Friday, May 30, 2008

a thing to be grasped.

Taped to my computer at work is a yellow index card with a verse written in red:
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
Philippians 2:3-7
More than likely, we've all heard these verses at one time or another. Parents, teachers, pastors... I've heard them all use this with the words "DO NOTHING FROM" highlighted, underlined or otherwise marked in their speech. In fact I read it this morning just like that - it's so familiar to think "I must be humble, I must be unselfish, I must not be conceited". I think when we make those words the focus of the passage, we miss the beauty in these verses. We are to have the same attitude as Jesus did, humbling ourselves, regarding others as more important because He did. I hope I will always marvel that the Son of God humbled Himself so. This passage to me is not a command... but it is not a suggestion either. God wants us to be this way because it's the way Jesus lived, not using His high position as something to wave over every one's head in a "Look what I've got!" manner. Instead, He willingly, knowledgeably put Himself under fishermen, government officials, His own disciples... why? Because He did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, because He came to serve.

I know that I am not like Christ in this. I am closer to doing everything from selfishness and empty conceit than nothing selfishly as Jesus did! There are many times where I look out only for my own personal interests... everyone else can take care of themselves, thank you very much. Not that I necessarily think I am the best or look the best or anything like that. It's more about the way I do things. When I serve, do I serve with the heart of a servant? Am I speaking about the things of God in a way that bring Him glory or by my puffed up head am I really defaming Him? When I sing, am I doing it to be heard (though I'll admit, I don't do this often - I have a feeling I'm tone-deaf) or out of worship to God? Am I telling people I'll pray for them because it sounds so good or because I honestly care? Do I apologize because I know that it makes me look bad if I don't? Do I write things down and share things with people for the purpose of making me look like a very humble person, submissive to God's plan? (note: writing this is making me feel quite humble but [unfortunately] that doesn't mean I am humble...)

I will leave those questions rhetorical for now (as I said, I'm not that humble) but to myself they are already answered. I'm something of a people-pleasing individual and I think it's mostly because I'm afraid of what people would say if I just did my own thing. But I guess I am doing my own thing, or at least NOT doing God's thing when I look out for my own interests above the interests of others... even when the "others" in question don't have a clue and think I am being that servant.

Jesus didn't consider it a thing to be grasped.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

feet

[see end of post]
God definitely works through the unexpected.

I suppose I'll start with things that have been going on. As I mentioned recently, I've been having some problems with my feet lately... lately as in the past two years. I went to physical therapy Monday and today and THAT was a blast... lots of stretching and pain and things. I'm excited to see the end result though. Whew.

I'm often reminded of the time when the pain first started in Ukraine, and all the problems. Had no idea why I felt as awful as I did but I would wake up to my leg throbbing in pain. I drank water (lots!) in case it was dehydration, but it did NOTHING. I wore tennis shoes some days to see if it would make a difference in the way I felt and it didn't. I know now that the problem was the lack of support for my feet. It's nice to be informed, sometimes.

Whenever I think of all those foot/leg problems, I'm also reminded of how good God is. Not because I think of how much worse it could have been but because of how obviously He provided for me then... and how He provides now.

The moment when we're shaking because our muscles have exhausted, when we can't go on one more step.
The moment when we're crying because we don't know what to do.
The moment when we look up and then quickly look down because we know we've exerted so much and forgotten to rely on Him in the rush of the moment... and still come up short.

The things I've just listed remind me a lot of what I was feeling in Athens two years ago as we ran to the bus, 2o minutes or so late. I've never felt so much like I could NOT go on before. My mind was yelling, "Run, run, run!" and my poor legs argued, "No! We can't!" My mind must not be a very good listener because I kept running. There are lots of good reasons for this:
1. we were late.
2. everyone else was running.
3. I didn't want to get yelled at.
4. something to do with pride.

