Tuesday, May 31, 2011

When Mole Hills become Mountains....

  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:6-8

I am not normally an anxious person.  I have my moments (as we all do), but for the most part I can remain pretty level headed about things.  But Lately....I don't know...it seems like every time something goes wrong I move at the speed of light from feeling confident that somehow it will all work out, to all out worry that this is the beginning of my life falling apart for good!
  Take for instance today, when I had to take the day off of work in order to bring my car into the mechanics.  Any normal person would be okay doing that because it's what needs to be done.  I on the other hand stressed out about calling out of work to the point that it was as if I would get fired for not showing up.  Even after I called and let them know I wasn't coming I could still feel my stomach in knots.  Then my worry only increased as I arrived at the auto-mechanics to have them take a look at my car, thinking that this might possibly be the last of "Rusty's" nine lives (Rusty is the affectionate name we have for my 15 year old Honda that is slowly deteriorating to it's death).
  All morning while I awaited word as to what could be wrong with it, I worried about what might happen if "Rusty"  truly was out for the count and I had to find a new car immediately.  I thought about how adding a car loan onto my other bills, would mean putting so many other things on hold and how depressing it would feel to work this hard to get ahead and watch it all fall apart in one afternoon.
  Then after hearing that the problem was fixable and agreeing to the work being done today, I found myself stressing out even more about once again putting money into a car that is dying.  I felt my stomach getting even more tighter as I drove to pick it up after the repair, thinking that maybe somehow they quoted me the wrong price and it was going to cost me even more than I had to take it home.
  In the span of 8 hours I traveled from being confident that everything would be okay, to realizing it might not be, to believing that if I made the wrong decision about whether or not to repair the car, I would not only be setting myself up for failure, but change the entire course of my life!!!  How does that happen?!?!  Luckily for me, I was able to come back to my senses....but I can't help but wonder...What is going on?!?!  This is not normal.....and it's Exhausting!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

But for the grace of GOD....

  So the other day I heard about this survey a local agency did among homeless people in our region.  The whole thing was pretty interesting to me, considering I would probably give everything I have at the moment to move into the city and serve such people (if only I had some clear direction on how to do it).  But the thing that stood out to me the most was an observation that the common thread among the homeless was that they had nobody to turn to....nobody whose name they could write down in case of an emergency....nobody who would care.  Hearing that changed me somehow....it's grabbed upon my heart and has not let go.  In my mind I just keep thinking that although there are drug addictions, and mental health issues that also attribute to their state, really the only thing separating me from someone on the street is the grace of God!
  Personally, I have a really hard time letting people in.  It's hard for me to let people get to know me to the point that I would rely on them or allow them to see me in my mess and trust that after seeing it they would still be there for me.   So instead, I mostly live on the surface with people.  I let them know enough about me to build a casual relationship, but still hang out on the side of the pool with my feet in the water in terms of any real intimacy.  I might test the waters, by riding a raft to the middle of the sea, but I always quickly return to the edge.  And although deep down I have always desired to have close-knit, intimate relationships with people, I know I will never fully let my walls down enough to let that happen.
  So I cannot help but believe that it truly is God's grace that I was born into the family I have.  We may fight and not really talk about the important stuff.  I may worry that I am a disappointment to them at times or struggle to accept how much they love me, but I know no matter what happens....no matter how lost I could become....I will always have a name I can write down for "in case of emergencies".  And in this moment....that means EVERYTHING!

Friday, May 27, 2011

The kind of questions that keep me awake at night....

  I've been thinking a lot lately about perception...and how people seem to perceive me to be someone that I, quite plainly, am not.  I hear people tell me things like "You're so nice", "You're so laid back", or "You're just so confident"....and I wonder who in the world  they are talking about...cause it certainly ain't me!  I'm not that nice of a person...I tend to be more of a control freak than "laid back"... and most days I am just as insecure as the next girl....so how is it that people come to these perceptions of me?!?!  Am I being fake with the world?!?!  Putting on the face that I know they want to see...acting only in a way that is socially acceptable?!?!  And if that's true, is it such a bad thing....I mean, people seem to think better of me than I tend to think of myself...so how bad can it be?!?!
  For example, I make a strategic effort to not mingle my personal life with my work life.  So when I am dealing with family issues at home I might share the brief, tip of the iceberg, important but not really the main point of the issue with my co-workers, but I don't go into details about it...and I honestly probably never will.  Yet the fact that I don't share these things has lead to the belief that my family life is perfect....okay well not perfect, cause lets face it, nobodies life is perfect, but people certainly have a much more pleasant idea of what life is like for me, then what is reality.
  Or for another example, I am an emotional person...and although I let people see some of those emotions, I prefer not to cry in front of people or punch the wall when people are looking.  I would rather people not see me struggling, or depressed, or mad or just plain old broken.  Yet that leads people to believe that I am so much stronger than I actually am....and it gives them this picture of me that just doesn't match up with reality.
  Not that I am saying we should all go out and lay every inch of ourselves bare in front of the whole world (I mean obviously we need to walk in wisdom), but if how people perceive us is different than how we actually are...doesn't that say something about us?!?!  How much pressure could we release ourselves from if we were just real with who we are?!?!  But that's not socially acceptable....people don't like seeing other peoples junk....it's uncomfortable and awkward.  So where do you draw the line?!?!?!  These are the kind of questions that keep me awake at night....

