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Monday, October 29, 2007

Inside my head

Fall Office TreeIf you want to feel safe, where do you go? Who do you seek out? What do you pray?

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Velvet Elvis

Velvet ElvisI picked up a new book yesterday on the recommendation of some coworker friends. It's called Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell and I haven't yet been able to put it down! It's more a commentary on the Christian faith than anything, similar to Donald Miller. Quite fascinating to me, and probably you if you wish to check it out...

I leave you with this excerpt to leave you thinking--
In Moses' day, the way you honored and respected whatever gods you followed was by making carvings or sculptures of them and then bowing down to what you had made. These were gods you could get your mind around. Moses is confronting people with an entirely new concept of what the true God is like. He is claiming that no statue or carving could ever capture this God, because this God has no shape or form.

This was a revolutionary idea in the history of religion.

You are a holding a book in your hands. It has shape and volume and weight and all the stuff that makes it a thing.

It has thingness.

This book has edges and boundaries that define it as a finite thing. It is a book and nothing else.

But the writers of the Bible go to great lengths to describe God as a being with no edges or boundaries or limits. God has no thingness because there's no end to God.

Or as the question goes in the book of Job: "Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?"

It makes sense, then, in a strange sort of way, that when Moses asks God for His name, God replies, "I am."

Doesn't really clear things up, does it?

Moses is looking for a being he can wrap his mind around. Is this the god of water or power or soil or fertility? All the other gods made sense; you could understand them - who they were and what they did and what they stood for. But this God is different. Mysterious. Unfathomable.

"I am."

The name's origins come from the verb to be, so some read it as "I will be who I will be."

Others suggest it should be read like this: "I always have been, I am, and I always will be."

Perhaps this is God's way of saying, "If your goal is to figure me out and totally understand me, it's not going to happen. Even my name is more than you can comprehend."

Later Moses says to God, "Now show me your glory."

Which is our way of saying, "I need more. I need something I can see. Something tangible."

God's response? He tells Moses to go stand on a rock, because He's going to pass by. He explains to Moses that no one can see Him and live, so He'll cover Moses with His hand (God's hand?) as He passes by, and then He says, "I will remove my hand and you will see my back."

The ancient rabbis had all sorts of things to say about this passage, but one of the most fascinating things they picked up on is the part about God's back. They argued that in the original Hebrew language, the word back should be understood as a euphemism for "where I just was."

It is as if God is saying, "The best you're going to do, the most you are capable of, is seeing where I... just... was."

That's the closest you are going to get.

If there is a divine being who made everything, including us, what would our experiences with this being look like? The moment God is figured out with nice neat lines and definitions, we are no longer dealing with God. We are dealing with somebody we made up. And if we made him up, then we are in control. And so in passage after passage, we find God reminding people that He is beyond and bigger and more.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Wow!

CCSo I was talking with a friend earlier today about my hubby's blog, and so I went looking at it again (the earlier posts, not the most current entry). I read his testimony, which as his wife, I've read a bazillion times before and been touched by a bazillion times before. However, as always, it's amazing to me how incredible our God is, and how great my CC can be when he needs to write about something he feels led to share. With that, I leave you with his very first blog entry ever...

My Story

My life is marked by bold and audacious statements. So it’s fitting that I should start with this one. “I have undeniable proof that God exists and that He’s still in the business of miracles.” Pretty bold and audacious don’t you think? Well, here’s the proof.

When I was five years old, I was sitting in our basement with my mom and baby brother. There was a tornado warning and where I lived, if a tornado is coming the sky turns green. Let me assure you, the sky was a pale shade of green that day. My older brother and dad were at church and I was worried about them.

In retrospect, I believe that that was the first time I truly contemplated death. Are my dad and brother safe? Are we safe? What if a tornado comes? Those are the questions I remember running through my five year old mind. At that point I just started crying. My mom asked me why I was crying. I responded that I didn’t know.

Are you scared? No. Are you hungry? No. Are you tired? No. Do you want to ask Jesus in your heart? Yes.

Whoa! Where’d that come from? That is what my mom really asked me, completely out of the blue. (Sounds pretty miraculous to me by the way.)

I believe that at that moment, God was calling out to me. I realized that I could die. I wanted to be sure I was going to heaven. More than that, I realized for the first time that I didn’t want to go through life alone. I knew I had done bad things and that I would in the future, but I knew that God loved me and would forgive me. I wanted Him to be with me forever. So on that day the God of the universe stepped into my life and took up residence in my heart. (Again, pretty miraculous.)

