Sunday, May 21, 2006

Oh, ye of little faith......

Sometimes I wonder if God is really listening to me, or paying attention. Or if He is just up in heaven laughing at my confusion.....
I know better, I do. Yet sometimes I just need to see the evidence, Thomas that I am. This past week I was sitting on my bed thinking. It was in the evening, and I was just going through some events of the past several months in my mind. I remembered how excited I was when I got my passport. Several months ago. I've never had one - silly as that may seem. And I remember when I got it thinking - wow, now I can go anywhere I want - do what I want. And I remember thinking how at that moment what I wanted to do more than anything was go to hurting people and serve them and God. Doing whatever was needed. I was so excited, and so passionate. It was all I could think about for days. Shortly after this I had a health scare. A pretty significant one. I remember in the middle of it saying to a friend - I just don't get it. I am finally getting my act together, I am willing and ready to serve God. My passion is being missional. I want to be used, and now I may never get to do this. Why would God put this so definitely on my heart just to take it away? I got past the health scare, and busy, and I kinda set the vision aside. And I had to work through some other pretty significant stuff - including church. That was hard, and disorienting. I was overwhelmed by life.
Things have kind of started working themselves out now, and in the past couple weeks I felt moved to revisit the serving issue. And that's when I started once again thinking I had a passport, and I wanted to go. And as I thought about it Monday night I realized it was not an option currently. I wasn't connected in a place where this would be a possibility. I had left my old church, my new church didn't have the resources and the only other place I might possibly connect to this kind of ministry was a strange church filled with unknown people. Talk about anxiety. I could go with people I didn't know, to a country I didn't know and do something I might not know how to do. And as I began to consider this a deep sadness came over me, and my eyes filled with tears and began to overflow. I was not crying, or sobbing, or distraught. It was like a leaky faucet I couldn't turn off. Tears overflowing from the depths of my soul. I just felt it was like God had held something out to me, and when I finally had come to a point where I could commit he had snatched it away. I shared my broken heart with my friend and she helped me see it was probably just not God's timing. Just to trust His direction. It took a couple days, but I made my peace with it. It wasn't God's time, and I would just have to trust Him. He gave me the passion, He would provide the outlet.
Saturday night I went to church. We are very small. Basically like a small group at this point. But the church has great vision. And one area is loving and meeting the needs of others. Working side by side with the needy, being Jesus to them. And in the course of defining our vision Mike spoke about our church - all 15 of us, adopting a village in Haiti, coming along side them, helping them, serving them, working on health, education, basic needs - loving them. Yes, US. I about fell off my chair. Where five days before I had been so discouraged by a passion denied, I was now marveling at the goodness of God and His impeccable timing. It was like he reached down and said - "Now". It was almost like it had been a test to see if I meant what I said. If I was truly committed. If I really desired to serve God, or it was a passing thing. And after my heart broke, He stepped in and said OK - now I can use you. I'm still amazed today. It was like yet another God message. I am here, I am in control, I am real, all you need to do is trust me.
Wow. I tried to explain it to my friend today. Once again I found myself with tears in my eyes. I could barely speak. My heart is so full. God continues to surprise and amaze me.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Because I said so - that's why......

How many times have moms said that to their kids?

Mother's Day. Dreary. Rainy. Cold.
I'm sitting here at the computer writing, the kids are all sleeping and Kim is at the store picking up a few things. Probably flowers will be one of those things knowing my hubby...
I can't believe it's the middle of May. Seriously. Where has this school year gone? I'm looking forward to some downtime in a couple weeks. Time to clean the house, sit in the sun, take a walk, grocery shop when there aren't a million people in the store.
Last night we talked about legalism at church. Several of us were asked to take part in the service, and I had to talk about my experience with legalism, and how it makes us feel, or hurts us. I wasn't sure where to go with it even tho I have experienced hurt because of it. So I let it roll around in my brain over night and got up in the morning and wrote this:

When I was growing up life had a list of do's and don'ts. Christianity had a bigger list of do's and don'ts. Especially in the high school years.
Don't smoke. Don't drink. Don't dance, go to movies, play cards, listen to rock music, (we did anyway..) and above all, don't question these rules. Christianity became about the rules and not the person. If you don't follow the party line, your faith in God is seriously questioned.
Rules obviously have a place in society. It would be chaos without rules. But with rules just for the sake of rules, without understanding or conviction is harmful. Growing up in the home/church I did it was kind of drummed into me that if you were a Christian this is what you did. And so the tension in my life became unbearable at times. And if a friend asked me why I couldn't go to the movies I had no good answer. It wasn't my rule. And it bred resentment, and questions, and a feeling of doubt - doubt that because you didn't see the logic in the legalism you must not be a Christian!
College came, and it was worse. I went to a pretty conservative college, ok a really conservative college. And most people seemed to get the rules. And have no problems with the rules. They followed whatever they were told - hook, line, and sinker. I wanted to know why, and pat answers weren't cutting it. This led to a huge crisis of faith. And a miserable few years as I struggled with whether I was truly a Christian or not.
After college I worked, got married, had kids, all the while just living the "correct," "good," "acceptable" Christian life. Church - whenever the doors were open, bible studies, Christian friends-what I knew, because it was easier to follow a prescribed path, and not make waves. But I still had questions. I dreaded church - I thought differently than others. I had questions. Opinions that didn't match. I felt hypocritical, like I was playing a part just so I wasn't looked down on. But I just never fit. And the tension got worse. I started avoiding anything church related, except Sunday morning church, and then I'd prefer to go, be done, and get out. I really didn't want to interact with anybody. It was awkward and uncomfortable. I didn't have anything in common with these people. But I kept going, because it was what a good Christian did. I was a good Christian, right?
And I still had no idea why things I were doing were right or wrong. So, I started making a few "daring" choices - doing things we were never allowed to do because I could. And I let my kids do them to so they wouldn't ever feel the legalism and conflict I felt in my life.
I was a good mom; I made sure my kids were in Sunday school and church; that they knew the Bible stories and the rules. That they knew how to "do" Christianity.
But as they grew, I realized I wanted more for them. I wanted them to think for themselves so they wouldn't end up like me. I wanted them to be compassionate, to be in the world, to have a faith that was relevant, to have the freedom to question why they believed what they believed. And it was not gonna happen where we were.
Around this time my daughter started attending another church youth group. And what she was learning was amazing. It was exactly what I wish I had been taught as a teen . I'd read her lessons and wished I could go to youth group with her. Just so I could ask questions and not be made to feel like a second class Christian. And because I finally realized there were other people in the world that thought like me. This group encouraged the kids to open their eyes and learn to see God everywhere; not just in church or in their devotional times, or in their Christian friends, but everywhere. They were taught that God should be a part of their life all the time, not just on Sunday. And God could be experienced even in the most unlikely of situations. God is with you, and you are with him every second of every day. Live your faith!
They were shown the importance of being ready to experience God in school, with their friends, at the movies, reading a book, listening to a song, wherever. They were taught if you only expect to see God in certain places, then you will only ever find him there, and what a small God that would be. God in a box. Wow! I didn't realize there were pastors like this out there - that actually thought the way I did, and were willing to admit it and teach it to the kids!
And through this I allowed myself to start asking questions, abandon my old faith construct and think about what I truly believed. And when you do this, you find you no longer fit the old mold. And you don't fit comfortably in your old church. And you start seeing things everywhere that shake your world. You start to stretch and grow - and suddenly God is bigger than you ever imagined. Instead of feeling constrained, not allowed to do things, instead of always wondering why you had these thoughts and questions that "real" Christians didn't have, instead of constantly questioning if you were really "in", you see the world through a whole new set of eyes, a new mindset. Being a follower of Christ becomes about people not about rules.
Legalism hurts. It marginalizes people; it makes people question their beliefs. It makes people feel like second-class citizens, or like they don't belong. It divides people into those who are in and those who are out. And it even causes tension and conflict within a person because they can't separate the acceptance and love of God from the judgment of the Pharisees.
Rules separate. Divide the body. Rules exclude people. We need rules, but the rules should not be more important than the people they serve. When a rule makes you not welcome in Christian circles, or in your church I have to wonder what Following Christ really means...

Despite this, what I realized last night was that no matter how passionate I am, or how emotionally involved in this issue, I am still legalistic in areas that I choose to be. Amazingly it comes down to my personal sense of right and wrong. Not something I'm proud of really, but I have to face that truth. We did an exercise at church where we wrote down areas where we were legalistic, areas we needed to be honest about and work on. And then we put them in a bowl of water and poured water over them and they dissolved.

Because I say so - that's why....

If only I could do away with that attitude as easily as the paper dissolved in the water......

Thursday, May 11, 2006

I feel like a cartoon character....

....running and running and running, legs circling furiously yet never accomplishing anything, or getting anywhere. May has been so incredibly busy. No time to even take a breath, much less sit down and actually blog! Meetings, classes, family obligations and nites out with friends. Plus it's almost the end of the school year, so that makes my job crazy as well and makes life around the house chaotic with two kids doing research papers and getting ready for finals. As well as SAT's and ACT's.
Tonight the Spring Musical starts - they are doing The Sound of Music this year. My darling daughter is a NUN. Yes, a nun. You should see her in her habit. Too cute. But certainly not in line with her character. At All.
Uh - Oh, she just came home and said there is a mysterious power outage in the school auditorium, and they are working furiously to fix it, but we're not sure the show can go on tonight. And wouldn't ya know, my tickets are for tonight cuz I'm busy the next two nights? Sure hope Com Ed gets it figured out in time.
And I missed a full day of work yesterday with some bug that made me lose my voice. I hate it, and the kids love it. Go figure. Slept all day yesterday with the puppies on the bed with me. And they weren't even fighting. They must have known I'd kill 'em.
And of course, now in the midst of all this craziness one of the cars breaks down and were are fighting over cars. Bah.
At least I know June is coming. Hopefully summer will be sane this year and relaxing. I wanna read, and watch movies, go to plays and parks and spend time with friends. Take a break from "Have tos" and deadlines. Enjoy our new church. Find service opportunities. Visit with family. Paint our bedroom. Plant a garden. Take a road trip. And slow down. For once I wanna be the tortoise, not the hare....

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A type A personality .....sorta

While I'm not so sure this is all totally accurate, there is a hint of truth in it.
Anyway, it sure makes me sound good! :)
As for being balanced........

You Have A Type A- Personality


You are one of the most balanced people around
Motivated and focused, you are good at getting what you want
You rule at success, but success doesn't rule you.

When it's playtime, you really know how to kick back
Whether it's hanging out with friends or doing something you love!
You live life to the fullest - encorporating the best of both worlds

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Which 24 character are you???

Take the quiz:
Which "24" character are you?

Tony Almeida
You are Tony Almeida!!!! Behind every batman is a robin, you are Jack's 2nd hand man.. You can lead CTU, you can be field OP's, You are a lover and a fighter.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Which Super Hero are You?

Your results:
You are Green Lantern

Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
Iron Man
The Flash
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.

Except Green Lantern and Spiderman had the same percentage....
Spiderman: You are intelligent, witty,
a bit geeky and have great
power and responsibility. Maybe I'm a bit of both?

Click here to take the "Which Superhero are you?" quiz...

I took the one less traveled by....

The Road Not Taken
Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
Ad having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.