Sunday, May 31, 2009

Hating your family

Good morning...

I was quickly checking through my list of blogs this morning when I came across this post by Bob over at "In the Clearing". He far more eloquently says a lot of what was on my heart when I ranted the other day - but he does it with a little less YELLING!

To make sure credit is given where it's due, in Bob's post that I'm linking you to "Our Discomforting Savior" he is offering his own thoughts on Michael Spencers (Internet Monk) post called "What did Jesus mean when he said we must “hate” our family?"

Here's a snip from both:

What’s challenging about so much of Luke 14 is how it seems to contradict so many things we take for granted as normal and moral, especially family.

A new landowner assumes he should go see what he’s bought. A farmer buys five oxen- a major purchase- and wants to examine them. A newlywed wants his honeymoon. (Deuteronomy 24:5 gave him a year at home!)

All of these become examples of excuse makers who are more interested in the normal routines of life than the Kingdom of God that is coming.

I would put myself- and all of you- squarely in the group Jesus is describing, by the way. If you think you aren’t an excuse maker who would rather inspect his oxen than enter the Kingdom, you’re not going to see the intent of Jesus.

In the parable where these examples are found (14:15-24), the man giving the banquet (God working through Jesus) must literally drag and force people to come to the banquet. (“Compel them to come.”) Eventually his house is filled with the crippled, the blind, the lame and the assumed uninvited and unwelcome.


Anyway, I think one of the most uncomfortable concepts of the Bible is that we who believe are "sent" for the purpose of the Gospel. We sing songs about being in the arms of Jesus, having our worry and fear subside as we remember that Jesus loves us, etc. All good. We get together and talk about our needs. When do we get together and talk about our mission? I'm just wondering. I'm sure we've all got cattle to look after, family matters to attend to, even a close relative's funeral to go to . . . then we can talk about following Jesus.

But our very discomforting Savior has another idea.

Have a great Sunday.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hammond Louisiana & the new reading program

I'm currently in Hammond Louisiana.

I'll be here, helping my friends move into their new home until Tuesday afternoon, when I'll start the 8 hour trip back to my own little world. I'll be home Wednesday finishing up getting my house ready to move and then go back to work Thursday and Friday and then finish up my own move on Saturday.

Tonight is my only night in a hotel with the internet, which means that I won't have access to the internet until I return home on Wednesday. That is why I wanted to go ahead and write out the program I'll be starting tomorrow.

Back in early May, Glen over at "Christ the Truth" wrote about a program he was starting immediately, It's a program to read the Bible through in 90 days. Before I say anything else, I want to say I had planned on doing this beginning June 1st ever since I read about the program on his blog. This has nothing to do with my ranting post. Really.

But I actually do enjoy reading the bible, even when I read things I've already read, somehow I read them differently and gain new thoughts. And I'm excited about this new project. Though, admittedly, this first week is going to be incredibly hard to make sure and get it in along with everything else that's going on.

If anyone else is interested in joining, you can read his post for the full list of what you read each week. This week, (Sun thru Sat) the goal is to read through Genesis and Exodus.

I want to know the scriptures better than I do. I want these stories to be as well known and familiar to me as the stories of my own life. And while this is a summer with a lot of transitions, I want spiritual growth to be at the center of it.

I certainly don't want my excuse to be that there were too many transititions for me to spend time growing.

God bless.

Week 1: Genesis 1:1 - Exodus 40:38

Friday, May 29, 2009

5 years from now?

Ok, I promise no yelling, no big bold capital letters today.

I need to apologize for one thing that has especially bothered me about my rant. I said I didn't want to be like the Christians I know. And that's just not true. There are several that I look up to and if I could be half the person they are it would be a good thing.

Today, instead of yelling I went through a few different emotions. Sometime this afternoon it hit me hard that I didn't have a job, I have no one to rent my house, and yet I'm moving across the state. It took a bit more effort to remind myself (enough that it would stick) that I can trust Gods plan in all of this.

I'm not worried right now. My reminders are working - and I really do believe that my house will rent - I think it's more a matter of wishing it were already checked off the list of things undone.

But then tonight, I was packing... again. And I couldn't help but wonder where my life was going. It just suddenly seemed to have no rhyme or reason. I've been a flight attendant, a foster parent 5 times over, a home owner, and now I'm walking away from my home that I had assumed I'd be in for the next 30 years. Yet here I am wandering off to someplace else, and now I will become a landlord.

Everything in me wants to be parked. I want to sit somewhere, work my job for so many years that it's 2nd nature to do it, to know people for years and years and develop close deep relationships that will last me my life. I want to plant a fruit tree in my yard and watch it grow.
And yet, I'm leaving.

I promise, the emotions are settled down tonight, this isn't a sad post or a fearful post - just a post of verbalizing my curiosity. Life isn't turning out like I imagined. And I just can't help but wonder what 5 years from now looks like.

But, while I have settled down from last nights rant, I don't want to lose that message to myself. Seek God. Every day.
Because 5 years from now I want to have studied to show myself approved. I don't want to be ashamed.

What a life...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The angry post.

**Disclaimer, I am officially ranting at myself. I will be broad and generalize in some areas because if this hits you too then I am very thankful. If I mention something that you specifically are doing then I assure you I am not trying to hit you, but it's because I'm trying to think of examples and that is one. You can be a perfectly good Christian and do whatever you're doing that I use as an example I'm sure. So please know, this is a rant specifically aimed at myself because I need to hear it and no one else will say it to me. And yes, I am angry.**


Just stop with all the petty excuses, stop with all the flowery words and religious mumbo jumbo talk. The blogging world doesn't need to hear it, your co-workers don't need to hear it, your church family doesn't need to hear it. Just stop PLEASE.

Now repent.

Your one and only number one priority is to be a Christian.
It's not to be a good daughter, good wife, good friend, good employee.

You are to be a Christian.

So when you make some stupid thing, more important than chasing after the holiness and righteousness of God - then you are shallow. The world doesn't need any more shallow Christians. The world needs a Christian, YOU, to be spending time in Gods Word, and in PRAYER (not just the prayers you pray while doing your household chores but undivided attention, focused, heart-rendered PRAYER). EVERY SINGLE DAY. And I don't mean 15 minutes a day.


15 minutes a day?

Are you really going to change the world by spending 15 minutes with God a day?

Clean laundry is NOT more important than your time digging into Gods word and praying EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Your kids t-ball game? NOT MORE IMPORTANT. And if your kids t-ball game is going to interfere with that time with God, guess what - T-ball needs to be unenrolled from. Oh, and if that t-ball game keeps you from church then you never should have enrolled in the first place.

MY JOB is not to make sure that my niece and nephew knows their Aunt Net loves them. *And it hurts a little bit just to write that out. MY JOB is to seek GOD with all my HEART, and with all my SOUL, and with all my MIGHT. And I'M NOT DOING THAT.

There are many around me weak and sick because I've made TRASH more important than that purposeful EVERY SINGLE DAY time with God. I'm not tapped into power that I should be tapped into, because I haven't paid the cost, I haven't sought the LORD with all my MIGHT.

I want to be a Christian. But I DO NOT want to be like the Christians I know. Because we are all weak and foolish. We have L O S T what our purpose is as a child of God, and became mediocre respectable clones of what "Good Christian Folk" should look like.

Church is not to be a place where respectable people come to act respectably. Church is where children of God show up to confess their faults to each other, to provoke each other to good works, to pray for one another. And that's why I should never have dared to miss. Because I'm not supposed to have gone for what I can get, but because I have a responsibility to my church family to be there to do those things for them as well.

So when I skipped church because I was SICK. I was insane.

Because that is where the collective power of healing prayer should be the strongest.

