December 30, 2010
December 27, 2010
My friend Erica recommended a link to this blog post, and it was quite timely. Maybe it will be for you, as well, with whatever is going on in your lives.
The $29,000 God
A few months ago, my five year old, McRae told me, “The biggest number I know of is 26.”
At the end of her understanding of numbers was the number 26. In her mind, that was really how big numbers come. If you wanted to describe how far the moon was from earth, probably about 26 miles. Want to say how long it felt to wait for Christmas to get here? It was like 26 minutes! Number of pieces of candy she estimates she got for Halloween? 26.
It’s her biggest number. Until that is, I told her about 27. And blew her mind.
She’s not great at “sizing” things. But that’s OK, she’s 5. She’s pretty sure fairies are real. She’s convinced every dog in the world would like to meet her. The other day at Costco she saw a man with a white beard and proceeded to yell to everyone in the store, “Santa is shopping here today! He. Is. Here. Today!!”
That’s OK behavior for her. She’s just a kid. She’s little. But oddly enough, she’s not the only one who tends to get sizes all twisted. She’s not the only one who tends to “under size.” In fact, I think lot of us do that, especially when it comes to God.
I learned this last year when the Stuff Christians Like community raised money to build a kindergarten in Vietnam. On a random Monday, I asked readers to help me raise $30,000 and that honestly made me nervous. It’s weird to ask for money. It changes your intimacy levels. It’s like actually holding hands during couples skate at Roller Kingdom in Hudson, Massachusetts. Sure, you might skate around in circles with Stacy Valentino listening to Bobby Brown’s “Tender Roni,” but holding hands is a whole nother level. (That example got really specific and 7th gradery.)
But it’s true, asking for money is awkward, which is why pastors do the money disclaimer when they preach. They start their sermon by saying, “I never normally preach about money, I never preach about tithing, except today.” And that’s always the Sunday your neighbor or coworker finally agreed to come to church with you. Your friend always comes on the money Sunday or the day the mime group, “Gloves of Love” is there to perform.
So I was anxious about asking for money. And I honestly thought it would take us 6 weeks to raise $30,000. But if you’ve read this site for a while, you know that was not the case.
We raised all $30,000 in a matter of 18 hours. It took us less than a day to complete the entire campaign and I realized I had been like McRae with the number 26.
Here’s what I essentially said to God before the project started:
“God, you are massive. You are huge. You made the universe and created all space and time. You are without end! But, you are slightly less big than $30,000. You’re like a really solid $29,000 God. And that’s awesome. I mean that’s pretty good. I think you’re almost all powerful, you’re just not $30,000 powerful.”
Have you ever done that?
Have you ever been faced with what felt like an insurmountable challenge and in the midst of that, you’ve worshiped a really small God? Have you ever prayed something like:
“God, you are gigantic. You rule the universe. You’re just not as big as my college application process. You are slightly too small to handle that.”
“God, I love you. You are massive and supreme. You are huge, except you’re not big enough to handle my divorce. You are smaller than this experience.”
“God, you are like the real He-Man, you are master of the universe! You are so big and so all knowing, except you probably don’t know how to handle my job search. You’re big, you’re just slightly tinier than my unemployment.”
No one would actually prays those words, but that’s what flows from our heart when we allow doubt to set up shop. That’s how we live when we feel like we’ve got to force things to happen or they never will. That’s what happens when we under size God.
The truth is, God is bigger than $30,000.
God is bigger than a divorce.
God is bigger than unemployment.
God is bigger than a teen daughter who swears she doesn’t love you.
God is bigger that money problems.
God is bigger than our biggest dreams.
And I thank God that he is. I think sometimes we want him to be pocket-sized and manageable. I’ve heard people say things like, “I want a God who can explain to me why bad things happen to good people.” I understand that frustration, I do, but here’s the thing. I don’t want a God who ever has to fit within my understanding. I don’t want a God who is limited by mind and my experiences.
I want a big God. A God that spans generations and space and time. I don’t want a God who needs my approval or comprehension to do something big. How we as a people have lost a sense of the mysterious when part of the trinity is the Holy “Ghost” is beyond me, but we have.
This holiday season, as the birth of Christ is remembered, let’s celebrate our big God. Let’s honor a huge, wild, unable to be controlled by our small minds God.
He’s bigger than that thing you worried about or dreamt about.
"Everything in life is a tool. Just a tool in the shaping and molding of our lives and hearts. Just a tool to bring us to our knees once again and lay things at His feet and rest in the hope that He has never and will never leave or forsake us. So often I may not be sure of the ride I'm going on, but more than sure of the love and care of the Driver. That really is enough to hold on to." A.W.
