Thursday, July 31, 2008

Darkness to Light.

It was one of those 'dark' moments people talk about. When your ok/ bright world suddenly walks off the ledge into a deep, dark moment that hurts like all get out.
Holding onto Bell, crying out to God to somehow come find us in this pit - a miracle happened.

He did.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A lesson on compassion.

Today I got a beautiful reminder of something that I should never have forgotten, and I wanted to write it so I would be able to look back and remember it.

As a little bit of setup, I've got bit of a summer cold. Stuffy nose, sore throat, cough, all the fun symptoms the day/nightquil commercials talk about. This morning was particularly rough as my head felt like it was ready to pop. Not in the migraine way, but in the way a water balloon must feel while it's being filled... just before it explodes.

Today, someone stopped by my office to say good morning and 'how are you'. I made a joke about how I had a cold and he'd better get away quick - mentioning how my poor office mate was stuck in the office with me and couldn't escape the germs.

And then the most surprising thing happened.

There's those moments, when the look in someones eyes changes. That moment always gives me a pause. Foolish conversation carried on between the three of us while he did the exact opposite of what I had advised. I'd told him to get away from the germs, and instead he came into my office, squeezed through the opening to get behind my desk, and stood next to me with his hand on my shoulder while my office mate and I rambled on about antibiotics and germs and whatnots.

And I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was being prayed for.

I could write a whole post about how foolish I was not to embrace that moment better and the even crazier reasons why I probably didn't even though all three of us in the room were professing Christians.

But that's not what really brought me to attention today.

What stole my thoughts today was the compassion that changed his entire expression.

My thoughts began twisting with old thoughts about God that I'd just simply forgotten. Thoughts that, you know to be true, but you just get too wrapped up in whatever new idea you're flittering about with to remember. I spent the rest of the day, and into the night just considering my compassionate Father. His motivations for healing aren't about how sick you are. It's not comparing a simple cold to someone elses fight with cancer. He's looking at you, only you, and seeing you in whatever state you're in and being moved with compassion.

I too often forget that. In my quest for seeing God move, or seeing His power at work, being able to see the miraculous things - too easily it becomes only about the power, and not the reason for the power. Or, most importantly, the heart behind the power.

That kind of compassion changes you first, it hits you and twist your normal 'whatever' response, to something that genuinely cares about the other persons resolution to whatever it is concerning them. It's what propels you from where you are comfortable and not affected, to a place where you simply can't help but reach out. That's when the heart of God is most profoundly reflected in us.

It's hard to keep all the titles in my head, all the traits and aspects of God and His character. But besides powerful, I need to tack up the word compassionate. I serve a compassionate God. And I needed that reminder.
I also need a greater measure of that compassion.

As a side note for the testimony of it all - I ended up e-mailing that gentleman later, because by the time he left my office my head had stopped hurting and despite still having cold symptoms still, they weren't nearly as uncomfortable as they had been when he had arrived.

Despite my wealth of complaints and worries, I ultimately always find myself agreeing with the lyrics of the song - "He ain't never done me nuthin but good."

Sunday, July 27, 2008

A word about foster parenting.

I know, none of the few people that read my blog are foster parents (ok, except you Linda). They have no interest in it and aren't concerned about learning more for the future idea of being a foster parent. This post, I suppose, besides being for my own release is for the random people that might google "pitfalls of foster parenting" and find themselves looking at this post.

I testified tonight an incomplete testimony, I suppose, because the real thing would take up too much time. But in it, I mentioned something about how overwhelming it was having foster kids. What I didn't include was how much God is in the overwhelming. Whether it's David vs. Goliath, or Gideon + 300 vs the Midianites, Peter's passion to walk vs the raging stormy waters. In the overwhelming, that's when I've witnessed some of the most remarkable moments where God just came through. Moments I never would have seen without the overwhelming.

It's not that He makes the crying stop, the bruises fade, the sickness healed, or all the emotional distress that goes along with these kids just vanish. He's just there, in the midst of it.
I spent a lot of time dreading moments, seeing different moments coming up and trying to ready myself, or steel my heart for them, and somehow, every single one of those moments has been gotten through.
I feel like such an overwhelming wreck while I'm a foster parent sometimes, but somehow, these kids end up happy here. Even when they scream, or cry, they really come to be ok here.

I've probably said it before, and in some ways it's true that foster parenting isn't about you, it's about the kids. But at the same time, it absolutely helps to know that I'm my Fathers kid, and it's about me too for Him. That helps to satisfy the selfish need of me to feel taken care of as well. Or at least considered. It helps you get through the day. It also helps me keep in mind that God loves these kids even more than I do. And whatever my wishes and desires for them, Gods are higher and nobler.