I confess, IT'S NOT. But it's HIGH TIME that I started expecting things of the church people. It's high time I showed up sick, and vomiting and walked in expecting these people to have BEEN IN TOUCH WITH GOD during the week so that the prayer of faith can save the sick.

It's time, no, it's PAST TIME I came in to church expecting something, reached out for something and was bitterly and vocally disappointed if I didn't get it, and maybe even refused to leave until I did. But I don't have a single right to complain if I've allowed work, or packing, or painting, or whatever to come between me and MY EVERY DAY TIME WITH GOD.

It's high time I unpacked God from His simple place in everything that I do and said HE MUST HAVE DEVOTED TIME EVERY SINGLE DAY.

And that's all there is to it. Christians are weak, and pathetic compared to what God would have us be. I am weak, and pathetic compared to what God would have me be. And it's all because I've let other things be and s t a y more important. DEAR GOD I'M SORRY!

What have I done? How dare I have spent all this time blogging... over a 1000 posts, talking about God but, too busy blogging to give Him REAL time so that He can work in me what HE WILLS. Oh GOD be merciful to me a foolish child!

The problem, I so often tell myself, is that I just don't have enough time, or that I'm tired. And the absolute truth of the matter is that whatever else I did that day, whether it's dishes, laundry, family time, or even volunteer work was allowed to be more important than God to me. I can excuse it away, I can say it's not so, but that's simply not true. And so whatever I'm doing that's keeping me from that time needs to be cut out from me.

And here's the clincher - I probably don't want to let it go.

That's why it's been there for God knows how long preventing me from spending GOOD SOLID AMOUNTS OF TIME in Gods word, and in earnest prayer each day.

Which, with this revelation, leaves me at an impasse: Do I let it go? Or do I put God second?

And if I put God second to whatever it is, that tells me I have made it an idol in my heart. And God is clearly a jealous God who covets every last bit of me. And for the record, carrying on and not changing IS a choice in itself. And a slap directly into the face of God. It's SIN.


The problem isn't that I fill my time with sins. I can fill it with so many good works. But God wants me to seek Him, seek Him FIRST and FOREMOST, and then He will add things to me that I might be working to add to myself right now (to the exclusion of God).

Christianity has to be the simplest thing in the world.

Love God, seek God FIRST.

It's only complicated because to put God first, whatever is first now has to move. And that's a struggle of the highest degree.

God help me die. Please God help me die to myself. I don't want to be a halfway Christian. I don't want to live a life for myself with You simply a part of it rather than the whole of it. Because that's what I'm doing now. And it shouldn't be that way. I can sing the song about You burning away sin and dross, but when I do I'm always talking about sin. Dross is defined as "waste, base, inferior" and that's what everything is compared to You.
Yet I spend more time reading blogs than Your word. I spent more time checking and responding to e-mails than praying. I spend entire weekends deeply focused on my niece and nephew, yet You gets 2.5hrs Sunday morning and 1hr Sunday night and the random worship evening in my home. I'm sorry God. So sorry. This life, I get that it needs to be all consuming. But also, when You consume it I won't have lost everything. Everything would be consumed right along with me. I wouldn't lose. I would only win. But, dying is hard to do that's why I need help.

I want more of You Lord, You must increase and I must decrease.

Please God, HELP!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The day of.

I was a flight attendant when September 11th 2001 hit. I had just finished my flight attendant training, moved into an apartment in Euless, Tx. and was beginning a job I had dreamed about for years. I was watching the news footage when the 2nd plane flew into the tower. That's when I went outside and found my fellow classmates, the ones who had chosen that same apartment complex, and I remember we simply stood in shock.

I kept a newspaper from that day. Because that newspaper, looking at it, seems so irrelevant.
The top of the page headline of the Dallas Morning News that day? "Eject the tapes: A disc drive begins. Blockbuster says it will offer fewer movies on VHS, make room for growing DVD market."

The big picture in the middle of the front states "At age 60, Dallas Farmers Market labors to realize potential"

And the bottom of the page: "In Miami, a new tune divides hard-line, conciliatory Cubans: Latin Grammys flap underscores differences in stance toward island.

This newspaper, purchased on the very day so much changed for America, looks entirely clueless, irrelevant, foolish in the light of the actual news from that date.

Whats that have to do with anything?

I've walked around, very focused on the events of the coming weeks, when suddenly I received news today that made all my thoughts seem so very foolish. Simply unimportant.

So this post is just a reminder to my future self I suppose, that I want the headlines of every single day to read that I was thinking about the gospel of Christ, that I was thinking about those I love and praying for them, that I was thinking about the lost and praying for them.


Compassion Project

I completely get that this isn't a very interactive blog. I really do.
But I'm not going to let that stop me from pulling myself out of journal mode and sitting down with you - YOU - and telling you about something new I'm joining into.

The bugs are being worked out, so nothing has happened yet but details will be forthcoming soon.



Here's the deal.

CoolDad, aka Eric, over at "Are We Still Cool?" wrote about an idea where people that can't afford to sponsor a child through Compassion could all unite together and sponsor one. His initial suggestion was that if 33 people joined in, each of us could put in 12 dollars a year and our collective child could be taken care of with us only having to find $12 bucks a year in our budget.

So far 6 people (myself included) have joined in which has us all committed to producing $5 a month.

Right now, especially at this moving time, I can't afford an extra $33 each month - but I can do $5.

So if you're at all interested in joining, go over to Erics blog and drop a comment on this post and he'll contact you and put you in the program. (The more participants the lower the monthly fees will be. For example - if two of you join, the collective dues would go down to approximately $4 bucks a month).

I get that money is tight, and I get that not everyone has a burden for these kids, and I hope you know not to feel badly for not coughing up money to join the program. But I wanted to tell you about it because if it's at all possible, I really do hope you'll join us.

And I mean that from the bottom of my heart to all of you. Whoever you are. :)

Oh, and not to guilt trip you or anything - but I found this a while back and have been saving it for this post because I like the challenging message to it.

In his message he told the story of how he decided to give away a large sum of money he earned. And he ended the story by saying that some people ask him if it’s wise to give it all away. “Shouldn’t you be more moderate in your generosity?” they essentially ask. “Shouldn’t you put some of it away in case of emergency?”
To which Chan answered, “Are you saying that what’s happening in ‘the developing world’ isn’t an emergency? ...Oh, you mean an emergency that involves me. Because if it doesn’t involve me then it’s not a real emergency right?”

(Credit: I found the quote at "Gospel Driven Church", who found it quoted on Shaun Groves blog. The quote is actually by Francis Chan.)

A quote - Spiritual Maturity

As someone who has a definite tendency to over-personalize my faith (I'm often re-evaluating if I'm not focused enough on the Holiness of God when I make Him so very personal) I really enjoyed this post from Jeff Weddle's blog "Anti-Itch Medititation".

Here's just a snippet:

So, what is “spiritual maturity?” I would answer it like this.

A person who has made steps in their transformation into Jesus Christ. A person who is actively following God’s Word, being taught, being humble, exercising love and the fruit of the Spirit, is overcoming sin, Satan and the world and has taken steps to lead others to Christ and has the “scars” to prove it. In other words, one who loves the Lord our God with all his heart, soul and mind and loves his neighbor as himself.

Knowing Christ is not like knowing your golf buddies. This is the eternal, holy God we are dealing with. The holy God who had to kill His own Son just to be able to stomach you being in His presence. Let’s not be overly-familiar in our flippant terminology with He whose ways are past finding out.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I believe.

This is a difficult post to write.

Part of the gratification I get from writing is delayed. It comes two years from now when I look back at 2009 and see what I was going through, what I did, what I struggled with and how I believed. I get to see ways that God came through for me that I might have forgotten. I get to remember lessons I've learned that I might have forgotten. Through the comments I get to remember friends (I miss Larry's comments). This blog is a great reminder of so very many things.