It was a really hot, humid day in Athens, Greece, the day before the "Worldmissions Team" returned to America after a month in Ukraine/Africa. We were on a bus tour of Greece and had stopped for lunch. My group, vehemently opposing the very convenient McDonalds, decided to get actual Greek food... we went in search of the perfect place which took quite some time. It took awhile to order too, and we had to sit and eat in the little cafe. Suddenly we realized that we had about five minutes before we needed to be back at the bust and it would be at least a fifteen minute walk/run.

I hit the point where I couldn't go on anymore too far away from the bus. I got a Charley Horse in my leg and it throbbed. I remember Jillian turning around and me telling her to go ahead, but she stayed with me (which I actually wanted her to do all along). Then a couple other people stayed behind too, trying to get me to walk faster and asking what was wrong. We made it to the bus really late. I was so afraid of what the leaders would say and as soon as we got on the bus they started teasing me for being so slow. At that point I lost it. I was in pain, I was late, I was being teased... I don't think I actually sobbed but I know I cried visibly. It was so embarrassing.

I remember the teasing quite well but what I remember most is how nice people were. I remember Oksana's concerned face telling me that they were only teasing, they didn't mean to make me cry, Victoria offering to help by massaging my calves (that hurt sooo bad... but felt better in the long-run), someone giving me peanut m&ms, several people trying to make me laugh. I did laugh, and I did feel better. I stayed on the bus when we stopped at Corinth but someone else offered to take pictures for me so I could show them to my family when I got home. People asked me how I was doing all the rest of that day and genuinely cared. It was hard to accept though I didn't have much of a choice. Definitely knocked out some of that pride.

The pain is still not fun (it's never been that bad again, thank goodness!) but it does occasionally bring back the memory of that day. I prayed for God to stop the pain. He didn't. I asked Him to make it go away and never come back. He didn't. Instead, He allowed my prideful self to be humbled as someone rubbed my calves (I'm pretty sure that's right up there with having ones feet washed). He allowed me to see how His Body worked... and also showed me how I'd failed during that trip in ministering to others, in encouraging them.

And how does He provide now? Oh, don't worry, He still works on the pride thing. Sometimes He uses my feet, other times He uses His people, His word, a good look in the mirror...
He also reminds me quite often that He works in mysterious ways, that He is way beyond my understanding, and that His answers will supersede my expectations and finite prayers a huge percentage of the time!

I hadn't thought about any of this in a long time but talking to a friend tonight about how God works in His own timing reminded me that God works in His own way also... and that when we look back we often see Him orchestrating all kinds of things that truly do amaze me.

As strange as it sounds, I thank Him for my feet which are, fittingly, hurting quite badly right now. Through them, He's taught me a lot. I am looking forward to no pain from them in the near future (I hope!) but I am sure that He's not done using my feet to teach me painful lessons. Quite literally.

[* - yes, those ugly things are mine. the problem you see, is that they are pronated (they look even worse from the back but it's quite difficult to get a picture of the back of oneself)... I never realized how much they look like Hobbit feet...]

Monday, May 26, 2008

things from the past week...

...in the order that they came up after they had finished the uploading process.

The Holy Land Experience in Orlando... one of the only pictures I took that day (the other is of Jillian and Emily kissing a camel). It was fun, good learning experience, brought new light on aspects of the faith and the Old Testament practices. Really enjoyed it... but it was VERY humid and hot.
And this I include only because I thought it was cute. The little mini boxes of cereal that my grandma used to buy... nostalgic... they had them at the hotel in Ocala and I kept one for snackage later.

Emily, Becca and I in the locker room mirror at the YMCA where CBC Ocala is held. I like this picture a lot. The Crossroads Choir performed for the church yesterday and did a great job. It was fun being in the audience and making the people in the choir laugh by making faces... :)

Andrew, Chandra, Me, Brandon... went to the Sea Turtle in Bluffton on Tuesday to see Narnia. Good movie, fun people. I wouldn't compare it to the first Narnia since they're so different but I think I liked this one better...

