Thursday, February 26, 2009

40 days and 40 nights of consumption

Last night at the Ash Wednesday service, we apologized to God and each other for our failures as a church and as people. With every wrong of the church that was apologized for, I remembered a moment or season at a church in my past that went along those lines. It really was a cleansing moment. My tendency is always to fixate on things in my past that have been hurtful and ignore the more personal issues that I should be focusing on. Luckily, God wasn't having that last night. He got in my heart and showed me the things that I'm doing wrong right now, the things that really no one else sees but Him but that are so against the woman that I'm becoming and that I project in general. How humbling!! When I received communion, I let the magnitude of that (Christ's body broken for me and Christ's blood freely given for me), really sink in before I went and received my ashes. Ashes are a symbol of grief, of remorse for our sins and failures. I've had ashes imparted before, but I've never let their meaning really go past the superficial aspect of showing everyone I cross paths with that I am a believer. The external image is where the problem was when I was younger. I was so concerned with my appearance as a Christian that I didn't grow my roots. I was a seed in rocky soil. Now I'm becoming a seed in rich soil that produces 30 and 60 and even 100 times the original crop (Mark 4:1-20). I am being consumed from the INSIDE OUT by the Spirit.

Traditionally for Lent you're supposed to give something up as a means of gaining some spiritual insight and growth. I don't see how giving up chocolate or french fries gets you any closer to God, though. This year, I've decided to do Lent a little bit differently. I'm giving up making excuses.

Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily, as [something done] for the Lord and not for men, knowing [with all certainty] that it is from the Lord [and not from men] that you will receive the inheritance which is your [real] reward. [The One Whom] you are actually serving [is] the Lord Christ. Colossians 3:23-34

I'm going to do something every day around the house, a little chore or task that I don't particularly want to do but needs to be done and makes life a little more pleasant for the other people who live here. Its things I would do in my own home (or wouldn't need to do because there are messes that I just don't make or allow to be made in my own home, but that's a different story...) Its getting into the habit of having a home-servant attitude, because it's things done for the Lord, and it's part of our purpose. So I'm making a concerted effort to do it every day (excluding the days I'm in Dallas for Bunny's wedding, of course) so that by Easter, it will just be a way of life. No more being too tired, too headachey, too upset stomachy. Jesus wasn't too tired to die for me, so I'm not too tired to vacuum the living room.

Your word I have laid up in my heart, that I might not sin against You... I will meditate on Your precepts and have respect to Your ways [the paths of life marked out by Your law]. I will delight myself in your statutes; I will not forget Your word. Psalm 119:11, 14-15

I have failed miserably thus far at my Bible reading New Year's "Resolution". That's gotta change. The best way to get closer to God is to read the word! Every word of the Bible is GOD BREATHED (II Timothy 3:16) and that in and of itself makes it completely worth my time to read it and fill my heart with scripture. Jesus wasn't too distracted to die for me, so I'm not too distracted to read His word.

What are you changing in your life for Lent?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

oh Christina...

DANG! So I felt like I'd just let a bunch out on my previous post and I set about catching up on everyone else's blog. God went ahead and showed me that I had not, in fact, gotten it all out.

This is a snippet from Christina's blog that just pretty much knocked me on my butt. She was writing about a book called Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot. This quote is a direct quote from the book:

"...I have to give him to the Lord regularly...I've told the Lord I want to be an obedient servant, and He shot back, 'And are you willing to face grief and pain or whatever it takes for Me to make you that?' Even though I felt unable, I said, 'what choice do I have? I know too much to drop the ball now. There's no turning back.' I'd be lying if I said I wasn't afraid. But He has brought me this far and already my joy is unspeakable."

That's the thing about following Christ's will for your life... its not always the easy path that feels nice. But it is ALWAYS the best path. I have faced huge amounts of pain and grief in the past year and a half, but the growth of intimacy between Jesus and me that it has fostered has been the source of my biggest joy. I wouldn't choose to do it again, and I wouldn't recommend it for others, but when things bring you closer to God, how can they not be worth it?

