Tuesday, October 26, 2010

At the impulse of Thy love

And we're back!  I know I shouldn't be surprised by spiritual attacks during times of growth, but wow, it's been a rough month!  So, here I am, continuing on with the Radical Read Along, and feeling that definite paradox of encouragement and conviction that comes when we hear what we've been needing to hear.

My husband called me the other day while he was at work and said he had heard something truly sad.  Thinking he was being sarcastic, I laughed and asked what it was that was disheartening.  He said that a friend of his had just confided in him that he only eats twice a day because he can't afford three meals.  Ouch, no longer laughing.  Upon further discussion, J realized the extent of the situation this friend is in.  He is so far in debt that he feels hopeless, he is behind on every payment, and is about to be without a place to live.  We haven't know this guy all that long, but he knows that we are Christians.  Maybe he told J these things just to get it off his chest, maybe he told him because he knows that we are praying folks, or maybe he told him because this young man is part of our mission.  J asked if I would be ok with this man living with us if he can't find another place to live.  He wasn't asking to get permission, because I don't call the shots around here, he was feeling convicted to help and wanted to know that I was on board.

My response, I truly believe, was the evidence of God working in my heart.  I was suprised by the words I said, as I said them.  "We can't be in his life, proclaiming to be Christians, and desiring to share the gospel with him if we aren't willing to share our home and our food.  He can stay as long as he needs to until he gets caught up.  Rent free.  Let's do this, let's love him."  Then I stopped because I was both excited and scared at hearing God working.

J knows me.  He knows that I like my space, I like things the way I do them, I don't like intruders in my space or time, and I have never been good with roommates.  It was a major adjustment to living with my husband and actually learning to be a civilized human being with him.  He knows that it would be hard on me to have anyone living with us, and both of us are asking God to work in our hearts willingness to see our house as His, not ours.  So he asked if I was sure.  After the gulp of selfishness finally went down and settled in my stomach I finally said that I was sure, then got off the phone an freaked out.

Then God reminded me of the miracle work that he has done in our lives in the last 3 years of marriage.  When we got married we had more in our combined debt than I was making in a year.  Within months of getting married we bought a house.  Thankfully God gave us wisdom in buying our house, but with the added mortgage we now had more debt than I would make in 7 years, not including interest.  And that is assuming that we would live off of my husband's income and take every penny I made and use it to pay off debt.  So we made a plan to get out of debt in 5 years.  We went to budgeting classes, read books, and started making adjustments to our lifestyles.  The place we were most convicted is that we were not giving to the church.  So, we started giving even though it felt counterintuitive to give when we didn't have extra.

Then about a year into marriage we felt God leading me to leave my job. Whether it was to get a different job or to stay home and actually care for my home and husband, that wasn't clear, but the need to leave was. Through much fear, hesitation, and disobedience, we finally realized that God did have a plan for us, that included future and hope, and that He wouldn't lead us where it was impossible to follow.  Even if it was hard, it wasn't impossible.  So, we were challenged to see the difference between what we needed and what we just wanted, and started eliminating luxuries.  For a while we lived off of mac & cheese because we just couldn't afford more than that. Theoretically we could afford it, but not if we wanted to be out of debt.  And every time we felt like we had made great strides in our finances, God convicted us about our giving, that it wasn't sacrificial.  We don't care for the oppressed, the needy, the orphan, the widow, or even the messengers of the gospel, as much as we care for comfort.  We should, but we don't.

We still have the mortgage, but the other debt is a third of what is was 3 years ago.  We must be geniuses, we should write a book about how smart we are to do so good!  Or, instead do we have a great God who has richly blessed us so that we can be a blessing to others?  Maybe it isn't a book of "How to Get Out of Debt with 10 Simple Steps," but it is a life of saying "We've been there, we know your hurt and shame, let us introduce you to a God who gives us all things that pertain to life and godliness, even financial wisdom."

And it is even one step further of seeing how far God has brought us, and looking for more ways to give up what we think we need for the sake of the desires of His heart.

