Sunday, November 13, 2011

Not Sure what's Next

If there's one thing I hate most about being human, it's not knowing what's next. I can deal with our mortality... especially since my soul will never die... I am fine with being limited, being finite, being small and insignificant to all but our all-knowing God. But what I simply cannot stand is not knowing what's next.

That's how I'm feeling right now. I'm at a complete stand-still in my life. I wish I knew exactly what was next. I wish I could know with all certainty that my business would take off miraculously, that someone would call me and offer me the employment opportunity of a lifetime. That somehow I could begin, soon, so live on my own. I wish I could know that I could soon stop being so dependent on my parents. I wish I could know that all my medical test results will come back negative. I wish I could know that I would be able to pay for my medical tests. I wish I could know what's causing all my aches, pains, and fatigue. I wish I wish I wish.

But one thing I do know. One thing that is the only sure thing. The ONLY sure thing. I don't even know that as I leave starbucks tonight I won't get hit by a car... I have no certainties in this life. None of us do. What can I be sure of? God will be with me.

God is the only unchanging one. El Olam, The Everlasting God. The same yesterday, today, and forever. THAT I can know for sure. Because He was with me from the beginning of my life, I know He will not leave me at the end of it, or in the middle of it, or around the corner from the next big thing, good or bad, that I have yet to face.

So while the rest of my life is in complete, utter turmoil, I can still hang onto my Rock, my Redeemer, my Jesus.

Thank You, Jesus, for never leaving or forsaking me! (Hebrews 13:5, Joshua 1:5, Deuteronomy 31:6)

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Our God is a God of Order!!!

It is with great joy and excitement that I share this with you all. I confess to you, my sisters (and brothers), that I used to be a very messy person. I happily say "used to be!" I used to leave things around everywhere. If I fixed a meal for myself, and my dad would walk in... he could practically follow the steps of everything I did... and he'd proclaim "Allie was here!" And I'd feel like a failure all over again. Just once I wanted to remember to pick up after my cooking or eating, reading or crafts...

Worst of all was my room. By nature and upbringing, I'm not a messy person. But I'd fallen into a depression that manifested itself, among other ways, in a rather neglected room. While I enjoyed cleaning and organizing, something inside of me kept me from doing it for myself. Perhaps I felt I didn't deserve the calm of a neat and tidy living space... maybe I was holding on to teenage irresponsibility? I sincerely do not know what reason or reasons I had for going day to day the way that I did.

I was sore and ached, depressed, feeling pathetic... and my knees were in almost unbearable pain... I only share this part because of the first of two events that led to a complete turnaround in this area of my life.

I was in a Bible Study, and I asked God why my knees were in such horrible pain. What had I done? I hadn't injured them, that I knew of... there was no real explanation. As I asked and pleaded, I was for some reason in the book of Hebrews and found my way to Hebrews 12:12-13... (Now I'm a BIG proponent of using scripture in feel free to read the whole passage! I know there's a much greater message in this passage, but at the moment this is what jumped out to me.) "Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed."

I read that verse, and it was as if God were telling me, "here's why your knees are weak...and here's what to do to keep it from getting worse. If you don't do this, you will wish you only had weak knees."

I was later to read the rest and learn even more about how to strengthen my walk with my Lord, but for now this was what I needed to do. Still I didn't have a desire to clean. It was not until I visited with two friends of mine who own their own homes, and keep them lovely, tidy and neat, that I decided it was time to grow up and take control of my living space.

But it wasn't just a clean room that I wanted... I wanted the desire and ability to create habits that would last for the rest of my life. I didn't want a temporary fix... I wanted a life change. So I prayed that God would instil in me habits that would lend themselves to continual organization and cleanliness.

With these changes have come a realization I never expected!!!

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is:

Love- Having a clean room has given me the ability to think clearly and love honestly without over-extending myself.

Joy- Having a clean room has literally provided the possibility for true joy! I can walk into my room and smile in my heart.

Peace-Having a clean room has created a space for peace. Having this time in my room to rest and relax and instill peace allows me to be more at peace in other areas of my life.

Patience-it takes patience to make my bed EVERY morning... The old me used to say "I have no company coming to see me... and I'm going to unmake it tonight anyway... why bother?" But by patiently setting aside a little more time each moment to put things back where I found them, is teaching me patience in the bigger things in life as well!

Kindness- the peace and joy and patience that maintaining a clean living space has given me is also adding up to general kindness to my family, friends, and complete strangers. It is true...the fruits of the spirit go hand in hand in hand...

