Tuesday, December 27, 2011

from our family to yours

Monday, December 26, 2011

hope is alive


How was your Christmas?

Mine looked like this:

December 23rd: Oh What Fun!, a Christmas service for the whole family @VCC. I was an elf, and I found baby Jesus at the end. (He was under the tinsel, garland, and Christmas ornaments.) I went to Wal-Mart afterward, still dressed as an elf, and even amidst all the people walking through the parking lot, the guy selling garland picked me out of the crowd to pester me. I may have pointy shoes, but I'm a person, too. And I don't want your garland.

December 24th: Two Christmas Eve services, six Lindor white chocolate truffles, a nap, and another Christmas Eve service. I loved the darkness of the auditorium and hearing 170 voices sing out, "For He alone is worthy." It was beautiful and intimate, and I fell asleep that night thinking about how blessed I am to be in this church, with these people, and a child of this amazing God.

December 25th: The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned (Isa 9:2). I watched White Christmas and ate Raisin Bran in bed before heading out to spend the day with some of my favorite people on this earth. So much to make me laugh, so much to make me full, so many bourbon balls. I will not say I did not miss my family & the traditions I missed having for the first time in 24 years. But I am one blessed cookie to have the people in my life who are in my life.

December 26th: Happy day after merry Christmas day! (To quote Mom.) I went to work for a couple of hours, thought about how practical gas cards are & how I wouldn't be sad to get one, and was surprised by a Speedway card at my desk! And when I pulled into the gas station, my empty light was glowing. It's little things like a full tank of gas that make my entire day glowier. And the fact that I've scrubbed my bathroom and kitchen floors and watched a few episodes of The King of Queens and wrote a poem.

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas of experiencing God with us, wherever you were and with whomever you were. I for one hope to continue to experience His nearness in new and dependable ways in the days after Christmas. For He alone is worthy.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Not true, Cinderella

Last night I had three nasty dreams.

One was that I was dying.

I woke up from that at 1am and fell back asleep to dream that Courtney and I were being attacked by a giant cockroach, with large pincers. It sounds funny, but it was not.

Finally, I dreamed my dad died. In my dream, I thought I was doing okay, until I heard this song and remembered him playing it in our living room on his guitar, and then I crumbled to the floor in tears.

That's when I woke up.

Sometimes I hate dreams.

If you described them to anyone in different terms, they would think you were describing some sort of horror sci-fi movie.

"And then you fall into this trance where you can't consciously control what pictures and images you see, and no matter how much will you might have, you can't stop them from coming."

That sounds GREAT.

And I hate when dreams leave this reside all over you the next day. I'm still trying to shake the awful feeling that my dad is gone.

So I texted him this morning.

me: What doin?
dad: I just sat down to read my bibles.
me: All of it?
dad: ru meaning from Gamiso to Ramilations?

Then I felt a little better.

But not 100%.
Saturday, December 17, 2011

my favorite Christmas hymn

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Ultimate If/Then

One time two and a half years ago, when I was feeling lonely & tired & stretched pretty thin, my friend (let's call him Mufasa) encouraged me in an email with, "Rest in Jesus."

I read his words and replied, "I don't know how to rest in Jesus."

It's been two and a half years, and I think I finally understand.

At least, maybe a little.

I've always liked the verse that says, "Abide in me, and I will abide in you" (John 15:4). Well, that's what I want, to abide in Jesus. And if abiding in Jesus means He then abides in me, that sounds like the best option out there.

But how the heck do you abide in Jesus?

I've always wanted it to be some sort of feeling, some sort of achievement. Like, hello, I'm abiding in Jesus, can't you see me floating around instead of walking? When someone tells me, "Rest in Jesus," or when Jesus tells me, "Abide in Me," I want to be able to take a deep breath, and, by the time I breathe out, to feel safe & secure & at peace.

It's like when you're about to take a trip and someone tells you, "Be safe." Or when you're really upset and someone tells you, "Calm down." Well, yes. Those are the results I would like to achieve: safety and calmness. But simply saying those words over me isn't going to magically make me safe or make me calm. This isn't Harry Potter, and you can't make me feel okay by pointing a stick at me and saying "feelicus okaytio."

So this morning is when I realized that Jesus' "abide in Me/abide in you" statement is an if/then, and here's what it means, when you break it down (& use visuals). Simply replace the underlined with any mix of words below it:

If I abide in Jesus, then I will have Jesus abiding in me.
memorize                                                         peace
pray                                                             joy
meditate                                                    a defense
remember                                                      confidence
sing                                                              refuge
praise                                                        understanding
etc.                                                                & more!

