Thursday, December 6, 2007
It's painful to watch someone you love self-destruct. And the more you try to love and support them, the more they push away. (I'm not talking about Mike, by the way.)
The need for independence can override all logic, it seems.
It's kind of like that whole God and man thing. Where God, our creator, knows exactly what we need and love, but we decide that we want to do things our way - the wrong way, but at least it's ours. Anything but God, right?
And now I have to think -- hmm, that must hurt Him quite a bit. And out of His great love for us, He lets us make that choice. He didn't have to make things like this; He could have made us love Him. But He loves us enough to allow us to choose to love Him back or not. Wow.
I know if I had the power to make this pain stop, I would do it. But I don't. So, while the pain doesn't stop, I at least know that I can turn to a God, my Father, who has an intimate understanding of what I'm going through. And I pray and I pray and I pray.
Monday, November 12, 2007
- I found a job that I love! God directed me (though slowly) to a place where I really feel that I fit. Great people of integrity; fun atmosphere; comfortable environment. And I truly feel needed and appreciated.
- Mom and Dad came to town for a wedding and stayed overnight with us one weekend. How cool is it to be close to family?!
- I got to spend a few days with my nephew while my brother was on a business trip. It really is a joy to be around him after spending the last 14 years in another state. You should all see his artwork. He's quite talented!
- I was provided an opportunity to go back to Reno for Grace Church's Women's Retreat. It was too short! But the trip was wonderful. I felt so loved on by my sisters. And Jill shared some great stuff to help draw us all closer to God. Thank you Hillary!
- Mike has been asked to present Simon Peter to a church in Kansas City over the Thanksgiving weekend. This will also allow us to visit Mike's mom for the holiday! Pray for our travel to and from, and for God to use Mike to really touch people's lives.
God is good. Though I often wish for an easier life, I know that He knows what He's doing.
Sunday, September 23, 2007
But last week I was discriminated against because I am a Christian. This was new for me. I've been teased for being a Christian, even laughed at, but never flat out denied something because of my beliefs. It's weird. I'm almost proud of having this happen. Jesus must shine brightly through me!
I keep thinking that this is where the world is going, though. More and more, Christians will find themselves being discriminated against and blatantly denied benefits, jobs, and basic rights. We can give in and deny Christ (which the Bible says many people will do) or we can cling to Him and let His light shine, simultaneously embracing discomfort, uncertainty and second class citizenship. Just remember to read the Book to the end! (God wins!)
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
And yet, while we're cooling our heels, we've had some time to remember all that He has done and how He's working through this and blessing us immensely.
1. We've joined a fantastic church - http://www.fotw.org
2. Our apartment has a great layout to accomodate Mike's ministry - http://www.actofgraceradio.net
4. Every other restaurant is a Mexican place!
5. We've already had opportunity to hear in-person some great Christian speakers - Nick Vujicic, Dr. Charles Lowery, Anne Graham-Lotz, Beth Moore (I'm actually attending her Bible study led by her - unbelievable!), and in a couple of weeks - Lee Strobel! (These have all been free events to boot!)
6. Getting to participate in my brother's 40th birthday party (and taking him to lunch on the big day).
Actually, the list is much longer, but it just starts to sound like bragging, so I'll cut it off here. And although we cannot deny our anxiety, we do know without a doubt that God's got some cool stuff ahead for us. Please pray for our sanity, as always.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Penelope has shed more hair than I ever thought possible without becoming totally bald. The sky keeps dumping stuff on us that they call "rain" - it's actually pretty neat, but they also talk about rivers flooding and that sounds bad. Now that we have transportation, we are starting our church shopping. We've decided to find a church first, then a place to live that's close to our church. So that kind of motivates us to find a church quickly before we wear out our welcome in Sugar Land.
Other than that, we're just doing that one-day-at-a-time thing. Every time we try to hurry something along, it turns out to be wasted energy, as God fulfills His plan in His timing. So we wait upon the Lord to see what He has for us. God is good!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Surfing around today, I read a blog from Tony Morgan from a week or so ago that addresses his impressions of the Gospel of John. Two of the things he listed jumped right out at me - 1) That God's plans for me are better than I could ever dream; and 2) "A prophet is not respected in the place where he grew up." Sometimes ministry requires a move.
Number 1 addresses my feeling about the move. Number 2 reflects a little closer to my husband's thoughts. He's trying to really stretch his ministry (see http://www.actofgraceradio.net/) but feels very limited by our ties here in Reno. He's got some big plans, and as Number 1 points out, the results could be even better than he thinks.
So, that's the news. Obviously, my posts will continue to be as sporadic as ever (especially since I have the moving excuse). Happy summer!