November 30, 2010
Bob's words touched me... because they represent what Wesley is all about, what God is all about, and it reminded me of the incredible experience it was to serve for a year with these people... how it paved the way for living a life of faith. It reminded me of everything I learned about really walking with God; how it looks different from walking with the world. Almost four years later, I can look back and say that it's a rare ministry or church that truly walks the walk when it comes to trusting in God alone... without a Plan B in case he doesn't come through. I'm thankful for everything God gave us through that place. Without my time there, I would never have been able to trust God to provide for my year at Wesley, to pack up and go to India, or for our upcoming year with a baby while Ben's in school. I wouldn't have the faith to believe God to provide for what he calls us to in the future, without needing a Plan B or to somehow make it happen out of my own planning.
It's rare to find others, even other believers, who don't think you are crazy for not having a plan (usually guised as 'wisdom'), for following God wherever he takes you, or for making decisions that the world views as 'foolish'. Where we are now, Ben and I are not as closely connected to others who live by faith as we were during our community at Wesley. It's been easy to forget, and doubt creeps in. My need to plan wants to take over. Recently a couple of old friends from Athens stopped by, and told us how they may pick up and change their current life's course because they felt God might be calling them to something crazy. They had open hands. It was like a breath of fresh air to hear... a breath of God's spirit alive in people who are willing to trust him. With Bob's letter, I felt God's gentle nudge and reminder of who he is, and who he's called us to be. Thanks Bob, for fostering a community where God moves, heals, provides, and most importantly, loves.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
1 Corinthians 1:25
When there is no Plan B
Bob Beckwith, director
"One of the realities of campus ministry is that there is no Plan B. We have no congregation that we can look at each Sunday to provide for our needs. Every year we lose a quarter or more of our students. Each spring and summer hundreds of students join mission teams going throughout the world, most of whom having no idea where the money for the trip is going to come from.
It's a way of life for us. Either God comes through or Wesley doesn't make it. When I was first appointed here, I wasn't prepared for the trust required to lead a mission entity such as this. Eleven years later, I still live through seasons where the Lord stretches me far more than I'm comfortable with. But I'm starting to learn that this is the way it's supposed to be.
God intends for His people to step out in faith and do the things He calls them to do, contend in prayer for provision and help they can't make it without, and then live in expectation of how the Lord is going to come through for their need. Though my unbelieving flesh longs to avoid it, I've learned that it's the path that brings the Lord's blessing and Presence as do few others.
Wesley has no Plan B. It never has. My guess is it never will. It stretches us, but most of the time we wouldn't have it any other way. "
November 29, 2010
Yes, these plain people, these believing people, will tell you that God created the flowers to be beautiful and the birds to sing so that men and women could enjoy them. The scientist contends that the bird sings for a totally different reason.
‘It is the male bird that sings, and he sings only to attract the female so they may nest and procreate,’ he tells us. ‘It is simply biological.’
It is at this point that I ask the scientist, ‘Why doesn’t the bird just squeak or groan or gurgle? Why does he have to sing and warble and harmonize as though he had been tuned to a harp?’
I think the answer is plain—it is because God made him to sing.
If I were a male bird and wanted to attract a female I could turn handsprings or do any number of tricks. But why does the bird sing so beautifully?
It is because the God who made him is the Chief Musician of the universe. He is the Composer of the cosmos. He made the harp in those little throats and feathers around them and said, ‘Go and sing.’
Thankfully, the birds obeyed and they have been singing and praising God ever since they were created.”
A. W. Tozer
Whatever Happened To Worship, 60-61
You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.
Matthew 4:10; Luke 4:8
November 28, 2010
Ode to TMJ
TMJ, TMJ, why have you come in my life to stay?
I suffer through all the night and the day.
There is no time to think, work, or play.
I can't open my jaw, to eat, drink, or talk.
You take a hammer to my head and continue to knock.
I can't even get up and try to walk.
An invalid state has come my way,
As in bed I ponder when you will ever go away.
My neck and jaw throb while my head's in dismay.
Try what I may you seem here to stay.
The doctor says there is no cure.
But I'm not too sure how much I can endure.
Ok Jesus, in all seriousness now, consider this an open invitation for healing!
November 23, 2010
I felt really blessed to be a part of everything. Ben was unable to attend due to school and cost, so I stayed with my old roomate Diana Lee, another bridesmaid. It was great to catch up with her- I haven't seen her since two years ago at my wedding because she headed out to California for seminary soon after.
It felt like old times in Athens:
And here's a picture of the lovely bride and groom.
November 22, 2010
November 13, 2010
Ben and I started the tradition of buying an ornament every year that we've been married. We try to find one that represents the year for us. The one on the left is from 2008 and was given to us by my parents, it represents our wedding. The star is from India and represents 2009 which marked our 6 months in the country, and the horse and buggy is from Charleston and represents 2010, where we spent our last anniversary "just the two of us" with Baby G on the way.
Here's a shot of the backs. You can see the dates added in.
Just a few other small Christmas touches. We don't have much.
This little Advent Calendar was made for us by my step-sister and family. The santa climbs down the sky each day in December and on Christmas eve reaches the roof. I loved this growing up, so they made me one of my own when I went off to college.
