Friday, August 28, 2009

I'm a Worm but He is Good.

I am a worm. Did you know that? If you did, I hope that you would have been kind enough not to say so. If you are wondering why I'm thinking that, you've come to the right place. Read these lyrics to a song I've been listening to and playing in my head, and read on...

All We Ever Needed - Rush of Fools

A heavy heart I bring, for I am tired Lord

Awaken my lost love for You

Take this heart of stone and warm this bitter cold

Awaken my lost love for You

Let Your children fall down and worship

Fall down and Know You for You are holy

Let your children rise up before You

Rise and adore You for You are holy

You are holy

Remind us who we are when we have wandered far

Awaken our lost love for You

And like the morning star, You chase away the dark

There is no shadow here with You, with You Lord

Just a glimpse of You is all we ever needed

Just a touch from You is all we ever needed

Just a glimpse of You is all we ever needed

It's all that we are needing now

All this thinking started with the word “Adore” popping into my head earlier. I looked it up and found that adore means: to regard with the utmost esteem, love, and respect; honor. 2. to pay divine honor to; worship. 3. to like or admire very much.

So how does someone go from falling in love to realizing that they have completely lost sight and not adoring anymore? Doesn’t “utmost respect” indicate that it won’t go away?

Ashamedly, I feel like I’ve “lost my love” for God. Not really, but I have lost the joy in it. I’ve lost the passion. I’ve lost hungering after Him and for His word like I used to. I used to pick up a Bible and want to eat and drink it because reading and studying was simply not enough.

Just a glimpse of You is all we ever needed

Has anyone ever come up to you and said, “No, it’s not YOU, it’s me!”? It’s always just before they terminate the relationship in some way. Doesn’t that just make you mad? Do you ever just want to snap back and say “Oh really? Well if I mattered so much to you then why on earth would you do something like that?”

Remind us who we are when we have wandered far

I feel like a worm. For the millionth time I come slithering (or whatever worms do) back to God and saying “Guess what, it’s me again! I’ve failed you again. I made other things more important than You. Again. No, it’s got nothing to do with You – it’s all me!” I am undeserving and repulsive. And yes, it’s NOT Him, it’s all me. But by saying that, I’m pretty much telling God that HE really just didn’t make it into my list of priorities. Because if I loved Him like I claim to love Him, I would act like I love Him. I would grow in love for Him. I wouldn't be such a worm.

Yes, I’m a human. Yes, I know I’m a sinner. It’s just becoming more and more evident to me how despicable I am. A few years ago I used to think I had nothing to say when giving my testimony because I was saved at a young age and grew up in church. Well, not even speaking about the things I did before salvation, I’ve noticed that I am a horrible person. Just about every day, I tell God in some way that He is not important to me. Just by living.

“Love” means so many things and is spoken so casually that saying I’ve lost my love doesn’t hold the same sinking feeling that saying I don’t respect Him, don’t honor Him, don’t worship Him like I should does.

Basically: I am a worm and I don’t revere Him. Ouch.

[revere: to regard with respect tinged with awe]

Awaken my lost love for You

The thing about God as said in this song and as evidenced in life is that He has forgiven. He knows of our worm-ish tendencies and forgave us once for all. He loves unconditionally even though we do not. Even though we can’t even love and serve faithfully the perfect God who has never committed ONE wrong, much less against us. He is SO good. Stop a second and think about it.

In fact, I’m going to do that for a little bit, read a bit of His word.

All we EVER needed.

All that we are needing now.

[this would also be a good time to point out that His faithfulness, something I have been talking about the entire year, is SO evident. He IS good.]

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Sunday Morning Came Too Fast

I was supposed to leave for Chicago on Wednesday.
But, I left for Spokane on Sunday morning.
A few more days at home proved to be such a blessing! I got to do a lot more that I'd hoped to do while still in the South.