Sunday, May 27, 2007
So I started thinking about the origin of the holiday and that we're to honor those who gave their lives for this country to remain free. That's cool. And my mind has wandered to the memory of a lot of others who have passed away - friends, family, acquaintances - people that came in and out of my life, who touched me and, therefore, changed me in some way. Most of them weren't veterans; some were.
I thought I might remember some of them here - I don't know how else to really honor them. Unfortunately, I know there are many that I'll leave out, so I'm not going to even try to make this a complete list - just some people that have been on my mind.
Rudy Aganski - My great uncle - He actually was a veteran. He was like a grandfather to me - spoiling me while at the same time teaching me discipline and respect.
Raymond Smythe - My 6th grade Sunday School teacher - explained a lot to me
Bunny Halvorsen - Soprano and Church Choir Director's Wife - gave me her sheet music collection (huge!) when I went off to college - gorgeous voice - dedicated Christian.
Terri Hallam - beautiful friend, mother of two, compassionate teacher, lover of the Lord and life.
Joan Varley - fellow actress and friend - total goof ball, fun to be around - gave her life to serve in Jesus' name - never met a stranger.
Randy Sundquist - Sunday school teacher for 3&4 year olds - loved those kids - taught me that kids aren't THAT scary - showed me that there is still pain and often failure when you're a Christian, but that doesn't make your worth to Jesus any less.
There are many, many more going further back, but these are fresh in my mind. Thank you, Jesus, for putting these people in my life! I know you're taking care of them now (always were); I can't wait to see them again!
Thank you for indulging me in this - I hope you take a moment to reflect on those who've come and gone in your life. Happy Memorial Day!
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Sometimes I find I describe myself by what I do. Sometimes I feel unlovable. Sometimes I assign my worth based on others' evaluations (am I pretty, am I competent, am I hireable?). Sometimes I get so caught up in trying to do God's work, I forget why. Work, work, work. Do, do, do.
Today I rest in His love and hold onto His promises as long as I can. Until my next lapse, which will come, and hopefully not last too long.
Monday, April 30, 2007
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Luckily, God loves life! He created life (we brought in the whole death thing). Even in death, we have an out, because Jesus came and conquered death forever. God promises we can truly live by accepting His Son as our Savior. What does that mean - truly live? It means experiencing pure joy right now - regardless of our circumstances, regardless of the evil all around us. We can enjoy life. And, that life goes beyond our temporal existence here. Physical death just takes us to the fullness of life with Jesus forever.
Sadly, not everyone believes this. People insist on seeing life (and death) from merely the ugly, human side. Granted, that's all we really CAN see here - the emptiness of existence, the loneliness of death, the seeming meaninglessness of it all; no one can prove all that other stuff, it's just wishful thinking, right? But once you accept Jesus, life becomes worth living; you never need to be lonely again; He is the meaning; and you don't need to worry about what you can't see because you KNOW.
Craziness? Wishful thinking? I don't think so.
Sunday, April 8, 2007
So here's the moral of the story: until things are in focus once again, we generally don't realize how far out-of-focus things had become. We muddle through life, just a little off kilter most of the time, and we don't have to. So, go get your eyes checked! (Open that Bible; listen to those sermons; pray and pray and pray!) And get yourselves refocused. You can live in the full light of God. It's brilliant!
I'm a subscriber to Tony Morgan's blog and have really been challenged and convicted by many of the thoughts he expresses. Today I read Stop Gunky Buildup, and I just really want to encourage everyone I know to read it, too. It's about how we are prone to wrong-thinking. And usually we aren't seeking to do evil, but good. It's really easy for the good things we do to get in the way of the great things we should be doing. We lose focus; we forget to prioritize; we fall into reactionary mode instead of planning. Tony gives us some useful advice on how to "degunkify" our lives. Step One - read the list. Step Two - don't forget to start doing the things on the list.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
But sometimes God calls a person, takes hold of them and opens their eyes. He shows them the truth - that Christ wasn't just a person, He was God in the flesh. And what He did, how He died and rose again, was exactly what had to happen so that people could be reunited with God. And now that the sacrifice has happened, and Christ has conquered death, we get to choose whether to be in relationship with God or to continue life on our own. Our choice - wild, huh?
Of course, life on our own is really a form of death. I don't know who said it, but I heard a cool quote - "Earth is the closest some people will ever have to get to Hell; it's also, sadly, the closest some will ever get to Heaven." We get to choose God or not God. Most people who choose "not God" will tell you there is no God. Or that if God is really a loving God, He won't send anyone to Hell. Or that they are good enough on their own to get to Heaven. It's all rebellion, isn't it? or fear?