Bell, beautiful Bell is my 5th placement. I've cried with and for 5 different kids now. 5 different kids I've put to bed then crawled over and told God He had the wrong person and I just wasn't right for this job. The number of 5 just amazes me. I wish I could say I had found that 'determined' attitude that says I believe I'm able to accomplish what God has put me into.
But I haven't. I found myself tearfully informing God that these childrens needs, and hurts, are too great for me to soothe. That I can't do it. And I desperately need Him to do it through me somehow.

This is beyond me. With every child I consider quitting. But, as I play my piano to pray each night, staring right at me is my wall with photos of each child. Added to it is an updated picture of Little One that her parents gave me the other day. Not even 4, but looking so old and happy. Her parents still going strong, doing what needs to be done to stay strong, and at least until September I am their regular Wednesday night babysitter.

God was good to her. He was good to me to let me see the outcome. It may be the only one of these 5 kids that I get to see the outcomes on.

As a side note to the days that I spend trying to figure out how I'm going to do what I'm suppose to be doing, and trying to figure out who I can get to help... I have to stop a moment and publicly say how awesome my niece and nephew are. They play with Bell in the back room during spanish church, they tried their absolute best to watch her during the song service this evening, they've really taken my words about teaching Bell to be gentle with people to heart. Too often I find myself looking at them going, what on earth?? But today, realizing what a huge source of help they were I couldn't help but just hug them and thank them and tell the what a good job they did and how I was proud.
So now I'm telling the world. I'm proud of those two kids.
Thanks you two.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Something IS giving.

I believe in God. I believe He heals and answers prayers.
I believe He loves me, even when I'm unlovable and stubborn.
I believe I overthink why He doesn't do things.
I believe He wants me to believe, and act like I believe, whether I understand or not.
I believe He wants me to be perfect, as He is perfect. Not that He's wanting perfection from me, but for me. The distinction is great.
I believe His plan is better than my wishes, no matter how much it hurts.
I believe even when the pattern seems painful, and it just happens over and over again, there's a reason and purpose for it, even though I'll still cry.
I believe I too often hold onto people rather than Jesus, and in an effort to break me of it He keeps moving me around, waiting for Him to become my primary, my source, my desire.
I believe there are greater things out there, and greater things to come than what I have seen.
I believe it's not up to 'those out there' to give it to me, but for me, in Christ, to develop it.
I believe that being baptized in the Holy Spirit is a separate thing from salvation.
I believe that that baptism may have been the only thing that kept me spiritually alive this last year.
I believe, in faith, that my year of brokenness and weeping is about to change to growth -that might still involve the weeping- and passion.
I believe, in faith, that my passion for Christ is about to return full fledged and exciting.
I believe, in faith, that the things that I've wallowed in this last year I will once again let go of. I will find my peace in Christ by trusting His promises, and I will weep with hopelessness no more.
I will hope in Him.

Physical things around me will begin to change, and spiritual things inside me will begin to change. But I believe it is the latter that will birth the former. NOT the other way around.
Something is giving.

As a side note, I was thinking about how much I've been saying "somethings gotta give", and how I was now thinking that something was indeed giving. I knew I'd written a post specifically on it so I went searching for my post on it. And I discovered to my surprise that it was dated almost exactly a year ago.
My year, is ending. A new one will begin.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday's done.

I can't fault a thing today.
Megan, wonderful Megan the new babysitter, bonded well with Bella, and it went great. Bella cried when we first went in, but nothing like what she's been doing before. She seems like a normal happy kid now that cries sometimes. Thank you God.
She was sleepy, so I assumed we'd skip the spanish service and take care of napping.
She couldn't fall asleep though so I made the executive decision to go back to church for the service.
My niece and nephew served as baby sitters during the song service while I played for them. Then, just as a test I put her in the service and tried to see how well she sat still. Typically, boredom means she cries.
She sat, 99% perfectly.
I felt brave enough to go to another church for service tonight since our church wasn't having service.
Once again, she sat almost perfectly. Whatever flaws there are, are simply the fact that she's 2. That's not considered flawed. It's called learning.

I went, despite the fact that it would have been far easier to stay home, because I'm still hoping I'll go somewhere and hear the magic words that will click in my mind and ease this ache.
The guest speaker at the service told the story of being in some youth service, and all the college students were praying saying they were hungry and thirsty for God, and he kind of derided that idea because he was holding onto the words Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, saying that we will never thirst again.
That certainly didn't make me feel better.
I'm not supposed to thirst again?
Yes, I've read the scripture, yes I believe it, yes I still feel dry.

He quoted someone that taught him that trees don't produce fruit for the first few years, because they are gaining life in order to survive as a tree. After they have that, fruit is the product of excess life.

He said that Jesus didn't want us to survive, but to have excess life that produces fruit.