Well, for about the next 10 years I grew up. That process included God. I didn’t get into trouble much. I wasn’t a bad kid. God saved me from a lot of hardships and heartaches that result from disobedience and rebellion as a child. However, while God was important, He wasn’t the most important thing. I didn’t really understand what it meant for God to be on the throne of my life.

The summer before my eighth grade year my dad announced to us that we would be moving. I wasn’t too happy about that. I had family and friends that I loved where I was and didn’t want to leave. Of course we moved anyway. A week later, I fell and broke both my arms. Two days after that I started a new school where I knew absolutely no one. As if that wasn’t hard enough, a few months later my grandma died and it hit me pretty hard.

I had no friends. I hated my school, my church, the city I lived in, and pretty much everything about my life. I remember crying myself to sleep at night asking God, “Why? Why? Why?”. My belief and faith in God was not challenged, but my trust was. This is where the next bold and audacious statement comes in. I stated to myself this: “the God and Creator of the universe is not trustworthy.” (Now that’s bold and audacious.)

Well, let’s just say that God decided to show me otherwise. You see, God is the epitome of the bold and audacious so if a statement is to be made, it will be made by Him.

My sophomore year in high school I found out that I had nerve damage to my left eye that caused a little blurry vision for me. Well, that in and of itself isn’t really a big deal. The big deal is what caused that nerve damage. I was diagnosed with a tumor on my pituitary gland. It had been pressing on my optic nerve and causing that damage. The doctors said the tumor was most likely not cancerous, but that it would have to be removed with surgery.

As soon as I received the news I began to be overwhelmed. I believe that at that moment I had a crucial decision to make. I could cling to my doubts about God, or I could hope beyond hope that God really was who He said He is.

I chose to trust God.

I told God that this was too much for me to bear alone and that I needed Him. (Kinda reminiscent of a prayer I prayed as a five year old, huh?) I told Him that I had to take all of my worries and lay them at His feet. The moment I did that, God’s peace entered my heart. And trust me, it’s as good as they say it is.

You see as I went through several months of MRI’s, surgery, needles, hospital stays, and radiation treatments I experienced peace. I have never in my life been more peaceful and content. When you fully trust God with your life even the hardest of times are filled with joy and contentment.

Three miraculous healings occurred during this time. Not only did my eyesight in the damaged eye improve, but the radiation treatments actually shrunk what remained of my tumor after surgery - both of which the doctors said were impossible. Most importantly, my trust in God was healed. I started to understand what it meant to place God higher than anything else and began to see my need for God to be in control of my life. I made yet another bold and audacious statement: “In the midst of utter chaos, fear, doubt, pain, and grief, God can give you a peace and let you be joyful, and content.”

My life really started to blossom. I had friends, I loved my youth group at church, school was great. Most importantly I was growing in my relationship with God. I was learning what it meant to walk with God. What it meant to seek God in earnest.

I was also learning academically. I was learning that I was talented with computers. I was learning that I could make a lot of money at that. I was learning that surely God gave me those talents so that I could live financially secure and not have to worry about money. Basically I was learning to make another one of those bold and audacious statements: “I know what God gifted me at, why He gifted me at it, what He wants me to do with it, where He wants me to do it, and there is no chance that He wants me to do anything else. It all makes sense to me.”

A couple years ago when I was sharing this most marvelous statement with someone at a college retreat, little did I know that half an hour later God would replace that statement with one of His own. When a lady got up to talk, little did she know that God would use her to speak directly to the depths of my soul. The statement that struck deep was this: “What would the disciples have missed if they would have stayed with their nets?” (Ok, I know it’s a question, but it’s rhetorical so it’s close enough to a statement.)

You see the disciples were great at what they did. They were great fishermen, or tax collectors, or doctors, etc. . Not only did God gift them at it, but they excelled at it. In the end, God had some things COMPLETELY different in store for those 12 men, things that weren’t necessarily what God had gifted them at.

I realized that in my own life, just because God has gifted me at something, doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s the end of the story. I do believe that God has gifted us for reasons and that He wants us to use those gifts. I’m not saying that we should ignore our giftings. I’m saying that we should be open to whatever God has for us. That may mean that we have to leave our nets behind. We may have to leave what we’re comfortable with. We may have to do things we never thought we would be able to do. The point is that we have to go where God leads.

For me this statement has changed the way I live my life. I really started to question what I was doing and most importantly why. I took some time to see if I was where God really wanted me to be. I feel that I was doing what he wanted, but my whole attitude and motives have changed.

In response to God’s challenge, I took a bold step and spent a summer in the country of Bosnia. That required putting down my nets and following God elsewhere. It was an amazing summer. I fell in love with missions and that part of the world. I don’t know if God is calling me there, but I do know that I am open and willing to go if He chooses to. I would not have been 4 years ago. (That is a miracle.)