God is so faithful!!

I was praying last night and I started going through the blessings in my life, taking stock of all the steps God's helped me take lately, and I was kind of overwhelmed by the progress and awesomeness of it all. Its a fantastic feeling when you can literally see God moving. It helps keep you grounded in your faith and not feel like an idiot. I must confess, I'd been struggling with some doubt. When you have people in your life who aren't believers and you're going through a course on the fundamentals, I think its only natural to question your own faith: why DO I believe that? Thankfully, I was honest with God about it, told Him my struggle and sat quiet. He took care of it!

I believe that I have finally almost completely (or as completely as I probably ever will) come to terms with my miscarriage. The fact that right now is when I would have been due or would already have the baby has weighed on me. Its not a good feeling. But my bitterness towards others and, well, God, has been removed. That's part of faith. Its knowing and trusting God to bless me in His time and not when I want it. Its being mature enough to be realistic and see the bigger picture of things.

I had that dream about God a few weeks ago, remember? Well, God brought it back up with me last night. He showed me with one sentence exactly why He put me in a situation, and holy moly was it huge. He has entrusted me with an amazing task, and I'm excited for the opportunity to be used by THE LORD like that. ME! Me with all my baggage and flaws and ridiculousness! It's just so big time. Pray for me, y'all, that I will be open for Him to flow through me.

I ran into one of my Sunday school kiddos when I was out and about running errands yesterday. Her mom was like, "She really just loves having you as her teacher," and I said, "Well, that's great because I'm moving up to 1st grade with them in August!" They were both (hooray! The parents trust me with their kids!) very excited about that. It was a great confirmation that I'm doing something right with those little angels every week.

I took stock of the company I keep and can honestly say that I have never had such substantial and quality love in my life. The people who are my super besties are some of the most incredible people you will ever meet, and they all think I'm some kind of special, too. No matter how crappy my CIRCUMSTANCES are, I know that they aren't who I am. They are just circumstances, and they will change. But who I am on the inside is constant, and that's the best part of me. That's the part of me that has made me worthy of such wonderful companionship.

With a prayer full of that stuff, its just about impossible to not feel full, isn't it? I hope your lives are feeling just as blessed!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

just a smidge vague...

This afternoon, I was let in on a little secret. And it was a GLORIOUS secret. Here's why that's news worthy. Its not because I'm trying to be like, "neener neener I know something you don't know!" Its worth me mentioning because of the flood of emotions that hearing it filled me with. I have not felt that much sincere joy and excitement about something in longer than I care to admit.

So dear friend and owner of the secret, thank you. And like I told you earlier tonight, I love you immeasurably.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!!

So, 2007 was the best Valentine's Day EVER. Denver and I did it low key. We went to Central Market when I got home from work and bought the fixins for a fantabulous multi-course meal. We had salad, avocado crab cakes, beautiful steaks, and coffee ice cream and berries. We turned off the tv and our phones, cooked an amazing meal together, then ate it with wine and candle light. It was so intimate and fun and exactly what a holiday about love should be about - quality time with the one you love.

2008 was the WORST Valentine's Day EVER. At 10pm on February 13th, Kelly and Renee arrived in Dallas, helped me load up my stuff (because my car had died that day) and drove me back to Katy. I arrived at my parents' house around 3am on Valentine's Day. I spent the entire time mostly numb and crying on the couch, my heart smashed to pieces.

2009 has been pretty good to me. I spent the day with my family. We threw Bunny her bridal shower and did it Valentine's theme. What better way to celebrate a day of love than by bestowing huge amounts of love on someone as amazing as Bunny? Well, and Dave is pretty okay, too. Tonight we're planning some bowling and I'm happy. I can think of only 1 thing that could possibly make my day better, but this will just have to do.