This is giving sacrificially to help those in need.  This is getting out of debt not so that we can save for retirement, but so that we can pour our lives more freely into others.  This is letting young men in need live with us as a way of living the gospel good-Samaritan style, rather than just preaching to him as he becomes homeless.  This is taking everything extra that comes our way and saving it to pay the price of redemption for a life in need; living out the adoption that our Father has shown to us in the life of young girls desperate to be loved.  This is asking if He had called us to go, and asking seriously, ready to go if the answer is "yes."  This is giving so much time, resources, money, and love to the body of Christ that people think we are crazy.  This is giving to the point that church leaders ask us to stop giving because there is nothing left for ourselves.  Are we there yet?  Sadly, no.  Will we ever be?  Doubtful.

I know that our friend who gets 2 meals a day is not poor by the standards of the world population.  But I also know that by the standards of the lives around him, he is.  And we are called to him as much as we are called to the people who live on a dollar a day.  We are called, and if we don't answer that call then we may be counted among those who are cast out, surrounded by the ominous words "I never knew you."  David Platt puts it well:
if our lives do not reflect radical compassion for the poor, there is reason to wonder if Christ is really in us at all. (111)
God has placed within the earthen vessels of His children the unspeakable gift, the treasure of the light of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord.  How can those around us know the richness of that treasure if we aren't willing to pour it out any way we possibly can?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

This is not home

Still on the Radical read along with Marla and friends, and I can honestly say that this week I am thankful for Marla's questions.  Most weeks there is something new God is working in my heart through the chapter, but this week it feels like something He has been working in my heart through the last year and a half and Chapter 5 was confirmation of conformation.  If this seems disjointed, it is because I'm following questions, not my own random stream of thought.

All that being said, the sermon this Sunday was on thankful praying.  Not "thank you God for the ten million things you give me that make me happy right now," but more the "thank you God for who you are, thank you for faith, thank you for love, thank you for hope, thank you for the Gospel of salvation, thank you for those who bring the Gospel to me."  This was a good one for me to hear.   Often I have my list of prayers that I lift up to God, my needs, other's needs, church needs, global needs, etc., but I forget to thank God.  People will speak praises during "prayer request time" and I don't write those down.  Oh how I fail to worship God rightly!  I am ungrateful by omission of thankfulness.  2 Timothy 3 has this intense list of what people who are not lovers of God look like, and at the end of the list God commands us through our brother Paul, "Avoid such people."  One of those characteristics nestled nicely in the list is ungratefulness.  Ouch.

Making disciples is hard work.  It's scary to realize that the only way we can effectively make disciples is by letting people into our lives.  It would be so much easier to put people on the ten step road to Christian success and meet them on graduation day to celebrate.  The hardest part for me in discipling is being vulnerable and not getting instant results.  I want to tell them I've been where they are, and made it out only by the grace of God.  I want them to see in my life, through one conversation, the hope of glory.  But sometimes it takes days, weeks, years of faithfulness on my part to see even a sparkle of hope in the lives of those I'm discipling.  But then I'm reminded that it isn't my work, and it isn't my glory, and it isn't even my disciples.  It is Christ in me, the hope of glory.  Hopefully as people get more into my life they see more of Him and less of me.

My husband works with an two athiests, a Mormon, a Jehovah's Witness, a Muslim, two baby Christians, and a guy who told him he didn't want to come to Bible study because Bible studies just make him feel like more of a screw up than he already knows he is.  This is our mission field.  This is the beginning of all nations for us, and I fear we don't take it seriously enough.  We have them over for dinner, but we fail often to "fit the gospel into the conversation."  This is our lives, our hearts, our hope, and we just want them to see God in us, yet we don't show Him to them.  We are willing to reproduce the gospel to others who have already heard it, which is good (2 Pet 1:12,) but it is rare that we reproduce the gospel we have heard to those who haven't heard.  We desperately need to be more intentional in this, otherwise in our apathy we are accepting that hell is inevitable for those we love.