November 7, 2010
Right now she's in the breech position but the doctor said that's fairly normal, and she has a lot of time to switch around.
November 2, 2010
My friend Stephanie had her wedding shower this weekend and it was so great to see her. It's hard to believe I'll be in her wedding in less than 3 weeks! She is getting married in the Dominican Republic to this man:
This is David. He is great. I couldn't be more excited for these two awesome people.
I have known Stephanie Wong for about 5 and a half years. We met at UGA when I happened to be randomly paired with one of her close friends, Diana Lee, in the dorm rooms. The first year I roomed with only Diana, the second with Stephanie (while Diana was in Taiwan) and the last year we all lived together at East Campus Village.
Stephanie is one of the those amazing people where I think God was feeling extra generous the day she became a part of my life. She's probably the most kind-hearted, thoughtful, generous person I know... and she's also uber-talented. Not only does she share my love for all things dance, but she was practically an olympic gymnast, UGA cheerleading firecracker/tumble queen, coach, AND is probably the best physical therapist that ever existed.... well, at least for being only in her first year out of school! She'll likely accomplish more in 5 years than I will in a lifetime, because she's always starting some amazing new endeavor or mastering her next skill.
I'm convinced she can do more with her right foot than I can with all 4 extremities.
Did I mention she's the most down-to-earth, sensible person? You didn't expect that from all the above activities, did you? Despite her amazing-ness, she will usually just blend into the crowd. Unless she has friends who brag about her the way I do. We usually try to get her to perform some tricks or diagnose our illnesses to show off her skills. She's a good sport about it.
In all seriousness, she's not just smart and talented, she has the most incredible attitude, I've literally never seen her lose her temper EVER, and she's always giving herself out to others, expecting nothing in return. She is quality in every way.
Here is Stephanie giving her maid-of-honor speech at my wedding. Those are her parents in the background. They are equally as awesome. sometimes I secretly wish I were a Wong. The family humors me and lets me hang around when I'm in town.
In conclusion, Stephanie Wong is the friend of all friends. If you haven't met her, you're missing out.
October 28, 2010
First, I watched the hard-saved money for our future hospital bills go down the drain when our cheap little car required more work done on it than it was worth, then I waited in the rain for a bus so I could still get to work, then someone at work kept correcting my interaction choices with staff and patients (and not in a friendly, helpful kind of way but in a "I'm superior and must instruct the ignorant masses" kind of way, which normally I can brush off but was particularly grating today), and finally I came home remembering that I was supposed to pick up the main ingredient for dinner, which of course I couldn't pick up without a car.
Yep, it's been one of those days. Thank you for allowing me to complain.
Tomorrow is another day,
and I hope it gets here soon.
I'm going to go think about cute baby giggles, ice cream, and hugs now.
October 27, 2010
1. No gender neutral names. We tend to like names that are either more masculine or more feminine. Also, we want to avoid anything that could generate confusion.
2. No intentionally calling our child by their middle name instead of their first name. Again, generates confusion.
7. No top 10 names,
Granted, these are just current tastes of ours. Maybe they will change!
October 23, 2010
October 21, 2010
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
For the last several years I have had a love for veggies. Fresh veggies of all kinds. I love them all- zucchini, broccoli, onions, mushrooms, potatoes, squash, green beans, green peas, Lima beans, black beans, any beans, carrots, peppers, garlic, tomatoes, spinach (fresh, not cooked), salad, asparagus, cucumber, corn.
I love it all. Steamed, sauteed, baked, or broiled. I would be happy with a meat free diet. I had to consciously refrain from eating the entire zucchini last night during dinner so that Ben could have his share. I never have veggies for lunch leftovers because I always finish them that night. Seconds, always. Thirds, usually. Post-dinner clean-up I can usually be found bent over the veggie pot eating any left morsels while Ben comments, "I guess we won't have any veggies for lunch tomorrow".
I don't know why I love veggies so much. You would think that because of my sugar addiction I would prefer fruit. Fruit is pretty, smells good, and is sugary. But for some reason, I've never really craved fruit like I crave veggies. I will certainly eat berries, oranges, apples, and bananas when offered, but I don't typically crave them the way I crave veggies. Not sure why that is.
My biggest challenge is that, because the produce here is not all that great, when I buy veggies for the week some of them go bad before I finish the week's meals. It's quite a disappointment when I go to grab the green beans from the fridge to cook for Saturday's dinner and I have to throw them out. Yes, I could use frozen veggies (which I end up doing in situations like this)... but it's not quite the same.
All I can say is that I'm glad my addiction is for veggies instead of fried food or hamburgers. I guess one can never eat too many veggies.
In honor of veggies, here is my favorite way to cook each one, though there are so many lovely options. I usually prefer cooked, not raw, veggies but NOT the southern-style mushy versions. Usually I like them pliable but still with a little crunch. Thank you to all my veggie teachers along the way, including trial-and-error :)
Green beans- baked or sauteed with a lot of fresh garlic, some olive oil, juice from two lemons, and some salt and pepper.