I got to spend time with my sister downtown, enjoying a not-too-humid afternoon at the Marina:

And take my brother shopping...
On the way, we stopped for some gas at a rather disreputable looking place...
And began a hunt for navy dress pants for the pickiest, skinniest 14 year old on the planet (seriously! nothing fit or fit his ideas of the perfect pants. I was drained but we conquered the odds and found the perfect ones :))

But Sunday morning came too quickly. Much too quickly. I boarded a flight in Savannah and three flights later, was in Spokane. Funny how that works.

Anyway, I'm here, all safe and sound in my new apartment. It's different being back here, but with different people and in a new place. So many things have changed in the year since I first started going to Moody-Spokane. More on that later.

For now, a picture of the first official meal cooked in our apartment. Eaten in the living room (we don't have a table) while watching Emma.
And a question: Why does breakfast always taste so much better when it's for dinner?

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Quiet Life

Mindset is something I've been thinking about lately. It's been very obvious to me that saying and doing things for God aren't exactly what He wants. Instead we must be fully God's. Completely HIS in each and every way. Whatever my hopes are for myself as a person and even as a Christian, however good they are, are NOT to be more important than God Himself.

As obvious as it sounds, God doesn't care about who we are, our titles or names. He uses people from every walk of life, every shape and size.

Sometimes I have the mindset that I have to do something to be this great standout person in the faith. Like if I love God enough, lots of people will know about it. Not that I'm trying to seek the praise of men, but sometimes I forget and think that if I'm devout, the result will be that people talk about me.

I've already processed through that, so I know it's not a good mindset, but typing that out makes it sound even more silly.

The people I know who most exemplify godliness aren't special. Oftentimes, I can't recall a single profound thing they have said. The pattern I see is a life and heart directed toward God - a person living for Him.

The question I have to ask myself daily is "Do I want that?"

Do I want a life that may not be noticed, a life of serving God, learning more of Him, reading His word? I can answer that question in a very humble-sounding way without it being what's truly in my heart.

Do I WANT God to be my top priority? Do I want Him to be what life is all about? Do I want to completely remove myself from any importance? Do I die to self in areas that I struggle in, do I do things that are out of my level of comfort, do I follow Him even in areas where I would rather cringe or hide underneath something?

I have learned in the past few weeks that talking about our faith is of little importance if we do not have the lives to back it up. If our mindset is actually seeking the things of earth and not the things of God, we've got a problem. We have to change that. Our mouths can say all sorts of praises but we have to get over ourselves. We have to let our priority not be becoming someone people know and view as a "great" model of the faith.

Am I willing to live a quiet life? Am I willing to put aside all the things I want out of life for the greater praise and magnification of my Lord and Savior? Am I willing to change my heart and my mine to reflect Him in every single way?

Yes, Lord, please!

"I am determined to be absolutely and entirely for Him and Him alone" - Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Off to Chicago I... Don't Go

Tuesday is a day for new news apparently.

I don't like saying I'm doing things for SURE until they actually happen. I said this to Carson on the phone the other day and used the example: "I'm planning on moving to Chicago on Wednesday but until I'm in Chicago, I won't be absolutely sure". I've realized many times that God has a tendency to change my plans so I try to put my focus more on Him and less on the plans... work in progress there.

Anyway, it's funny that I used that example.

Because I'm supposed to move to Chicago. Tomorrow.

And I'm not.

I'm going to return to Spokane this fall. I'm leaving Sunday morning instead of Wednesday morning. All has fallen into place rather quickly but well. Some details are still lacking but should be figured out soon.

Wow. It is good to trust in God, not plans :)

Friday, August 14, 2009

sunshine and sparkly rings.

The sun shone in the sky, making the day both beautiful and hot.

It was August after all. And noon in August is especially hot.

And while this description could apply to just about any day in this hottest-of-all-months, it specifically applies to one day: Tuesday, August eleventh.

Why? Well, glad you asked. That's what I'm about to tell you.

