Thursday, December 30, 2010

FEW ~~~ F-----E-----W ~~~ FEW

I wish I were an artist. If I had any capabilities in that area whatsoever I would draw an ornate and breathtakingly beautiful doorway, a doorway so beautiful that it grabs your attention from far away, and beside it would be a majestic wall with rubies and pearls and diamonds. On one side of the door, you'd see a few gaping, awestruck people walking in the doorway while the hoards and hoards of distracted people on their cell phones, reading their kindles, and using their Ipad to watch a movie, those people would distractedly walk straight into the wall as though they expect a door to be there.

Underneath this marvelous painting would be the words:

Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Matt. 7:14

Any artists out there want to help me out?

Living in the Bible Belt I'm really frustrated with getting to know "christians".

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Listen to this - and blog changes.

Hi there...

So, it's been awhile since I've done anything truly substantial on here hasn't it?

I really think that that is about to change finally and I'll explain why - but first I want to try and convince you to click this link right here. CLICK ME!!!! REALLY!!! I"M GREAT!!! CLICK CLICK CLICK! It will just open up Windows Media Player, so go ahead and click it and it can just play in the background while you read on. It's a sermon by a Pastor Ryan at a church here that I've been going to. One of the best sermons I've heard - and I've heard a LOT of sermons in my lifetime - I'd rank this one into the top 10. So click it and listen why don't you?

So,, this blog here.... it's been a wonderful thing. As someone else recently commented about blogging - It's cheaper than therapy. And he's 100% right. I think it might even be more effective than therapy.
But part of my struggle with blogging lately is that.. well... you're here. No offense, truly. Every blogger wants someone reading their work and I'm no exception. But at some point I quit blogging for myself and I began talking to you. I began worrying about whether I was saying too much, talking about too many struggles, showing all my many colors both bright and dark, whether I came off too goodie goodie, too crazy crazy, or whether my thoughts were relevant to you.

So, I still welcome your comments (it's like a surprise gift on a day that's not your birthday), and your e-mails - but for the most part I'm going back to what this blog was originally intended for, and honestly the writings which caused it to grow some in the first place before I focused too much on you.

This is a good change, and I think you'll find you enjoy it as well... eventually. Introspective writing is what I love best, and I've just been afraid of what I might be introspecting on you all.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and make some powerful and wonderful decisions for the coming new year and it's typical changes. God is great.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

What will I remember?

Nearly two months ago when talking with the Lord concerning my mom's situation and how it needed to change, I felt impressed by the time frame of the second week of January. I have no further revelation beyond that, but it was just something that went through my mind during the conversation and has persisted throughout the two months.

I fasted then, agreeing with the Lord for the 2nd week of January (assuming it was an actual word from God and not just wishful thinking). 3 days into the fast I received a phone call that finally, the situation had come to a head enough to absolutely require change. The ball had begun rolling.

Tomorrow, she is scheduled to move into the nursing home. My wish is that the 2nd week of January brings her something far better than a nursing home, but if this is the answer and it just took place before the 2nd week of Jan, I'm accepting of that. God knows my hearts desire. I will serve and love Him. Period.

But it's left me holding onto moments more this weekend as I spend the days with them realizing that each event is my last. It made last nights conversation all the more poignant.

My mother has seizures, a deep chunk missing from her leg that has developed staph infection, a broken foot that has never received any treatment, and randomly suffers from dizzy spells and nausea - she passes out easily while just standing there. All that is piled on top of the nasty fear and confusion of wondering why these rotten people don't understand that she HAS to get home to her momma and daddy who don't know where she is and she's got to help them. (Her parents are so long since deceased it's surprising she doesn't remember that with her long term memory).

Last night, she's having a spell and wandering back and forth from her bed to the living room - during one trip to her bed, she lies down and calls me into the room to pray for her.

I need help, it's too much.

What is too much?

I need you to pray for me.

What is happening that I should pray for?

I don't think I can keep breathing.

Is it hard to catch your breath?

No, it's just I tell myself to breathe and it goes into my brain and gets confused there.

(My own desires make me point blank on my next question) What do you want me to pray? Do you want me to pray God will help you breathe or that God will help you go home to Him?

Oh, I can't go home yet.

Why not?

Because of Steve, he needs someone here to pray for him. He says he loves God but he just goes up and down. He isn't sold out and won't give God everything. Steve has been so good to me, all my brothers have and I just can't stand them going to hell. Someone has to tell them, to convince them, to really give all of themselves to Jesus.

She doesn't know I'm her daughter. She hates the strange man that she declares isn't her husband, she's losing the ability to put together sentences that make sense, and she can't even remember how to breathe without effort - but she knows her brothers need Jesus.

