Monthly Archives: November 2012

Can’t help but wonder…

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Can’t help but wonder what Christmas will be like for me next year. Not only will I not be teaching so I will have no programs to put on but my own two girls won’t be in any musical groups either. Wonder if I’ll feel a bit of withdrawal or if it will seem nice. Hard to tell.

Part of me dreads this season because of the extra commitments, nights, weekends, etc. but part of me always loves singing the christmas songs with the kids.

I’ve already decided that I’ll probably really enjoy the season of fall in ways that I never have. The reality of it not being a time when I must go back to school…that will be bliss.

As I go through each season, each grading period, each concert and program I find myself wondering what my life will be like next year.

Will I rest more?

Will I be home more?

Will I find some new things to do and places to go that I’ve never been?

Will I spend more time with friends and family?

What might I miss…I do know as a music teacher there is some bliss that happens at the night of the program when it all comes together. It’s always a good feeling to go home that night and know that it was good.

Who knows…I might just show up at a couple of school programs and sit in the crowd and watch. Not the same but surely a whole lot less pressure!

Maybe I’ll come up with some new holiday traditions at our house. I’ve never been a baker, or a huge decorator, or a person who does lots of social stuff at the holidays…maybe some new side of my personality will come through. You never know.

I just look forward to having the time to ponder and become. Time to think and reflect. Time to get in touch with my inner self. Time to step out of the light so to speak so that I can do some evaluation out of the spotlight.

In Plenty

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Today at church the pastor talked about contentment in all situations…and Phil 4:13…the I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me verse. The sermon portion of the service was actually quite short so that most of the time we spent today was singing our praise or sharing our thankfulness or talking about what we are looking forward to…prayer requests.

But his thought about the secret of that verse has stood out to me today. The secret of doing ‘all’ things through Christ is the reality of sensing God’s presence at all times in my life, in plenty and in want. He talked about how we often are much more aware of God’s presence in desperate times…clearly this is how we’re wired. I know I cling to God and could probably trace a line of heart beats over the past 20 years based on times when I was most desperate for the presence of God in my life. He talked about how it’s sometimes quite challenging for us to feel God’s presence in plenty. When we are comfortable, when our needs are met do we still feel God’s presence?

It’s funny the thought wasn’t a new one or even deeply profound. No new mysteries of the faith were unlocked and yet…I know in looking at my life the last few weeks, especially in the last 10 days this small truth, the awareness of my need for God is key.

Let me explain.

This is a trite example but go with me here.

Normally I make a grocery list on my fridge all week long, in fact sometimes it goes longer than a week. Normally we have to make due until it’s grocery day if we don’t have it. We actually sense some holes now and then and are able to live with it. In the past 10 days I’ve run to the store far more than I normally would. And any time I’ve run to the store I’ve made sure to get whatever is on that list, so instead of having to wait for those needs to be met I’ve met them almost instantly.

I just woke up from a nap. In fact all three of us just woke up. I was incredibly warm and cozy, the christmas lights glowing, the candles in my new centerpiece on my coffee table burning beautifully, and I had this incredibly feeling of security and peace that all is well, that I’m not out of control, that my entire house is stocked up and prepared for the first blizzard and that we could be content in our home without any needs for quite a while really. I took stock of how much toilet paper we have on hand:).

I laid there and thought about how nice it felt. How good and peaceful. And then I laid there and thought about my relationship with God. It’s been a little dryer lately for me. I didn’t go to church a week ago, since I was sick. I didn’t go to Restore group twice this month because one time Lydia had way too much homework for us to cope with and one time I was sick. The last time before today I had been in church I worked in the kids area. I realized that all of a sudden I felt really dry in my relationship with God. It was still there, always is. But I just felt like I had thought no new thoughts in a long time. I felt that I hadn’t really dug into any scripture in awhile.

My point is this…I think I’m in a phase where I’m in the plenty of the want vs. plenty equation. And I think God is calling to me to still be aware of His presence in plenty. Plenty to me is not always about money. My plenty can easily be about my time. I’ve just come through 10 days off from school. That’s a pretty good chunk of plenty to me!

I woke up feeling cautioned about my strong desire for this sabbatical. If I just want it so that I can not be overwhelmed and just sit in plenty and not feel stressed or desperate what does that tell me about my internal state and how I am trying to build walls and situations where I can do all things through Ruth’s strength? I’m not sure that’s how it really is but the thought played in my mind today.

I want my sabbatical to be about an increased sense of God’s presence, not a lessening of it. As a teacher, all week long I cry out to God in my classroom because I’m in situations that are far beyond me, dealing with hearts and lives that I don’t always have wisdom to deal with. I’m very aware of how much I need God.

It’s not comfortable to be in that kind of need. Sometimes I feel a little left out to dry when things don’t go well. God is faithful. I recognize this and believe it to be true but in desperate times sometimes we are called to cling and to hold onto even if things don’t get any easier for us.

I want to make sure that even if I take myself out of the classroom, even if I put myself more in situations that are in a sense easier for me, like being home and having time and not having to deal with hoards of children all day long that I still have to cling and hold on to God.

If we make our lives too easy…to secure…to sheltered we lessen our need of God. I don’t want to do that.

We all need havens and shelters in the storm and I consider Thanksgiving break a good one for me because when I walk into school tomorrow I walk into five programs in the next two weeks. I will have great need of God. I just think that maybe I need to be careful how much I desire the haven and the shelter.

One time I thought about being a pastor. I even talked with my pastor about it. Was trying to puzzle it out in my brain, wondering if this was a direction God wanted to take me in. I started to think that maybe I just wanted to do that because it would be so much easier than teaching. If I change occupation though for any reason…I know this, I don’t want it to be just about Ruth trying to make things easier for herself. I know I can learn contentment too in all situations. For the most part, on most days I have.