What makes this post more difficult to write is that I know two years from now, despite faith, despite hope, I won't want to remember this day. If it were in my power, I would wish this very day from existance. I dread stumbling across this post a year from now and being reminded of today.

Today my mother couldn't keep track of who my brother was. She thought he was her brother Steven. A few times she got on track and asked about Angel and David (her grandchildren) but then fell right back off track and started talking to Steven again.

I called my dad to find out the whole of the story, because I knew if she was doing that then she had done so much more - and sure enough, she'd lost the fact that she was married (to the extent that she got up in the middle of the night and got dressed then laid back down on the farthest edge of the bed) and then confused my dad with her father (who was dead before I was ever born). She also thought her parents were still alive and kept asking my dad if he was "sure he wanted to do this" and apparently thought they were moving in together.

He explained, much to her confusion, that they had been married 40 years.

I listened to my dad say how scary it was. My dad. He actually said he was scared. He used the words "losing her." I listened to the shook up voice of my brother - (a far calmer one than what I had in my first "event") as he told me she hadn't understood who he was. And then I listened to my mom. She talked about so many things, including how she was growing old gracefully, and I played my role as the one who always makes her laugh.

It's my job. I like my job.

Then I went to prayer meeting.

I got there and the building was - thankfully - empty. I sat down at the piano and over and over again all I could play was the chorus "I believe You're my healer. I believe You are all I need. I believe You're my portion. I believe You're more than enough for me. Jesus You're all I need."

Only I played it for her, "I believe You're her healer. I believe You are all she needs. I believe You're her portion. I believe You're more than enough for her. Jesus You're all she needs."

Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold her world in Your hands

I doubt God waits around for my reassurance, but tonight in the middle of the hurt I just wanted to sit down and tell God "I trust in You. I trust in You."

So often, even if I don't mean them, I put conditions on God.
I believe You're my healer - if you heal this.
I believe You're more than enough for me - if you fill this empty area Lord.
I believe You're my provider - if you provide this.
I believe You're my protector - if you get me out of this.

I unthinkingly put conditions on so many things that should be unconditional. That's why, tonight, when I desperately wished He could perform a healing, I told Him that He was her healer; that He was my healer, regardless. And it's true. Even though she's still sick.

I've said it before on this blog - God is good even when all the circumstances you're facing are bad.
He's your provider even when you struggle every day to make ends meet.
He's your healer, even when you're sick.

Circumstances should never dictate to me who my God is. Yet too often I have allowed them to do just that.
I guess that's why under the test of fresh hurt I immediately wanted to make sure He knew I wasn't going to desert Him this time. I believe. I really do believe. And I wanted Him to hear it.

You're my Healer

You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through fire
And heal all my disease

I trust in You
I trust in You

I believe You're my Healer
I believe You are all I need
I believe You're my Portion
I believe You're more than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need

My Healer, You're my Healer

Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
Nothing is impossible for You
You hold my world in Your hands

Monday, May 25, 2009

I will not fear and obey.

I'm not worried. I'm not upset. I've had moments when I suddenly realize I'm anxious and immediately remind myself that I really do believe that God is in control and while I'm anxious to know how it will all turn out now rather than later - my reminders so far about how much I really trust His control in this situation are still working perfectly.


I can't tell you how refreshing this is. These last couple of weeks - peace is almost a tangible thing. My face, look at it, it's smiling and I don't know how good a faker I am anymore but whatever smiles you've been seeing weren't the real ones in the last couple of years. This one, this easy one that is beaming out of my eyes - that one is real.

And Jeanette looked at it and said, "It is good."

I don't know how it's all going to end up. But I do know that God is in it, and I trust Him to handle it. Trust is a beautiful thing.
I wrote about trusting before, even wrote specifically about "Trust and Obey" and how you can't just tell yourself to trust. Trusting is a condition of the heart. You can perform the actions of trust, by falling backwards and waiting for someone to catch you, but that just means you're able to obey despite the lack of trust.

I think I can obey despite the trust. I think the whole two years of foster parenting has proven that. But today, in these situations I'm in now - I'm happy to say I'm resting in my trust. Rest, relax, refresh, I'm happy and calm. Because I really do trust Him in this situation.

But we never can prove
The delights of His love,
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
And the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

I feel like I'm gloating. Because if there were anything I would like to write down right now it would be a recipe for how to trust like this. Because I could have used such a recipe to get me through the last several years in a far more dignified manner.
But I don't know. I don't know why I can trust today and a year ago I was losing my mind. I don't know why I'm sitting here with such a sweet peace right now. I don't know how to tell you to get it.

But I love that I've got it now.

And I don't want to let it go.
And you can't make me. :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The scary Philippians 4:13

So, I got a plaque.

I have a thing with promises though that leaves me always looking for the "but".

So when he handed me a plaque that said "I can do all things..." I wanted to go read the chapter and see what he was really saying there.

What I found was more than ironic.

I've been wondering, vaguely, about how difficult this move will be. What I'm going to find on the other side (and by other side, I technically mean on the "other side" of Texas). I truly believe amazing things are going to happen while I'm there. I haven't the faintest idea what, but someone else mentioned to me just today that they felt it was going to be something like a flower opening up and I could only agree fully.

And I smiled.

So while I know this move is going to be terrific - I've also wondered about how difficult some aspects are going to be. I feel like I've gone from one growing pain and I'm about to move into the next one only the challenge is going to be wildly different from my last one.

So when I looked at Philippians 4 I wasn't too thrilled, but it does simply strengthen my confidence that what is about to come is of God so I will survive it.

Here are the verses right next to "I can do all things"

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

All of the verses around it talk about rejoicing in the Lord always. Do you remember "Oh the joy of full salvation?" Sure enough, my bible is talking to me about rejoicing. But I took the warning in these verses very seriously. anxious for nothing
...let your requests be made known to God
...the peace of God...will guard your heart and mind
...whatever situation I am to be content
...any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.

I'm not discouraged and I'm not afraid - in the middle of my newly returned smile though I'm very sober. I see in these verses rejoicing. Rejoicing in every circumstance. I see Paul listing lots of circumstances too, half good, half bad.

Whatever the circumstance I'm going to face, I may have cause to be anxious, but I should not be anxious. I need only let my request be made known to God - and specifically the verse actually tells me to make my request known to God with thankfulness.
It tells me my heart and mind may be attacked but if I do all the stuff I just said I should do - then the peace of God will guard my heart and mind.

In these verses for some reason I read about terrific struggle. But I also read about peace, contentment, thanksgiving, friends coming along side, rejoicing in the Lord, and then rejoicing in the Lord again.

In the weeks leading up to this move I feel as though I've received a lot of promises and an equal number of warnings. God certainly has my attention.

Despite the fact that I'm tempted to be worried (aka anxious - as in "Be anxious for nothing" I know.) something is holding me back from the worry and fear. And I'm looking forward to explaining it...
...tomorrow. :)

Consolation prizes.

So at church today, I was given a little send off. I got a plaque, the kids and I all got t-shirts, though best of all we were prayed for.
On my way back to my seat I made some stupid joke about how I'd been to church and gotten the t-shirt (been there, done that, got the t-shirt)...but I realized something.

While the gifts were sweet, (I'm wearing the t-shirt now, and the plaque really is beautiful) and while I really do understand the gesture, they felt like parting gifts.

We've all seen the losers on Family Feud go home with the play-at-home game, while the winners leave with $12,682 in cash and prizes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Parting gifts are supposed to be a consolation prize. It's a way of saying "We're sorry you didn't win, but you won't leave with nothing here, take this lovely parting gift."

Every church I've been to holds the strangest collection of people you'll ever meet. And while there are usually some that I'm sorry to have known - and it's a miracle that I can say this - but... this church holds none of them. They were all right there, at the perfect time in my life for me to meet them. And I learned so much.