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's all a state of Mind....

  So over the past few days I keep hearing myself make comments like, “Well I should probably take that day off of work then so I can be in the right frame of mind” or “just give me a heads up so that I can get myself into the right mindset”.  And honestly the more I hear these words come out of my mouth the more convicted I am becoming.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading through (among plenty of other things…so prepare yourself for a plethora of book reviews) Brother Lawrence’s, “The Practice of the Presence of God”, but I can’t help but wonder shouldn’t I always be walking in the correct state of mind.  I mean yeah work, and family, and church….they all come in different aspects and different challenges, but shouldn’t it be the atmosphere that’s different not my attitude or outlook.
  I want to live my life fully and completely to/for God.  That means whether I am at home, at work, hanging out with friends, volunteering, or even running around doing errands, everything I do should be for the glory of God.  In fact over the past week or two I’ve been trying to live my days with this thought in my mind, “Is this action/though/decision going to bring glory to God?”   If that is truly my desire….my outlook on life….then why would I need time to get “in the right mindset”?  Shouldn’t that be a constant state of mind?...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Dream a little dream with me....

   I’ve never really thought of myself as a dreamer before.  I mean, yeah I have random thoughts and ideas, but I guess in the back of my mind I always believed that those things could be possible.  And granted I don’t think like a realist who sees all the potential snafus in a plan, but I certainly don’t spend my days thinking of what could never ever be.  Yet as I sat talking with a friend over coffee the other night, I realized that in fact I might be a bit of a dreamer….but I am not so sure it’s such a bad thing!
  For example,  I was discussing with this friend, how disconnected churches seem to be from one another in a community and about how cool it would be to find a way to connect them and have them work together.  I can picture in my mind a network of churches, each of which provide different services to their community (whether it’s food, shelters, counseling, tutoring, bible study, etc) and then people being able to connect with one church and automatically being plugged into the resources they need from the other churches in the network.  I can see people In tough situations, coming to God and having him do the spiritual work in their hearts, while the church steps up and together provides for the physical needs.  To me it seems clearly possible to create this…yet the more we talked the more I kept running into my friends practicality.  Things like money, laws, and lack of time were at the forefront of her mind, whereas I always assume the details can work themselves out.
  I love having friends who keep me grounded….who remind me to think about the twenty steps it takes to get from point a to point b.  I just wish sometimes I could rub off a little bit of that dreamer mentality on them…..hee hee

Friday, May 6, 2011

Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God…

I don’t know about you, but when I read the bible I tend to struggle to see how the God in the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament is the same person. I mean, I know the bible says that God is “The same yesterday, today and forever”, but at times it’s hard to see the continuation of his character throughout the entire bible. It was because of that continual struggle that I chose to read Paul Copan’s book, “Is God a Moral Monster? Making Sense of the Old Testament God”.

Throughout the past six months or so I’ve been given different explanations as to how God truly is the same person throughout the bible. People have pointed to Jesus over turning tables in the temple to show the same anger/jealousy of God from the Old Testament in the New. And to God’s patients with the Israelites to show how the same loving God of the New Testament is seen in the Old. I’ve even heard people say that the Old Testament represents the “father” side of God, the gospels represent the “Son” side of God, and the rest of the New Testament represents to” Spirit” side of God. But honestly none of that completely resonated with me.

Reading this book was the first time I was able to clearly see some characteristics of God over and over again, continuing throughout the entire bible. For instance the New testament talks a lot about God’s heart for the poor, widowed and orphan, but that same heart is clearly seen in the book of laws too when God it talks about things like the treatment of slaves/servants, the year of Jubilee, and even how women are to treated. I’ve always read those books and found them so restricting…as if God was setting his people up for failure so that they would have no choice but to rely on him. Now I read some of those scriptures and can see the value God puts on his creation and how he’s looking to draw all people to himself, not through force, but through love.

I will be honest enough to say that this book, with all its back ground information, made me realize just how little I know about the context in which the bible was written. I walked away from it thinking I need theology degree to truly understand what the bible really means for me today. But in a sense I think that’s a good thing…it makes me want to study more so that I can have a clearer understanding of the bible and God.