So how do I get out of the safety of the church?  I have no idea.  Seriously i have struggled with this for years.  I ran as hard as I could away from God, and when I turned around to see him running up the road to meet me I realized I was home.  Then, I lost all of my friends.  I had no one but my future husband.  I have slowly made friends in the church, and have started to feel safe and secure.  The home that I felt was not the church, it was God, but I have made the church home.  But this isn't what I'm called to.  But I don't have any friend outside of church.  I have the guys my husband works with, but it is sort of his mission rubbing off on me to make it our mission.  Is that ok? I don't know. Is that enough? I don't think so.  This is one that I struggle with over and over.  I don't know how to go.

Finally, God is doing great and mighty things in our little family as I work through this book.  My husband doesn't like sharing books, so he keeps saying he'll read it when I'm done, but I don't think God isn't willing to let my heart grow out further than my husband can lead it. How sweet it has been to see my husband learn things that I've learned and haven't even talked to him about.

In the last month or so I've found two things built into my marriage that are so sweet.  The first is that my husband is much more cheerful giver than I am.  God has blessed me with a man who is radical in his giving.  When we are discussing some sort of giving, I usually have a number in my head that fits in the budget.  In an effort to let him lead when I would much rather lead, I have asked him what he thinks instead of telling him my magic number.  Every time he is at least double what I was thinking.  And every time God is glorified through his faith.  God gave me a balance to my frugality.

I have also been blessed with a husband who is willing to hear where God is leading, even if God is leading to be still.  I am overly passionate about everything, so God gives me temperance in human form to help me to simmer rather than boiling over.  I have been boiling over about children since before we were married.  With the inevitability of getting one year older looming (6 months from now) I have felt a little more nervous, which is saying something.  But he just said be patient.  He knew it was not what I wanted to hear, but he also knew it was what I needed to hear.  He knew, because he was listening, that we needed to let God work on our hearts more.  And now, our hearts have been captured for adoption.  Not that we didn't think about it, but God needed to work out the sweet reality of our spiritual adoption first so that we were genuinely passionate about it, not just doing it as a means to an end.  Something I have longed for since I was in high school, now my husband is passionate about, and excited to be called to.  What a kind God we have who doesn't call one of us to a life that the other one is not passionate about!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Broken for His Glory

Since Chapter 4 of Radical seems like a breaking point of hearts, let me just rant a little about a few things that have been breaking my heart lately.

My mom went to Zimbabwe a few years ago with a medical team.  She came back with a boatload of heart breaking stories, but there is one that just breaks me over and over.  A mother was at the clinic with her son who was dying.  The doctors told her that he needed protein to live.  He was malnourished to the point of death.  Both she and her baby were surviving on a corn gruel that had little intrinsic value other than filling the emptiness of their stomachs for a time.  One egg a week could save him.  The mother wept, there was no way she could afford an egg.  Her son would die because the minimal protein from one egg was more than his mother could provide.

A friend who adopted two sweet babies from Ethiopia shared a heart wrenching story from their process.  In Ethiopian adoptions you have to make two trips to the country.  They were on their second trip for their daughter, the one where they get to take her home, and their first trip for their son, the one where they get to meet him and spend some time with him.  They spent a lot of time with both babies, just hanging out loving on their two children, but then their son had to be taken back to the orphanage.  That sweet boy had a taste of what family was, and then was being thrust back into "the system" until such time as the approval came for him to be with his family.  He started to scream as they dropped him off.  It was desperate, a sound his father has only heard a few times since, but the message was clear.  "Don't leave me, I need you!"

Finally, is the story that God is just splitting me wide open with.  There are girls all over the world who dread the day they turn 16.  That day is met not with the cutesy pageantry some American girls get, but with mourning.  This is the day that they are officially unadoptable.  They will spend the rest of their short lives as household servants at best, and sex slaves at worst.  These beautiful girls, with so much potential for greatness in the kingdom of God, will be used, abused, traded like property, neglected, and alone.  And those are just the girls who escaped slavery by a true miracle until they reach 16.  That doesn't account for the girls who were kidnapped or abandoned at 5 or younger to satisfy the sick desires of men corrupted by their fleshly desires.