From Sister Duncan, I was given the opportunity to play for my mother. No, she's not my mother, but she sings all my mothers songs. Mom has alzheimers and has officially quit singing - so every time I got to play for her was a special treasure. Thank you.

From Sister Norma I learned about poise and grace. I wish I were half the woman she is - and yet she's the one thing my boisterous heart will probably never grow up to be. I'd swear she's regal. When she speaks, I listen. Because what she says is important. I'll never forget that kind of graciousness.

From Brother Grover I learned to appreciate that someone would walk all the way across the building just to hug me. He's a man that accepts people. And he somehow does it in a way that doesn't make you feel like he's accepting you despite something.
From him and his wife I was honored to watch a really beautiful marriage. While I'm sure it may have it's difficulties, I never once saw them. It is pleasant to watch.

From Johnny I learned the peaceful openness of sharing your past and your progress. He came to church one day not even all that long ago and found something of value and did not keep it to himself. Two people accepted Christ today because of that. He put me to shame. I'm so proud.

From Sister Moselle (yeah, I probably spelled her name wrong) she taught me the most incredible lesson on worship as she led us so many times with tears running down her face.

From another that I won't name, I learned forgiveness. I learned the hard way, but I did learn it. And I certainly didn't deserve it.

From Sister Cherry, I learned bull-headed determination. I know few people that deserve to sit down and cry as much as she does. And yet she rarely does. And when she does cry, she still just gets up, deals with her family and goes back to work. I'm impressed and overwhelmed by her at the same time. She's strong. The idea that she disapproves of my move eats me up. Her opinion is important. I doubt she realizes it. Only the changes wrought by the last 3 years are what allow me to not be ashamed or doubt my decisions just because of her approval.

From David and Liberty I learned something about what I can only briefly call "in-your-face-edness". These are the people who say they care about you, and yet don't stay in touch, yet somehow they are so bold in their care of you that you know that if you ever needed them, you could call them and they'd drain the river to get to you if necessary. They're over the top.

There are others I haven't listed still that have given so much to me.

And that's why, this morning, clutching my plaque and t-shirt I wondered why I was holding parting gifts. Didn't they know I'd won? Didn't they see the prizes, and the valuables I was walking away with today? Didn't they see I'd gained so much?

And so, probably for the first time ever, I wish they could read my blog. Every last one of them. I'd tack this post to the door of the church if I thought they would all see it. I wish they could hear my heart yelling "I WON!" And I wish they knew how they were responsible for so much of it. I wish they could see the change in my heart from 3 years ago. I wish they could see how grateful I am that they allowed me to play their piano, to teach their children, to talk to them, to sit under their teaching, and even the privilege to sit next to them as they talked to one another.

I won.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Cleaning shiny floors.

I was wandering through wal-mart this morning at 3am looking for garage sale signs. This weekend will be my 3rd and final garage sale before the move. *phew*

But as any typical wal-mart shopper knows, instead of dodging busy people chatting on their cell phones while they distractedly push a buggy, or unstable 6 yr old buggy drivers and the elderly woman with her motorized cart who has parked herself right in front of the bread you need, 3am shopping is filled with random treks around large piles of boxes, dodging cleaning crews, and aisles that are just plain inaccessible because as staff restock the shelves they've scattered boxes and junk all down the aisle.

This morning was no different.

As I walked across an open expanse of floor, there was an older gentleman pushing a floor buffer back and forth across the floor. I looked at where he'd been and noticed how shiny the floors were and mentally gave him a thumbs up.

But then I looked down at the floor around my feet and noticed that, even though he had yet to come buff this area, it was very shiny as well. I realized, with a wide visual sweep of the whole floor that you really couldn't tell where he had been this morning and where he hadn't been. I considered how big a waste of time this was shining shiny floors.

When I realized that Wal-Mart doesn't want it's floors to be dull.


(Go ahead and insert your own negative Wal-Mart comment here, I understand. I'm just applying this lesson to what I saw this morning)

Wal-Mart doesn't wait until it's floors are dull to shine them. They shine them. Even when they're shiny. To keep them shiny.

And I wondered if I am that diligent with my own soul. A life of repentance, cleaning my heart and my motives tends to wait sometimes until I do something really bad or really hurtful to someone.
Cries like "Purify my heart God" tend to come after I've had a really hateful comment run through my mind, or my attitude begins to get the best of me.

But, I can learn a lesson from Wal-Mart. (Who knew?)
Those cries for purity of heart, of mind, of soul should be pouring out when those parts of me aren't struggling with sin. when my mind is joyful and my soul is worshipful and my heart is innocent of any evil motives and thought - so I don't wait until my heart is scuffed up with sin before I start the cleaning process again.

But that I'll shine those things up even when they look shiny and clean and pure. So that I will always be a visible witness of what God can do to a heart. My heart need never look scuffed up again. Because I need always be buffing.

And maybe I won't be able to tell I've done anything after those prayers, maybe I won't be able to see and imagine that God is really doing anything as I pray purify my heart - because it doesn't seem like anything has changed. But things aren't always as they seem.

I really like this lesson. But, it could be because it's now 4am and I've done gone goofy.

Have a good weekend. :)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Somebody's apple

I'm only scratching the surface of this thought, but even with only a scratch this post is written with a smile that can't seem to be tamed.

I unintentionally hurt someones kid this week. And while the kid was a friend, and I'm sorry to have hurt them, their parents are pretty important to me too. And these parents are certainly protective of their kids. Enough so, that, while I don't believe it is going to be a problem, the thought occurred to me that they could be upset with me.

I almost e-mailed them an apology just to cover my bases, and make sure they knew I wasn't oblivious or unconcerned with how my actions impacted their child.

But then I realized something.

I care about what the parents think of how I treat their children.
Do I care about what God thinks of how I treat His children?

So often, I go to God repenting of some sin, because I know it was something He wouldn't have wanted me to do. But I don't remember once ever fearfully and apologetically going to God nervous because I hadn't just done something stupid and wrong, but because I had hurt His child.

And I find that incredible.

And not just because it's a new way to consider my sins before God, but because it puts God more deeply into my mind as a Father who really cares about His kids. It's not just about you being sinful, or unrighteous and unholy. He cares about the fact that your stupid sins hurt people He loves.

And I love that.

I really do.

I've hurt some of Gods children - too many times in my life. Even in the situation that I described earlier, that was Gods child that I disappointed. Gods child.

But here is where the best part of the whole thing comes up.

While I can hurt someone elses kid and make their parents mad at me - I'm Gods kid, and when I hurt His kids He won't toss me out. He will love me because I'm His kid too.
I'm Somebody's kid.

And I really love being His child.

I hope I hang onto this lesson. Because aside from how thankful I am to know that God is protective of me the same way a regular parent would be of their child (except better), I want to remember that when I'm interacting with someone in a less than gracious way, that I'm talking/thinking/being unkind to someone that is of infinite value to Someone I love so very much and don't want disappointed in me.

As I revel in the idea that I'm the apple of Gods eye, and imagine what a beautiful, fully loved place that it is - I need to remember that a lot of other people are in that sweet apple spot too.

Father, help me remember that my perspective is such a shallow one and so very dim compared to what You see. Help me be gracious, and careful always to remember my absolute desire to bring You pleasure even when I am tempted. Don't let me forget. Let me never make You ashamed.

Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry!
Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
From your presence let my vindication come!
Let your eyes behold the right!

You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night,
you have tested me, and you will find nothing;
I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress.
With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.

Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
Psalms 17:1-8

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I missed church tonight.

I don't go to Wednesday night services anymore. Truth be told, and now that I'm about to move it's probably the only time I could have actually told the truth about this, but I don't go anymore simply because I hate studying about end times.

