Bless our God, O peoples!
Give him a thunderous welcome!
Didn’t he set us on the road to life?
Didn’t he keep us out of the ditch?
He trained us first,
passed us like silver through refining fires,
Brought us into hardscrabble country,
pushed us to our very limit,
Road-tested us inside and out,
took us to hell and back;
Finally he brought us
to this well-watered place.
~Psalm 66:8-12 (The Message)
Do you ever feel like you’ve been tested to the limit? I do. It has been one of those seasons for me. A time when there is a challenge or road block at every turn. A time when you can’t help but wonder why. Why are these things happening? Why did I make these choices? Why is God letting things be this way? Why? Well, for me all that questioning leads to only one place. I call it “the fog”. In the fog I feel hopeless and helpless. I don’t turn to God. I don’t pray or spend time in the Word. As if somehow just letting the fog surround me is going to solve anything? Right. Only very recently have I started reaching out to God again and doing the things I know I need to do. And, the fog begins to lift.
Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises. ~James 5:13, NASB
I stumbled onto this verse in my studies this week. Note that it doesn’t say “ought to pray” or “should pray”. It says MUST PRAY. In he suffering it can be hard to remember to pray. It can be hard to want to; or even to have anything to say or the attention span to listen. But just as we must go through the fire to be freed of our impurities, we must reach out to God to be freed of our funk.
I’m not sure why it is so hard to recognize and embrace the refining in the moment. It’s painful. It’s intense. The fire is hot. Yes, all these things are true. Still, we need the refinement. We need to be a little better and more equipped tomorrow then we are today. God is getting us ready. He has plans for us that we cannot even begin to understand.
Papa God, help me to keep putting one foot in front of the other and follow the path You have laid out for me. Even when I don’t feel like it. Even when it hurts. Even when I am tired and sore. Thank You for loving me enough to bother making me better than I could ever be on my own or without your refinements. Amen.
A side note: MUCH has changed in my life since my last post. I am working on an update to my new life and roles. Stay tuned.
I blame my friend & fellow blogger, Leila! Her posts often make me think, but today’s made my gears turn and fingers type immediately. So, here goes. Here are ten things things that I (we all?) need to unlearn in this life to make it a little more enjoyable and, dare I say, just as complete & worthy.
- I am what I do. Okay, those who know me know that I have been working on this one for a while, but it’s still at the top of my list. Work is just that. Work. Toil. A means to an end. I will not let it identify me or take over my life!
- More is better. It’s not. It’s only more. The bigger house, shinier car, etc. It’s all only more. I have enough. In fact, I have more than most people on this rock we call earth. I need to recognize that fact any spend more time enjoying the blessings I have been given.
- My past defines me. Okay, I know better than that one already! Still, it’s important to remind oneself on occasion – the things that have happened in life are just that. . .things, events, PAST. Nothing defines us but our faith in God and our actions today. Furthermore, I truly believe that I could not have become the person I am today without those 13,367 days that preceded this one. And, frankly, I am pretty fond of today’s version of me.
- Success is a shared goal. We all have different goals in life. My idea of success is not the same as yours, and we both know that. So, why do we continue to measure ourselves against one another? My office mate who lost more weight, or my classmate who out-performed me on a test. . . they are not better, they just have different abilities and priorities.
- Loss is bad. While it rarely feels like it in the moment, loss can be a great thing! It is often God’s way of making space for something even better. But, even when loss is just loss it still helps mold our character and level of understanding for our fellow man. And that is a good thing.
- Have reasonable expectations. Bullox. That’s just another way of saying lower your expectations. Guess what? I have high expectations and I will not apologize for them. So whether you are a colleague missing a deadline or a friend forgetting our plans, I am disappointed. Don’t worry though, I have a well-honed capacity for forgiveness.
- People’s opinions count. No. They don’t. Unless you are Jesus Christ Himself, my boss or my (as yet unappointed) spouse then your opinion is nothing more than the way YOU look at the world. It has no bearing on me unless I let it. While I do like to ‘process’ things with several people, at the end of the day my decisions are mine. So, if you don’t like the color I painted my toenails, the house I live in or the courses I am studying. . .tough luck.
- Shh, nice girls are quiet. I have plenty to say. . .and I will say it. No point feeling bad about being me. Me happens to be an opinionated & vocal person.
- Better safe than sorry. Okay, sometimes this one is true. But, mostly not. Sure the world is a dangerous place (no one gets out alive), however, I am going to live while I am here. I do not believe that God put us on this earth to create safe little cocoons to protect ourselves from His very creation. There is not much point to living if you aren’t LIVING. So, load your gun, buckle your seat belt, pay your taxes, put batteries in the smoke alarm. . .and have some fun!!
- “I have to be Perfect – No, I do not. Perfection is a vastly overrated attribute that can not be achieved. I hate to be held hostage to the Perfect paradigm by people who are not perfect themselves.” I stole this one from Leila. Only to add: Jesus is the only perfect one to ever walk this earth. You can’t hold yourself up to that standard, so don’t try to hold me up to it either. . . .and I will try to remember not to hold myself to it.