After hearing those kinds of things, it is hard for me to feel legitimate in asking the question - Is there a such thing as too radical?  The Father saw that it was good to sacrifice His Son to redeem a people unto Himself, and I worry that people won't like me if I post too many church centered facebook status updates?!  I hesitate to feel like we should be adopting because it might be hard socially, and yet for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame.  I hesitate to tell my family of the discussions my husband and I have been having lately about adoption, because I worry that they'll think we're just not trusting God enough to get pregnant.

I hear ladies in my Bible study complain that Americans don't like Christians, and I say something so awkward as "They crucified Jesus, and we're to be reflecting Him, so why would we think that the gospel would make us a whole lot of friends?"  But then I sit the rest of the time fuming in embarasment at saying such a controversial thing.  Why can't I just keep my mouth shut?!  And then God brings to mind Romans 1:16
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.
But I am ashamed.  I don't like being set apart, it's lonely.  I don't like proclaiming the gospel, it makes me sound like a crazy person.  I don't like being the weirdo who weeps over little girls in other countries.  Who am I kidding, I don't like being the weirdo who weeps over anything.  I like my sick twisted heart just the way it is, thank you very much, and I don't like God sanctifying it.  And most of all, I don't like not being the center of it.

It is all about God.  I asked a few weeks back what my life would be like if I truly let God break my heart for the things that break His.  His heart is for the redemption of people all over the world.  His heart breaks for the fatherless, both physically and spiritually.  His heart breaks for the neglected, abused, lost, and dying.  His heart breaks for the people tormented by their sin and the sin of those around them.  His heart breaks for his creation that is made in his image to reflect Him rightly.  His heart breaks for the babies starving to death in the arms of mothers who are unable to save them.  His heart breaks for the orphans who cry out for a family.  His heart breaks for the girls who have given up hope of being someone's daughter.

His heart breaks for all those who die with no hope.

How can I worry about being too radical in my faith?  The amount that I become broken into the image of Christ should be in direct proportion to the amount that I look different from the rest of the world.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Brat Cometh

Oh Lord, help me!  This is the third week of the Radical Read Along and I admit I don't want to write a blog post.  Pretty much my attitude toward this whole chapter is, "That's all well and good in words, but I DON'T WANT TO!"  What a spoiled little brat I am!
This is how God works.  He puts his people in positions where they are desperate for his power, and then he shows his provision in ways that display his greatness. (pg 48)
I have read, and re-read, and re-read this chapter, and every time I get to that sentence I have to make myself keep going.  This is like a rusty cheese grater to my unsanctifed parts. I don't want to have to be in hard positions.  I don't want to be put there by the One who is working the hard positions for my good and His glory.  I don't want to rely on God to be sovreign.

I like to talk about how much I trust God.  I like to think that I am so capable of serving Him and bringing Him glory.  I like to think that I am capable, skilled, and strong enough for anything.
I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul. (William Ernest Henley)
No, none of that is true.  I don't trust Him as I should.  In my own power I can't serve Him.  He brings Himself glory.  All of my righteousness (skills, confidence, gifts) is filthy rags.  He is my light, my strength, my song.  He is the master of my fate, He is the Captain of my soul.  I am nothing.  But I don't want to need Him.

Why don't I trust God to be enough?  Why do I feel the need to supliment the gospel, as if the Creator of the universe taking on wrath for my sake is not good enough?  Who do I think I am that I could add even one thing to God to make Him better?  I see what He has brought me through, how He has utterly resued me, and I am thankful.  So why can I not trust Him to guide me through the rest of life, when He has so obviously guided me thus far?

Oh Lord, help to make much of you.  Help me to trust your will.  Help me to rely on your gift of the Spirit rather than panic.  Help me to rest.  Help me to see You as you are, so that I see myself in light of You, not the other way around.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Do I trust Him?