Spinach- in salad with sliced red onions, cucumber, sun dried tomatoes, and feta cheese.
Broccoli- microwaved in a covered pot with homemade vinaigrette dressing (gives that steamed effect without the hassle).
Zucchini- quartered and sliced lengthwise, brushed with olive oil, topped with a little Parmesan cheese, and paprika. Broiled in the oven until brown- yum! Also good sauteed in half moons with onions. So many ways to cook this one!
Asparagus- broiled with olive oil and Parmesan cheese, a little lemon juice.
Potatoes- how many ways! I love boiled and smashed red potatoes with onions, butter, and salt, quartered red potatoes baked with rosemary, balsamic vinegar, and Italian seasoning, and baked potatoes with chives and sour cream ... oh there are too many ways to describe how much I love this vegetable.
Bell Peppers- sliced and sauteed with onions with a little soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce makes a delicious stir fry. Also good chopped up in salad.
Tomatoes- thickly sliced and topped with Italian style bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese and drizzled with olive oil., then broiled in the oven until brown (Au gratin). Tomatoes are the only veggie I'm not crazy about, unless they're sun-dried.
Squash- sliced and sauteed with chopped sweet onion, garlic, a little brown sugar, pepper, and nutmeg (yum!)
Onions- a joy of my life. I LOVE onions. In anything! And on their own! I think red onions are the best for salad, sweet onions for sauteing. Grilled onions are good on just about anything, especially meals that can typically be boring like grilled cheese sandwiches.
Beans/Legumes/peas- not really anything special to do with these. Black bean cakes are a-mazing though!
Corn- on the cob with butter
Cucumber- on top of toasted french bread pieces with feta cheese. Or in salad.
Mushrooms- sauteed with onions or used as sandwich toppers.
And that's all that's really on my mind right now...
October 10, 2010
When we got it, lo and behold it was missing all the hardware. So we had to arrange for it to be picked back up (because they wouldn't just send us the missing pieces)and a replacement sent. When we got the replacement on Friday, it was missing the same pieces! Ah! A sign? :) I looked on Craigslist today and found a sweet grandma selling a 2-year old crib WITH mattress and changing table for $50. No way! I hadn't seen anything that great for a while on Craigslist. Ben went and checked it out and the crib was great, no recalls, good condition, matched our furniture, though had some baby teeth marks and that gently-used feel. I can deal with that. So we returned the missing-pieces-crib and within 24 hours we had a nice used crib, mattress, and changing table. Yay! Now I just have to get used to the itty bitty strip of carpet in our room that you have to squeeze by to get around the bed :)
Not fully assembled, but you get the idea. Notice the bed corner in the lower left?
Now, if any of my new-mom readers have any great advice for baby stuff, share the love with the pregant woman.
September 15, 2010
at times you'll lose your faith in me
you will lose a lot of things
but you cannot lose my love.
You may lose your appetite
your guiding sense of wrong and right
you may lose your will to fight
but you cannot lose my love.
You will lose your confidence
in times of trial, your common sense
You may lose your innocence
but you cannot lose my love.
Many things can be misplaced
your very memories be erased
no matter what the time or space
you cannot lose my love.
You cannot lose my love.
September 10, 2010
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Psalm 34:8
"There is all the difference in the world between knowing a thing and feeling a thing- between having a knowledge of a thing and having a sense of it. There is all the difference in the world between knowing that honey is sweet and tasting that it is sweet in order to have a sense of its sweetness. There is a great difference between knowing that a person is beautiful and actually seeing in order to have a present sense of the person's beauty. There is a great difference between knowing that a glove will fit the hand and putting the glove on in order to have a sense of its fitness.
Likewise, brethren, there is all the difference between having a head knowledge of Christ and His righteousness and having a heart feeling of His fitness and preciousness. The first may be acquired from flesh and blood, or from books; the second must come from the Spirit of God.
The Devil plainly has much knowledge of the Bible. From the quotations he made to Christ, it is plain that he understood much of the work of redemption. Yet he is none the better for it; he only trembles and gnashes his teeth more. Ah, my friends, if you have no more than head knowledge of Christ and His righteousness, you have no more than the Devil.
Robert Murray McCheyne
September 7, 2010
I promise I will not turn this blog into an every-pregnancy-detail, every-baby-spit-up blog with painstakingly private details about the body ie lose my filter. Tell me if I do, or if I get to one-focused :p
In other news, Ben and I went to Charleston for the weekend to celebrate our 2-year anniversary and our last trip alone together before we have an addition to the family. We couldn't afford anything longer or farther away, because I'm in a far-away wedding in November that I'm going to solo. Luckily Charleston was the perfect place to go for a few days! I had never been before.