You know when you're lying in bed, and you have the thought, "Ugh, I will never get married," you counter it by thinking, "The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me (Ps. 138:8)," and that's abiding in Jesus. Or when you tape a Bible verse to your dashboard so that whenever you get into your car, you see, "The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer (2 Sam. 22:2)," you're abiding in Jesus. Or when you are getting [justifiably!] annoyed or angry, & instead of commiserating with yourself or someone else, you choose to pray, "Holy Spirit, breathe into my attitude and change me to think more like you," you are SO TOTALLY abiding in Jesus! And when you don't feel at all like singing the same worship song about running into Jesus' arms, because you don't feel at all like the riches of His love will always be enough, but you sing it anyway, that is most especially abiding in Jesus.

So then, you know that moment when nothing has changed - the situation's still shaky, the relationship is still broken, the forecast is still cloudy - yet you have this unexplainable just knowing that everything's going to be okay (even when all fingers point at you & say, "You should be worrying")? That's Jesus abiding in you. Or when you feel compassion toward someone whose suffering you never noticed before, or feel interest in a people group you used to disdain, or feel love for someone you know absolutely nothing about, well, my friend, that's Jesus abiding in you. And when, in the middle of singing that worship song that you don't feel like singing, you suddenly feel very much like running into the arms of Jesus and that His love is so rich that you're not even tasting the amount of a teacup, JESUS is ABIDING in YOU.

True story.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things [abide in Jesus]. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice [abide in Jesus]. And the God of peace will be with you [Jesus will abide in you!!]. (Philippians 4:8-9 [over-excited exclamation points mine])

So...rest in Jesus. Thanks, Mufasa. I think I will.

(For more motivation in this, I recommend reading Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge, &/or listening to this 10/31/11 sermon from the Vineyard called "Strong Training.")
Sunday, December 4, 2011

there's no place like home for the holidays

I'm back in the great state of Wisconsin. Flying out of Baltimore into Milwaukee, the pilot ended his welcome speech with a pause, then a very mischievous, "Go Bears." I looked around for the big burly man I'd seen earlier, dressed head-to-toe in green and yellow. Luckily we had half the US Army on our flight, so I felt relatively safe. As long as they weren't Green Bay fans. In which case, who would fly the plane once the pilot was dead? So I turned on my iPod and went to sleep. I don't have the energy to worry about these kinds of things.

And who knew Wilmore was so famous in the Louisville airport? Walking through security, the man at the conveyor belt noticed my sweatshirt (it has blaring white letters spelling "ASBURY," made out of the same material as bycicle reflectors, I'm pretty sure) and said, "Ever read A Mighty Rushing Wind?"
What a random question. I'd been thinking about whether or not to take off my shoes and wasn't ready, so I simply answered, "No?" Instead, I wish I would've been more composed so I could've answered, "No. Ever read The Little Red Hen?"
But then he said, "It's about the revival at Asbury in the 70s. Are you familiar with it?"
Why, no! There was a revival at Asbury in the 70s? Instead I simply nodded my head and walked through the laser gate that searched my soul for evil thoughts. I am always terrified of those things, even though I have nothing to hide. I hate being tested. I even hate eye exams when I get my license renewed. I just never want to fail.

But then, the guy on the other side of the soul-reader glanced at my sweatshirt and asked, "Is it true there's no place in Wilmore to get a cigarette?"
WHAT the HECK. The people in the Wal-Mart in Lexington haven't even heard of Asbury. How do these people in the Louisville airport know all about our little university?
I replied, "Um, I don't think I ever tried."
"But you couldn't, if you did, right? And everything's closed on Sundays?"
I just want to put my shoes back on. I smiled and nodded and took my Sketchers to a nearby bench. Then I looked around and noticed I was the only one in line. Poor guys were probably just really bored and lonely. And who doesn't like talking about Wilmore to pass the time?

A picture of my first night home:

Dad and Brother decided to go to a college Christmas concert instead of be home for my first night (Dad tried to make up for it by taping a giant picture of his head in a Santa hat to the passenger seat for when my mom picked me up at the airport, but I was already struggling with abandonment issues), so, to retaliate, I finished Dad's carton of peppermint ice cream. He doesn't know yet.
Then, feeling more full and therefore more generous, I tried to figure out how to wrap Dad's four pounds of Lexington Coffee & Tea coffee so that he couldn't smell it through the wrapping paper. Which is impossible, and my entire room smells like Peruvian coffee beans right now. (One of the most pleasant problems I've ever had.)
Then, I laid down on the couch at eight o'clock while Mom was watching Psych (Mom: "Have you seen this episode before?" Me: "Mom, please." What episode of Psych have I not seen, at least 3 times?) in an attempt to wait for the boys to come home (Me: "It's only seven and I want to go to bed." Mom: "Well it's really eight your time." As if that makes it any less pathetic), and I fell asleep.
Then, Dad and Brother got home, I woke up, told them hello, and then went to bed.
Now they're all at church, and I'm getting ready to put a meatloaf in the oven before I head out to join them.

I want to replace the 1/4 cup milk with eggnog, to show them they can't escape Christmas cheer, or me.

Merry Christmas from Wisconsin.


Blog Template by YummyLolly.com