Yes. Armageddon will happen. Yes, bowls of wrath will be poured out. Yes, 70 weeks, yes 1,000 years, yes 7 bowls and 7 seals and 7 trumpets, 1 harlot and 1 beast, yes and yes.

My dad wrote a book about it, he gives me a new preaching cd every single month about it, the last 10 times I've heard him preach in person were about the end times. He has a standard rule of how the first time he preaches somewhere he will preach his stance on the end times and if he ever gets invited back then he might move on to other topics. With my end-times scholar for a dad we've studied Revelation, Daniel, and Ezekiel chapter by chapter, verse by verse enough times that I stopped counting. It's a lot though. Add into that the supper-time debates on end times (though to be fair we also went back and forth about predestination - ahhh childhood).

I'm absolutely sick of the end times. And for the record, yes, I understand that as a Christian looking forward to Christs return I should be most interested in this information so I too can watch the signs.

And while I'm sick of it, it doesn't mean that it's bad for my church to be studying about it. It's a good thing. Really. But as they go chapter by chapter through Revelation and Ezekiel (I'm not sure where they are at now), I finally just stopped going.

But for some reason, about 10 o'clock tonight it hit me that it was Wednesday. And I suddenly felt deeply deeply sad that I had missed it.

And then I smiled.

While I am still sorry to have missed out, I was very happy to realize that some of that old love for my people and my church was there again and wonderful. I haven't loved them like I should. I knew it. So this sudden regret, this disappointment for missing out, was terrific to experience. I've got two Wednesdays left before the move and I don't have to be disappointed next week.

And I can hardly wait.

As long as He's there.


There is a lot going on. But at the same time, it doesn't even feel like a lot. God's done an incredible work in me this week. The chaos isn't overwhelming me, it's not even coming close anymore.

(Keep your fingers crossed that this post doesn't make the devil step things up a notch though.) :)

I handed some very special people a very heavy disappointment this week. I'm disappointed for them. I know exactly what it's like when things don't work out like you imagine they will. But at the same time there is no upset, there isn't a doubt, there isn't a fear, there isn't a question.

And personally,.... and I'm sure you'll agree with me if you've read even one months worth of posts here.... for me to be that calm and peaceful is nothing short of a miracle.

I had told someone yesterday, that I'd rather be obedient and know that God is there in whatever mess I find myself in - than to be disobedient and know that God wasn't in it.

And that's exactly where I'm at. I don't know how things will work out, I just know they will. I don't have any special reassurance that the future won't be very difficult and disappointing. In fact, I'm almost expecting it to be harder than what I'm prepared for.
But at the same time I'm sitting in the last days before everything breaks open and I'm absolutely confident that God is in it. And that's good enough to see me through.

As long as He's there. I'll go anywhere.

Remind me of this post next time I'm pulling my hair out.

If there is anything that could frighten me right now, it's the knowledge that I've felt sure before, I've held blissfully on to God and then slipped right out of that surety.
This time feels the same, but different. Deeper, and certainly more weathered. But it's not so deep I can't fall again. I hope I never lose that - I don't know that timidity is the right word - but that little thing that holds me in check as I remember how easy it is to fall. And never forget that my ability to sit in this relaxed sureness is only by the grace of God.
May I seek that grace every single day, to hold onto me. Again.
And again.
And again.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Is that what it's all about?


I already know my answer. I've come too far to expect it to be all about that. This life is now about something far more important.


I'm moving to San Antonio with my brothers family. June 6th is the official moving date, and as it gets closer all of the loose ends that are seemingly very important (having jobs, having a house) weigh all the more heavily on our minds.

Someone mentioned today that God was going to take us to San Antonio to bless us. And perhaps it's the religion abused side of me that shied away from that but, instantly I reminded that person that Abraham was called away from his home because God intended to bless him. But, at the same time Abraham walked many miles, and endured many troubles, before that blessing came.

And I wondered, if that is what this is all about to some people. Not necessarily just my situation, but situations everywhere - when God leads you into something do you naturally assume it's going to produce an immediate blessing to you?

Here's what I want. I want to go somewhere so that I can be a blessing.

I don't want abundance. The only perk of abundance is that it allows me to do more for others. I get how that sounds - but there is a thrill in being able to help that you don't get from going out to expensive dinners or having a swimming pool in your backyard.

It's a blessing to be a blessing.

Anytime God calls you into something, it is usually about God having something special in mind. But the benefits might not be about you at all. Yes, you'll reap from it, but maybe it's not about you. Maybe it's about someone else entirely and you're just a willing vessel God is going to use to pull it off.

Here is something I had to learn this last year though. Even when God is using you for someone else, even when you're tired and frustrated of trying to be everywhere that everyone needs you to be - God hasn't forgotten about you. He's not so busy using you, that He forgets to take care of you. He's not so busy helping others, that He can't see your needs.

I had yet another reminder again today that my responsibility isn't primarily to take care of myself. God is it. Over me, over my family, over all those people I feel so very responsible for. It's God who is more important. And as long as I remember that, all those other things that I want to make so much more important than Him will be taken care of BY Him.

It sure isn't easy to remember that though. But if you could possibly die like this, it sure is a life worth living.

God, help me be dead again tomorrow.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Baptism, death, joy, healing.

I was rebaptized today.

I hate to be dramatic, and using the word "death" all the time just seems dramatic, but in the moments just prior to being baptized I was praying harder than ever before in my life that God would give me strength to die.

I don't want to spend another day chasing things, moments, fears that keep me from the life that being completely dead offers.

I confess with resignation that I went down in tears. I was mess enough already without the added bonus of being dunked under water. But I could only cry more as I was reminded of the words "I have baptized you in tears."

But just prior to the baptism, we had been singing "I surrender all" and I was caught by the last verse:

"All to Jesus I surrender. Now I feel the sacred flame. Oh, the joy of full salvation - Glory Glory to His name"

I don't know why it struck me, but just moments after I came up from the water, I expected to still feel broken and pleading, but instead I had those words running through my head "Oh the joy of full salvation." "Oh the joy of full salvation." "Oh the joy of full salvation."

I smiled.

Something had changed. And while the art of getting wet doesn't change anything, the fact that I obeyed the simple command of "do it" is good. Though I confess, I was fortunate to have a pastor who agreed to do it, then picked the date, then ordered me into the room. To say I was reluctant.. is... putting it mildly. I'm certainly glad to have it done.

I'm also certainly glad that, while someone did have to push me through the steps, I was obedient.. enough.

But, I found some joy today. Joy in my salvation and I really think God tried to make sure I knew it was coming. I've spent the last couple of years either crying, hurting, or otherwise very somber. There have been wonderful, amazing times as well, but if I had to choose the predominant emotion of the last two years it would be hurt.

And I wonder, vaguely, if that isn't why I've been at the church I've been at. I once described it, as a hospital because it seems to attract the hurting and broken, it attracts those struggling with sins that addictively twist peoples lives into oblivion. The list includes several seemingly perfect people who, much like myself, looked hurt and bitterness in the eyes and then bent down under the weight.

Perhaps that's why I am now permitted to leave.

I no longer need a hospital.

Though, speaking of hospitals. My sunday school class and I are praying for Dr Pate, who is missing half a finger, that his finger will be made whole. If you could join us in this heartfelt prayer, I'd appreciate it. I'd love to silence the snickering of 5 kids imagining praying for his finger to grow.

Afraid to die?

I found this today, and it was fitting for the day.

It's apparently by a man named Ed Welch, but I found it over at "In All Honesty".

What does it mean to have been crucified with Christ? It means that there's absolutely nothing to lose. You can't hurt a dead man who's alive. There's nothing you can do to such a person.

So, when you're afraid, die. Die to the opinions of other people. Die to wealth. Die to possessions. Die to reputation. Die to your demand to be loved.

