garment and how her life was changed but also how Christ had to single her out. And when He did, she willingly, not caring who all was around her, told her story. So... I'm hitting the publish button and letting the chips fall where they may.

If you thought this blog was personal before, you really haven't seen anything yet. This post is going to take a long time to write, several days even, I already know some paragraphs I'm going to cry when I write it, some paragraphs I'll erase and rewrite at least 20 different ways and times just trying to make it less embarrassing, or shaming. And then I'm going to sit on pins and needles dreading the comments, or worse, giving myself an ulcer wondering what awful things the non-commenters were thinking but were too kind to officially comment.

Either way...

This is my story.

2007 has been wonderful. I became a foster parent! I received my first child, sent my first child off to live with what appeared to be loving grandparents. I bought a house! At the age of 26 I gained a mortgage of my own. I received my second child, and have kept her through the rest of '07. I lost my job, but after a month or so I gained a new better job even closer to home. God has blessed me beyond my wildest dreams.

2007 has been stressful. I became a foster parent. I received my first child, sent my first child off to live with what appeared to be loving grandparents. I bought a house! At the age of 26 I gained a mortgage of my own. I received my second child, and have kept her through the rest of '07. I lost my job, but after a month or so I gained a new better job even closer to home. God has stressed me beyond my wildest dreams.

Somewhere in all this things began spiraling out of control. I don't write this with any answers though. I don't have an answer, and at this moment, to be honest, I'm not really searching for an answer. By mid-November I was right at -what I thought- was the end of my rope. I was desperately unhappy, sad, confused as to why I could not find any sense of peace or hope, or just any sense of Gods love.

Then December hit.


I'll be the first to tell you my life is good. I have no reasons to complain. I have a good church family, good friends, a nice house, a good kid, a good job. I also have the strong sense of feeling responsible to care for my mom when my dad passes away. I have a lot of obligations I have to meet, and I'm not one to shirk those obligations. And I hope, no matter what I'm about to write, no matter my doubts, that no matter how long my situation might have lasted that I would always and forever remember those obligations.

I was already low before December hit. I was still in unrest because of so many things, and trying to find my 'nitch' with God again. I was psychoanalyzing everything, trying to figure out how I had got to the place I was at, what I had done wrong that had cost me my constant companion and friend that I'd always had in God, where had I stepped off the path? what had I done? but most importantly, how do I fix it?

Then, one morning in December I woke up and all I could think about was death. I had no desire to die, no reason to want to die, as a matter of fact, if someone had offered me Heaven right then I probably would have suggested that I would love to go.. love to... but I've got obligations here to tend to until it's my time.

But that didn't stop the thoughts.I couldn't tie my shoes without thinking of how to use the laces to choke myself. I couldn't use a knife cut fruit for Little Ones snack without imagining at least a dozen ways to hurt myself with it. I couldn't drive my car across a busy intersection without instantly thinking "if you just slow down..." There were hundreds of ways, from crazy, to slightly improbable, to those options that were just too easy and handy. And I confess, that several times I wished I could just get it over with so the thoughts would stop. My mind was over run.

It went on for two weeks. Two weeks. I had reached the screaming point.I hated going to church. I kept telling myself that no one that was thinking what I was thinking should be in church like I was. If I had been in another church where I could be unknown, maybe it would have been alright, but here... people thought I was a Christian, they thought I was strong in the Lord (that's what one woman told me) they thought I had a good relationship with God, they asked ME to lead them in worship. And every single moment I was in that building I was screaming at myself. I was a hypocrite. I was a fake. I shouldn't be here. But wait... if you're not here, who will play the piano? No one. That's right, this struggling church will have one more thing to struggle with, and why? because you just can't get it together, you just can't be what God wants you to be, you just can't get this right. So you're faking, and you're the worst of them all for it.

And that's just a small sample of my thoughts, and certainly a toned down version.

And somewhere in the middle of all this I remembered that Satan was described as the Accuser. I couldn't do much with the knowledge, I couldn't use it to proclaim some type of victory for myself. But I held onto that phrase anyway because with that phrase was the closest thing I could find to a spark of hope.

