Friday, December 31, 2010

Out with the old, in with the new...

Happy New Years Eve everyone!!!
  New Years eve is by far my FAVORITE Holiday of all time…cause you see, while some people think the biggest meal of the year is on thanksgiving, my sister and I have figured out how to turn this one day (these 24 hours before a new year) into the biggest pig out fest celebration ever…and it’s something I look forward to every year! I mean think about it…what other day of the year can you wake up, have candy for breakfast, cookies for lunch and nachos for dinner….and not feel bad about it (whereas on New year’s eve you don’t have to feel bad because you have to get rid of all the junk in the house before the new year starts anyway so you might as well eat it!)  Okay so maybe not the most nutritious celebration ever but it certainly helps you start the new year off right (because believe me after downing this much junk food in one day the very thought of eating any of it any time soon makes you want to puke)!
   Anyway, what usually happens is we start the celebration off early and spend most of the afternoon and whole night together partying and eating.  This year however I got invited to go over my friend’s house for a New Year’s Celebration. It’s kind of strange to say, but other than hanging out with family I’ve never really had any new years eve plans before so I definitely want to go…but I also don’t want to miss out on our families yearly tradition, so this year I’ve decided to do both!
    I have to admit, having to change up my new year’s plans just a bit to be able to spend time with my friends, is kind of the perfect reflection of what 2010 has been for me.  Last year at this time I didn’t even know this friend (or any of the people I’m going to see at their party) and the idea of going to some celebration where I will mostly likely say or do some stupid thing, would totally turn me off from even wanting to attempt it.  But this year I realized something….not everyone is going to like me and that’s okay.  Now don’t get me wrong, I’m human…I like to be liked…but in 2010 I realized it was more important for me to concentrate on being the person I want to be than it was to try and force myself to become who someone else wanted in any given situation.  I’m the girl who is going to say the wrong thing and do the wrong thing and totally make an idiot out of myself at times, but I’m also the girl who is caring, loving, and growing into a more mature person than I ever was before.  I like myself and with that in mind I head into a New Year knowing that there is nothing holding me back….
So bring it on 2011!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Recognizing the Martha within...

 So this year Christmas has just not felt like Christmas.  I kept hoping all week that at some point I would wake up from my daze and get into the Christmas spirit, but…nope never really happened. Honestly though, I’m kind of okay with that.  Sometimes it’s nice to have Christmas be just a day…a day where you’re mindful of and celebrate the gift God gave to the world…but still a day.  Today was in a lot of ways like that for me…and like most days I quite quickly filled up the hours with all sorts of things I wanted to do.  What I realized though (but definitely not for the first time) is that I am such a “Martha”. 
  If you don’t know, there is a story in the bible about Martha and her sister Mary (Luke 10:38-42).  Jesus comes to their house and while he sits and teaches everyone, Mary sits by his side while her sister Martha runs around doing all the work to feed the large group that has come to hear him.  Now in the story Martha is irritated that Mary isn’t helping her and actually tells Jesus to tell her sister to do something  (more or less)….but in my life, I actually enjoy doing the work and don’t care if people help.
  I don’t know why, but I’ve always seen myself as this “servant”.  It’s like I feel like I owe the world something cause I’m here (kind of the opposite of entitlement..)…and so I will run myself into the ground doing the things that nobody else wants to or the things others can't do or just the things that help others out.  And I really enjoy it…in fact I feel most comfortable in life when I am doing something for another person...but I often wonder…am I missing something?!    Although mentally I understand that no amount of good works will make me “good enough” for others or “acceptable” to God, I wonder if a part of my servant attitude comes from the fact that I haven’t quite figured out in my heart that it’s not what I DO that matters most.  If life is about a heart attitude…about loving God with all your heart and letting that influence all the things you do and say… then what is my heart actually saying?  It seems to me I might have quite a bit to learn from the Mary’s of the world who can sit still and rest, and hear Jesus say “(you have) chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from (you).”

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God, Santa, and the Curse of Mankind...