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's all about the music...

I'm disappointed.

A few months ago I tried to get my piano tuned. Ok, it's not 'my' piano, but it still deserved better.

My tuner stood me up.

I tried the next week - even took off work - and he cancelled.

And now, this week I tried to get it tuned before I left, so it would sound good for whoever begins playing behind me.

And he cancelled again.

I seriously need a new piano tuner.

There is something about a piano out of tune that hurts. Yeah, I know it's stupid. But for just a few weeks each year, I get to experience what it sounds like perfected. And it's wonderful.
And then, slowly the tones dull, or sharpen, they no longer blend as well as you know they could.
It's not bad. It still sounds like a piano. But it's far less than the music you know it could make.

Maybe if you play a guitar, or violin, any stringed instrument that you're constantly tuning - you know what I'm talking about.
Listening to it, you just feel a little dissatisfied.

It was a gift. A gift it looks like I won't be able to give.

I had hoped that when whichever one of them sat down to play, that they'd notice it wasn't the same sound they were used to hearing. The keys don't even feel like they move the same way after a good tune. It makes you feel like you're a better musician than you really are. But the music... does something to you.

At least it does something to me.

And I had hoped they would find in themselves a love for music, a love for the piano, that made them a better player. Not necessarily because they physically play better, but because they play absolutely loving the music.

What are the odds? God, could you please raise up a musician for them that has Your melody in their heart so vibrantly that they cannot help but play. Whatever the instrument, whatever their talent, whatever their worry about not being good enough. Let that need to play the melody be so strong they can't help but play.

It seems foolish even to my own ears, or in this blogs case "my own eyes" to see music as so important. And maybe it's one of those things that each person thinks about their own passions. Preachers probably think preaching is most important. The church secretary probably thinks the money is important. Musicians think music is important.

But I hope this church learns to love music. To love the song. To love the worship of singing so much that it makes them weak in the knees and they can't explain why.
I hope they find themselves worshipping in the car, in the grocery store, in the 29 second walk from building to car each day. I hope they begin to listen to the words of the songs and realize what a story they tell. I pray they never "just sing" a single solitary song for the rest of their lives.

I hope they find rapture, pure and utter rapture in their 20 minutes of singing each service. So much so that the service runs late because no one wants to stop. I pray they find themselves singing their own songs over the melody - thanking their Savior personally because the words can't be held back - rather than forever worshipping with other peoples words.

I pray that their worship begins to change the entire church family. As one watches the other worship and they enter in, a third watches on and chooses to enter in as well, and so on until people driving by are simply compelled to step in to see what's going on.
And when they come in, yes they'll find teaching available, but more than anything they'll find people worshipping God.

I'm tellin' you, musicians think music is the be all and the end all.
If God could work this awesome miracle, then I'm sure He can do it even with the piano out of tune, or no musicians at all.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Strength for today

I pulled this entire post off of the Steven Furtick blogsite. It was posted by Meredith Brock and it was a beautiful thing to wake up to read this morning. If ever a post was timed perfectly, this is it.
So enjoy.

Strength for today

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow…
Blessings all mine with ten thousand beside!

Please tell me you know that hymn. It’s one of my favorites. I was singing the third verse of Great is Thy Faithfulness the other day, and I had a relatively profound thought: that’s exactly how it works in the economy of God.Not the other way around.

God gives strength for today, and hope for tomorrow.

Sometimes we get it backwards. When we worry about the uncertainties of tomorrow we’re bound to bend and break beneath the weight of anxiety. God doesn’t give strength for tomorrow’s tests. He only gives strength for today. Like manna. Each day has enough trouble of its own .

God’s only provision for your future needs is hope. The certainty of His sovereignty is your only guarantee. Make a note though: God doesn’t give you hope for the needs of today. He gives you strength for your immediate needs-and He expects you to do something about them! I’ve met people who waste time hoping things will work out…when God has already given them the strength to make a change and take a step. You can’t substitute hope for hard work, expecting God to do something for you that you can do for yourself.

Do you a have need today? Walk confidently in the strength of your God for the needs of your now.
Do you have a concern about tomorrow? Tomorrow’s strength will be deposited in your account first thing tomorrow morning…not a moment before.
Until then, put your hope in Christ alone.

Great is His faithfulness!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

sloppy, holy and absurd

“...Christianity is about water: “Everyone that thirsteth, come ye to the waters.” It’s about baptism, for God’s sake. It’s about full immersion, about falling into something elemental and wet. Most of what we do in worldy life is geared toward our staying dry, looking good, not going under. But in baptism, in lakes and rain and tanks and fonts, you agree to do something that’s a little sloppy because at the same time it’s also holy, and absurd. It’s about surrender, giving in to all those things we can’t control; it’s a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched.”
Annie Lamot, Travelling Mercies, pg 231

Ht: on coffee

Vision explained.


What a night.

God spoke to me at 2am.

I really, really like it when God actually speaks in such a way that even I understand it.

I got up this morning at 1am to go do my second job. I have a nearly hour long trip to make to a warehouse to pick up newspapers and tonight I spent the entire time obsessing and worrying about being re-baptized.

I'm very ... intense ... about the event.

And I was floored and broken when God revealed something to me. (And when I say "broken" it's probably the best "broken" I've experienced with such profound relief and understanding.)

I was just a couple of blocks away from my destination when He did it, so it made it ten times worse that I couldn't stop crying at what He revealed. - It's really hard to explain why your all soggy just to pick up newspapers.

Do you remember this post?

I wrote it exactly one month ago today. But at the time I didn't know what it meant and I was praying for an interpretation of it.

Well today, driving down the road, stressing about the re-baptizism that I felt God wanted me to pursue I remembered that vision and the feeling of the water up to my chest.

And as clearly as if He had wrote it on my blog He said:

"I have baptized you in tears."

I wish I had words to tell you what it meant to me. I really do.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Maybe one day.

I'm overwhelmed.
It's easy enough to say.

This dandy little blog is my chief source of verbalizing the stress - but lately I've held myself back from those stress-filled rants because sometimes I wonder if it doesn't exacerbate the situation to list out everything going on.

If I burst one day, you'll know why. :)

But, last night was one of the more action packed 24hour periods and the bursting was getting closer and closer when it was broken into by an ironic event.
I'm pretty sure I've seen this lesson before. The mental connection that I made seemed so familiar - but it was a very appropriate moment for a reminder.
I went, as I regularly do, to visit Little One. We did a little shopping that I needed to get done before I took her to find food. Only as we got back into the car at the store, she had difficulty buckling her seat belt.

She's done it before, a lot, she always does it herself now, so I do know she can do it. But, immediately when the trouble started her voice went up two octaves. The whiny tone hit her words and simply coated them. "I caannnnnnnnn'tttttttt dooooooooooooo itttttttttttttttttttttt!!!!!!!!!!!" Over and over.
"It's stuck!" "It won't go in!" "I can't do it!" "I can't do it!"
Many tears followed. And all of this took less than 60 seconds before in the middle of her cries we both heard the familiar "click" as the impossible happened and her seat belt snapped into place.

Instantly, the whines and cries silenced.

And I burst out laughing.

I saw too clearly myself doing the same thing, once again, to God.

There's too much God, I can't do it. It's too hard God, it won't work. It won't be done right God, there's no way. I'm not able God. I need help God, someone else should be doing this. It won't work God.

I can work myself into quite a state until I'm surprised by a resounding "click" as things fall into place.

I'm tired and scared and so much is on my plate to handle, and so much is entirely out of my control.
And now, the date has been set that I'll be re-baptized next Sunday.
It seems unrelated but adding this little event into the mix is the absolute icing on this crazy awful/wonderful cake.
The timing of all these things smashing together is ironic to say the least.