One final miracle. When I began to become aware of the other sex, I looked at myself and all I saw was someone who wasn’t good looking, who wasn’t funny enough, who wasn’t really desirable. I always wondered if I’d find someone for me.

However, when I was a senior in high school I went out on a date with the prettiest girl I had ever known. She was kind, gentle, sweet, and beautiful. I couldn’t believe that someone like that would have the slightest interest in dating someone like me. I thought that she must be crazy. Little did I know that she would be the person I will spend the rest of my life with. Miracles happen.

I’ll end with the statement I began with: “I have undeniable proof that God exists and that He’s still in the business of miracles.” You see the proof is me. The miracle is my life. When the world and even Christians say that God doesn’t really do miracles anymore, we forget to look around us. We don’t see all the miracles sitting next to us in church, at home, and anywhere else there are those who’s lives have been radically, no MIRACULOUSLY, changed by God.

Often times we need look no further than the reflection in the mirror…

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Aiding and Abetting

Mr. PeacockI'm up to no good, and having so much fun! I think these crazy guys are too much of an influence on me!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Magneto strikes again!

My poor husband has had such trouble lately. Last week's car accident was just beginning to wane in his memory, and today he gets bumped by the guy behind him in the drive-thru line-- not once, but twice! Nothing happened, other than the guy yelling 'Sorry!' out his car window, but how nuts that it would happen twice. Poor car magnet! The hilarious part of the story is hearing CC call to the guy to 'quit it!' after he got bumped the second time! Heehee!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rest, Recovery, Recooperation

Today was a day of rest. It was such a wonderful day off, just enjoying the day. A little more rest this week and I think I'll be back to my normal self!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pondering

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. ~Philippians 4:5 (NIV)

My all-time favorite part of the Bible is Philippians 4:4-9. I can still remember the first time I read these verses, what a revelation it was to me to discover how applicable this truth was to my daily life. Each and every time I've read this passage since, I have always received something unique to my current situation at the time.

For the past month or two though, verse 5 in particular has stuck in my mind. For years I've struggled with the whole concept of being gentle. Anyone who knows me can tell you I can be loud, not very tactful (more often than not), and the list goes on in that gentleness has never been the first word (or any word) I would ever use to describe myself. I've never been one of those demure girly-girls that are so put together it makes you wonder if they ever disobeyed. I was always the girl outside climbing the trees and jumping in the puddles, and running faster than the boys to beat them in the games we played. Gentleness, in case you haven't guessed it yet, was not me.

I've also been wondering lately why this verse says the Lord is 'near' and not 'here.' There's a worship song that does this exact same thing, and I've always sung it wrong on purpose, because in my mind, I'd rather God be here than nearby (and to me, He is-- here that is, not just nearby).

I say all this because I haven't got it all figured out yet, but I'd love your input. What do you think this verse is all about? CC wonders if maybe it says the Lord is near because it is referring to the Second Coming. I say it's plausible, but I'm not totally convinced. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Dental woes, continued

I woke up this morning with all mouth pain concentrated on one tooth. Not a good sign. I woke CC up this morning with the happy news that I thought we might face a root canal today. Boy, did we ever!

Poor Dr. David couldn't even touch the horrid tooth it was in so much misery. He declared to one and all that an emergency root canal must be performed STAT! Well, after two unsuccessful numbings he brought out the big gun, and boy do I mean the big gun! It had a separate scary name and everything! Sadly, it still didn't do such a hot job of numbing, but at least we all made it through to the other side alive.

I am happy to report that though I'm still pretty miserable (and numb everywhere but in that one tooth), I seem to be doing much better than I was this morning! Yay! Thanks again to Dr. David for saving the day!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

My current #2 go-to guy

So as of today, my second favorite guy currently is my dentist, Dr. David! He's so great. He's the coolest dentist ever, sees you right away when you're having an issue, solves your problem right away, gives you painkillers until the problem is solved, and makes you happy.

And some of you ladies will also appreciate the fact that he looks exactly like Tim McGraw (to the point that it's hard not to say Dr. Tim!). Never fear though guys, CC says his wife Dr. Susan, the other dentist there, looks like Ashley Judd. She's amazing as well, though somehow I have always seen Dr. David and CC has always seen Dr. Susan. Hmm.

Anyway, they're awesome! Their staff is great too. They all know me by name, and are super sweet people. So today, I thank the good Lord for sending me Dr. David and his awesome team. Woohoo! (And that's not the painkillers talking either...)