Oh, I know how hard it is to surrender control of my life to anyone, especially God. And I have to do it over and over again because I have a tendency to want to take over now and then (or most of the time). But see, I'm in the family now. I have accepted what Christ has to offer, and even though I falter and fail often, I will not be let go. God has a plan for me. And a lot of that means learning from my mistakes (or getting to go through it again until I do). Part of it is resting in Him. And most of it is my constant gratitude for the gift of life that I've been given - the second chance to do things right.
I pray that even though I can never fully understand all the things Jesus did and all the consequences and repercussions of His actions, I still may be a light that draws others to Him. Somehow my life will be a testimony of His grace and mercy, and maybe God will use me to reveal Himself to others. Wouldn't that be cool?
Sunday, April 1, 2007
Here come the rhetorical questions - why do we still think we are "entitled" to be the receivers? Where does all our selfish behavior come from? Why do we have to think twice (at least) before we perform an unselfish act? Why do we count the cost to ourselves first? And when we do give, we want some kind of pat on the back or gold star or something.
Ok, maybe it's just me, but I always catch myself thinking something like, "I wish I could give more, but I need this for me." I wonder if I will ever have enough of anything so that I don't have to think through my own needs before I decide if I can be generous. I doubt it. Maybe someday I'll mature enough that I can give freely regardless of what I have or don't have.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
So, why am I overwhelmed? Certainly not because I didn't finish reading "The Purpose Driven Life". (or maybe it is...) I know if I just quit, gave up, stayed in bed tomorrow, that all the things on my plate would either get taken care of by someone else or would just sit there until they didn't matter anymore. So why do I get all stressed out about it?
Our entire staff took the Gallup StrengthsFinder Test about a year ago and I discovered (shocker) that one of my major strengths is RESPONSIBILITY. That means I feel like I have to get the job done, no matter what, because others are depending on me. And although this is a great strength in the eyes of my employer, it's a real negative when I feel that about everything set in front of me. It can't possibly be true that if I don't finish everything, the world will end and/or thousands even millions will die. I recognize that even if I do complete all these tasks, the world will still end and thousands even millions will die. Not soon, probably, but still...
So here I am struggling with my basic personality (God-given) and the knowledge that I can't possibly do everything and God has never intended for me to do everything. Now I just have to convince everyone else that this is true.
Friday, March 23, 2007
However, I still worry. I worry about making the rent payment next month; I worry about something happening to me or my husband; I worry about the direction our country is heading and wonder how long Christianity will be tolerated.
I recently noticed, though, that when I am regularly reading the Bible, my worrying is less. When I stop (for whatever reason, usually time management issues), my anxiety increases. Maybe it's all the reminders that God is in control that keep me in check (and the fear not's). Or just the "renewing of my mind" that keeps all that other stuff cleared from my head. Whatever the reason, I think it's cool, and I'm glad I've come to realize this.
I just wanted to share that. Anyway, I have some reading to go do.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
- and she seems to have a lot more words built up than I do. But she has some very deep thoughts, so they take a few more words to explain. I'm already a subscriber and have greatly enjoyed her first few posts.
Speaking of words - I have greatly struggled over the past few years finding the right words to say to several friends contemplating divorce. I know - this is out of left field, but it's been heavy on my heart for a while.
I am often accused of being a legalist - but really I'm just a rule-keeper because rules make sense in my ordered brain, and if everyone followed the rules the world would be a great place! Like that whole thing in the garden - if they had just followed the rules, we wouldn't be in our current predicament. But, obviously, humans have difficulty keeping rules. (And I'm the first one to cut myself slack in the rule-keeping area - but everyone else should keep playing by the rules, ok?)
And marriage doesn't change the pattern. God is pretty clear about how husbands and wives should treat each other - but do we do it? Rarely! And if my husband isn't doing what he should, I immediately feel under no obligation to do what I should. And yet, our vows at the wedding didn't include any "if he does what he vows, then I vow to ..." Our vows were made to God in reference to the spouse He gave us. There is no "what about him?" It ain't about him - it's about me.
OK, I'm getting all my we's and him's and me's out of whack. Back to my point - what do you say to a godly woman or a godly man who is married to a supposed godly spouse who isn't behaving in a godly way? I've prayed with them and for them; I've recommended Christian counseling; I've spouted verses of what we are called to do and explained that God never promised us happiness in life - but pain, and yet we should have joy in all we do. I've encouraged these sufferers to stick with it, give it to God, pray it through.
And I've utterly failed them. I love them anyway, and try hard to keep judgment out of it, but the marriages haven't worked or are still stuck in the same pain, and I can't seem to help anyone. Anyone have any wise words for me to pass on? or breakthroughs? or anything?