Outside the bed and breakfast where we stayed.
85 Tradd Street- where Ben's parents lived during their medical school days.
I found my all time favorite childhood candy... rock candy! I haven't seen it in years...
August 26, 2010
Ben and I had not been planning on having a baby. We were really excited to have one someday, hopefully when he graduated from PA school, but that was two years away. I am the currently the only breadwinner, and Ben has to study or be in class a total of 70 hours a week, so we 'knew' it 'didn't make sense' and of course we had to be in the 'right financial situation' to have a baby, because that's what society says is responsible.
We had been having mixed doubts about taking total baby control. We don't want to have 19 children like the Duggars, but we also knew that I had some symptoms in the past of what could possibly be infertility-related and that this is a real issue for a lot of women, especially as they get older. We wondered in the back of our heads if taking our family plannng completely into our own hands, based on finances, would backfire. We had some questions that if we waited, would we regret it? What if we had trouble having a baby at all? Ben's family has 5 siblings, and children are so important to him, as they are to me. We didn't want to imagine a life without them.
But like I said, these were just thoughts. We didn't act on them. I think they were more premonitions of what was to come. I think God was preparing us for what he wanted. He was opening our minds because he knew we were going to be having a baby NOW!
About two weeks before I had any physical sign that I was pregnant, I found out I was pregnant... from my husband! Ben said he had been praying and felt like God was telling him to read Psalm 127:4. He's never read that verse before and had no idea what it would say. When he opened to it, it read:
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.
That was the specific verse 4 he was given. Then verse 5 continues with one we've all read:
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.
"What does that mean?" I asked. "We should try to have a baby?" He said, "I think it means you are pregnant". The Holy Spirit directed Ben to this verse, but also spoke into his spirit about its meaning for us. And it meant not that I should try to get pregnant, but that I was already pregnant.... and it was a blessing.
It's interesting how the verse specifically mentioned it being a blessing to have sons in one's youth, because that was one of the very things we were struggling with in waiting (Ben is 32, 6 years older than me).
I was surprised but still wasn't sure it was possible that I was pregnant. 2 weeks later, I found out via a test.
The great thing about how this happened is that we know God intended for us to have this baby now... and the first thing he spoke to us about it was that he or she was "a blessing" to us.... when our situation and society would say that it's NOT a blessing, but rather a burden, to have a baby at this point in our lives ... after all how will it be taken care of? It's not a matter of going from 2 incomes to 1 income- I am the 1 and only income until August 2012! So once I deliver we will be down to exactly 0 income.... and we all know how long a family can survive on that! Probably not even the length of the standard unpaid maternity leave, if that were even a route I felt comfortable taking. How will something be managed with a newborn, and without compromising what a newborn needs from his/her mother?
I don't have the answers, but I have the faith. God has spoken that this baby is a blessing, and I'll fight to believe it is so, even when I'm not sure exactly how. My friend who's a missionary in the middle east has reminded me that "hope that is seen is no hope at all".
I love how God operates so contradictory to how our world operates... the world sees children as a financial and emotional burden, one that requires the utmost planning- having all the proper ducks in a row, and being steady in one's career first and foremost. God sees any child as one of life's greatest blessings.
God remains as he always was... good. And he has given us the blessing of a future baby. We couldn't be happier, and more dependant on him, all at the same time. Isn't this what life is all about?
August 15, 2010
Ben finished the summer semester with all A's and as the new director of his school's PA-run free clinic. I'm very proud of all the hard work he's done while still managing to be an incredible husband.
He had only one week off before starting one of his hardest and longest semesters. Yes, that's one week off from May through December. One week. And what is he doing right now? Studying. Why? Because during the one week off that he is supposed to get, he received emails from his teachers saying they had to pre-read before Monday's classes. Like, 100+ pages.
Can you tell I'm a little bitter? (I don't need permission to complain on my own blog, do I?) I mean, give the kids a break... one week out of 8 months to spend undivided with your families and not have to study seems a bare minimum in my eyes... then you pile on work during that one week? Ugh! Ben's glad I'm not his mother or I would probably go in and give those teachers a piece of my mind!
On the bright side, we were able to spend all day yesterday together which was great, and we visited Ben's home last weekend. Ben also spent some days over the break r&ring with our friends Chris and Janette. Overall, we've maintained a pretty good balance this summer. My job is going well, though one of the counselors on my unit (there are 3 of us) is going back to school to get her PhD, so we will be down 1 man. I continue to spend my days in treatment teams, leading group therapy, checking in with the guys and trying to pour water on any embers I see that could turn into fires, and trying to restore competency so many of them can move on with their lives. Originally, I was trained to go into school counseling but when I arrived home from India mid-year I took this job instead. Now that a new school year is beginning and there were some opportunities to switch careers back to what I was really planning in the first place, I opted out. I enjoy the work I'm doing and working with adults seems like a better fit for me. Also, as time goes by I question whether working in a school is really something I would enjoy.