Yeah, I'm all for that.... how do you get it? How did I use to have it? How did I lose it?

He went on to say how life with Christ gives you joy, quoted the scriptures about 'exceedingly and abundantly beyond what you can ask or think", and said that he's not saved because he feels good, but feels good because he's saved.

He said he went through some years where he and his wife were just doing all they could do to survive. He'd had those dry years... but that he just kept on because God doesn't take long to bring you back to excess fruit.

What? Wait? what happened? He was so close. I thought he might actually touch on how ripped up you feel when you find yourself in survival mode. I thought he might tell me that feeling this ripped up and obscenely sad is something that other Christians have faced. I thought he might tell me... I don't even know. I thought he might give me hope.

I think that's why I don't like church now. I go, feeling completely at odds with every other person in the building because I can't explain why it hurts.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Sunday mornings needs.

Funny how timing works sometimes.

I knew if I went to church, I needed someone to watch Bella.
I also knew there wasn't anyone in the church that could.
So, I talked to a co-worker that lives down the road from me and asked rather vaguely if one of her daughters might be interested in coming to church with me to watch Bell.
She said she'd find out and get back with me, and I reminded her that it probably wouldn't be this week, but next week because I didn't think we'd make it.

After a surprisingly wonderful morning and afternoon (she hasn't cried yet, seriously... a miracle has occurred) I decided to go ahead with church.

Then, I wondered what I'd do for childcare, and I thought about calling my co-worker again, or another babysitter that I know, and finally sat back.

I'm reading a book right now called Grace Walk, (thanks to Nancy for the referral to it) and in it, the author talks about how we get so busy 'doing' Gods work, rather than letting Him do it. And he referenced Abram and Sarai and their usage of Hagar to accomplish Gods will.
And I decided to stop thinking about Sunday, but wait and see what God did. God knows I need someone to watch her. I need to see what God is going to do.

Then, just a moment ago, my co-worker and her daughter walked down to my house to see what time the daughter should be ready tomorrow. Apparently the daughter has done this at other churches she attended, and is just a sweetheart all the way around. She's happy to do this, and more than willing, and this is interrupting her going to church with her boyfriend. I'm proud to know her, and I hope I get to know her better.

So, one moment at a time.

Thanks for praying once again. This has been a day from Heaven. Bell hasn't cried today at all except for a brief moment at naptime and then she laid quietly until she fell asleep. Daycare reports that she just screams and hardly naps at all (10 minutes was all they got on Friday they said). So this, is simply awesome. It's a great day.

Thank you Lord, for what You've accomplished in us today. Thank You for helping me to let go of the burden of tomorrows needs and trust You for provision. Help me to trust You for that provision all the way through this placement, and for each need she has. Thank You for so profoundly quelling my medical worries for Bell.
Please keep working in and through me Father. I don't want to be what I am, but what You are. And You're the only one that can accomplish that.

Remind me of the things I obsess about so, and speak Your lessons to me when I'm not sure what to do. Most of all, help me realize what I shouldn't be doing. Please keep working in me.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A little more credit

So, today Bell and I found ourselves taking a 45 minute drive to a neighboring city to pick something up. We spent, probably 35 minutes of it screaming.
Finally things calmed down and we ended up at Long John Silvers.
Sitting across from me, this crazy little angel and I shrugged our shoulders at each other until she laughed at me.
And then she did something she hasn't done without me seriously working for every bit of it...
She looked at me and just grinned.

Maybe it's the stress of the last week, maybe it's hormones, but I stared at her a moment, then two seconds later I was grabbing a napkin apparently trying to pretend that somehow I'd gotten food crumbs near my eyes.
I wasn't even paying attention to the music playing in the background of the restaurant, but then some words just caught my attention "You're beautiful baby from the outside in". And i agreed
It's from the Tim McGraw song "My Little Girl" (click the title if you want to see the video of it).

She still screamed a lot, but she fell asleep on the way back home and even though she woke up when we got home, she went to bed without tears.

Read that again:

My little screamer, went to bed tonight without tears.

I can explain it away with reasoning, but I choose to believe this was Gods prompt assistance in answer to prayer. He's not going to hand me a problem free, easy child that changes her own diapers and picks up after herself, and somehow never misses her family.
But He sure can help.
Thanks SLW and Nancy, for praying.
Some people have the saying "if momma ain't happy"... but in this house right now, "If Bella ain't happy, ain't nooooobody happy."
She'll get there. I cannot imagine how I would have reacted if thrown into this situation at 2 yrs old.... I can't imagine how I'd feel at 27 if someone took me out of my house and forced me to live with them and follow a brand new routine, strange daycare, and different foods than what I'm used to. Sure as the world I'd get some vegetarian household and I'd die of starvation, screaming, while the family looked on pulling their hair out wondering how to fix me.