And don't you worry, I love you, too. :-)

Thursday, February 12, 2009

gross or awesome?

Or a little of column A and a little of column B.

I just got an email from my cousin and I really feel that it needs to be shared.

Some of it made me wish it was October because Fair Food is so bad for your body and so good for your soul.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

What defines you?

Tonight at Alpha, the topic was "Why did Jesus Die?" I am not going to blog about that, but if you ask me, I'll tell you what I believe, and there will be mention of goats and lambs.

No, I'm going to blog about something else entirely. Kevin, my group leader (he is HILARIOUS and my role is to help him keep conversation flowing and pray for the group), posed some interesting questions. Living in the world and sinning is a lot like being in water and getting wet. They are unavoidable things because of the location. So do you live your life from a place of sin or forgiveness? And if you had to write 10 words that defined you, would you include "sinner"? How about "forgiven"?

I personally live my life from a place of forgiveness. I am 100% aware that I will never ever ever be good enough to deserve salvation. I can never EARN God's grace, love, and mercy. I am a perpetual sinner. I sin so many times every single day that I couldn't possibly count them all! But instead of viewing myself as the filthy sin-covered person that I probably should, I view myself as forgiven. I am forgiven for them all: the sins I don't realize I committed and thus don't repent for, the ones that I am fully aware of and habitually commit anyway, and the one time mistakes. I am covered in the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and thus I am FORGIVEN. You can't really wrap your head around the hugeness of that. I mean, I'm a pretty forgiving person, and even I can't really grasp the hugeness of that. But I don't have to. Because I live by faith.

As for the words that describe me... No. I would not list sinner. Because in my mind, I feel like its so obvious. I wouldn't list "human", "white", "American", or "female" either, because they're so obvious. They just go without saying to me. As far as forgiven, I think I'd chose a larger word that encompasses it. I am so completely a Christian. I am a believer. I am forgiven. I am in love with my Savior. I am a servant. I am so many things that go into being a follower of Christ. Forgiven is HUGE, but there's just more to it for me.

So what about you? How do you live? Do you live your life oblivious to sin? Do you live it accepting and "oh well!" of your sin? Or do you live knowing that you are loved by the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE just as much every single moment regardless of what you are doing on this earth?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Seriously, Pancreas?

Okay, twice this weekend (Thursday night and again last night) I have had severe hypo-glycemia.

Here's your lesson on type 1 diabetes for the day!

My pancreas produces less than 5% of the amount of insulin needed to support life processes. Your pancreas (unless you're also a diabetic) moderates your body's insulin levels and keeps your blood glucose (sugar) level between 70 and 120 naturally. Anything below 70 is considered hypo-glycemic and anything above 150 is considered hyper-glycemic. They're both uncomfortable, in totally different ways, and both are bad news for your body. Hyper-glycemia causes organ damage with time and puts tremendous strain on your circulatory system, which is why so many diabetics go blind or need appendages amputated. With hypo-glycemia, it causes systems to shut down (they don't have the glucose - fuel - to function) and lead to comas and death. If you saw Memento, his wife dies from hypo-glycemia from insulin overdosing.

So now that you know all that cool science, you can see why I'm so frustrated with my body deciding to drop me in the middle of the night. Both nights I went to bed in the perfect range - one night was 88 and the other was 95. Within an hour or 2 of falling asleep, I woke up feeling AWFUL and discovered my blood glucose was dangerously low. It takes a huge toll on my body and leaves me absolutely exhausted. Its also super scary! What if I hadn't woken up? I could have died in my sleep!! I have no idea what's going on with my body and why this is happening. I haven't changed my diet drastically recently or anything else big.