That's the current update. More later.
July 12, 2010
July 11, 2010
I'm always looking for good movies, and I wanted to share this 'gem' I watched recently- Under the Same Moon, or La Misma Luna. It showed up on my Netflix recommendations, where they list movies they think you will love based on movies you rated highly. It's a heartfelt movie with a strong message that also allows you to appreciate the culture and understand immigrant life in America. It has great acting, is clean, and made me laugh and cry! The movie is all in Spanish but you can put on subtitles and you eventually forget about them. Watching the movie in the language made it much more authentic and real. Best movie I've seen in a long time! Enjoy!
Single mother Rosario leaves her young son Carlitos in the care of his grandmother and illegally crosses the border into the U.S. Though she hopes to eventually make a better life for herself and her son, she toils in a dead-end job as a cleaning lady in Los Angeles. When Carlitos' grandmother passes away some years later, the boy begins a difficult and dangerous journey to join her. (PG-13)
June 27, 2010
I love this song because like her, it has taken me many hard lessons to realize what love is all about. Thanks to the Great Teacher, and to my 'other' teacher- my other half, or "la otra mitad de mi naranja"
Love, I made it mine
I made it small
I made it blind
I followed hard only to find
It wasn't love
Love, of songs and pen
oh love of movie endings
takes out the break
leaves out the bend
and misses love
Love not of you
love not of me
come hold us up
come set us free
not as we know it
but as it can be
is not a passing bravery
it holds out hope beyond what's seen
the hope of love
Love not of you
love not of me
come hold us up
come set us free
not as we know it
but as it can be.
"Love" by Sara Groves
June 6, 2010
So I've been thinking a lot about the phenomenom of romanticizing the past... and I came across a strikingly appropriate song the other day, so I thought I would share.
It seems easy for us to look back on certain past times in our lives with a sense of longing. Usually those times were not perfect, and may not even have been altogether good, but it's as if the sentimental part of us clings only to the most positive of those memories- whatever security, comfort, joy, friendship, or simplicity of life we found there. And we long for a part of it. It's alluring to us.
I've also been thinking about the Israelites in the desert. Funny I realized I've blogged about them 3 different times. I guess there are so many parts of their story that strike a chord with me. As Rob Bell says in Velvet Elvis, "Their story is not just their story.... it's our story".
I wonder what it was like for them, all those years wandering in the desert with nothing but a promise. At first they were only looking forward to the future and the freedom God had promised them, a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet once the road started getting tougher, it was easy for them to look back upon where they came from, Egypt- a land where they had been held captive, with longing.
"Why is the Lord bringing us into this land... would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?" (Numbers 14:2)
Despite the fact that they were in captivity there, despite what God had promised them, the Israelities longed for Egypt.
"We remember the fish we ate in Egypt... at no cost!" (Numbers 11). It amazes me how ready they were to go back to the captivity of Egypt... because they remembered something so comfortable there that they lacked in their present circumstance- food.
But Egypt wasn't what they really longed for, was it? They longed for what they remembered of Egypt, not the reality of Egypt. Their memories clung only to what they missed in the present. The future was just a promise that required faith, and it was too difficult to put their hope in it. It was more comfortable to remember the past as something it wasn't.
I have been listening to a lot of Sara Groves lately, who quickly has become my favorite Christian artist because of the honesty and poignancy of her lyrics. It was pretty cool how one song of hers deals directly with this tendency. The chorus goes "I've been painting pictures of Egypt, leaving out what it lacked... cause the future feels so hard and I want to go back" and continues with the line "but the places that used to fit me, cannot hold the things I've learned."
It is easy for me to look back on some periods of my life, times like my Crossfire summer, internship at Wesley, an incredibly close friendship, or life-changing trip to Guatemala, and experience longing for pieces of those memories in my life now. It's always easier to long for the familiar when the future is unknown. But God takes us through seasons, and the things that used to fit us can no longer hold where we are... and who we are. And his promises for who we will be are always better than who we once were.... "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory." (2 Cor. 3:18)
One of the people I admire the most in the bible is Caleb, because he held on to God's promises of Israel. He didn't let go. He didn't let the alluring familiarity of the past keep him from the freedom God had for him. And he led a whole nation to their new promised land because of this faith. I think of Caleb as one of the most courageous men in the bible. A history-changer.
June 1, 2010
Ok I realize this picture is kind of creepy... ok really creepy. But it's perfect for this post!
So Ben's been in physician assistant school for 2 weeks now. I've attempted to take on the Super Wife role (hence the picture). This includes working full-time, doing all the cooking, the shopping, the finances, (most of)the cleaning up, all the laundry, plus the administrative household duties such as keeping up with our health stuff/car maintenance/insurance (you could say I'm slightly OCD, I prefer the term ultra-organized :).
I realize that many of you already do all of these things (plus raise 3+ kids), and it's not that big of a deal to you. Humor me.