She's doing great... and I really wish you could have seen that grin. I wish all the people that have listened to her screams could have seen that grin. It's the kind that just makes you stop and sigh and that hope surges within you that everything is going to be ok.
It was beautiful, heartwarming, and a relief.

If anyone happens to stop in over the weekend, please keep Sunday especially in prayer. At this point I still can't imagine trying to do church with her. Yet my absence, since I play the piano, makes a huge impact on the whole congregation.

Help God. Please keep doing this in us.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Giving credit where credit is due

God does still love me, or I don't think we'd have survived the last 72hrs.

Bella has had the hardest time adjusting of any child I've had so far.

God has truly given some grace during the last days to get through. Not in just surviving, but in physically changing the situation for us sometimes with the strangest ideas.
After a literally horrific night, we arrived at bedtime still screaming, and as I laid her in bed screaming I just started breathing out loud, really heavy. Truly, if she woke up tonight with a nightmare, I would understand. Playing like Darth Vader just before bedtime doesn't seem like the best idea when it comes to lulling a 2 yr old to sleep.

Yet, crazily enough, this is the first night she didn't scream her way into sleep. Within 15 minutes, with only a few sporadic cries and whimpers, she was sound asleep.
The stupid heavy breathing thing worked. Thank you God.

In the last two days, several times I've found myself in a situation where I'm trying to tell someone something that they needed to know, only to find the entire thing interrupted by the screaming. It's one of those situations that would generally fluster me and I'd lose track of what I needed to do - yet somehow through the screaming each and every day so far, I've stayed calm. Thank you God. If there was ever a week my blood pressure could become an issue... it's this week!

Bella has very severe separation anxiety. Daycare is pulling their hair out (literally, I asked the staff how it was going for them and she made the motions for pulling her hair out and outlined some very frustrating problems). Several different parts of the daily routine sets her off, plus, one of the workers apparently has hair that looks like mine, so each time she comes in their room, Bella is set off again.

Language has been confusing, because it seems like she understands English, but speaks Chinese.. or gobbledygook, I'm not sure. So far I have entirely understood "mine" "daddy" "mommy" "sissy". And literally, that's it. Yet when she's not crying, she's almost constantly babbling. She's the most talkative kid I've had so far. Just too bad I don't understand her.

She needs comfort, really. God has really been here this week, maybe not in a way that I could feel emotionally, but certainly in a way I could see.

If you're reading this, and you think of us this week, pray for her. Pray especially that I'll make a wise decision concerning Sunday services. I'm now a Sunday school teacher, and the only musician that plays for the song service. But, unless things change with a serious improvement, there's just no way that church will work right now. We're not a screaming mess, but we can certainly dissolve into it fairly easily.

All that said, I've outlined her hardest issues, let me document the good part.
She is sturdy and fearless. She traipses up and down the steps, off curbs, and into anything at all, absolutely fearlessly. She's a great eater (especially when I compare her to every single other child I've had). And she's smart, quick, and very helpful. She catches onto habits very easily and likes to keep things clean. She's very obedient, and typically the problems with crying are rarely related to the fact that I've said no or prevented her from doing something.

She really is a terrific child - the crying and screaming isn't her fault, life happened to her, not the other way around.

So... that's all, I've got to find some sleep.

I don't know what the rest of the week looks like, but we need You this week Father. Comfort her when the arms she's crying for can't be here to hold her. Surround her, and touch her heart. Be, through me, what will help her during this time. Help me to stay focused on relying on You for her, or I honestly don't know how we'll make it. Help the daycare staff to remain patient and calm, and not to sound too greedy but help the other kids not to react to her crying with crying of their own. Plant Your peace around Bella at home and at daycare, everywhere she goes. Be with her. Help her.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bella & Praying

24hrs into this new placement.
She's doing really well. Daycare said she had a good day, The evening went really well, (I finally got a kid that actually likes to eat), and while bedtime still took awhile, the crying wasn't as loud and fierce as last night.
She did really well.

One thing I'm noticing about her is how sturdy she is. She's small and delicate looking, right up until she takes off. Whatever happens she just keeps going, no fear, no looking at you trying to decide, just.... ready. A caseworker that came for her arrival used the best word to describe her - she looks Samoan. She's so very brown that I can't imagine the information I received on her being half Anglo, half Hispanic is accurate. She's darker than my half Anglo half AA. She's dark. It doesn't matter... it's just one of the many things to realize that you never have a clue what to truly expect when foster kids arrive.

Bella has forced me to talk out loud more, because at bedtime, she hates my singing. But just talking helps. So I spend a good deal of time praying out loud at her bedside. We cover everything in the time it takes for her to go to sleep and be calm enough for me to leave the room without disturbing her.