My cousin Morgan... she lives in Ocala and I haven't seen her since Thanksgiving, probably won't see her till Christmas. Was my best friend and worst enemy before she moved to Florida... she's also a lot taller than me... she's 5'9" or something.

And I hope to post some of my thoughts and things quite soon but I've been busy and haven't had too much time to think lately :)

Monday, May 19, 2008

paper pants and life as of late

It's been a crazy couple of weeks. I'm exhausted right now yet I wanted to sit down and make a post. I like writing what's been going on because it's so rare that I sit down to write more than a few lines in my journal these days...

For those that don't know this already, I'm going to Spokane! I accepted the acceptance, haha. I sent in my enrollment deposit and found an apartment and roommates already. I'm rooming with Haley (it's going to be nice having someone I know!) and most likely Madeline and Molly, two girls I've never personally met, just met on Facebook. Found a really nice apartment five minutes from the school. I'm so excited about all of that and it's totally God because I had initially told Him that Spokane wasn't for me... I have a hard head and can never just learn my lesson :)

I've been to the beach twice this year: once with Becca B and Taci and once with my Writing Class girls. I tanned (believe it!) the first time and my back got burnt a bit the second... went strawberry picking, went to La Hac [picture up there], watched Enchanted (so cute!) with my W Class. Had Ring Pops with Taci and Becca [picture above], did cartwheels and skipped on the beach - we totally acted like we were five and it was so fun. Both times were so much fun.

Twelve people graduated from CBCCA this weekend. I personally thought it was the best graduation I'd ever been to. I've known most of the people who graduated since we were really little... I don't think there will be another class where I have known every person for several years... it made me a little sad and sentimental because we're all so OLD now. Erik and I discussed it Thursday (I still remember he and Llana coming over and singing to the LarryBoy theme song with Becca and I...) and marveled that from that class numerous people are going to college, one is getting married (still can't believe it) and who knows what will be going on just a year from now... time really flew. *sniff* Oh, and the parties were fun! I went to Christina's and Brandon and Dustin's parties. Had really good food at the DeGuzmans' and good conversation with old friends [look above for picture] and the Mansell kids... and had a lot of just plain old fun at the Twins' party [see picture above and pictures on Facebook].

I finally went to the doctor for my crazy feet! They've had problems since I went to Ukraine in '06. Yep, two years and I finally go to the doctor today. We're on top of it. Like I thought, it was my feet that are the problem, being extremely flat and pronated... I knew that already but since my knowledge of that wasn't curing anything, we finally went to the doctor. Took x-rays of my feet (I had to stand on three books for them to get the x-ray of my foot from the side with all my weight on it). The doctor had me stand and walk and things and he kept saying (and Mom kept repeating... she thought it was so funny), "Very impressive" which meant, "not good"... so I'm going to go to physical therapy next Monday so they can tell me what to do to make the pain in my calves and knees and feet go away... excited about that part. Emily's going to be my accountability and make me do what they tell me to do :)

I also had to wear paper pants which was an experience in itself and actually the reason I wanted to blog. I decided that if Bible college doesn't work out I'll be going into the paper garment designer field - apparently there's a real need. I had a pair, ironically (?) marked small... which I had to hold up as I walked to the radiation room. It was too funny that I had to have Mom take a picture... I look like I have stick legs in the picture and they're far from that... those things were so huge though... someone really needs to go into the paper clothing industry and set these doctors offices straight. So enough about the paper pants...

I'm off to bed.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

a thought about heaven.

I'm hit with the "no, duh" obvious things far too often.

I was thinking about heaven today. More specifically, heaven before Jesus died. It was around from the very beginning (think Genesis 1:1). In a parable, Jesus talks about Abraham being there and the rich man who was unkind to Lazarus saw him... I always wondered why Abraham was in heaven if Jesus hadn't died yet... maybe it was a different heaven that would change into the real thing once Jesus rose again.