When did it become taboo to counsel people to trust God?  Every time I read the Bible I am confronted with the same words, "Trust ME."  God knows that I don't trust Him as I ought, so He has jam-packed His love letter to me with reminders of His faithfulness.  Yet, when I talk to people about the things I'm wrestling with (Jacob style) they rarely counsel me to trust God.  This is not a judgment on my friends, I do the same thing. So why do we not encourage each other to trust God?  Are we too scientific for that, or is it that we are control freaks? 

When I talk to people about our inability to get pregnant I hear all kinds of things.  Some have suggested that I talk to their friends or family members who have had infertility issues.  As if somehow a bunch of frustrated, depressed, confused, angry women in a room together is a good idea!  Some have asked me why we haven't just done any number of fertility treatments that worked for some distant relative or friend of theirs.  Right, because I'm made of money, and would love to spend everything I have on something that is a maybe, and for many women is a no.  Some have laughed it off like, why would you want kids (while they are holding a screaming toddler who just doesn't want to obey mommy.)  I admit, other people's children have the capacity to make me want to get a hysterectomy, and yet I know from talking to these same stressed out mommies that when it is good it is better-than-amazing good.  And then there are the times where I just have to walk away while people are telling me that acupuncture, special foods, and adopting will magically open up my womb.

It is a rare friend who will tell me that they don't understand why this is happening, but they do understand that I need to trust God.  I can't tell you how valuable that is to a person in the depths of despair.  Reaffirming truth that the person already knows, not in a "please stop crying, this is awkward" way, but in a "I love you too much to let you deny the truth" way, can help them remember who is in control of this mess called life.  Even in the times where it aggrivates me to hear AGAIN that I need to fully rely on God, I am eventually thankful for the reminder that I have to submit all things to Him, not just the things that I'm joyful about.

But how do I break the taboo around the truth?  I guess that is where genuine fellowship comes in.  If I am in someone's life, and we are holding each other accountable, then I should be bold enough to remind my friend to trust God, even when it hurts.  I should be humble enough to hear it from someone who loves me enough to say it.

Nevertheless, not my will, but Yours be done.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Exchanging the Truth

There was a time in my life when I was searching for truth.  I was in my early 20s, and I just wasn't sure that the truth I had been immersed in my entire life was legitimate.  I don't know that I fully turned away from God, but I definitely questioned if Christianity was all it was cracked up to be.

I read the Koran, I studied yoga as a religion (at it's core it is truly religious, not just good exercise,) I read about Hinduism, and Buddism, and even Native American beliefs.  I wanted to see what I was missing.  What I found was that all of these religions have some similarities with Christianity.  There are a lot of mythological stories that sound a lot like things I had grown  up hearing in church.  They're all basically the same.  At least that is what I convinced myself.

Yet nothing satisfied my deepest heart longing.  Nothing comforted in the moments of despair.  Nothing satisfied the hunger that was eating away at my soul.  There was aching, longing, calling within me that I couldn't deny.  When I would go to church I would just weep, hearing God's word and singing praises to my Creator broke my heart.  No amount of reading, studying, meditating, or explaining was as sweet as the coming of my Savior.  My brother David Platt says it so well:

What would you think if I told you that the God on the top of the mountain actually came down to where we are?  What would you think if I told you that God doesn't wait for people to find their way to him, but instead he comes to us? ... Let me introduce you to Jesus.

I can think back to the moment in my life when I realized that all religions weren't the same.  It wasn't a day I can pinpoint, but it was about a year process of my Father running out to meet me on the road, clothing me in His righteaousness, declaring me His child, and bringing me into the family so that I could feast on the nourishing Word.  He has disciplined me, brought me low, and forgiven the things that I could never have found forgiveness for through my own actions or made up righteousness.  He has given me new life, and declared me worthy of salvation not because I am worthy, but because He is God and He declares it.  The more that I feasted on the meat of His word, the more my hunger for it grew.  But it wasn't the gnawing hunger of a lost and lonely heart, it was the hunger of fire shut up in my bones!

Then my Creator lead me to Romans, so that I could understand His story better.  It took me a long time to get past Chapter 1.  Here is the sweetness that broke my heart open even further.