I was just reminded today thinking about Paul in prison writing the book of Philippians on joy and denial and taking up one’s cross and being content and not being anxious about anything and doing all thing through Christ that, I know this is the life I want too.

I want to sense God’s presence at all times, in all ways, in all things. I want to always be aware of my desperation before God. Someone shared in church today about their desperation and my pastor said true words…”We are all desperate. None of us deserves a thing.”

I know for me I will be tempted to meet our every little need as a family on a whim without waiting if I let myself live that way when I’m not working. I can’t do it when I work fulltime. I don’t have the time or ability to do it. But even when I’m not I don’t want our every need to be met so easily and quickly. There is something beautiful about waiting, about having holes, about needing God. And I don’t want God to feel that I must learn that lesson the hard way. In times of plenty I want to be just as aware of Him.

Yes my house is warm, and our tummies are full and our pantry is stocked and things are pleasing to the eye and heart…I’m grateful and this warmth and love, peace and joy is worthy of celebration. But I still desperately need God. For my very next breath. And God, even when their are holes and we are in over our head and things are not right and at peace in my home I want to just as equally realize my desperate need of You. For my very next breath.

The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Does anyone else feel this way?

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Out of the last 9 days I’ve had 8 days off from work. Well…actually I made it 9 days by taking two sick days.

I’ve had time with family. Time doing stuff. Time shopping. Time decorating. Time rearranging. Time sleeping, a lot lately because honestly being sick that seemed like the best plan. I’ve had time to read and catch up on tv a little. Time to Facebook and email, and blog read and read an occasional news article. Time to catch a movie (Skyfall…by the way, it was great in a james bond kind of way:). Time to work and time to rest. Time for quiet, alone time and time with my girls.

But there’s been this kind of nagging thought/question going on in my brain all the while. I read a book this week about children being sold into child prostitution. I guess I knew this was going on but it seemed really remote and far away. I read the book and then sat with my girls and listened to them play music in their new music room and tried to reconcile how it is that we have all that we have while children are being sold into forced sex and imprisonment/torture.

I read a blog this week about a woman…Kate from “kisses with Kate” and she told about just one day in her life and the tragedy she deals with in Africa every day is astounding to me. I believe she’s in her twenties. As a young lady she chose to go there, chose to make her home there and to pour our her entire life there for the sake of Christ. I read just one of her days…a day that is probably like many, many others and I couldn’t reconcile my daily life with hers.

Am I doing this thing wrong?

Should it concern me? Is it enough to sponsor children and tithe and support missionaries? Is it enough to give as needs are made known and even offer gifts as I have done this week on facebook even before a need is expressed? What is enough anyway? When children are starving and Christians are being imprisoned and worse, and people are dying from infections that they shouldn’t be dying from…when people have no shelter, no place of safety what is required of me…what is expected…if I was to talk with God face to face today…what would we talk about and how would He feel about how I live my life and how over half the world lives theres and how do I reconcile the two?

Does anyone else struggle with this?

I go to Target…yesterday three times in one morning. I try to live a budgeted life and make good choices and by some standards I think I am succeeding but if you look at a good part of the world…my standards come up lacking.

I found myself talking to God this morning just wanting Him to do it all for me, He just tell me what I should do and where I should be and how my life should be exactly because then I could just live a life where I would be assured I’m not screwing up. But that’s not quite how this thing works.

He gives me an incredible amount of freedom. Freedom to put my family first. That’s a popular phrase these days. Is it God honoring…I’m not totally sure. It sounds American. I have freedom to spend money, and freedom to eat, and freedom to plan out my schedule. I love freedom. Normally I fight hard to be free and can’t wait to be free. Hence this blog. But every once in awhile I kind of wish He would give me less freedom in the event that I might be screwing up this freedom thing.

It’s not a formula though. God doesn’t draw me a plan or make a list that I can cross off and feel good about. God just wants me to available anytime for anything. A week ago it was a sleeping bag to a homeless person. This past week I gave away a fullsize bed/boxspring to a single mom and mailed littlest pet shop toys at my expense to another single mom. I also gave away two razor scooters to a friend.

I also picked up trash in my neighborhood. I’m gonna just admit, I didn’t do it with a good attitude. I did it out of annoyance that again trash is blowing down my road on trash day because I have a neighbor who puts loose trash out to the road. It’s a small thing…but even in that I had to struggle to just love and pick it up without judgement.

I’m finding that it’s really hard, incredibly hard to know what is enabling a person and what is loving a person well and if I’m supposed to be trying to figure that out anyway.

I have a sign above my kitchen sink that says “Forgive everyone, everything”. Sometimes when I read that sign I feel like it’s far to extravagant. I mean everybody…everything…what if they’re never sorry, or never learn their lesson?? But I’m reminded that grace is at it’s very definition undeserved and extravagant.

Part of me feels like things should be fair and even in this world so that their are no have’s and have nots and a good part of me is terrified at that thought because I know I would be on the losing end. But I admit I struggle with how to reconcile the whole thing. I have this nagging feeling that there will be an accounting someday. I know there will be…

Does anyone else feel this way?

I admit that guilt and conviction come easy for me. It’s my upbringing…it’s my heart. I easily feel tender hearted, convicted, and want to do/be what ever God wants me to do/be. Sometimes it’s hard for me to take my gut and heart, my schedule and finances, my family and my home, my career and church and everything else and get everything in sync. Sometimes I feel a bit of split personality going on. Part of me wants to live really radically and on the edge and part of me wants to make sure I’m making plans and looking toward my future and my girls’ future because I know they are relying on me and I have no one else to lean back on.

At the end of the day I know all I can really do is be open and try to listen and obey.

I just want my life to count for something more than living the American dream.