I sat there, creating a new routine, yet feeling absolutely nothing as I prayed through all sorts of different things from Bella, to her family, to her daycare, then church then on and on to different people I knew in need. I finally stopped and told God how little what I was saying was moving me, and how I didn't like that. That what I was saying should be important to me and she sound more important as I took it to Him.

That's when I said the magic words. "God, my heart just feels hard."

Just saying those words was like something smashed inside me and said YES. I can't fix it, I can't soften my heart, and I don't know what all I've done to myself. But I'm glad to know something specific to consider.

Monday, July 14, 2008

All shook up

Last week, I found myself battling ants. No matter how much I sprayed, or kept the counter clean, they never really seemed to be gone. One time, I was pretty sure everything was clean and ant free and I set a bowl on the counter, and in a matter of 30 seconds I watched 3 ants come out to inspect the new arrival.
I kept looking at my bottle of ant killer wondering why it wasn't doing it's job. Then I went around googling better ant resolutions.
But then Sunday, I stopped and I read the bottle of ant spray.
In small print, on the back side it said "Shake well".

Rats. I guess I had missed that part.

So, I shook it all up and then sprayed my counters down. It's been two full days without ants now even though there's a Dr Pepper cup in the sink.
I don't know anything about chemicals, but I assume that naturally the ingredients in the bottle separate and that separately they don't do much. But when combined (by my vigorous shaking) they become something that actually has an effect, something that can stop ants in their tracks.

The very idea made me wonder... - besides wondering at my own sanity for comparing God to ant spray - what if I only work when I'm all shook up?
Those days, moments, or hours when life seems all shook up, or your emotions get all shook up, or your spirit finally gets all shook up, that's when it's not just you and God, but you with God.
Maybe I spend my days spewing out a little bit of me and a little bit of God, but not a powerful combo of me and God.

Foster #5 - Bella

She hasn't arrived yet, but it should be sometime within the next hour or so. She's two years old, half anglo, half hispanic.
Her name isn't really Bella, I can't put her real name on the internet, but her real name is so unusual that Bella is going to be an easier nickname for her anyway. Of course, that whole idea might change once she arrives.
These minutes, or hours between the phone calls and arrivals are the strangest part of the whole ordeal.

Friday, July 11, 2008


God, you are the maker of all creativity, please give me something to say. Speak to my heart and help me to unravel all the yuck that's inside me until I can find my way into a clearing Lord.
I don't want to live like this, I don't want to live and pray, and trust, but only in tiny portions. I want to believe for the incredible, for the sun stopping God that I've read you are, but I haven't met.
I always assume, that if I haven't met a bigger, better part of you that it's because I'm not ready for it. I want to be ready, I want to see more. I'm tired of dreaming and telling people how BIG and awesome you are, when you just don't seem big enough sometimes.

Someone once said that the thing they were most amazed about concerning you, was your ability to hold back. To NOT just 'bam' and make it happen, even though it leaves us screaming and confused. I get that... I really do... but it doesn't stop me from screaming and being confused.

You healed and you healed and you healed. Yet, people around me, no matter how much they pray, never seem to find complete healing. They say they're healed, they've been touched, and then a month later, two months maybe.. the same thing returns. That's not healing, that's a reprieve.

You sent your Holy Spirit, and the fire and power of that Spirit is suppose to be awesome. Someone else recently talked about how Elijah poured the water over the wood before he called down your fire to consume it. That kind of story leaves me hoping that even though we Christians seem dead, and dry, and passionless - that you're still able to fire us up. I want to see that. I really do. I'm sorry for every ounce of mediocrity in me, I don't want it there. I want to be absolute, a ball of fire and passion that is absolutely consumed with adoration for you and your kingdom.
But I just can't get past this great big wad of disappointment. I've said it before, and I'll say it again... I believe you can do anything. I just don't believe you will. And that just rips me up with confusion. Why won't you?

The same old Christian answer is that it's not your fault. It's mine. And while I've certainly failed, and failed, and failed, I don't know what it is you're waiting for from me. And everyone else around me who happens to be praying to you too.

The only other alternative is that you're not doing stuff, just for the sake of not doing stuff - because it's better for us. And I just don't get that transition from biblical times where so many were healed and changed because you apparently thought it was ok, and yet now every single person I know that needs to be healed, or to have their lives changed... it's not ok.

Every option I've come up with, isn't a good one. Doesn't make sense. And they all hurt.
Where are you God? Not just the surface distant stuff we've experienced. Where's the deeper part of you that I need in order to be content with things not making sense to me? Where's the stuff I'm suppose to be holding onto when my prayers are always answered with a no?

Where am I suppose to be in you? cause I can't find it.

Ok, I've said my peace....please let it be your turn now.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Stand still a minute

Today mom turned 60. Happy Birthday mom.
That's all.