In the past, Ben and I would usually cook together and split the other duties up (I have been blessed). However, since he now has to spend all of his time studying, I (voluntarily) took on the other tasks.
So far, it's gone better than I thought. I'm used to having more free time, but that's the way life goes. I've enjoyed making meals much more than I thought I would. I used to not really enjoy cooking meals. Honestly, I think baking is more up my alley. I like being able to pop something in the oven, clean up while it's cooking, and know exactly when it's going to be done. Less hectic. That's the Type A personality coming out.
Back to what I was saying... it has been going pretty well so far. I can't guarantee I will feel that way in, say, two months from today. But I hope I will. I figure it's not much to support someone for 2 years when they will be supporting you and your family for their entire lives, right? Then again, I'm a selfish person and don't always remember this. Ben even made the comment that he was surprised and happy that I've been so understanding and not demanding of his time. He probably pictured himself struggling between his studies and a needy wife. I bet he was pleasantly surprised to see how independent I can be. Granted, it's only been 2 weeks. But I say the outlook is good.
And Ben has been loyaly committed to those pesky things I despise- killing bugs, taking out the trash, calling HP when my printer stops working and I'm about to have a breakdown if I have to punch through another automated phone system and talk to the HP lady for an hour.
I'll let you know how the future goes... hopefully I won't end up like Amy Adams from Julie & Julia, collapsed on the kitchen floor sobbing with a botched dinner job... he he. If I do I'll be sure to tell you about it, friends (ok maybe not).
So here's to all you REAL superwives out there- who do so much for your families every day! I admire you and aspire to be like you :p
Now what I really need are some new recipe ideas...
April 20, 2010
When I look back in my life, it has always been very important for me to be settled. Even as a child, I would look for 'hideouts' or personal areas for which I could make my own. My favorite book was one about an orphan named Mandy who found an abandoned cottage that became her own cared-for place. I read it over and over again. I cherished my own place, privacy, and stability. Later on in life, I would always fix my room just-so. My college years, whenever I had to move out whether it be moving from a dorm to an apartment or moving out for the summer, I struggled with the moving process. I craved stability in a place. I craved settlement. Perhaps I despised the feeling of not having control over that part of my life.
I think it's interesting that after 9 months of being in one town after our wedding, Ben and I spent the last year of marriage unsettled. In some form or another we've lived out of our suitcases and boxes for the past year. India for 6 months, several months with Ben’s family, and two months with a friend's family where we are now. As we are getting ready to move into our new apartment in a week, I'm thinking about the upcoming 'settlement' while reflecting on the past year.
I'm not sure exactly what God had in store for us during this unsettled process. We have been blessed in so many ways, by being able to spend time with family, by having wonderful friends to stay with here.... but it has still been difficult. Difficult dealing with my innate desire to have more stability in my environment. To not have to deal with so much change. I think I have handled the adjustment 'ok', I haven't broken down in tears or anything, but I have withdrawn socially a lot during the last 6 months. Haven't felt quite like myself. Maybe some of that is adjusting from India, as well.
Instead of rambling on without meaning, I'll leave you with this. Our security isn't found in a place. It's not found in consistency, in environmental stability, in routine. As much as we would like to create this for ourselves, and how we often try to, we cannot control our life by controlling our material surroundings. God has allowed me to experience this in an in-your-face way this year. Our only true settlement is found in God. He is our dwelling place.
I once heard Rolland Baker, a missionary in Africa, say that he could be in a mud hut in Mozambique or a hotel in England, and he would be at home.
He could enter into his place of familiarity and comfort wherever he was. Because his home was not a physical place, it was the heart of God. For as children of God, we are citizens not of this world, but of heaven. I guess I’m thankful for learning a small piece of this lesson.
"God, it seems you've been our home forever;
long before the mountains were born.. "
(Psalm 90:1, The Message)
February 23, 2010
I (Lisa) am starting a counseling position at a hospital. They haven't really figured out the title since it goes back and forth between Behavior Specialist and Behavioral Health Counselor. Either way, it's working with behavior (in case you couldn't tell)- assessments, counseling, treatment plans, and the like. I will have a caseload with people with severe, persistant mental illness and/or addiction. Wow, this job is a HUGE blessing and came at just the right time (before I accepted a less-ideal job). My training starts Monday and will be ONE MONTH- can you believe it? One month of training.
Ben is starting PA school on May 17 (2.5 years). For the time being we'll be staying with a friend's extremely gracious parents (thank you Stones!) with a cute terrier and a talking parrot, until we can move into an apartment. We've been in such transition that it will be really nice to finally be settled once we are able to move for good. Hopefully this will happen before Ben starts school because his program will be really demanding. People have told us it's even more time-consuming than medical school because you are condensing similar material into 2 years instead of 3. So we will definitley need a lot of grace during this season of our lives. Lots of movement, transition, waiting, and new things. It feels really overwhelming sometimes, especially with not having access to a permanent place to live and moving around 3 times in 5 months!, but we're taking one day at a time (Ben is much better at this than I am), and we really are thankful for the opportunities given... and for both the our family's and the Stones allowing us to stay with them for different periods. Right now Ben has to finish 3 medical textbooks before school even starts! Grace and lots of it...