What have I made so important to me that if I lost my ability to think and remember, that this one core issue would remain engraved in my mind? I doubt my one lingering memory will be quite so noble.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

And still obeys.

As time creeps closer to Christmas there is a part of me that almost panics with desperation. This year's Christmas is so incredibly difficult.

Even now, I write this weeping, struggling with envy over a brother in Christ who is about to lose his grandmother - I know that sentence doesn't make sense, but all my eyes can see is that someones suffering is over, they will see Heaven, he will only mourn a very temporal loss as he is heaven-bound as well.

I've prayed so hard for my mother to find relief. I have fasted, I have wept, I have literally groaned with emotion. Yet now, as we approach the final days before my mother enters a nursing home my imagination envisions her first night in a cold institution that is not home and cries out to God that He would let her see home.

I've struggled with God. There's always that foolish wish that God just do it, you know, whatever it is you're wanting. But He doesn't quite work that way.

Slowly I've been making my way through The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and one part caught my attention and I thought it might reach someone else the way it did me. Because I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person in the world who has failed at using God as her magic lamp.

For those of you not familiar with the book, Lewis writes from the perspective of a older, wiser demon writing to a novice demon just starting out on how to best win the patient away from the Enemy (God) and over to "Our Father Below" (The Devil). The older demon/Uncle "Screwtape" writes to his nephew Wormwood:

Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

Those words convicted me when I read them because as much as I'd like the world to revolve around my answers to my prayers - it doesn't. I love Him and I want to want to serve Him even when I ache so much for her pain that I can't breathe. I love Him and I want to want to serve Him when the answers I get don't make sense, when the plans don't work out, and when the substance of things hoped for never becomes actual "substance".

So when that day comes, roughly 9 days from now, when my mother spends her first night in a building, rather than a home, I will weep again and I will feel shattered into pieces...

...and I will love You Lord.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

My incredible present.

I've discovered something interesting:
Christmas wish lists rarely give you the things near and dear to a persons heart.

I've asked people "What do you want for Christmas"

The best presents I've found for people didn't come from pulling the item off a list or heading to the store to get what they mentioned. No. The best gifts came from spending time with them. Then, based on things they said that they didn't realize you were really listening too, I make the purchase.

Those have always gotten the best reactions.

Which left me wondering about the gift I've received and the person who gave it. I wouldn't have asked for it. I wouldn't have imagined a gift so... impossible and amazing. It's like asking someone to stop the sun in the sky so that a happy day could last longer. It's crazy to ask, so you don't even think it.

Yet someone that knows me, and knows what I could use and want and need, someone who knew the meager desires of my heart and took those desires and presented me with an offer so phenomenally beyond those desires that it's.... mind-boggling. Hard to believe sometimes even. I got an amazing amazing gift.

If you know me, you probably already know what it is.

Thank You God for Jesus.
Thank You Jesus for salvation.
Thank You Holy Spirit for Your indwelling.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Lemons and Lessons

I own a lemon. I bought it at the very end of October. It was an ugly shade of red, in the right price range, and it got an all clear from a mechanic that I took it to. The very first car I've ever taken to a mechanic before purchasing, ironically enough.

Two weeks after purchase, my brakes failed. $466.95 to fix.
Not even two weeks after that, a pulley withered away and they had to drop my engine to get to it. $480 to fix.
Just barely a week later some unknown issue with my transmission won't allow the car to shift gears. The mechanic I talked to thinks he knows what it is and if my lemon has the piece on the outside of the transmission it's a fairly easy fix. If it's inside the transmission it's going to be like having my transmission rebuilt. I had to have it towed - $$$ - and tomorrow I find out what the official verdict is for the lemon.

As I sat for nearly an hour waiting for the lemon tow guy to arrive I simply had to ask something: "God, did I tick You off?"

I've been spoiled with so many blessings that it's easy to confuse blessings with favor and problems with disfavor. But as I sat there, pondering when you give up on a lemon and how long a person should keep trying or whether I'm a doofus for having tried this long; I couldn't help but ask that question. Are You mad at me?

But tonight, sitting here with a kitten in my lap I considered how pathetic I should become.
I got this dumb kitten maybe a month ago. It was right after the kids left the house, the neighbors had several kittens whose momma cat had died shortly after birth and the lady and her husband had been bottle feeding them. Finally at 4 weeks old the husband was giving them away or taking them to a shelter. I felt bad for the kittens, and considered how having one of these in the house would help keep me firm on my decision not to foster again (pet rules are ridiculous); I snagged one.