In other news, I made someone mad at me yesterday. It's one of those moments where you haven't done anything wrong, but someone ended up hurt anyway, and now they're 'politely' not talking to me.
I'm sorry I hurt them. They're stressed and twisted up enough over some other situations in their life right now, I'd rather have not showed up on the radar.

I called the police tonight. Nothing happened, I wasn't even nervous - just doing my civic duty. Within 2 minutes I saw them shining their beams looking for people, and now they're still driving around. It's at least nice to know that, in the event of an actual emergency, they have a very fast response time. Note to wayward teens, don't come skulking around my neighborhood with bats after 10pm.

It's odd how you can start praying, and in the middle of your prayers things seem so important. And then you sit back down on your couch, or lay down to sleep, and you just can't help but think that nothing is important.

Question... if you knew marriage could be a wonderful thing, a happy, enduring, life-changingly magnificent thing ---- BUT, everyone around you was barely sustaining their marriage and in general they were all only marginally happy that they were married - would you still get married hoping for that life-changing wonderfulness?

My question actually has nothing to do with marriage. It's just an example. People who have tasted Gods presence can only try and give you an idea of just how wonderful, peaceful, joyful, and deep that presence is (and they only have 'tasted' not feasted in his presence)...but every where you look you just can't find that being lived out - would you really want to chase after that presence?

It seems impossible. The church in general just keeps on saying 'keep digging', but the entire church world in general seems to just keep digging and never finding anything. It makes everything seem so pointless. It makes you want to put the shovel down.

When my niece and nephew were smaller, whether it was teaching them to walk, or swim, I always tended to do the same thing. First you gear them up to get to you, then as they get closer you back away just a little bit so they go farther than they expected. In the end, you always catch them before they fall, or wear themselves out and go under water or something.. but ultimately, at the end of the day, they had reached you.

But in Christianity, it just feels like you're forever swimming, and He keeps backing away.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I am... I serve

Ok, I'm posting most of his post here... hope he doesn't mind.
This is a post from Steven Furtick.
Just in case he does mind.
The preachers name is Steven Furtick. His blog is here. His church is here. His wifes blog is here.
I hope that is enough advertisment for him to cover the fact that I'm posting his post here.

Once, in the middle of a life threatening storm, Paul spoke up with courage: “Last night an angel of the God whose I am and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul.’”
Acts 27:23-24

I like the way Paul ordered that:
1. Whose I am
2. Whom I serve
Identity (whose I am) comes before activity (whom I serve).

I need to remember that when I’m heavy with inadequacy and uncertainty.
Who I am in Christ comes before what I do for Christ.
God the Father said He was well pleased with Jesus before Jesus ever performed a public miracle.
Identity supersedes activity every time. Remember that next time you feel like you don’t have what it takes to do what God has called you to do.
And let what you do flow from who you are.

92 yr old preacher.

So a co-worker sent me this story today...

While watching a little TV on Sunday instead of going to church, I watched a Church in Atlanta , Ga honoring one of its senior pastors who had been retired many years. He was 92 at that time and I wondered why the Church even bothered to ask the old gentleman to preach at that age.

After a warm welcome, introduction of this speaker, and as the applause quieted down he rose from his high back chair and walked slowly, with great effort and a sliding gate to the podium. Without a note or written paper of any kind he placed both hands on the pulpit to steady himself and then quietly and slowly he began to speak....

'When I was asked to come here today and talk to you, your pastor asked me to tell you what was the greatest lesson ever learned in my 50 odd years of preaching. I thought about it for a few days and boiled it down to just one thing that made the most difference in my life and sustained me through all my trials. The one thing that I could always rely on when tears and heart break and pain and fear and sorrow paralyzed me... the only thing that would comfort me was this verse.........

'Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
We are weak but He is strong.....
Yes, Jesus loves me..
For the Bible tells me so.

When he finished, the church was quiet. You actually could hear his footsteps as he shuffled back to his chair. I don't believe I will ever forget it.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Hurts like hell.

I've never once in my life used this phrase until now. And I wonder if it's a bit closer to accurate than other peoples usage of it.
When people say something 'hurts like hell' it means it hurts a lot. They're feeling an extraordinary amount of pain and compared to the fires of hades, they're thinking "ok... this is what that pain is."
I don't like the term, because I always think hell would be a lot worse than breaking a rib (which most people tell you hurts a great deal).

But after feeling so absent from God, so empty and dry, and so utterly desolate - I wonder if this is more like (though certainly not equal to) what hell would feel like.
Despite all the horrors that hell will have to offer, I wonder if it's going to be the absence of God that we feel more than the presence of anything else, no matter how horrible.

