Sunday, April 29, 2012

Life and death

This week has been a full week - a wonderful, fun, and amazing week in many ways- but FULL! I spent the earlier part of the week at Silver Bay on Lake George with my family and some great friends. Then we had Compelled. Then I was off to the Ladies retreat this weekend. I went early so I could spend some extra time with my sisters, who were coming to hang out with me! The retreat was great, the speakers amazing, and I made a few new friends - that is always a good thing. In the middle of my chaos-as-usual life, I watched as life and death played out in the lives of people I care about. A family that I have known for a long time and adore lost a husband/father suddenly on Sunday. It was very unexpected, and even as they came to the retreat this weekend (they needed to be with people that loved them and hear God's word) I was amazed at how God's love played out for them through his people. As I sang "You give and take away, but my heart will choose to say, blessed be the name of the Lord" I could only think of them sitting a few tables behind me singing it in a way that was raw and very real. At Compelled last week we watched a young man get baptized and publicly begin his walk with Jesus. He had come from the past few years of living in his own ways and came to realize that God's love for him was no gamble. It is always an emotional things for me to see these steps of faith in people's lives. Then last Monday another friend welcomed a little boy into their family. We rejoice with them in his healthy birth and new life! Then on Thursday I got the news that a man we went to Nyack with (and whose sisters are friends of ours - one of whom was supposed to speak at the retreat) had a massive heart attack and died suddenly. No warning - a seemingly healthy 40 year old man in the service. In Japan. God's ways are not mine and I don't understand them...but I do believe He is good all the time. On Friday we got news that another friend had baby boy to add their family of girls! There was much rejoicing, and seeing daddy's proud face holding his new son was priceless. That same day, we found out another friend's grandmother died. We had met her a few times and had been praying for her to understand the salvation message as it was presented to her quite a few times recently. Life. And death. And life again. It's that never-ending circle. It makes me glad that I can say I can trust in the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding. In all ways I will acknowledge him and he will make the path straight. I am thankful for this in a week of emotional ups and downs.

Monday, April 16, 2012

laughing at myself

If you knew me in high school and even college, but have not seen me much since then, you may not recognize me. I'm not just talking the extra weight gain (though that is true, also!) but rather the fact that I was quite shy and quiet around most people during that time of life. My closest friends would laugh at that statement- they saw me when I was comfortable and able to be myself more. As an adult I feel like I have become more comfortable in my own skin in many ways. I know my roles for the most part, and have worked on becoming the best I can be in those roles whether that is as a wife, mom, pastor's wife, friend, daughter, etc.

In that, though, I realize what a perfectionist I can be when it comes to what I expect from myself. And when I have a longer period of time of "learning" and not "excelling" than I think I should, I get really impatient, self conscious, and insecure again. This phlebotomy thing is a good example of that. I was so nervous going last week to take blood, and my hands were shaking (not something you want to see on a person coming at you with a needle!) When I couldn't find a vein on the first guy, and then had another guy faint on me I got a little scared that I would never get the hang of it. I want to be that person that everyone leaves and says, "Wow, I didn't feel a thing!" Yet I am in the beginning of my training, and I know that last statement is not true! :)

After talking with my patient and encouraging trainer, and venting to Shawn who reminded me that I am ridiculous with my expectations sometimes, I went back this morning with more confidence. My prayer on the way was, "Help me not hurt people any more than necessary!" A little different from last week! hahaha And this was a great morning with an easier time finding veins, more confidence in the sticking, and an ability to laugh at myself.

I am constantly having to remind myself of that last part - the ability to laugh at myself. Not just in phlebotomy, but in life. I remember as a teenager feeling like having people laugh at me was the worst thing ever. I am quite certain in the next couple of years as we adjust to a new culture, learn a new language, and enter another phase of life I will need to be able to shake things off a little more, or life will be so overwhelming!

This training reminded me of my training in thankfulness (yes, that is what I am my mind and heart to see God in all things and therefor be thankful!) Learning to laugh at oneself seems like it goes along with living a life of gratefulness. Funny how that works!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Holy Week Thankfulness

It's Good Friday. This year as we went into Holy Week, I have been sorting some of these things out in my heart and mind, and holding onto things that have become more reverent and important to me over the years. Last year I blogged about how getting to know our friends in the Episcopal and Methodist churches have added a rich liturgy and depth of prayer to our walk with Him. This year as I zipped into Maundy Thursday with no thought to what day it was (other than the day before some of our family comes in for the weekend) I found myself seated in "Christina's" chair in their living room with them and talking about going to Maundy Thursday services that evening. I am so thankful for friends who don't make me feel stupid when I ask questions like, "What exactly is Maundy Thursday" and "Why don't we observe it in our church?" As we join a team in South Sudan next year and they are from mostly PCA backgrounds working with the Anglican church there, I figured it would be a good thing to know as well!

I went home from their house having gone through a couple of passages from Fenelon and Augustine (We are going through Classic Devotions by Foster together) but more than that I came home with some questions to mull around in my mind. As I continue in this walk with Christ, I realize how much I have "thrown the baby out with the bath water" so to speak. And I am ever so much thirsting after a more concrete way of knowing him. I realize that for many growing up in a church where this liturgy and schedule was abused, it is not a means of communing deeper with him. But for someone who has chosen a very lifestyle of constant change and going into churches that are in need of spiritual development and maturity, this scheduled, calm, ancient way of praying and seeing things is a wonderful comfort and new way to hear from Him.

So in my own way, in my own heart I came before Jesus yesterday in my thanks to him for the last supper, one of the things that happened during this season that we celebrate as Easter. And today as I remember what he did for me, I sit with tears streaming down my face. Because each day - every day- is a chance to remember his great love for me!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

being made whole in eucharisteo

This weekend Shawn's brother and sister in law and their girls are coming to visit and we are so excited! We are also getting the house cleaned up. And not just the usual cleaning - but the deep cleaning/organizing thing. Maybe I have been bitten by the "spring cleaning" bug because the weather this winter was so mild. But I now have organized closets and several huge bags of clothes to go to the clothing bin at the church.

I feel like I have been "spring cleaning" in myself lately, too. I know that is an overused expression, but that's how it feels! I have been meditating on the verses in 1 Thessalonians 5 that say, "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Jesus Christ."

I have been very convicted with these verses. As you all know, I have been reading the book, "One thousand Gifts" and because of that I have been putting into practice choosing to be thankful. But I always thought of it as something that was good for me, or something that might make my life more joyful - not as extreme as it being God's actual will and desire for my life. I am a person who thinks that God's will in our lives has a lot more to do with character, relationship with him, and choices than with where we go to college, what we do for a living, or if we make fish or chicken for dinner. I think that when we are seeking God whole-heartedly, communicating (especially listening) to him, and guarding our hearts - then these other things are areas where he can and will be glorified regardless of circumstances. But I never thought of giving thanks and rejoicing as part of that whole-heartedness. Prayer? Yes, of course, but thankfulness? In all circumstances? This has turned my world upside down.

So I am experimenting with this this...chewing on this thought and watching it play out in my daily life. I am asking God to reveal this to me in ways that I can't deny or explain. And he has been answering that prayer with resounding results in my heart and head. More on this later, as I figure out how to put words around it more tangibly.

Meanwhile, today's joy dare challenge from Ann Voskamp? 3 gifts surprisingly found...Let me hear them!

Another in the fire

Maybe you don't know what the process to move overseas is like, but there was a lot of what we thought of as jumping through hoops ...