And then I thought... that's dumb, because it didn't take Jesus dying for people to start going to heaven. The death and resurrection of Jesus was GOING to happen and It didn't usher in the era of heaven. People could go to heaven in the Old Testament and the New Testament before Jesus died because no person just randomly shows up in God's book. He already knows who's going to be there, even those that haven't been born yet. So because of what was yet to happen, because of what was going to happen (because God is God), people who lived and died before the time of and the death of Jesus could definitely go to heaven!

Perhaps it's just me writing the obvious again, but I thought that was pretty neat. I don't know why it didn't click in there before.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

lessons in a strawberry patch

I looked down at my hands, streaked with red. Another berry stain. Strawberry picking apparently isn't my forte. I kept finding what I considered to be a good looking berry only to have its rotten side "get" me with juice. I know, I know... ew. As I found berry after berry with the same problem, I started to think. As everyone else with me was elsewhere in the field, I was content with my own thoughts.

Strangely, I began to think how like a strawberry I can be. I had just come back from the beach, but it had nothing to do with my susceptible-to-sunburn self. I have red hair but it wasn't because of that. Bear with me as I try to type out my analogy. These things can make so much sense in my head.

I thought with horror that I'm like that strawberry, the nasty one I picked up. How easy it is for me to go to church or to talk with friends like that shiny pretty berry. How I can say good things and encourage and blah-blah-blah. But then I go home, and even before I've taken off the makeup I've realized what a horrible phony I am.

God picks me up and turns me over and gets nasty juice all over His hands.

He is the kind strawberry picker (you don't hear this analogy much, do ya kids?). He doesn't throw me down and say "Oh GROSS! Another one!" but picks me up, notices the bad spot, and puts me in the bucket. If I really were a strawberry and strawberries could think, I'd probably notice that pretty much all the berries in the basket were disgusting with juicy spots like me. He'd buy the berries and take them home. Examining each strawberry carefully, He washes the dirt off, gently, so as not to make the berry-wound bigger. Then he cuts around the nasty part. With a flick of the knife and perhaps a little pain inflicted on the berry, it's no longer bad.

And you know what? Though I'm not a strawberry, I see how God's done that with me. He doesn't just leave me where I am, throw me in the dirt, or accidentally squash me after someone else threw me away. No! He picks me up knowing full well that I'm nasty and maybe that I have a few bugs. He paid for me, took me home, and cleaned me up. He cut away the bad things, and now I'm pretty! I'm not a perfect berry (have you ever noticed that the only perfect strawberries are plastic?) but I'm clean. And I'm presentable. And it's all because of Him because how silly would it be to say a strawberry washed the dirt off itself? Someone had to do it for it!

As I thought about it there in the heat, hunched over in a strawberry field, I was reminded of how God "chose" us, imperfect and rotten as we were: "He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior." [Titus 3:5-6]

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

When I grow up...

We have a whole life to live... isn't it exciting being technically at the start of our lives... it's a little scary, of course, knowing that what we do now affects us later, but I still think it's pretty neat. So I've been thinking lately... what do I want my life to be like in a year? Five years? Ten years? Well... I'm not at all sure what it will look like... but here's what I'm thinking:

One year from now: I'll have kissed my teenage years goodbye, I'll be 20! Probably living in Spokane, either finishing up or just having finished my sophomore year of college, getting ready to come back to Beaufort for the summer. I'm sure a lot will happen over the next year... I can't wait to see what's going to take place!

Five years from now: I will be 24. Married, two kids... riiiiight. I don't really expect that to be the case in just five years, but stranger things HAVE happened. I hope that I'll have a job that has something to do with my major and I hope to love it (and if I am married with the two kids, I won't have a job-job... I'll be home and I know I'll love that too!). By the way, the majors I'm thinking about right now are either Missions or Evangelism and Discipleship or Youth Ministry. I really can't even imagine how God will use me so I don't even want to make that guess.