If this is even a taste of what hell feels like, I'd still want to do whatever it took to get to Heaven even if all the physical horrors of hell were still there. Give me the never ending flames and weeping and gnashing of teeth, the whole bit. But don't take away the only thing that makes anything worth while - God.

I want to be in His presence, I want to feel it again, I want to know Him again and know that He's still there.
Eddie, my dog, wants to be where I am. Even when I'm too busy to pay attention to him. He just wants to be as close as he can get. It's not about him trying to show the cat that he's the favored pet - it's just about him, wanting to be near the owner.

Being absent from that, in my life, when for the past 5 years before this one were so continuously growing... may just hurt like hell.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Let me go.

I need God.

Two things happened this week that just made me give a second thought to.

First, I have a great dog. He's not so bright, but he makes up for it with enthusiasm.
Every day, he's pent up in his fence while I head off to work. And every day, he shows me yet another hole that he's discovered in order to get out of the fence.
He'll do anything necessary to get out and preferably back into the house.

Lesson two -

A cantaloupe, sitting on my kitchen counter. It's fresh, looked good, smelled good, apparently I wasn't the only one to think so either.
8 hrs later, I found ants trotting over to check it out.
I ended up spraying and wiping tons of stuff down as they slowly wandered over the counter to the cantaloupe.
8 hrs, one unopened cantaloupe, tons of ants.

And as I gave those things a second thought, I wondered (this will probably sound weird to even me when I come back and read this) but I wondered how different things might be if Christians were like that with the Spirit of God. If no fence, no chains could hold us back from getting into His presence.
If just the slightest scent made us drop everything, to crawl into unknown territory just to see if you could find the source of the smell.

It was a do anything attitude.
Anything, whatever it took, whatever hadn't been done before, desperate clawing at a hole just to make it wide enough to crawl through to reach the goal.

Yeah, ok. I don't have that. I'm doing good just to go to church. Beyond that, I'm a quivering mess.

I spoke, tonight at church in between songs about something along these lines, I spoke. I know better. I really do know better. But I did it anyway.
It's like trying to write a blog post, only you only have one go at it, it needs to be short, ... oh... and you'll probably get too emotional to think straight. Impossible.

I wonder sometimes if the whole reason I'm at the church I'm at is just to teach the people patience.

I need God. I need to find that weird little spot where you just grab onto God and cling. But not just cling. I was watching a trapeze act today and I thought about how tight the people must grip that bar - and yet they swing and move their body to gain distance and speed. They didn't just grab on and ride. They hung on and flexed and leaned, and pushed until they were moving faster than when they first grabbed on.

I just haven't found my footing yet, and worse yet, I can't seem to shake this profound sadness.
I'm ready to trade it in.
Let me go.

A prayer answered.

I prayed this afternoon. For the first time, in quite awhile - my prayer was about something besides "woe is me".
I prayed for my church, I prayed that we could see lives changed, that we would come expecting something from God, looking and expecting to see God do something as opposed to sitting down and doing the same service we did last Sunday night, or the 1800000 Sunday nights before.
I prayed for a specific man in our church that just returned from having left. I earnestly prayed that he would see a breakthrough and that any enemy that might be around to remind him of his sins or hold him back, or shove his addictions back in his face would be banished. I prayed he'd see freedom, that he could somehow become what it is God has planned for him if he can ever find the freedom he's fighting for.

Then I went to church.

And the entire routine of the service was changed, as that one man stood up and said God was calling him to rededicate his life and he wanted to - right now.
The service never went back exactly into it's routine. I ended up playing the piano to our Pastor reading Psalms, throughout the entire service.

So, today, I can say my prayers were answered.

Friday, July 04, 2008

I can't do it.

Every now and then, someone stumbles across my site form a google search. So instead of coming straight into my main website, they start off at a specific post that google led them to.

This morning, someone googled some lines from a joke I included in this post so they went to my post "Oh, Lord I am nobody!".

I went and read the post, and found it ironic that of all times that post came up now.
The main gist of the whole post is how messed up and sinful I am, yet somehow God can use me, somehow God loves me.

I hate irony. It's too easy to discount.

A lot of different thoughts crossed my mind today. I went to see Wall-E today (two thumbs down) and despite really not enjoying the movie, at one point in the movie one of the characters yells "I don't want to survive, I want to live!"
I almost said Amen.

This is no place to be, no way to live. I just can't solidly say to myself God still wants me. Even though I blame Him for my inability to walk away - that He just won't let me go - somehow I just can't bring myself to say He's still waiting for me. And that He's still intent on working on me. And it's absolutely impossible to say that I'm worth working on, or able to change.

If anything - this whole mess just really has left me knowing that I can't change me. Some of my prayers are simply challenges now. "If you want me, and you want me better than this, You're going to have to do it God. Cause I just can't."