January 20, 2010
Love bade me welcome; yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
if I lack'd anything.
A guest, I answer'd, worthy to be here:
Love said, "you shall be he".
I the unkind, ungrateful: Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
"Who made the eyes but I?"
Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
My dear, then I will serve.
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meal."
So I did sit and eat.
-George Herbert, 1593-1632
January 15, 2010
I want to make a book recommendation. When Ben and I were in London on route back to India, we stayed with a pastor and his wife, the Halls. Kathy gave us this book she had just finished reading, about an Indian Sikh who, in search of finding his religion's coveted level of peace and truth, was minutes away from committing suicide unless the true God revealed himself. What he experienced next was something he never expected, a dramatic encounter with Jesus Christ similar to Saul on the Damascus road. A changed man, he forsook his family and all that he knew and committed his life to traveling the Asian hills to share the gospel with his people. His biography is one of the best I've read, simple and humble yet thoroughly inspiring.
While the book is a biography and the author, Phyllis Thompson, follows his journey in a simple, succint writing style, she precedes each chapter with a tidbit from one of Singh's own writings. I wanted to share the one I read today:
A Man Must Worship
"You will hardly find men who do not worship God or some power. If atheistic thinkers or scientists, filled with the materialistic outlook, do not worship God, they often tend to worship great men and heroes or some ideal which they have exalted into a Power. Buddha did not teach anything about God. The result was, his follwers began to worship him. In China the people began to worship ancestors, as they were not taught to worship. This desire for worship, from which man cannot get away, has been created in him by his Creator, so that led by this desire, he may have communion with his Creator." -Sundar Singh, Reality and Religion
January 13, 2010
Ben and I are moving because he's starting Physician Assistant school in May. So I am looking for a job in the area. It is somewhat complicated since we haven't relocated yet. Here's a little bit about my experience thus far:
To start off, since my degree is in school counseling you would think that's where I would look first. However, what I did not realize when I went into this once-booming field was that a recession was coming and two years later upon my graduation, school counselors would be laid off and counties would be under hiring freezes. Plus, mid-year is not the best time to find a job in the school system. So other options must be considered.
I first started looking (where else?) online. That seems to be the most reasonable plan when you are looking for a job in another area. I found a lot of options and was super excited. After submitting my resume, cover letters, etc. I started to receive reply emails telling me that I needed to get my "credit checked" for "company credit-card security." Suspicious. Long story short, I realized there are a LOT of people trying to scam job seekers right now. Luckily I didn't fall for anything... but I did waste some serious time. And suffered some serious discouragement.
So I decided to try other avenues... things I have experience in and enjoy like college student affairs or academics, other counseling or interventionist work, or administrative jobs. What I kept running into was that I'm either over-qualified for entry-level jobs because I have a Master's degree, or under-qualified for higher positions because I don't have over 3 years of full-time experience. What's a girl to do? I happen to think I am quite a qualified person... but does the rest of the world think that?
It doesn't help that the news and internet constantly bombard you with how impossible it is to find a job right now... how there are hundreds and sometimes thousands of applications for each opening... how the average person takes over 5 months to find a job...(doom and gloom anyone?)
Purposefully ignoring the statistics, Ben and I stopped by a few places to get some info. The current status is that I'm checking websites of specific places I could work: one of the several university or colleges in the area, a military base, and of course the school board websites, just in case. Who knows?
Anyway, I started to get really stressed out when I didn't find a job in like 2 weeks. But my level-headed other-half sat me down for a good talk. He pointed out how I like to have control of things. True. How I like to have a plan. True. How I like to know right NOW what is next. True. How God doesn't always work that way. True. How sometimes he makes us wait. True. He then reminded me of his trip to the Amazon last year, and how he didn't have the money to go but felt like God had called him to it. 48-hours before trip, packed up but with no plane tickets, my faith-filled self said, "Ben do you really think God will come through?" He responded, "Yes. And if he does provide the money and tickets, will you ever doubt that he will provide for us in the future?" "No," I promised. "Not if he does a miracle like that". Which of course, he did. Ben was on the plane 48 hours later. And to add to it, God provided all the money we needed for our 6 months in India without us raising funds. Because we knew he wanted us there. Because he's a good God. He provides for his children when they are seeking to obey him whole-heartedly.
It's funny how easy and quickly we forget what he's done in the past. How we fail to trust him in the present. After Ben and I prayed about the job-search thing, I found a new sense of peace. It will work out. If it doesn't, God must have other plans. Either way, he is good and he provides exactly what his children need, for "no good thing does he withhold".
Wish me happy job-hunting!