If I were really dead it would mean I couldn't make mistakes.
Lives wouldn't be affected by my actions or missteps.

Living dead is another matter altogether.

Living dead takes all these questions, all these worries and waits on God.

Living dead says "yes" even when everything in you wants to say no.

Living dead says "I'll go" when you really want to stay.

Living dead says "I'll stay." when you really want to go.

Living dead says "No." when the cost is so high that you can hardly breathe.

Maybe one day "everything' in me won't want to say no, or so much of me want to stay. Maybe one day so much of me won't want to go, and I'll learn how to breathe more easily even when the cost is so great.
Maybe one day, the part of me I'm so strongly trying to be rid of will not feel so very much alive anymore.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Two Rooms.

My brothers family and I are house hunting. Trying to find a house in San Antonio big enough for us all to co-habit.
The list began growing quickly.

We went gradually from a 3 bedroom 2 bath to a 5 bedroom, 3 bath with two living areas.

The two living areas? 1 is for worship, it's a place where my piano can be (so I don't have to cry because it's in a storage building somewhere) *sniffle*
And the other one is for the tv and video games and such.

And I was praying today when I felt a sudden kick in my gut, as I realized that - though we have very sincere intentions for the plans for those two rooms - the very idea behind the two rooms indicated to me two separate divisions of my heart..

There's the "God" room. I worship, I love, I pray and study the Bible.
Then there's "My" room.
Where it's still about me and I.

God wants me to have one room.

It seems like overkill. I understand.

You can be a Christian and watch tv.
You can be a Christian and play video games.

But the ways and lifestyle put to me in the Bible seem like if they were actually followed entirely that they would take everything in me.

It's always the same thing that comes to mind.

It's that point at the end of your life when you're looking into the eyes of Someone so very good. And you see in yourself the money you wasted, the time you wasted.

It breaks my heart every time I see that clip. But every so often it just plays through my mind. 1 more. I could have done more.

When I look around though, at the end of my life I don't want to be wearing the pin, or driving the car, that could have bought one more life. I want my waste to be a distant memory. It will still be regretted, but it can be a distant regret.

I gave more than I expected to give.

Dear God,

Yesterday I went to Pro-Cuts to get a hair cut. As You know, I spent many months growing my hair out so that I can donate it to Locks of Love. After 14 long months of growing I had at least 11 inches to cut off and send to the program.

But, you see, when I went to Pro-Cuts I told them what I was doing, and they put my hair in a pony tail and chopped the large donation piece off. It turned out to be around 13 inches.

That was alright.

Then they started trimming my hair to make it even all the way around. I was a little surprised because they were trimming a whole lot more than I expected off, but... once the first few cuts are made I didn't see any way around completing the project. So the woman finished trimming and I walked out a little surprised that I had so little hair left.

I admit, I complained about it a lot. It's hard to get used to having a load of hair to.. well, having so little.

But... for some reason, I started thinking about You.

And I began thinking about how You gave more than You planned. You expected to be beaten, and killed.

But they whipped You more than was necessary.

They hit You, and spit on You.

You endured people that You loved and had done so much for yelling "Crucify Him!"

When all you really had to do was die.

But You gave so much more than Your life.

...... and You didn't complain.

So I guess, I just wanted to write and say how grateful I am for what You did. I appreciate that when You saw they were going to be meaner than they needed to be, that You didn't call the angels down to save you so that You could do it again later "the right way".

You finished what You started.

So, I know it's strange to write it all this way, but... I just wanted to write a letter thanking You.

I love You.

He hideth my soul.

With numberless blessings each moment He crowns,
And filled with His fullness divine,
I sing in my rapture, oh, glory to God!
For such a Redeemer as mine.

(He hideth my soul)

Friday, May 08, 2009

This is my story.

I've been thinking about "Confess your faults one to another."

Granted, you don't want to just blurt everything out to everyone - but how challenging would it be to sit down in your church building, with the church of God around you, and admit that you'd sinned, and were struggling with a sin and wanted them to pray with you?

Occasionally, someone else will mention that someone is struggling. And we'll all pray.
But never once, have I see someone stand up and say, "Hey, I used to be an alcoholic and I really am struggling to not take a drink lately - please pray!"

Or, "I'm addicted to pornography. I'm trying to beat it, but temptation just overcomes me sometimes, please keep me in prayer."

How about, "I'm a bad steward of my money (or health), and God's been convicting me about it. Please help me pray."

Maybe, "There's a guy/girl at work and I'm struggling to keep my thoughts in check."

We don't have anything like that though. And honestly, I wouldn't feel comfortable in that situation because I might be confessing some serious sin in my life while you pray for me and then you'll "confess" that you haven't been reading your Bible as much as you should.


Excuse me while I roll my eyes.

There's the Christian world out there that just doesn't sin anymore. They apparently never lie. They never struggle with their temper. They never lose control of their tongue. They never act hateful towards their spouse even. God's just good all the time. They've always had a 'fine' week and except for the fact that they aren't reading their bible as much as they should, they're in perfect spiritual condition. :)


Har de har har.

But I know why we smile, why our biggest confessed sins are not even sins at all.

At least I know why mine are.

I don't want to admit my deepest sins even to myself. Much less to you. You won't look at me the same if I told you. You think I'm spiritual now, and if I confess to you, if I actually confess my faults - you'll change how you think of me. Will you still trust me? Will my sins repulse you?

You won't know how to respond.

I wonder though, how you get that. How do you find a segment of believers that confess our faults to one another. We confess faithlessness and hypocrisy, we confess our desires for growth and what we're doing to grow. We talk, curiously and with wonder about what God is taking us into next. And we, for certain, are always attempting to grow.

Just as I said yesterday though, it's my fault that I don't have that right now. Besides my outrageously bad relationship skills, it's entirely up to me to open my mouth and continuously draw others into the conversation that I would like to begin. Until someone else becomes enraptured in the conversation as well.

.... The post stalled here.

When I got stuck I did what I always do. I flipped the laptop shut and I went to my piano. I sat, I played, and prayed and praised. And in the scattered songs I suddenly found myself singing the chorus to "Blessed Assurance." It says: "This is my story, this is my song. Praising my Savior, all the day long."

And the thought came to me that when we fail to confess our sins, we're hiding away our story. I didn't read you the chapter where I struggled with lying, or where rage controlled me. I skipped whole chunks of my story where internet pornography was an issue for me and somehow God helped me past it. I barely even summarized the 18 chapters where I played the hypocrite.

Those are the chapters that leave me praising God "all the day long." Those chapters. I can tell you I was lost but now I'm found. But that pathetic statement is like saying September 11th, 2001 was the day a couple of buildings fell down. It doesn't tell you what happened.

When you confess your sins, who you really are, who you have been, and who you never want to be again, you're letting people read the story as it happens. So tomorrow, when you're "praising your Savior all the day long." They'll be in awe and wonder too.

Find it. Maybe just get a blog and start writing it if you have to. Twitter it. Facebook it. Myspace it. The world is full of stories, but the most amazing ones are hidden behind shame and pride. Those are the ones that give God glory though. And what do you have to be proud about... you're dead right?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Stepford Christianity

It's ironically nutty, but I really enjoy talking to my dad about church.

He rants about us young people not holding anything in reverence, not dressing right, not talking right, not treating the church (building) the way it should be treated, we don't sing right either.
I usually sit pretty quietly during that part. I wait.
And I wait. (He can rant a very long time.)

Then it happens.

He informs me that preachers can't preach the gospel anymore because WE won't let them.

That's when I pounce. It's one of the few areas in life I joyfully and passionately kick him in the verbal shins with a loud "BALONEY!" (For some reason we're not allowed to say "Bull")

And then I get about a 2 minute rant in (before he takes over again) about how if a preacher is a preacher he should be up there preaching what God has for him to say and if he gets kicked out then he gets kicked out.
If he lets me go too long I can start blaming the downfall of the church on his argument that preachers don't preach the meat of the gospel because they don't want to lose their jobs.