Sunday, March 18, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Speaking of corrections - why is it so hard for people to admit to mistakes and correct them? It seems to me like we often know we've screwed up, but we keep going forward like we meant to do that, and it just gets worse. (Listen, I'm speaking from experience here. A lot of my early twenties was spent doing this exact thing.) You would think mature, Christ-professing, Spirit-led people would recognize how much easier it is to fix a mistake or turn around and get on the right path when you do it earlier instead of later.
I also need to confess that I hate turning around! So when I make a wrong turn (I'm talking about driving here), I'll try to make 3 lefts to try to get where I need to be instead of pulling a u-turn. My husband says that's why I know how to get places on back roads - at one time those roads were a mistake that I would not admit. Of course, tonight when I started heading the wrong way to the Chinese place, my attempt to find another way failed in a neighborhood cul-de-sac, so I had to finally turn around. Does anyone else do this or is it just me?
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
I'm always looking for the next thing - the new thing - another place to go - a new and better way to see or do things - a new way of connecting. (Especially if it's free!)
Anyway, I just wanted to rejoice in the day God has given me today! Oh, and my friend's band anchordown has hit the road. They are on their way to Texas for some kind of band competition and playing at churches on the way there and back. Check out their schedule on http://www.myspace.com/anchordown and hear some of their tunes.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
What if all the “responsible” people went on strike? I mean those people who see a chore that needs doing and do it; the people who work overtime and weekends without pay so that deadlines are met. They aren’t motivated by money; they don’t worry about getting their “me” time; they simply feel a sense of responsibility to get the job done. Of course, these people could never go on strike and stand by watching an event fail or a mess turn into a health/safety risk or a task sit undone. They are compelled to step in.
But what about the “irresponsible” people? How can they let things not happen or allow the "responsible" folk to always carry the load? Why do they see something that needs to get done and wonder who will do it without thinking of doing it themselves? If the “responsible” went on strike, the “irresponsible” would simply shrug and blame the strike for the failings, instead of stepping in and getting it done.
It seems to me that the “irresponsible” are almost always the ones who come up with the events and the tasks; they make the messes and assign chores. And yet, they rarely step in to actually do the work. And so the “responsible” continue on with the labor and grow bitter and burn out and drift away.
I know, I know –
“I shouldn’t compare myself to others.”
“You can’t work your way to heaven.”
“It isn’t my place to judge.”
“We are all given different gifts.”
"Sounds like bitterness..."
But it always seems like the “irresponsible” who say these things.
Sunday, March 11, 2007
People generally don't maintain their good work ethic for very long in unsupervised roles. Left to our own devices we tend to start serving self over anyone else. So, if it’s a job, we start thinking about how much we deserve to take off early or pocket this cash or “borrow” this stapler, or maybe we decide it’s too much of a bother to actually go do the physical inspection, we’ll just check mark this box on the form saying we did it, and do it for real next time, or the time after that. Even those with the highest levels of integrity can start to wander. And so the role of a supervisor is to protect the greater organization from employees slipping into bad habits of selfishness and to help the employees improve in their skills and performance.
As Christians, we should recognize that we are never unsupervised. So, even on the job, we must guard ourselves from that thought pattern that no one’s going to notice if we slack a little or cut corners. God is watching us. Not so he can squash us or throw down bolts of lightning, but to help and to guide us. The Holy Spirit is our direct supervisor – placed within us not to protect the “greater organization” but to protect us and to guide and correct us to be the best we can be – the people God made us to be. Our Supervisor is available 24/7 for encouragement, direction, training or just to listen. We should listen to Him, too, and seek Him out for guidance in all that we do.
Why don’t we do that?
Saturday, March 10, 2007
I recognize that I've become so negative about my church that I've lost sight of the fact that God has placed me here at this church for a purpose. Am I going to change everyone else's thinking? Am I called to lead the charge against silos and narrow mindedness from my desk beside the elevator room? Not likely. But I can do my part in keeping my focus on Him and not on me (and certainly not on "them"). By remembering that God has given me a heart for the Church and seeking to serve Him at this church in that context, perhaps I can get a handle on what He has for me.
When I got my first church job, my mother warned me about "feet of clay." Of course, I told her I knew that and my church was different. I've come to realize that my church isn't really different - it is still made up of humans with human weaknesses. I've also noticed that I am very ready to cut myself slack for my own failings, but am quick to judge when anyone else shows a less than Godly motivation. So apparently, God has some things to teach me yet. (I'm still here, aren't I?)
Friday, March 9, 2007
What's happened to me? I've become a vacuum for information. And now I want to post some of what I think is important. Will anyone care? I don't know. But it keeps my husband happy if I can use up words here instead of saying them out loud. I hope you come here and find something either inspiring or educational or thought-provoking - but not today. Today, I used up all my zealousness setting up the site. So, check back later.