Today, still insanely small and likely as not to die just from being underfoot, this kitten has one huge preference in life: it just wants to sit in my lap. The moment I sat down to write this blog I had to remove it from my lap 3 times in just the few moments it took to put my laptop in my lap. Even now, he's wedged himself onto my lap right inbetween me and the laptop.

He follows me around the house - even trails me next door and back when I go to visit. He's almost - almost - as good as a dog.

But he's also obnoxious too and he's had some special moments where he was "taught" that some things weren't allowed in the house. The first time he climbed on my piano for example... But he has yet to hold a grudge. He never seems to worry about discipline no matter how strict or frustrated I get with him. He just does what he wants, and is slowly learning what not to do - and that the word "no" means something.

No matter what though, when I sit down I can fully expect that he is going to come climbing up.

It may seem irreverent but I couldn't help but think - so what if God is mad at me? God, if You are mad, teach me, lead me, smack me around with difficult circumstances until I learn to do what You want me to do. I'm sorry I'm stupid and undisciplined about some things - but while You're teaching me, just let me be in Your presence. Let me sit with You, let me be near You.
Hurt me if You must, bankrupt me with lemon after lemon, take my health, take my family. But God, when You sit, I want to sit with You. As You walk from room to room, I want to follow You. When I see You walk out the door, Lord I want You to have to restrain me to keep me from following after You.

I'm diligent in my life to try and not be "needy" towards people. They have their own burdens and don't need mine so I take care of myself and rarely look to others asking for support. But I'm constantly needing the reminder that I need to be needy with God. I need to be the pathetic little kitten that just got in trouble that doesn't care that it's in trouble as long as it's in His presence.

Perhaps one day I'll be as smart as this dumb kitten.

Though I'm not sure if God might be more of a dog-person.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Big things...

I've written about this before, but I enjoyed an interesting reminder last night as I was reading through Hebrews. I'd reached the "Faith Chapter", amazing story after story of amazing things that happened simply by faith. Those verses make me look at my life and grumble that I'm not doing big enough things for God.

But then Paul carries on to say that he doesn't have enough time to tell all the stories of those who through faith subdued kingdoms, quenched the violence of fire, became valiant in battle. Then in the very next sentences: "And others were tortured, not accepting deliverance...." "trial of mockings and scourgings..." "they were stoned, they were sawn in two", "wandered about destitute, afflicted, tormented"

It certainly puts simple things like grief into perspective.

It's easy to sit here, in my warm home, automatic dryer drying my clothes while I type out my thoughts, and wonder if God would ever call me to something so noble as what those martyrs went through. And while, in my time, it's easy for me to say that I'd face a gunman and easily declare my faith - the idea of "sawn in two"... it honestly makes me wonder if I'd be strong enough. I'd like to hope, but I cannot even begin to imagine that kind of suffering - or that kind of cruelty.

But it also reminded me of something I'd read somewhere else. In a book the girl declares she'd walk through fire for the boy she loved - but then she amended, that less dramatically, she'd be willing to slosh through the rain and cold every day for him. It was a simple reminder I suppose.

God isn't calling me to be sawn in two just yet, but He is calling me today to live for Him.
I wonder, truly, which is harder?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

What if we lived only for our mission?

I'm pretty sure I've said it before, but I need reminding of it fairly often: It's all just a part of growing up.

I don't mean growing older physically, but growing up in Christ. Some of the mistakes you make as a babe in Christ need to be schooled out of you as you grow. It is within that growth that some of the verses that talk about speaking soberly and avoiding vain babblings begin to make sense.

When I was a child I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child. But when I became a man - or woman in my case - I put away childish things.

I'm afraid there is something to the childishness in me that allows for wavering. It allows for a lot more mistakes because even I will excuse myself sometimes.

But to the honest, for reasons that I'm not even sure of it's downright scary to plunge into the solid, sober, non-vain babblings of a grown Christian. Perhaps the greatest reason to fear it is simply that I might fail, that I'll fall while grasping hold of this special maturity and be held to a greater accountability before God.

Perhaps another reason is that as I even test these waters on my own I see others watching me and I fear so greatly that I will lead them astray.

Or perhaps the greatest reason of all is simply that it's just a little bit more dead to self than I want to be.

As I pondered those ideas I found myself thinking on the words "To live is Christ, to die is gain". When Paul said them, he had to have understood that there was nothing here worth truly living for except for Gods mission for his life.
People don't like to think that way though, we make up all sorts of reasons for people to want to live - family, friends, work, things to see, dreams to aspire to - but I wondered what it would be like if we all lived our lives out only because there was still another person that needed to be reached.