 18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. 24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
 How often have I professed to be wise and yet exchanged the truth of God for a lie?!  How often have I chosen a pasteurized version of the gospel where I choose Jesus because I realized I need a friend?  How often have I refused to see His setting me apart, His choosing me, His blood on my behalf, all because that was His will, not my goodness?  How often have I worshiped the creature and called it the creator?

I have studied my heart out, but God uses the foolish things of this world to confound this idiot who thinks she is wise.  I have decided what I want to be as a wife to my husband, but God uses my weakest parts to bring glory to him in my marriage.  I have decided that I will have children now, but God has made this barren woman rejoice in His house as the joyful mother of other people's children.  I have searched for truth, but Truth found me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What was I thinking?

This is a change of pace for this place I call my blog, both in that I don't think anyone actually ever reads this, and that it has a focused intent for the next few weeks/months.  Doing a "Radical read-along" with many amazing folks through this amazing lady's blog has made me think I might just be crazy, and I've started getting strange looks from fellow Christians, which is always fun!  So, here we go on a new adventure...

Am I willing to give up everything for the sake of the One who gave up everything for me?  I give money to missionaries that I love and pray for.  I help in fundraising efforts for mission trips going out from my church.  Heck!  I even went on a trip to Guatemala.  I spend time with other people's teenagers, gladly (most of the time) loving them through their messiness.  We try to find things to cut out of our budget so that we can support church planting and adoptions.  I'm a pretty radical Christian right?  Or am I like a ridiculously wealthy person who gives to charity to alleviate some guilt and also get a tax break?  Some spoiled kid who does community service for the sake of getting out of more serious punishment?

I used to dream of being a missionary, living in a foreign land, loving people for Jesus.  Then i got older, realized that was a lot of hard, heart-breaking work that I wasn't sure I wanted, married a man who has a hard time traveling to another state, much less another country, and laughed it off as the dreams of youth, like when I said I wanted to be an astronaut or a paleontologist or a lawyer.  I decided (of my own volition mind you) that we (once married it becomes a we excuse, not just an I excuse) just weren't called to ministry, and we would just try to support our local church, and maybe go on short term stuff if we had the money.  What?!  Jesus included me in the "Go into all the world" part of the Great Commission, and yet I chalked it up to Him not meaning ALL the world since my husband doesn't travel well!  Are you kidding me?  What a wimp I am!

We just finished a sermon series on Luke at our church, and we kept coming across things like "let the dead bury the dead, come follow Me," and "sell everything you have, give it to the poor and follow Me," and "whoever wants to follow Me must hate their family" and my personal favorite "whoever preserves their own life with lose it, but whoever loses their life for My sake with find it."  Meanwhile we're working through the Heidelberg Catechism with the youth and get to the Ten Commandments.  In trying to get them to think of what idols are,, I tell them it's anything in our lives that we love as much or more than God.  There is no competition, He is to be our only love, not one of many.  At the same time I'm reading through Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, and see all of the times that the people did evil in the sight of the Lord, defiled His holy temple, and had to be brought low in order to see their sin.  Then it hits me, my relationship to everyone and everything should look like hate in comparison to my love for God, and it doesn't.  My body is the temple of the Most High, and yet I have filled the dwelling place of my Creator with idols of comfort, family, financial stability, church activities, food, and have pushed the holy altar of God to the corner so that I don't have to feel obligated to lay my life upon it.

Jesus wants me to be healthy, wealthy, and wise right?  Jesus wants me to raise sweet little babies who look like their momma, have brains like their daddy, and know Bible verses by learning cute little songs.  Jesus wants us to retire early, send our babies to good colleges, and always teach them the importance of 10% to God and 10% to savings.  Right?  This is my future right?  Wait, where does "deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me" fit into that?  ummm, it doesn't.