Ten years from now: I will be 29. Wow. Probably sporting gray hair and wrinkles. My mother probably hopes that she will be a mother-in-law and grandmother by that time so I hope that I will have accommodated her... If I'm not married, I would love to be overseas working with teen girls or actually doing anything. I'd really enjoy being a part of a team that plants churches all over the world. There are a ton of places I'd love to go and if I'm on the mission field for an extended part of my life (or even a short time, really), I'd like to spend that time all over the mission field. I do so love to see what God is doing all over the place.

I don't have plans but I have hopes and dreams and ideas. I love coming up with ideas. Brainstorming is just so much fun. No idea what I'll be... or do... but whatever it is, God's not done with me yet.

I wrote this nearly a year ago... along the same lines as the rest of this post:
"I think I'm decided on my plans for next year. I'm staying in Beaufort this year. I'd like to take my freshman year classes online and then reapply to Moody as a transfer student. That's what I would like to do... not necessarily what will happen in my life. Just this year, I've experienced so many twists and turns on this road called the Life With God that I know better than to say that I'm definitely doing one thing or another." May 23,2007.

(pictures, since I'm sure you're interested... are from when I was nine and when I was fourteen... 5 years ago and 10 years ago. I just guessed on the nine-year-old one, I have no clue how old I am but it seemed right...)

Saturday, May 3, 2008

mildly shocked.

I'm accepted!
Okay folks, I was expecting to make this announcement (or one like it) about a month ago. I applied to Moody Bible Institute for the second time earlier this year. I was supposed to hear a response around April 1 but I kept waiting and waiting without hearing a thing. Finally I called the admissions office and apparently they'd forgotten that I was a distance learning student because they'd been waiting on my transcript. So they promised to process the application. That was two and a half weeks ago... I emailed (I'm pretty sure they were getting annoyed with me but it definitely went both ways). I expected a letter earlier this week and guess what? No letter. What a shock, right?
Today I was going to pick Scott and Mini and Daisy up and I thought, "Hm. I don't know if anyone got the mail today"... so I drove to the mailbox and saw two envelopes sitting there, one with the MBI seal thing on it. I sat down in the car and opened it... I saw no "we regret to inform you..." so I scanned the letter for pleasant words. I got surprising words:
"Due to the limited space on the Chicago campus (oh darn)..." well, it turns out that I was accepted, so I didn't lie to you at the beginning. Only thing is, I wasn't accepted to Chicago... think waaay further away. Like oh, Spokane, Washington. Yeah, that's right. Spokane. Washington. Like... the state. Like... the west coast. Like... wow, I'm using the word like way too much.

So I wanted to get that out there, let whoever reads this know what's up. I have to decide by May 16 if this is what I want to do, send a deposit and all that good stuff. Oh, and basically the deal is that I do Spokane for a year, make a 2.0 gpa or higher and transfer to Chicago for the rest of my college stuff. It's not Chicago, but Kristine called me earlier this evening and said, "Well, your goal wasn't to get to Chicago, it was to get accepted to Moody, right?" I'd kinda forgotten about that. Pray for that, pray for my father who dislikes change and got upset on the phone when I told him, pray for me to be really really open to God and pray for... well, just pray, okay? Thanks.

Sooo... I'm accepted. Wow.

Friday, May 2, 2008

the best of fwends

I was lying on my stomach on my bed looking at my laptop screen with tired eyes, having just awoken from an accidental nap, when I felt someone enter the room. Before I knew it, an excited hound dog had jumped on my bed, traveled across my back, and plunkered down right next to me, resting her head on my elbow (which I kinda needed to be able to type). She looked deep into my eyes with her huge brown ones and gave me a doggy kiss with her big wet tongue. She nudged my hand to divert from reposing on my computer to scratch her back. She was so happy to be sitting there. I said, "Heyyy Daisy", and her whole body shook with excitement. She moved her head from my elbow to my keyboard, loving gazes cast my way the entire time. Awww.

It was at that moment that I felt both very loved and appreciative of my loving friend, while at the same time, quite lonely that my only friend at the moment had a big wet snout, large ears, and the uncanny ability to bark like a seal.

Such is life.
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