If God can't make something from my life, nothing good will come of my life - cause I simply can't do it. I've tried. I determined in myself so many times - and yet I'm still messed up.


Thursday, July 03, 2008

My confession

It's foolishness, I know,... seriously, I know. But tonight I was praying in tongues and a snippet of me was saying "so...does this mean I'm not totally blacklisted?"

So, despite the fact -or maybe because of the fact - that I've chased away my readership - I'm going to use this as my confessional.

Tonight I confessed all the stupid things that I think are holding me back from God.

I stepped back into a habit of misleading people. I know what to say, and how to say it, to get you to back away - whether it's the entire truth or not. I'm not lying about important things, just things that help me get through the day with fewer questions. But for me, the important part is that I've lied. Which fortunately or unfortunately depending on your perspective has given me a very guilty conscience about things. The unfortunate part to it is that I've completely walked away from some friendships because I'm afraid they don't believe me about things I have been truthful about.

I've been selfish. Every single child I've had in my home, I could have done more for. I was just too self-involved to really focus on them and drop myself enough to give them everything I had. At the same time, especially with Little One, I let my issues with her issues, get the best of me. 100%.

A song that was sung at Spanish church tonight put words to my next sin. I neglected God.
When Little One came along, I was so overwhelmed with issues and parenting that I began neglecting God. I didn't read as much, pray as much, my piano/prayer time was practically non-existent. And it still is. Until somewhere in there, I just quit trying. Life was too much to handle to make room for all the work that a relationship with God takes.

Then, and most strongest, is the shame. I feel deeply shamed every time I'm around certain people. I can't get past the idea that in their sin, I'm the reason they stumbled. And there's nothing I can do to change or fix it. Something special about me, just messes people up. Ain't it grand being unique?

I hope the Holy Spirit said something good tonight. I hope God listened, and answers the prayer. Whatever it was. I don't want to live like this. Something's gotta give.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Walk away

Oh for cryin' out loud!

How hard it is to just walk away? To just give up, shrug off all the things I just can't seem to 'get', and walk away? Every attempt I'm making just seems so pointless.
Every prayer,
Every song,
Every scripture I read,
Every church service.
Why can't I just stop? Why can't I just walk away?
I get that maybe God wants to teach me something - but what if I never make it? I can't give what I can't figure out. I hate being such a puny broke up mess.

It's a mess.

What is it that keeps me from walking away? I've absolutely given up on myself. I can't get it. The only thing I keep waiting on is that maybe, just maybe, God's going to pull His crazy magic string and the world will make sense again.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


If I'm going to be saved, if I'm going to be a Christian, I want to know it deep down in the fiber of my being. And I use to know it. Or I certainly thought I did. But now, it's a nasty mess of "If I am, tell me what it is that I'm not doing. How do I make this right?"
I don't want to doubt. Even when I feel alone, and broken, I want to know the foundation is still there.

Somewhere in all these questions, I... well, I may have only convinced myself that this is true, but it seems like if I could only know the foundation was there - I could hold on. I could easily proclaim that God is a healing God, and that if I pray, God might hear my prayer and answer. But without the foundation - I can only think that that might not be true.

Even with my worship, as we sang the song service Sunday I ended up leading the songs and couldn't help but apologize to God, I can't imagine He'd want my worship. RWK in their comment had it exactly right when they used the word "fraud". That's exactly what it is. And that word makes it far worse than trying to believe something, or do something you don't feel. Because the word fraud implies that you're misleading others.

I don't want to mislead anyone - so let me make it clear.
Don't follow me.


I'm afraid of communion.

I've abstained the last two times we've had it at church the last few months just because I'm afraid of taking it 'wrong'. I know the logical answers, I know the rebuttal to how foolish the very idea is. Yet I keep going back and seeing Jesus say not to drink unworthily - and I just can't bring myself to say I'm worthy.

Especially the last several months of this downward spiral.

Here's a pretty well kept secret - about three months back, purely by accident, I discovered a lump. After fidgeting around with it for a few weeks I finally went to a doctor. She discovered a lump as well and scheduled me for a mammogram.

In the nearly 2 weeks wait between going to the doctor, mammogram and then a sonogram, I just kept thinking about the last time I took communion. And I kept thinking that this was really how the cookie would crumble. This is really where my proof was going to be. I was going to end up absorbed with doctors and medicine for awhile just trying to get rid of something I pretty well gave myself. By taking something holy, and claiming it for myself.

It's a lot to think.

Ultimately, the sonogram results were immediate (and good). Yes, there's a lump, but it's nothing to be concerned about.

But seeing just how quickly I imagined God striking me left me even more uneasy. I want to know I'm saved. I may have said the right things to 'get saved', and done some of the right things to 'act saved', but God looks on the heart to show whether you really 'are saved'. And as I've said before - I think my hearts just plain messed up.