Monday, July 30, 2012

Everyday battles...

Giving the biggest battles over to God comes natural to me. Perhaps this is because its so blatantly obvious to me that the results are out of my hands.

I'm talking about my very own battles here. Of course it's easy for me trust Him with other people's battles. But thats kind of like the time our family went out to eat and the server dumped a tray of 16 ice waters down my younger sisters back.

"Oh, it's okay!" my family heard me reassure the server. Easy for me to say.

For me, a young single independent/dependent (yes, that IS an actual term. I just made it up.) there aren't too many big battles for me to give over to God. My biggest worry is probably that my car might die and I wouldn't make it to work. A forced day off? What a bummer! (That was sarcasm, just in case you wondered. I would love it if that happened.)

So I'm left with the little battles... coordinating schedules, being late somewhere, paying overdue bills that weren't received the first time, that cranky customer...

And even smaller battles - a dead battery on my phone, my sister keeps using my phone, I can't find my keys, the little girls are arguing or giggling when I'm trying to sleep. (okay, that could be on the bigger battles list.)

Each one of these turn to a battle when I get frustrated, upset or annoyed over the situation.  Each situation is an opportunity for me to acknowledge that God is in control and thank Him for His purpose in the situation, just like I would do if it were something big like a life threatening disease, or losing my home to foreclosure, or some other big deal.

I think to a God who has infinite power and control, no one situation matters more than another. No sparrow falls without Him knowing about it, which makes me think that He also cares if my car registration bill is loaded with late fees just like He cares about my cousin's battle with cancer.  Not to say cancer matters little, but that God cares much.

To take the battle into my own hands is to deny His strength.  For me to become frustrated or upset is to say, "God I don't believe You're still in control over this situation.  Or if You are, I don't believe You're working it for good, so I'm gonna take charge here."

I want to trust Him with the small things.  To thank Him for the little details.  To acknowledge His hand and His presence in every aspect of my life.

I want to glorify Him with my attitude.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Open for fellowship

Boy was I on the verge of late this morning.  I woke up about an hour after I had turned off my alarm, and still had a hard time convincing myself to get out of bed.   Playing hard all weekend followed by 14 hours in the van plus one full day of work equals me. Well, a very exhausted version of me.

I stopped for coffee and a whole wheat bagel on my way to work, reasoning that my work would be better with me focused and fed than prompt and hungry.

"Besides, if traffic is smooth and I get all green lights, I can still make it on time."


This particular coffee shop is my favorite place to stop in the morning, and not necessarily because the coffee is the best, but because the service is amazing.

"And how's your morning going so far?"  The barista asked me.

My typical answer, "Pretty good!" was on the tip of my tongue, but I caught myself.

"Honestly?  I woke up an hour past my alarm, but it's going alright!"

Last weekend at Camp it was mentioned that we as Christians miss out on the greatest benefit to being a part of the family of God by putting our church smiles on, and never opening up and being honest about what's going on in our lives.

"Are you late somewhere?"  The barista continued the conversation, ringing up my medium coffee and plain toasted bagel.

"Not yet!" I quipped.  "I'm headed to work, but I'm pretty sure I'll get there in God's timing anyways."

This drew a smile.

"Amen." he said softly.

I don't remember who asked who first which church they attended, but the conversation took off after that.  He has a burden to see unity in the body of Christ - unity that spans the denominations.  I was able to encourage him with what I've been learning from 1 John 4.  He told me about a bible study that meets during the lunch hour at the coffee shop.  I invited him to visit our church sometime.

I got to work with a smile on my face, rejuvenated by the few minutes of sweet fellowship I got to share with my brother.

I've been in that shop fifteen or twenty times to buy coffee, but never had I been fed like this morning.  Whoever said that Christians miss out when they wear their masks was right.

The clock was just turning to eight when I arrived. Pulling into the parking lot right in front of me was my boss.  He has the key to the building, so getting here any earlier wouldn't have done me any good anyways.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Heading home

Conversation is rising to a fever pitch in the van around me. Ideas and stories are bouncing around, comparing experiences and sharing giggles.

My face is roasting from a sunburn. My lips are chapped. My muscles are aching and I'm exhausted.

Camp Dwight was as amazing as ever, but in a way, it was so much more. The weekend started out with a 14 hour drive through the night and cutting garlic scapes at my sister-in-law's family farm. By the time noon rolled around I was ready to crash.

Retiring to the hammock under the trees for a nap, I pulled out 1 John to prep myself for interacting with 600+ people from all different walks of life and all manner of beliefs at camp. The first verses of chapter 4 jumped out at me in a brand new light.

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:"

I was floored! The chapter goes on to say that God dwells in anyone ho confesses that Jesus is the Son if God.

I'm so quick to judge other believers who have different ideas than I do and to dismiss their views as invalid. But realizing that these spirits are of God changes that.

Fellowship with 600+ people who have my God dwelling in them? It's so much more than amazing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Home Alone 2

Here I am again, duties and obligations compelling me to miss a portion of the family vacation.