Last weekend I went to visit my friend, Will, in northern Minnesota. People kept asking me why I was going, as if just getting away for a weekend and spending some time with a friend is not reason enough. Anyway, being the woman I am. . .who pretty much does what she wants . . . I went. Of course, I wanted to see my friend. I wanted to check out Lake Superior and its’ surrounding allurement. I wanted to spend a weekend away before the next round of classes started. I wanted to check-out.
I spent the day Friday traversing Iowa & Minnesota, arriving at my destination just in time for a walk to the docks before dinner. We went to a local eatery called Betty’s Pies. I had something called a pasties. I just had to order it to figure out what is was.
Saturday we took the area by storm, visiting all the well known sites and them some. It was a great day with much beauty and even more walking.
Sunday morning I was to head back to the city. HA! God had other plans. My car was broke down and there was nary a mechanic in sight. So, my arm was twisted and I had to spend another day and a half in one version of paradise. It was a low-key day and a nice addition to the weekend.
Monday was spent dealing with tow trucks and mechanics. . .and here’s the curious part : we still don’t know what is/was wrong with my car. In any case, it is running now and I made it back to “reality” on Tuesday. Class started Thursday and I am now quite ready for another weekend. . .even if this one won’t by 5 days & 500 miles away.
As I spent 10 hours driving yesterday, I listened to one of my assigned textbooks on CD. The 80/20 Rule by Richard Koch is largely about understanding where you are most productive and spending more time there. While I gleaned many bits of potentially life-changing information from it, it was mostly just one more book that I had to read for class. It was only when the author got to the section on friendships that I considered it something deep. I sat up in my bucket seat and listened while hurling myself northward at 80 miles per hour.
Mr. Koch suggests that we need to have fewer friends, and therefore more time to invest with the ones who really mater. Deeper and less wide streams, if you will. He posed the questions “who are the (not family) people that if they died tomorrow, you would be devastated?’. I immediately thought of 5 or 6 people. As he kept talking my list grew to about a dozen. His suggestion is to foster those relationships to a deeper level, and cut out the relationships with people you don’t enjoy. I do believe that I concentrate my energies on those special few . . . and feel blessed to have those special few. However, I feel convicted for not finding the time for the list dwellers who are harder to spend time with. Sure, being in another city poses it’s challenges, but I can pick up a phone or jump on a plane whenever I want. I am going to work harder at seeing those people who are most special in my life.
What about those who aren’t on the list? Well, they didn’t make the cut and therefore will not be given priority access to my life. Maybe that makes me sound like a b*tch, but there is only so much of me to go around. . .and if I spread myself too thin, not only will I suffer. . .but so will my friends.
So, if your on the list . . . plan on seeing more of me.
Okay, so I am at once shocked and embarrassed to realize that it has been five months since my last post. I will use the excuse that grad school is kicking my butt. . . but the honest truth is that I haven’t had much to say. It’s not that there hasn’t been enough interesting content in my life, believe me. It’s just that maybe I have been approaching it with a “so what” mentality. Maybe this implies a sort of acceptance of the world as it is, or maybe it’s something worse. I am not sure.
Things I am sure of:
- Baseball season is underway. And my Cubbies are at .500.
- I have 9 weeks of school left.
- The worst winter I can remember is OVER.
- I have some of the best friends a girl could hope for.
- Google isn’t so bad (inside joke).
- My new HTC Incredible will arrive Friday.
- Tomorrow will bring another adventure.
Have a blessed day,
I can hardly believe that November is upon us. It’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving. . .and Christmas. Wow, this year has truly flown by. With all the transitions at work, starting school, remodeling my kitchen, and spending an inordinate amount of time at doctors’ offices; it seems like maybe I blinked and missed much of 2009.
Let’s see . . . what has been going on lately . . .
It turns out that I have asthma. All those tests and it turns out to be asthma. It seems like that would have been easier to find than it was. . . Anyway, I feel good about finally knowing what is wrong. I see an allergist tomorrow for testing and to see where we go from here. I hope I can manage to get the gym back in my routine. I miss it.
My new church is fabulous. The messages really get me thinking (& acting). I have met a lot of great people. I am loving it. We found out yesterday that my campus is moving. I have mixed feelings about it, but am sure it’s the right thing for the church as a whole. We need to “go to grow”.
I am enjoying my break from school. My next class starts in March. It is amazing how life-consuming school can be. I had forgotten.
I spent this past weekend with some good friends. I “baby sat” their kids on Friday night so they could go out for a birthday celebration and some alone time. They came back home Saturday afternoon and we hung out and did the whole trick-or-treat thing. It was much fun. Being in a house full of kids & family is a nice contrast to the quiet of my place. Max wasn’t as sure that it was fun. He was a little stressed. He collapsed as soon as we got home yesterday afternoon and took a long nap, then went to bed early last night. He didn’t wake up until after me this morning, which is a contrast to the normal 6:00AM barking to go out.
Well, since I have managed to climb out from under the pile of school books and work chaos that I was under, I suppose a health update is in order. I have had a battery of tests. . .and it seems there is nothing wrong with my heart after all. I am still waiting on results from a lung function test.
Thanks for all the prayers & well wishes.