After two weeks of death, I found myself at the altar telling God I couldn't take any more. Something had to happen, something had to change. I was losing it. I'd lost control, I'd lost hope, I really felt as though I were losing my mind.

And death stopped.
And that's when sadness stepped in.
And I cried.

From that day forward I cried. I'm not a big crier either but it suddenly became all I did. I woke up crying, I smushed Little One off to daycare then I drove to work crying, I drove home crying, I'd visit a friend in the hospital and drive home crying, get little one to bed then cry myself to sleep. Besides the guilt of being in church, it was becoming more and more obvious that I would have to quit because it was too hard not to cry there. And I never would have been able to explain myself. If anyone had asked me, I wouldn't have been able to explain why I was crying except to say that I just hurt. My mind, while no longer racing with death continued to tell me of my failures. What use was I like this? I'm bringing down my whole church, everyones always asking if I'm feeling alright, or telling me I must have had a hard day because I looked tired. They're struggling with things too, they've got their own problems and even if they were to try and be happy, they wouldn't be able to with you bringing them right back down again, you shouldn't be here, you never should have come in the first place, you don't belong here. But what will they do when you leave? Everyone will wonder if you leave. Who'll play? Who'll lead songs when no one else is there to do it? If you leave it will make things harder for them. You'd be selfish to leave just because you can't get it together. WHY can't you get it together anyway? What's wrong with you? This isn't how a Christian should act. How can you keep pretending you're a Christian when you keep acting like this and thinking these thoughts?

Sunday, December 30th, I couldn't make it through Sunday School. I walked away from it and cried until I knew I needed to go back in before the kids got out of Sunday School and came looking for me.

Sunday night, I couldn't even stay in the sanctuary. After the song service, Little One and I sat in the back room and returned to the front only for the closing prayer time.

Monday, December 31st, the tears were constant. I woke up early crying. I cried for nearly 2 hours before it was time to wake up Little One and get her ready for the day and her day with my parents. That evening, as I left work to pick up Little One, I spent the drive trying to figure out how to do what had to be done. I wondered how to tell my pastor I was through. I wouldn't be back. I wondered if I should tell my parents I was leaving the church. They are about to start a new ministry themselves and I was afraid they might visit my church before they began the new work - only to discover I wasn't there. Should I tell them?

Ultimately, I didn't. I went home, fed Little One, played Mr. Potato head with her, sailed the little foam alphabet letters in the bathtub while she bathed, then finally tucked her in and prayed with her before she went to sleep.

Then I went to my room and cried myself to sleep.

At 1am, just an hour and some minutes into the new year, Little One woke me up saying she'd wet the bed. We worked together quickly, getting her changed and washed, and the sheets changed on her bed and in 20 minutes she was back in bed. As I returned back to bed I noticed that my mind wasn't racing with all the accusations against me, it was quiet, peaceful even. When I woke up the next morning, I felt the same thing. I didn't wake up with the same feeling I'd felt for so long. I felt different. As a couple of hours passed, in absolute peace of mind, I picked up the phone and began calling people and wishing them a happy new year. I called, and I called, and I called. I certainly wasn't the turned around Scrooge, that Mark talked about at his blog, but since that morning, life has not been the same as it was.

Peace is back. I'm still feeling my way along with God - I can't experience all this and not have some of my views on God smashed to dust. But the peace, peace of mind, is back.

Yesterday, I found myself sitting at my desk smiling, for no reason whatsoever. And today, I even laughed. It'd been a long time.

I'm afraid to hope for tomorrow. Afraid that in a moment this peace, so precious, will be gone. I've gained the image in my mind of how in control God is, and how all things are in His hand, including my peace. I've found myself looking to that hand, not in anger, but in absolute brokenness just asking Him to keep His hand open to me. I know, I know I don't deserve it. I don't deserve for Him to listen to me. Nothing I've done, especially in my foolish arrogance has impressed Him. I can see nothing else, except that He opened His hand of peace to me, because that's just the kind of person He is. Because He's that Good. He's that Kind. I didn't earn it. As a matter of fact, the idea that I might think that I - of all people - had earned His hand extended with peace, makes me sick to my stomach. I haven't earned tomorrow either. If my peace of mind is still here tomorrow - God please - it's because of who He is, not because of who I've been.