Friday, January 22, 2010

"Makes me wanna get my Rocky on, man."

Fun music.
Good clean message.
Some thought provoking ideas, too.

For my comeback kids.

Sorta reminds me of Tobymac.
>> B. Reith.

Oh yeah.
and, (bonus) he knows how to make fun of himself. while getting his message out. sweet.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Reading Questions

Some questions I have discovered tonight:

where is your focus when you read your Bible?

is it always on how to improve yourself?
do you ever think about what God is doing or what He is showing about Himself in any given passage?
what is your reaction to the postmodern school of thought we find ourselves in?
how are you battling/striving to show and believe the truth?

i started 2 new books tonight. well, i started one this morning (as in, read the first 3 paragraphs and got a kick in the pants), but re-read that part and really got into it tonight; along with a second:

1. In the Beginning, God,
by Marva J. Dawn

2. Deep Church,
by Jim Belcher

then, of course, i had some questions. wanted some answers. needed some clarification:
fair description (in layman's terms) of postmodernism here.
emerging church info here.

thus, the questions at the top of this post arrived. i don't have answers. i don't know if i'll agree with much of the books i'm reading. i don't even know if i'm asking the right questions, or enough questions; but i'm interested, my mind is going a-mile-a-minute, and i'm not sitting still, coasting on the "faith of my fathers" - this is real, this is life, this is true; and it's me, not someone else.

i believe, have no doubt about that, but i am re-thinking how i live, how i think, how i process, how i act. it's scary. there isn't a path defined for me to follow. but i know Who i'm following, and have absolute faith in Him - no matter how scary it gets.

these thoughts are pouring out of me. i think God appreciates that. i want to know Him better. i want to walk with Him on the path i've been hearing so much about - according to His will. i'm sure reading these books will conjure up many more questions. i'm sure i may be questioning things i never thought i would. but as long as i keep my focus on Him, and where He is leading me, i know (as solidly as i can - more than that, actually) that i will come out alright --

because i belong to Him.
wholly. completely.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On the Alert

"Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done with love."
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

Alert: aware, looking around, not down at your shoes
Stand firm: don't waiver, quiver, tremble
Act like men: not wimps!
Be strong: not giving in, worrying, fearful

And to top it all off, do everything in LOVE. Not for your own selfish reasons. Examine your motives, your reactions, your interactions.

And remember, weakness isn't necessarily all bad: "...for when I am weak, then I am strong." (2 Corinthians 10b)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Getting it out

Still, I cannot get them off my mind. Prayer. That's all I can do. That's the only way I can get any of these feelings out.

It makes me wonder: I have thought about missions. Before my current job I was looking into missions organizations, trying to discern if that was the way God was leading me. Missions has been something that has been on my heart in many ways for quite a long time - since high school, actually. I have an aunt who was a missionary in Germany for a long time. I think that may have started it. I have never been on a missions trip for various reasons: lack of money, fear, bad timing, a plethora of others. And yet, I have often wondered (sometimes more than others) if God wants me to be a missionary somewhere other than here, where I am 'comfortable'. But the door has never opened. At least not yet.

And I find myself wondering, as I read the prayer requests and pray for my friends' family, would I be able to hold on to God and remain faithful if it was me? Would I be willing to admit that maybe God gave me a precious little girl for only a week of her (and my) life? Would I be able to love her the way they did? Would I be able to continue His work while dealing with such a devastating blow? How would I react? What would I do? Would I be able to trust Him wholly still? Would I be able to look forward to what He would do?

When I think these things, it scares me. I don’t want to doubt Him. But even more, I don’t want fear to be the reason I don’t obey. There is a very minimal possibility that I may have a chance to go on a missions trip myself before very long. The very idea terrifies me. But it excites me as well. I want to be abandoned to God. Wholly and completely. I want to be sold out to Him. And that is a terrifying, exciting, crazy thing.

And as I think about this, I am in such turmoil because I don’t know what He wants for me. I don’t know if that is the path I am on. I only know that I am striving to follow Him. I only know that He is leading me, and wherever He leads, I will follow. I will trust Him.

I know it is not easy. My own feelings right now, and the troubles around me are easy proof of that. But He never said it would be easy. He has set me apart (Psalm 4:3). He hears when I call. He directs my path (Proverbs 3:5-6).

I wonder.
I wonder where He is leading me.

And I will try not to be anxious in anything.
And I try to just trust the Lord my God.

Not fair

I am sitting in my house tonight wondering why.

Why I am so discouraged. Why I feel so lonely. Why I am so tired and can't seem to catch up.

I am wondering why such special people who are serving God faithfully in Uganda are suffering such a loss right now. On top of losing their precious daughter, they are sick, along with both of their boys, and their 3-year-old has a broken collarbone, and are worried about thieves in their neighborhood.

When I think about them, and their mission and ministry, I know that at least part of what is happening (and perhaps the whole) is an attack by Satan. I have been praying since last week when prayer requests started appearing regularly from Matt on Facebook for Jerusalem's health.

My concerns are paltry. I am not dealing with any kind of loss, especially not one so hard as losing a loved one or a child. I don't worry about thieves on a daily basis. I am wondering why I feel the way I do when I know that I am extremely blessed, relatively healthy, and fairly well-off compared to others. I have a job which supports me and is actually helping me get out of the bit of debt (school loans) that I am in. I have no reason to be feeling as down as I do.

My heart feels like it is breaking for Matt & Crystal. They are so willing to be used by God; why would He allow them to be hurting this way? I don't know why. I suppose Job's friends (and maybe even Job himself) were asking these same questions. I refuse to doubt His plan. I refuse to fall into the trap Satan has laid out. I will not go against God. I may not know the reason He allowed these things to happen, but I know He is faithful. I know He is strong. I know He is comforting and strengthening them even as I type this. When I run out of words as I pray, He hears my heart.