It's quite a pleasure.

I don't blame preachers though. I plant the blame right at my door and from there it flows outward to the church around me. That's right. You. You're supposed to be the church.

I went to a prayer meeting on Tuesday it was only me and one other woman and for 30 minutes the church was positively silent. I swear, I spent a good deal of time praying that something could shock us into making noise. I don't pray in my head at home. I longed for noise.

I longed for the relationship I have with Christ in my home, to be the relationship that I have in front of others.
It ain't.

I long for my excitement for spiritual things at home, to be slightly less than my excitement of sharing those spiritual things with you. All of you.
It ain't.

It's as though I spend my time at home in a close and personal relationship with God, and then I go to church and practice religion.

It's not the preachers fault.
It's not your fault.

It's all mine.

But, judging from the fact that there were only two people at the prayer meeting (and this is the first one I've attended in forever) I'm thinking that you've got the same problem I do.
It's exciting to be s a v e d.
Yet that passion is lacking in me when I go to the building church.
It's stifled into the corner even when I'm just around you church.
My fault.

But, you, you don't seem too excited either. You don't seem relieved, or oozing gratitude. You too, just like me, easily qualify as the Stepford Church.

I don't know how to change. I really don't. And I don't say that sadly, or with regrets or bitterness. It's just a fact. I'm so focused on behaving as a Stepford Christian that even when I want to act otherwise, I've got that zeal locked so tightly that it's a miracle whenever it comes out.

And that's exactly why I'm not upset about it right now.

I know the One who can work that kind of miracle in me. And I trust Him that if I want so strongly to verbalize, and act out my relationship with Christ publicly He hears my request for it.
I won't always be this way.
Because I've told God all about it.
He hears me.
I know it.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Settling things...

This is going to be long, and I may not censor or edit so please consider yourself warned when you read this.

For a little over a month I've been looking into moving to San Antonio with my brother and his family. My brother quickly got a job, and Glenda quickly got an interview, but for the last two weeks that I've actually been putting in applications I haven't had one person call me back. I began wondering if God was opening doors for my brother and his wife but not necessarily for me. So yesterday, I informed them, and God that I was laying down my fleece. If no one called me back by the end of the week I would quit searching, quit trying to move. I would accept His answer on the subject and get over it.

Today, for the first time since this all began, I checked my phone and sure enough, someone was calling about my application.

Back up a little bit to yesterday now - when I informed my brother and Glenda (his wife) that I was waiting on confirmation or I wouldn't actually move - my brother almost immediately called me. He said I was scared and that's all that was holding me back. He called me John the Baptist and in a strange way I'd never considered before about JtheB it was a bad thing. But then today, he e-mailed me something else that really struck home with me. He said that our religious upbringing taught us the opposite of the prosperity gospel. It's the gospel that says "If you really want it, God doesn't want you to have it."

In that I could see the truth. The more I want to move, the more afraid I become that God wouldn't allow it.

Go back a little further to a few weeks ago - I felt impressed to be re-baptized. I understand the living death aspect of being baptized and symbolically being raised as a new creature. The closer I got to actually talking to someone about being re-baptized the harder and harder it got.

You see, despite the fact that I desperately love Christ...
Despite the fact that I truly believe He loves me...

I still expect Him to hurt me.

I told you I don't do relationships very well.

But being baptized at 9 or 10 years old (a.k.a. "a stupid kid") is drastically different from being a 28 yr old person that truly loves Christ making a mature decision to die - daily - and symbolically going out of my way to make a specific declaration of that in front of my church family.

That's why a renewed baptism got harder and harder to think about. Wrong though I mentally know it is, it felt like a fresh committment to being hurt. I know better, but the more I thought about it the harder the idea becomes. Now, my pastor is helping by trying to schedule a time and I'm scared to death. Yet backing out is making a statement that I couldn't stand to make to God.

It's frustrating to see I'm still stuck in that little mental rut. I believe so much good about God. I believe everything I wrote during the 40 days of faith. I really do. And at the same time I'm still waiting for Him to abuse me, to hurt me, to use me.

It's ridiculous.

Today, when the phone call came in just as I'd asked God for, I realized it felt a little easier to think about being re-baptized. And I hated myself for the relief. Committing to give your every decision to Christ's will is one thing when you're afraid He's asking you to give up something - and different when you think He's agreeing with you on something.

It shouldn't matter. But the ease of the knot in my stomach told me it did.
God knows I'm human, but I don't want to be. I want to be like Him.

Monday, May 04, 2009

The futility of denying love.

I'm a bad artist, but at least I can draw a stick figure. I'm a klutzy cook, but at least once in awhile a cake turns out well. I'm a crummy decorator, so uncoordinated that I honestly wear solid colors just because it's easier to match.

But for all those things I'm bad at, I stink exponentially worse at relationships.

But I finally learned something incredible (to me) about relationships and love. And as usual, it started with God and worked it's way outward.

It's something I've discovered with God recently, and I am only recently putting in to my other relationships. The most hurtful thing I constantly tried to say to God last year was "I WON'T LOVE YOU ANYMORE." I was angry, frustrated, hurting so badly over all my foster kids. And yet, through it all, He knew I couldn't stop loving Him any more than I could stop breathing on my own. And it's all because the source of my greatest hurt, is also the source of my greatest healing. I find comfort in Him, even when it frustrates the daylights out of me. Even when I'm determined NOT to be comforted by Him.
Now, there's something truly comforting in knowing which people I really love. Because even when I'm frustrated beyond belief, again... I know that nothing could stop me from loving them. It's a bond, a hold that gives me confidence even when I'm angry. Because I understand where my heart is. At the same time, it's also something that I just now realized that I could abuse. As though I could say hurtful things to you, because I know ultimately it will all work out because I love you.

But I see now, during the last year, the most foolish, stupidest thing I ever said was that I would stop loving God. Because if loving was something you could stop, it wouldn't be love. I know it's foolish, and probably something a 28 yr old should have already known. But as I said, I really stink at relationships...

Saturday, May 02, 2009

More than anything else

I'll say yes, Lord, yes
To Your will and to Your way
I'll say yes, Lord, yes
I will trust You and obey.
When Your Spirit speaks to me
With my whole heart I'll agree
And my answer will be yes, Lord, yes.

It's an almost perfect song. Almost perfect. Except for the part where I'll agree with my whole heart. That part is just a little bit much.

But I was playing tonight, spending a little bit of time in worship, and I got stuck on the song "Oh how I love Jesus." Over and over and over, I sang those words. Then the song changed to "Lord you are more precious than silver" and the last line "and nothing I desire compares to You" really struck me.

It's a breaking process. To realize that God is more important to you than anything else. That no matter how badly it would hurt to give something up, you would, because it's God who is requiring it. And nothing is more important to you than Him. And it's not always that He wants you to give it up - as much as He wants you to be willing to give it up.

This relationship is like nothing I've ever had before. Or even close.

Oh how I love Jesus.

As an aside: This is my 1000th post. Wow. I've come a very long way. And in that long way I've wandered through some pretty steep valleys, but also some pretty amazing mountaintops. I've also walked in circles a lot. Walking a long way doesn't necessarily mean distance.
It's been a little over 7 years since I first started walking in this amazing relationship with Christ. And a little over 3 and a half years since I started blogging.
God has been... so much and beyond.
I don't know what the future is going to hold. I don't know if God will really ask me to give up something quite so difficult. But I get it now. I understand this gripping love better, this binding commitment. And I fully expect, that while posts 1001 - 1999 may all be full of hurtful rants and crazed whining, I expect that post 2000 will still be faithfully bound to the One who I love more than anything else.