  So last Thursday I had a great opportunity to help out in my niece’s preschool class.  I read to the kids, did crafts and just sat around talking with them.  During circle time we went around and asked each kid to tell us one thing they wanted for Christmas (and believe me, for three year olds they certainly knew exactly what they wanted!).  Then after everyone had shared we asked them, “Now what happens if Santa doesn’t bring you want you want?”…..and for a moment they all sat there quietly blown away by the very thought that there was a possibility that Santa might not bring them what they asked for.
  Thinking over the past several days and the many different interactions and conversations I have had with people, I can’t help but make the connection between Santa and our view of God.  How often do we come to God in prayer only asking for what we want?  It’s like we’ve climbed up on the lap of Santa Clause to ask for our laundry list of wants expecting that God, like Santa, will deliver.  But what happens when God doesn’t give us our wants……when on Christmas morning “Santa” hasn’t left us what we really wanted?!?!
   Now I could get all spiritual here and say well if God didn’t do what we asked then it must be better so.  God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts, therefore we should just trust that whatever He brings about is for our best.  The thing is, all of that is very true and I believe it, but the very fact that we are complaining about God not doing what we want brings up a whole new negative point about the human race and that is that we think the world is all about us!  Television, songs, advertisements, everything around us leads us to believe that life is about what we want, what makes us comfortable, making ourselves look  and feel good,  Yet sometimes I wonder if God is asking us, just like He asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?” (Job 38:4)!
    There’s a verse in Romans (12:2) that I have been meditating a lot on this past week that says “Do Not conform any longer to the patterns of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”.  We need to be reminded….I need to be reminded….that even though everything around us says that life begins and ends with "me", the reality is before there was even time God was (john 8:58)….and HE is the reason for all of it! 

Sunday, December 19, 2010

11 in 2011!

  So the New Year is just around the corner (13 days away…can you believe it?!?!) and as is my custom I’ve already begun to think about what I want my new year’s resolution for 2011 to be.  Normally my goals are pretty general (i.e., to lose weight, read my bible more, get to know more people, etc)…but this year I wanted a specific goal and something that would last me the whole year long.
  Well after much thought (and internal debating with myself) I’ve finally made a decision.  My new year’s resolution/goal for 2011 is to run 11 road races!  I’m not so worried about what distance they are…or even how long it takes me to run them.  I just want to complete 11 in 2011!
  The scary thing about this goal is that as of this moment I’ve only run in 11 races total and that’s been over the course of two years!  So…yeah…kind of ambitious of me…but also the kind of goal that will help me to maintain the goals I’ve already reached and push me towards a healthier lifestyle!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Faith, failure and former glory...

Growing up I was a HUGE fan of playing softball.  In fact I was the youngest player ever (well at that time) to be allowed on a little league team and played for the town for over ten years.  I was good…and I knew it.  But as I got older ….I gained weight and started losing my “STAR” ability.  In fact I remember this one game in particular towards the end of my softball “career” when my coach pulled me aside right before I was about to go up to bat and said something along the lines of “Just hit the ball as far as you can and get on base….we’ll send someone else in to run the bases for you”.  You see…even though I was a much slower player, I still could hit a grand slam with the best of them….but it would take me F-O-R-E-V-E-R to round those bases….I just wasn’t conditioned for it….He knew it…and although I hated admitting it, I knew it.  After that game it became the norm for me to hit and then have a pitch runner finish up for me….and slowly I saw my joy for the game end…and I quit.  Basically I wanted to be great….to do it right…and if I couldn’t, I would rather not try.  I never would have thought about it then….but looking back now I can see how that perfectionist…”I have to get it all right and be the very best or else”…attitude has infiltrated so much of my life.  There have been so many things I’ve quit, given up on, or haven’t even tried because I fear doing it wrong.
   This weekend I have been reminded over and over and over again, in a bunch of different ways, just how imperfect I am…..I say things wrong (or the wrong thing) all the time, I do stupid things all the time, I embarrass myself on almost an hourly basis. I have had an attitude for no reason, judged people out of my own insecurity, been fake, lied, cheated, acted as if the whole world is about me, lived life in my own strength….and the list goes on.  For a girl that constantly fears failure…I sure have FAILED..ALOT… and it sucks.
THANK GOD for His AMAZING and completely UNDESERVED GRACE shown on the CROSS (of which I constantly need to be reminded of)….”for when we were utterly helpless, Christ came at just the right time and died for us sinners” (Romans 5:8)!