Goodness-Having a clean room actually keeps me from thinking too much about myself, and allows me to think more of others and to be able to help others more freely.

Faithfulness-Getting the big ball of failures of the messy room out of the way, is allowing me to create routines and faithfully be in the Word daily. It also allows me more time to be fully focused on what He wants to show me in His Scriptures!

Gentleness - I've noticed the way I even handle the possessions I have now has a feel of gentleness, and it is also (hopefully) showing itself in my character and treatment of others. I have a stronger sense of when I'm not acting as a child of God should, and it is much harder to let any temper get out of hand without my feeling an overwhelming conviction on the matter.

Self-control-The desire to keep my room clean has led me to have self control in what I use in my room, when I use it, and what I do with it afterward... I used to try on multiple pieces of clothing and, just like in the movies, throw them on the bed or over my head onto the floor... then in the rush of getting to where I needed to be, I'd leave them all there with the self-promise to take care of it later... now I put thought into each thing I take out of my closet, and I have to exercise the self control to put it back where it all belongs once I'm done.

against such things there is no law.

I'm really not sure yet what God wants me to do with this new-found wisdom and growth, but I know He doesn't plan to waste it. I praise Him for allowing me to become a woman who seeks to serve Him by learning to serve others and maintain a living space that reflects His character!!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Jesus is my Night Light

Hey everyone!!

Yeah yeah yeah, I know, it's been a super, crazy, long time since I've been on here. Truth be told, for once it's because so much good has been happening, I'm having a hard time keeping up with it all! I will do my very best to get a post out about that soon.

But for today, I have an entirely different little treat. I am cleaning out my closet (again)... going through all my stuff (again) and deciding (again) what I (still) need or really want to keep...

As daunting as this task is (we're talking about me keeping all of the things I have held onto through the years, the things mom has given me to keep, and the things I actually use at least on a weekly basis)... I actually enjoy tackling the monster that is my closet. For me it's a trip down memory lane. You'll see on my facebook profile, a few pictures of things I came across last time. Well, this time I went a little deeper into the things I chose to keep, and came across some more gems.

Like the writing assignment I had in the 2nd grade, about my hero. "My hero is Jesus. He perfomed many miracls. He bied, yes He actualy died just for us and when He rose from the dead he actually Left the Holy Spirit just for us. He stood upon the Mountans, to speek and teach the peolpe to pray. Jesus is very special to me. What about you." (Yes, those misspellings are from the original... far too adorable to correct.)

How wonderful it was that I knew even then the simplicity of the gospel... and it's still just that simple!

I also came across this poem I'd written. I strangely remember quite vividly the day I wrote it, though I don't remember when it was.

Jesus is my Night Light

Jesus is my night light
Through the dark He shines
Jesus is my teacher
Teaching me to make straight lines
Jesus is my buddy
Showing me the rocks He finds
Jesus is my night light
Through the dark He shines

Jesus is my night light
Helping me through scary nights
Jesus is my guardian
protecting me from big school fights
Jesus is my sheild
Scaring off my biggest frights
Jesus is my night light
Helping me through scary nights

Jesus is my night light
So the darkness never wins
Jesus is my treehouse
Protecting me from worldly winds
Jesus is my savior
Came to save me from my sins
Jesus is my night light
So the darkness never wins

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lessons from Titanic

Anyone who knows me knows that I love old movies. The Turner Classic Movie channel (TCM) is my favorite channel on cable. This comes in handy at the library. I am far more likely to track down an old black & white film in the shelves than anything else. And if there is one thing the library has plenty of, it’s old black & white films! The other day I decided to search out some more Cary Grant films. In my searching the shelves I came across “A Night to Remember” the 1958 film about the tragedy of the Titanic. I’d only seen bits and pieces through the years, and I decided I should watch it in its entirety.

The film was beautifully made. Void of the “Jack and Rose” fictional love story, this film truly captured the sentiments surrounding the incident. The film was successful in explaining a lot that I never knew. For example, according to the film, there was a ship that was incredibly close to the RMS Titanic. The doomed steamer tried multiple times to make contact, and the ignorant crew didn’t even respond to the cries for help. They observed the emergency flares, wondering why such a large liner would be firing them, instead of coming to their aid.

But what stunned me the most was the way the passengers treated the situation. To be sure, at the beginning the crew decided to be calm about the situation, so as not to cause a panic. They simply started telling people to put on their life jackets and head to the outside, “just as a precaution.” Most of the first class passengers didn’t want to, and the film did a great job listing their various reasons. Some simply didn’t want to because they found it uncomfortable. It was too chilly outside. It was an inconvenience that they didn’t feel they should be obligated to accept.