I am wondering why I feel so much for Matt & Crystal. I had some classes with Matt in college, and knew Crystal mostly by name and face. I think we may have had a total of 2 less-than-2-minute conversations in 4 years there. However, I have been praying for their ministry since they started got to Africa in 2006. I don't know how many people are praying and supporting them, but I feel a connection to them - even if it is only because we serve the same amazing God, and that their mission & vision touch many of the same chords that seem to be lodged in my heart.

And still, I feel the things I am worrying about - my discouragement, my loneliness, my inability to stop feeling overwhelmed. And I feel guilty for feeling that way when friends are suffering so much more. Which adds to my worry...which adds to my guilt...which adds to my discouragement...

It's all just so extremely not fair.

And I quote:

"I want someone to love me
For who I am
I want someone to need me
Is that so bad?
I wanna break all the madness
But it's all I have
I want someone to love me
For who I am

Nothing makes sense, nothing makes sense anymore
I'm losing my breath, I'm losing my right to be wrong
I'm frightened to death, I'm frightened that I won't be strong

I want someone to love me
For who I am"

Saturday, January 9, 2010

All it takes is some chocolate and a good book

I have had a very busy week. Some days were actually rougher than I realized until I reached the end of them. (Which is strange.) Thus, when I left yesterday evening to go out with the girls (fabulous), I was far more tired than I should have been after only working 4 days.

Girls' Night was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. so my friend Amy & I hung out at Barnes (& Noble) for awhile together after work before heading to the restaurant. Got some coffee, had some good conversation, bought some books. It's always dangerous for me to enter a bookstore. It's very hard for me to leave without a book in my hand. Which means, I always end up spending money, even if I didn't intend to, or shouldn't have. Yesterday, I left with 3 new books -- which doesn't sound like much, but I spent more than I should have on something I don't really need, even if it made me happy. Went on to dinner with the girls, and had a good time, but was glad to get home.

This morning I was feeling a little blue - probably just from being tired, and knowing that my family would be together without me this afternoon. If I admit it, there is another reason...but... well, we'll just pretend that one doesn't exist. So, I got up, ate some breakfast, did some laundry, and finished one of the books I was reading. Then I ate some lunch, followed by some lovely Godiva chocolate (not much, but just a square is enough to cheer me up a tad) and made some hot chocolate (another 'cheerer-upper') and spent the majority of my afternoon today reading one of my new books. It wasn't (obviously) a super-hard read by any means, but the story was well written enough, and the characters enjoyable. I finished all 330-ish pages in approximately 5 hours. *happy sigh*

And as I was contemplating beginning another one, in the warm coziness of my bed before going to sleep, I realized that I am in a better mood right now. The 'non-existent' reason for my blues is still lurking, but I'm pretty sure I can lick it tonight. Chocolate and books to the rescue.

Yup. That's all it takes.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Christmas Cheer

WARNING, this post is littered with pictures. So get ready!
(it looks longer than it is)

I had a wonderful vacation! I can't believe it's over already. Wow. But it was good and slower than most breaks are. I was making sure to enjoy each day, and the special people I was with each time.

Began my break with a wonderful friend who was home from school for winter break. Baked (too many) cookies (to count), watched Harry Potter 6 (she hadn't seen it yet) and talked like crazy. Went to my parents and hung out with them, and my youngest brother, (and his girlfriend a bit) and generally chilled. Christmas Eve was at my other brother's church, and he, his wife, and sweet daughter came over on Christmas day. Games were played, ham was eaten, family time was thoroughly enjoyed. Newest family pic, anyone?

And here's one of my sweet mom (Grammie) with the sweet granddaughter:

Then I picked up one of my best friends (we met in college) and we did (of course) some shopping, went to get mani-pedi's and more shopping, out to our favorite restaurant together (BD's, how dare you leave Deerfield), and (of course, again) went to see New Moon together. We also (which really should be a tradition, and sort of already is) watched some Lord of the Rings - movie and extras. I would like to point out how hilarious it is to me that we watched the extras online when I had the dvds sitting less than 6 feet away on my shelf. ;)

Good times. Nothing but good times.

After dropping her back off at home, I went into Chicago to visit my other best friend. It had been almost 5 or 6 months since we'd seen each other. How sad is that when we live an hour apart, we don't see each other much?? Oh my! Well, we certainly enjoyed ourselves. Dinner at some fabulous neighborhood places (why can't there be a SoupBox here??), the Art Institute with free tickets (thanks to my friend's membership to ... something...), bus rides (inside joke...but really we did ride the bus a bit one night), and movies. Nice. She followed me home and we spent a quiet New Year's Eve together on my couch watching movies.

On New Year's Day it was off to Omlet Fest, the Thorwall tradition on the first day of the year (well, for most of us), and it was nice to see family and family friends that I don't get to see often enough.

That night, I went to see anther good friend in Joliet. I got home at 12:30 (on technically Jan. 2nd) and realized how busy I'd been the entire 2 weeks! I definitely had some (ok, lots of) down time, but was busier than I realized I'd gotten.

SO, I spent the next 3 days (yes, I had Monday off too!) sleeping in (to 9:30~ a big accomplishment for me), reading, and watching movies and some tv shows (kids, cooking, Pushing Daisies), I even did some laundry!

Went back to work today with a new haircut (got it yesterday), and it went well, but I am glad to be home tonight.
Whew! Ok, consider yourself updated!