Anybody want to volunteer for slumber parties to make sure I don't die or anything? Lucie's a good snuggler...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Just a little bit of life

I spent the weekend in Dallas, and lemme tell ya, it was not perfect. Now, I'm not saying that it was awful or that I wasn't blessed out of my mind on the trip, but I am saying that being there was hard for me a lot of the time. That's the thing about me... I love very deeply. I could literally FEEL his presence because I hadn't been in such proximity in so many months. Obviously, that killed me. Thankfully, I was blanketed in prayer the entire time I was there, and so I only cried a little and never for extended periods of time or in public. God is good like that. Renee has a verse she's claimed for me, and I think it helps: provide comfort for all who mourn, and to provide for those who grieve in Zion-to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness, instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. Isaiah 61:2b-4

When I wasn't feeling betrayed by my heart, I was filling it with time with some of my favorite people! Friday night I got in way late, so dinner at the Stock's was cancelled. I did get to see Liz and Tom and Shan and Ashleigh (hooray! I finally met her and she is WONDERFUL!!) though, which was very nice. Saturday was my beloved Bunny's 25th birthday. Megan stopped by after class for a little bit, which was fantastic because we never see each other! We did a lot of wedding stuff, which was a huge relief for Bunny. We finalized the ceremony order, picked all the ceremony music, and edited the programs. Then we went to dinner at Cuba Libre with my aunt and uncle. SO YUMMY!!!! Unfortunately, Bunny was exhausted and passed out before 10. Crystal had invited me out for her birthday, so I gladly accepted. Unfortunately, she told me the wrong location, so I didn't see her. But Chris and Karen had already agreed to meet me, then Shan and Ashleigh followed. Jaeger Bombs. lol! SO MUCH FUN! On Sunday, we did more wedding stuff. We picked all the reception songs and filled out the paperwork for the DJ. That may not sound like much, but it took us 4 hours. Then, after a touch of the drama, we established a list of needs and quantities for the bar. That was also no small feat. We rounded out the wedding stuff with a trip to David's Bridal so the bride could see the dresses her maids would be wearing (she is pleased) and a trip to Whole Foods to pick out flowers for the bouquets. We celebrated our productivity with some chicken nuggets watching the Super Bowl (I picked the Steelers last week, so I'm feeling awesome). After the game, I hugged my family (meaning Bunny, her fiance', and his Beast son) and headed out. I stopped by the Stock's house on the way, because I couldn't bear to not see Christina. We planted strawberries and giggled and it was the best possible ending.

God treated me to a beautiful show for almost my entire drive home. There was a thunderstorm passing to the south, which I never hit - I was always just behind it - and the lightning was high in the clouds and just spectacular! It was frequently orange (my favorite!!) and just amazing. I got home, slept a little, and prepped for my day of errands and a night of Ross!

All in all, I would not say that I am feeling particularly happy these days. However, I am striving to feel FULL. I am blessed every single day by the friends and family I have, by the church that I belong to and the involvement I have there, and that helps. I was reminded when I left Dallas how BIG my sweet Lord is. I saw a billboard. Usually I think those billboards are cheesy and ridiculous, but to be feeling hurt and see a reminder that God can do and save ANYTHING was exactly what I needed at that exact moment. Then He put on that show for me, and really, it was a wonderful little drive home.

Next week I strive to put to good use the gift I was given a week ago. One of the sweet ladies in my Bible study group bought my workbook for me. I thanked her by missing class last week and this week. GARK! I need to be a more powerful praying woman, so I need to get my butt to class!

Tonight is week 2 of Alpha. We're praying like crazy for all the seekers who are coming. Last week, everyone in my small group (I'm helping to lead a group) was already a believer. God can and will do awesome work through this course, and we're all praying hard for that. If you have a minute, would you pray for that, too?

And finally, my sweet sweet kids on Sunday mornings. I missed them so much this weekend!! We just finished a unit on the miracles of Christ and now we're starting one on God the Healer. Friends, God is about to blow my mind, I can just feel it. Because WHOA do I need some healing. And He's already shown me how much He enjoys teaching me through those kiddos. Oh, I am as ready as I'll ever be for this.

Have a great week, y'all. And keep drinking water. :-)