Then, as the situation became a little more obvious, the women and children had begun to be allowed onto the lifeboats. A few excuses for not going on board were revealed. One that comes to mind was the woman who was afraid because she had never gotten into a lifeboat before, and she was certain she would miss her step coming aboard. She saw how far down the water was, with the other lifeboats that were already safely in the water. She screamed out of fear, but she made it safely. As the transitions between the class passengers and the “steerage” passengers began, I heard one woman say, “I will not sit with them, they’re steerage!” Some boats were lowered with too few people. There a few examples shown where people insisted there was no room, when there was clearly plenty.

Anyone who has seen either Titanic film will remember “the Unsinkable Molly Brown.” In both films, we see her as an assertive, women’s liberation sort of woman. Not traditional in any sense, all of her actions ignoring status and seeking to be as helpful as possible. In one instance, she insists on allowing more people into the boat, saying everyone can make some more room to get someone else into the boat. After the ships sinks, she suggests their boat go back to help those left in the water. She even convinces the women to row as well, so they can stay warmer by moving their bodies.

Perhaps the strangest account, and whether it is true or not, was a woman who had to run back to her room and get her “lucky pig” a porcelain painted pig… rather large for a good luck charm.

As I watched I found myself screaming at the television as if I were watching a football game (and actually caring about the outcome). “PEOPLE! THE SHIP IS SINKING! GET OVER YOURSELVES!!!”

Sure it seems pretty obvious. We’d all like to believe we’d be a little more like Molly Brown. But in reality, I’m pretty embarrassed to say I see myself a whole lot more in the other passengers. I’ve been guilty of making all these same excuses, and more, to avoid stepping out and telling others about the abounding love of Christ.

That person wouldn’t listen to me.”

“It’s inconvenient, I’ll be late for Bible Study!”

“This is too scary, what if I fall flat on my face?”

I have been completely guilty of taking God’s gift of grace for granted and keeping it all to myself, keeping the lamplight under my hand as they say.

One question that stuck out in my mind was, “how could the selfish first class passengers survive, and the poor third class “steerage” passengers not make it? How is that fair?” But then I realized, those passengers would have to live the rest of their lives knowing that for whatever reason they survived while others didn’t, simply because of status, nothing at all to do with who deserved to live and who didn’t. The same is true for us. We did nothing to deserve this grace we've been given. But hell is a reality. It’s not a theory, it is truth. There’s no going back, no changing your mind, no doing it over again differently. Do we really believe that about the eternal destinies of those around us?

The overwhelming truth is that the ship IS sinking. It’s sinking fast. Faster than any of us realize. Every day, people are dying without knowing who Christ even is, let alone how much they need Him.

Let us not be the born-again “first class” passengers

Friday, March 4, 2011

YOUR Relationship with God

Every night, for as long as I can remember, my grandmother has said to me, "Goodnight, Alex. God bless you." When I was younger, I used to get very confused... "But, grandma... I didn't sneeze!" I didn't quite get it.

Then, when I got older, I began to learn what it meant to say to someone, "God bless you." I learned it's not just something to say when someone sneezes... Now, although I'm 23, sometimes when she says "Goodnight, Alex. God bless you," I say, "Ah-choo!!!"

To some, that may seem disrespectful, but in my relationship with my grandmother, it's a sweet reminder of my childhood.

Your relationship with your grandparents may be completely different from mine, I know your relationships with your friends aren't all exactly the same... we were wired by God to love in different ways! (Read the Five Love Languages sometime...)

Just as a recap, the five love languages are: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, physical touch (shout out to all my huggers!) and acts of service.

I was smiling last night, thinking about how rude it would sound to someone else for me to say "ah-choo" to my grandmother when she is genuinely speaking God's blessing over me, and it made me think about what it means to have a personal relationship with God.

Deep, meaningful relationships take time. They are always different in some way. They are unique. Some may seem deeper than others... some spend time with God outdoors in His creation, some prefer the quiet of their bedroom, some go to a coffeehouse... some write their praises, some sing them, some paint them...

Don't envy the relationship someone else has with God. He has the capacity to love us each individually and uniquely. Wait in anticipation of deepening your relationship with Him, not simply striving to love Him like your friend or teacher does... Relationship takes time, and God has all the time you both need to build a relationship fit for eternity!