Maybe for your average Joe, coming home to an empty, deserted house is nothing new, but this is the girl who lives at home with 10 of the remaining 14 kids.

I'm more used to coming home to a yard and house full - dad tending the avocado trees, my little sisters skating and biking in the parking lot (I live at a church), my older sisters working on dinner.  Usually there's music playing from at least one stereo, conversations flowing, brothers coming and going, delectable scents wafting from the stove or oven or both.

Our home is a hive of activity on a normal day.  Coming home when nobody is there is kind of like walking into a tomb.  (Not that I would know what walking into a tomb is like, as I've never done it.)

After I ate and cleaned up my dinner, I had to get out.  Grabbing my keys and phone, I hit the road with no particular destination in mind.

Whether it was the pull of gravity or muscle memory, I ended up parked in front of my grandma's house, feeling very silly and tempted to drive away.

"Uh, hi!  I was bored an lonely so I decided to intrude on your evening and uh..."  Yeah, I didn't think that was the best approach.

Finally I picked up the phone and called her.

She was thrilled to hear from me, and even more ecstatic that I was outside. They brought me in, tried to feed me, visited, tried to feed me, got me something to drink, tried to feed me, offered me a place to sleep, and and succeeded at feeding me. The dinner salad I had already consumed didn't constitute a meal in their book.


It was a beautiful evening, and I enjoyed every moment of it. 


I learned some random things about myself.

1.  I tend to talk to myself when I'm by myself.

2.  Sleeping in a tomb isn't so bad as long as I don't have to live in it.

3.  I don't like to ask for things, but sometimes that's exactly what I'm supposed to do, because the Giver is blessed by giving even more than I am blessed by the receiving.

Hebrews 4:16 - Therefore let us come boldly to the throne of grace so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Of 'Check Engine' lights

She strutted into my office with a stack of papers, all of them with questions she should be able to answer, all of them apparently needing my expertise.

In the beginning I was flattered that she respected my intelligence enough to bring her questions to me, but it got old fast.

I could feel my blood pressure start to rise.

"I have to make sure to leave before you do!" She giggled.  "You're so smart!  When you leave, there won't be anyone to answer my questions."



You mean, do all your work? I mentally added.

This isn't some inexperienced intern or anything, but the company's accountant.  She's been here for 6 months.  Long enough for her benefits to kick in, but apparently not long enough to learn the ropes.

Years ago I heard a sermon, (preached by my very own dad) that said anger and aggravations are like check engine lights on our dashboard.  If you have a relational problem with somebody it's a warning of a bigger problem.  Perhaps even a relational problem with God.

This past Sunday the idea was broached again.  This time we were instructed to close our eyes and bring to mind somebody who annoyed us.  It wasn't hard.

But Dad!  (I mentally argued)  I'm totally justified in being annoyed with this lady!  I already have a huge work load without having to listen to her chat, complain, ask simple questions without listening to the answers - and without her dumping all her work on me!  The worst part of it all is that she's not a believer, so I HAVE to be sweet to her!

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." Matthew 25:40


But Lord!  (Again, arguing mentally) She's not hungry or sick... She's not naked, needing clothed.  She's just lazy and annoying.

"And I love her.  Just like I love you.   I died for her just like I died for you.  How can you love Me without loving the one who I love?"

Ouch.

Check engine lights are usually an ouch too.  Time to pull over and evaluate the damage. 

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Of inadequacies and victories.

I was struck by something I've never noticed before while reading the story of Gideon this week.  It made me giddily happy to realize that Gideon was the least qualified for the job that God had picked out for him.  In his words, "I beg your pardon Lord, but are you sure you have the right guy?  I'm from the weakest clan of all of Manasseh, and I'm the least in my family!"

He balked and doubted and questioned and second guessed God, and still didn't get in the way of God's greater purposes.

It made me happy to know that God uses people like that.  People who are fearful and doubting.  People who are under-qualified for the job at hand.

It made me happy because it made me realize that God can use me.

And then, in church today we read John 3:30.  "He must become greater; I must become less."

Nobody doubted for an instant that it was God going to battle against the vast army of the Midianites.  Gideon and his 300 men against more Midianites than could be counted.

Nobody counted it Gideon's victory.

He must increase, I must decrease.  More of Him, less of me.
 

"What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ--the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead."
::Philippians 3::

Monday, July 2, 2012

Heartcries

Please pray that I would have strength for each "today".

Please pray that I would be able to smile at the people who make me cringe.



Please pray that I would find joy in the now, that I would redeem the time that I have left, and that God would use me to impact lives for the remainder of my time here.

Please pray that I would be content, because here is where He has me.

Please pray that I would remember that sometimes, I'm the only part of Jesus that a person will ever see.

Please, God, help me remember this every moment - help me to remember that I never know when someone is watching me and judging You by my actions.

Please, God, give me grace for every moment.

Please, God, continue to work in me.  And through me.

Please, God, break me.  And restore me.  Fill me with your Spirit.

I'm inadequate, but You are able.

I'm undeserving, and You are worthy.

I'm weak, You are strong.

I'm so glad that You love me.

Thank you.