What if we haven't been able to conceive because God has children for us who look like other mommas and daddys?  What if God has given us the wisdom to get out of debt so that when He calls us to full-time ministry we don't have the weight of debt holding us back?  What if He directed us to a church planting church so that we can be church planters?  What if He gave us a beautiful home so that we can bring beautiful, desperate, pregnant women into a safe place where adoption is the answer, not abortion?  What if He has brought crazy missionaries into our lives not just so we can support them financially, but to give us inspiration to go?  What if I really believed what He said, and obeyed it?  What if I let Him break my heart for the world that he longs to save, for the billions of people who haven't heard, for the millions of children without parents, for the people who are my eternal family?  What if I stop trying to control everything, and understand that He effortlessly "upholds all things by the word of His power." (Heb 1:3)

In His sovreign plan He is working all things to conform me into the image of Christ, who is the exact representation of the nature of the Almighty Father.  What makes me think that He should look like me?  He is making me look like Him.  With the word of His power.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

What's in a job?

Are jobs strictly the 9-5 (or more than likely 7-7,) makes money, has benefits, something to put on a resume to make me look great to prospective future jobs, commit my life to for better or worse, things that we do to fill our lives with purpose and meaning?  Sadly, most people I talk to think of their job as a necessary evil, and yet treat it like all of those other things.

I have multiple jobs, very few of them pay me in the monetary sense of the word, and most of them make me very happy.  Do I have days where I wish that I had the 9-5, get out of the house and make something of myself kind of job?  Of course.  But I would have to give up so many other jobs to have that, and it doesn't seem like a fair trade.  My full-time, non-stop, best job ever is Wife to the Best Husband on Earth.  This includes the sub-titles of Dog Mom, Future Mom of Baby Johnsons, Housekeeper, Gardener, Chef, Seamstress, Maid, Handylady, Laundress, Plumber, and many other waiting to be discovered talents.  I get paid in kisses, and thank yous, and sometimes chores done by him rather than me (those are the best!)  There are times when I do this job well, and times when I am horribly neglectful, but always I get to keep trying.  And on the days I can't try anymore, I get the day off with no consequences.

I am also Family Caretaker.  This includes baby sitting, taking folks to the doctor, shopping with people because that's their love language, being sous-chef for all family dinners, running errands all over town, and harassing people on FB ('cause harassment is their love language.)  This job is hard because there is part of me that wants to leave and cleave (sometimes to Antarctica) and there is part of me that loves these people and wants to care for their needs like I have for almost 30 years.  OK, well, I can't take credit for the first 5-10 years, it was a pretty one sided, my benefit relationship.  I knew that once I got married that the Wife job would supersede the Family Caretaker job, but I didn't know how hard it would be to find the balance that doesn't exhaust and/or exasperate me.

Then there is the Crazy Person who Loves Crazy High School Girls.  These girls are my heart!  I hurt when they hurt, and their triumphs are my greatest joy.  I am so proud of the women I see them becoming, and I can't help but love them.  This is sometimes frustrating, sometimes exhausting, always rewarding work.  It could be just 2 days a week for a couple hours a day, but sometimes turns into every day, lots of texts (thank God for unlimited texting!) or phone calls, or walks through the zoo, or smoothies and hard questions.  I totally stumbled into this job, and yet God has richly blessed my heart through the beautiful, spastic, talented, emotional, loving creatures that He put in my life!

There is a job I do that makes money.  It isn't consistent, most people wouldn't say that it qualifies as a job, and it definitely doesn't qualify as a job that a lady should be doing. Of course there was a time when the only acceptable jobs that ladies should be doing was nursing or teaching.  And then there was a time in our country when the women had to step up, provide for their children, and take the place of the men who were at war.  They did things that no one thought they could do, and our country survived through the determination of women willing to do whatever needed to be done.  Thankfully, history has taught us that we are stronger than we give ourselves credit for, and capable of doing anything we set our minds and hearts to.

Finally there is the most unknown, misunderstood, unapprecaited job that makes my heart smile almost every day.  This job doesn't have a title, set hours, or anyone I answer to.  It can look like recycling, or watering plants, or asking people how I can pray, or taking care of snacks for preschoolers so that the man who usually does this can get radiation treatments without worry.  It has an infinite number of functions, and it means so much to be able to do it. It's called church, and I love it!