Tuesday was a day for exploring Beaufort and the surrounding areas. A day for a local girl (guess who?) to show a visiting boy around the Lowcountry. Many stops were to be made in order to give the visitor the best the South has to offer: Piggly Wiggly, Chick-fil-A, the waterfront park... but the first stop would prove to be the best stop of the day.

It was at the place pictured above, Old Sheldon Church. Lovelier in person, but you would have to actually go there for it to look as good as it does. It's a shame that pictures are never as good as the real thing.

I digress.

So the first stop was the best.

The boy and the girl got out of the car and beheld the castle-like look of the place. A mother and daughter were taking pictures at the actual building so as not to intrude on their enjoyment, the few headstones in the cemetary were explored instead. The lives of the people in the ground were speculated on and the quotations on the graves sparked conversation. The outside of the building was circled before the mother and daughter left and the boy and girl went inside through one of the walls.

This is where it gets interesting.

And why it was the best stop.

Standing inside the building, its former loveliness was pondered, and its current splendor (grass for carpet and plants growing from the walls) was considered. After a few moments of admiration, the boy began to speak.

He told the girl that he greatly respected her and told her a few reasons why. He then told her he loved her, something he had never said before.

She said nothing. She was mildly confused and pondered why he chose that moment to tell her.

He did not keep her in suspense for long, but fished around in his pocket for something before taking her left hand. As he knelt, the girl began to realize what he was doing. Always composed, she opened her mouth really wide in a surprised "O" shape. Actually, she gaped. She probably caught a fly.

Was he...?

Yes, he was.

(No, this was not the exact moment, but a reenactment later that day. Notice "the girl" is actually smiling. A lot more becoming than the human fly trap of earlier.)

In the middle of the old church, on a hot summer day in August, he promised to love her and to spend the rest of his life with her. He smiled.

She looked at him and at the beautiful ring in the box he held. She realized that it was indeed happening and closed her mouth. She thought a moment about all the things he had said. She smiled too. Then she opened her mouth again to say one word in reply:


The boy was very happy. And so was the girl. They were going to get married! They smiled a lot.

Like this:

And then they went to Piggly Wiggly (and the boy bought a shirt because he thought that was the funniest name EVER for a grocery store... he's wearing it in the picture below) and then they went to a certain car dealership where the girl's father works to tell him (though he knew it was coming - the boy had asked for his permission that morning), then to Chick-fil-A since Washingtonians don't have them (poor, sad people), then to the Waterfront to look around and show favorite places and old houses and such, then back to the girl's house to enjoy the blueberry pie she had made and to tell the rest of the family.

The ring. Very sparkly and very pretty and not what the girl would have chosen herself. Better.
Looking at the ring that night. This is when it was beginning to dawn on the girl.

Postscript/the beginning of the story:
For those that did not know this was coming... well, neither did I. Obviously.

I'm just glad I didn't say "Are you SERIOUS?"

It was on the tip of my tongue and then I remembered that it wasn't a nice thing to say. Whew.

For those that did not know said boy existed, a bit of history:
Carson and I met at school. Yes, at Moody "Bridal" Institute. No, I didn't go for that reason. Anyway, we met and kind of knew of each other last semester. I knew very little about him except that he had a really good reputation for loving God more than anything else, several girls I knew liked him, and he was one of the few who was actually from Washington State and applied to Moody-Spokane and not to the Chicago campus.
During Spring semester, we had two classes together and got to know one another a little bit better. He liked me but I wasn't exactly interested (that's putting it mildly) but agreed to go to the formal with him in May. Around that time, I became interested (this was after a lot of prayer... I hadn't realized how much I liked NOT being in a relationship until I had to ask God to change my heart if He wanted me to even
like Carson). He (Carson) asked me to pray about being an a relationship with him and I agreed to do so. The timing seemed a little odd but we could both see God's hand in it and after praying, we could see that it was definitely something God was leading us to do. So we began dating this past Spring, not that long ago. It's been great and I'll write about all that sometime. Seriously has brought me closer to the Lord.
Carson's visit to Beaufort was a surprise, as in, I knew he was coming but didn't know when. He arrived on Saturday and left on Thursday. I had NO idea that he would propose. But he did, and now we're planning a wedding. More on that to come, of course.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

just the other day.