I had a friend say to us the other day "Maybe God is preparing you guys for ministry."  My response, though it sounds so cheesy, was truly from my heart without hesitation, thought, or question.  "We are in ministry, every day, we just don't get paid for it."  I knew what he meant, and it's a possibility.  Though I still can't see how where my paycheck comes from is a determining factor of whether I'm in ministry or not.  I think it all comes back to what is my job, and am I doing it with joy in my heart to the glory of God?

Saturday, June 5, 2010


Do you ever find yourself saying "Some day...." on a regular basis, and then get annoyed with your own wistfulness? I noticed lately that all of the things on my Some Day List are things that people in my life have that I don't, or things that I think I need to accomplish in order to be good enough, smart enough, and get people to like me. And of course, the things I need to accomplish are totally arbitrary things based on what I think will make me who I think I need to be. But, alas, the problem with my Some Day List is that most of things on the list are not things I can accomplish on my own, or even if I can accomplish them I can't accomplish them in the time I am allotting for myself to accomplish them.

In the mean time, my Surviving Today List always supersedes my Some Day List, thus making the Some Day List feel more and more impossible. Impossible? For shame! Nothing is impossible with God! But maybe some things are not likely since they are not within His holy plan to sanctify me. So how do I know what things on the Some Day List are good things that I should strive for, and what things are good things that I should not worry about because they might not be part of the Future For Sure List? And even, more importantly, what things should be moved from my Surviving Today List to the Some Day List, and the other way around as well, so that the lists truly reflect what is important?

I think the main part of my whole dilemma is that I am not very good at trusting that God really does know the plans He has for me. It's rarely a conscious thought, but sometimes there is a little part of me that wonders if He knows what's going on. Of course He does, my logical Bible believing brain says, but my illogical fearful heart still quivers like a chihuahua. They are plans that give me a future and hope, for my good and His glory, even if they don't make sense or fit on any of my lists.

In the end the Future For Sure List is the most important, most neglected, most out of my control list that I have. The Some Day List is overwhelming with it's unachievableness, yet to some extent I need to pay attention to it so that I am not just stuck in the rut of today. The Surviving Today List is oft forgotten, neglected, and sadly mundane, which is true of everyday life in general I think.

I think the most important question though, is why do women feel the need to make lists?! Oh Lord save me from my list-full-ness!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

To write or not to write, that is the question

I recently started writing what in my head has potential to be a fantasy novel. It has potential in that I can see the characters, imagine their stories, and dream of their world. The problem is I only have one chapter. That's right, one chapter. And I have a great idea for a preface, and basically have the story already in my head ready to go. So, what's the issue? Why only one chapter?

There are so many doubts in my head I think they're getting in the way. This started out as a creative outlet, a way for me to do something just for me since I spend so much time "doing" for everyone else. Then came the question in my brain "could this actually be something?" Then J told me he's secretly hoping that it becomes something amazing, that many more people than just my poor, loving husband read it. Now I read other books and wonder if I can even legitimately count myself in the good-enough-to-be-published-writer category.

Meanwhile I tried to keep it a secret, but my doubts were overwhelming me so I told a few folks. Now I have the added pressure of people asking me how I'm doing on my book, asking me about progress, encouraging me to go to writers' seminars, and so on. I didn't want to tell anyone because I didn't want the pressure and expectations that people who know and love you unwittingly put on you when trying to encourage you. And yet, I needed the encouragement...

Along with that I think if I ould just get a job we would be in a better financial position. BUT, if I get a job, then I don't even have time for basic house work, much less creativity. And here I am encouraging teenagers I know to be creative, let their imaginations come outside of their heads, but I can't seem to harness mine and tame it enough to let it come out in any semblance of order.

So, I sit, staring at a blank screen, hoping to get rolling on a preface that has such a presence in my brain it is almost tangible. How do you write when you can't get the words out fast enough to keep up with the story in your head?