just the other day, 
we were roommates in ukraine. 
i was visiting her in chicago. 
she told me about a boy. 
we smashed a cake in her face for her 19th birthday. 
she told me she liked the boy.
a lot. 

not too long after,
she showed me a ring from the boy. 

and today,
she's marrying the boy. 

congratulations, friend.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

an echoed sentiment.

"I have been thinking lately that life in the will of God is better in each phase we enter, so I can honestly say today 'This is the best year of my life.' Only now, I don't shout it as I once did, but I don't despise the shouting either." - Jim Elliot

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

cleaning out the attic.

For You are my hope;
O Lord God You are my confidence from my youth. 
By You I have been sustained from my birth;
You are He who took me from my mother's womb;
My praise is continually of You. 
Psalm 71:5-6

I braved the attic the other day. I've been intending to sort through things in there, tidy them up, throw old junk away, and realized that with only fifteen days left till I leave, I need to work on it. 

So I did. Lots of things are now in a box, to be thrown away. A number of books sit nearby, reminders of all the reading I used to do, books I have no need to keep. Photo albums have been rescued from the dust of the attic floor and have a happy home on a shelf in the closet. There are still many things to sort through and throw away. I was surprised at the sheer amount of things in there: books. sermon notes. journals. Cabbage Patch dolls. mini golf score cards. name tags. souvenirs  from all over the place. 

Each item brought recognition and resulted in a fond memory. The things they represented do just that: represent. I have no true tie to anything in that attic. It's the memories that make me hold on to them. If they were to burn or accidentally land in the "throw away" box, it would be okay. I would be sad at the loss of the pictures; they're a lot more important to me than anything else in there, but nevertheless, they only bookmark old memories. 

The past is something I think of fondly. I love it and can now laugh at the photos of myself in dorky 90's clothing, braces, and tons of hairspray keeping my bangs back. I smile, remembering playing in the mud on Grandmamma and Grandaddy's driveway, or playing "Little House on the Prairie" in our old house. I love to look back and think about the way things were. 

But while I love looking back, and love thinking about the past, I know that it's in the past. As I said, if all the things in that attic were to be destroyed and I never saw them again, I might not notice. I know I live in the present. If I were a DVD or VHS player, I wouldn't play at fast-forward or rewind. I like where I am. I like experiencing each day as it comes along. And while I may get antsy to speed certain events up (college graduation...), I am quite content to live right now. 

All those memories in boxes are stored there because they're in the past. Finished, stored away. Today will be too. August 4th, 2009 won't ever be relived. 

I've been thinking a lot lately about being content and about really seeing each day for what it is. Viewing it as more of an adventure to explore (I sound like a children's book) than as just another mundane DAY.  So much is missed if we live for the future or from the past. So much is gained when we look back on those things without letting them take hold of us, and live the day that God has ordained. Don't let them get old! His mercies are new each day!

O God, you have taught me from my youth, 
And I still declare Your wondrous deeds. 
Psalm 71:17

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God;
Many will see and fear
And will trust in the Lord. 
Psalm 40:3

Each Day a Life - Robert William Service
I count each day a little life,
With birth and death complete;
I cloister it from care and strife
And keep it sane and sweet.

With eager eyes I greet the morn,
Exultant as a boy,
Knowing that I am newly born
To wonder and to joy.

And when the sunset splendours wane
And ripe for rest am I,
Knowing that I will live again,
Exultantly I die.

O that all Life were but a Day
Sunny and sweet and sane!
And that at Even I might say:
"I sleep to wake again."
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