Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Saturday, December 05, 2009

My Grace is Sufficient

This past Monday I was privileged to attend an event to mark the 25th Anniversary of the disappearance of Candace Derksen.  I have been in the same circles with her parents for several years.  Three years ago I became involved with The Ministry of Listening.  Since then I have become closer to the Derksen family.

One of the people at the gathering quoted this verse:

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Cor 12:9, NIV 

We did a sharing circle where each person shared how they were part of the story.  There were many different people there.  Some knew Candace and were involved in supporting the Derksen’s through Candace’s murder.  Others have become part of their lives more recently.  Everyone had a story to tell.

It was abundantly clear was that there was a lot of pain in the room.  Many tears were shed.  Yet it was also clear that God’s grace had shone through.  I am sure it didn’t always seem like it at the time but with the benefit of 25 years of hindsight, it is clear that God has and continues to weave a powerful story.

I couldn’t help but think of my own life.  The Derksen’s were part of helping me get through a time when I had trouble believing God would intervene in my life.  The timing of the event was perfect.  The next day I had a major stressor removed from my life.  That very day the physical symptoms I have been struggling with, the major fatigue to the point of dizziness, have almost disappeared.  And when I realized that looking back in hindsight, God has brought me through the past several years.  I am grateful that the verse was mentioned because I realized that God’s grace had been sufficient for me all along.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

November


So I haven’t posted for a while. The reason is mainly that I am writing a book in November. I am participating in a challenge where you write a novel in 30 days. It has been an amazing time. I am so enjoying not only the book but working out. I challenged myself to workout 32 times in the months of October and November. That works out to just a little less than 4 times per week. I wanted to give myself a buffer.


I decided that if I did that I would buy a camera. I was going to buy the camera anyway but this would give me something to strive for and time to figure out exactly what I wanted. I had a setback in October with the infection. The buffer didn’t cover taking a week and a half off of working out. So I moved the date back.


The novel has been going well. As of today I have written over 30,000 words which is today’s target. I have been enjoying my workouts as well. I have been amazed to discover that November has not been so bad this year. The autumn that I feared hasn’t been an issue. Although I know the wonderful weather we are having has definitely helped, I also know that feeling like I have had a direction has helped even more.


Then yesterday I was thrown a bit of a curve ball. Well I can’t really say it’s a curve ball. I should have seen it coming but I have been ignoring it. My workouts have become increasingly difficult. Apparently I still have some recovery to do from the infection so I have to take a break from working out. I am benched for two weeks.


I was surprised to find that I was extremely upset that I couldn’t work out. It has become really important for managing stress. It’s not about a camera. It’s about wanting to do something important. It’s about wanting to strive to be better.


I realized last night that I need to be careful about my goals. Yes, I need to strive to be better. My goals are good ones and I believe that God has no problem with them. Yet I need to remember that I can’t carry myself on my own strength. I can accomplish all things through Christ who strengthens me. I need to trust that things will get better. I also need to remember to turn to Him to help me carry my burdens.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Endurance


Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. (Jam 1:2-3 NLT )


I struggle with verses like this. You can find many of them in the bible. What they all have in common is this sense that we should all be excited about our problems. Maybe I'm just a cynic or maybe it's just my life experience but I really don't think that that's what these verses are about. Yesterday I read this scripture in a new way. It came to life for me when I thought about what I've been experiencing the past few days.


I’m no longer sick with my infection. Having the infection derailed me from the things I've been trying to do. I found it difficult to get back on track. I've been overwhelmed at work and not dealing with my stress well. I'm really tired and the reality is that huge part of me wants to give up. That scares me.

I think often when people read this verse or even when some teach about they think it means "suck it up. " Today I read it as " don't give up". You see I think it can be really discouraging to hear that we should embrace our pain. But when I read this that's not what I hear. What I hear is a resounding " keep going, you can do it, it'll get better if you just keep trying".


It's not really the falling down that we need to take joy in. It's the getting up. For that is the hope of Christ.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Being Real


Last week I got a very large zit on my forehead just above my eyebrow. It sucked because I was actually feeling pretty good but I was self conscious about the zit which seemed to be turning into a boil. I thought about the Book of Job, especially the point where Job was afflicted with boils. Up until last week I hadn’t thought about that very much but the one infection on my skin was causing the lymph nodes on my neck to swell and become hard. I was feeling miserable. I only had one.


Later in the week the rest of left side of my face began to swell. My eye almost swelled shut by Wednesday morning. After waiting several hours to see a doctor at the Urgent Care Centre the doctor diagnosed me with facial cellulitis. I was placed on IV antibiotics and I was told I would have to return to the IV clinic daily for further treatment.


I know I will get better. And I refuse to let this derail me from the things I am trying to do – work out, be a light to others, continue to serve. Yet I am tired and sick. The side effects of the oral antibiotics I am taking are unpleasant (we’ll leave it at that.) I need to be honest about how I am feeling and I need to rest. So perhaps this is just a few days to pause and that’s okay.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Now What?


I went to a seminar this past weekend called Pure Heart. The seminar was lead by some people from the International House of Prayer. It was an amazing weekend and I had miraculous experience when someone prayed over me. I didn’t know her and yet the things she prayed were about issues I had never really discussed with anyone – never mind this young woman I had never met.


It was amazing. I knew that God had sent her and provided her with the prayer so that I could see God in the places of my deepest hurt. I should be jumping for joy. Yet the past few days have been difficult. I find myself tired, weary, and sad. I don’t know what I am supposed to do with all of it.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Purity


This morning I was scheduled to give a short testimony to support The Ministry of Listening. I received an email from our pastor the other day that I was on page 3 of his teaching. I was curious because I thought that my testimony had something to do with his topic. Imagine my surprise when I looked at the Weekly (our version of a church bulletin) and saw that the topic was purity!


One of the things I am trying to shed about my identity is that I feel like I am the queen of inconsistency. One day I will be on fire for Jesus. It seems like a few days later I will appear to have forgotten Jesus exists. One of the things I learned this summer is that I need to let go of that belief.


When I went up during the first gathering this morning I actually asked the pastor, “how did I end up in the teaching on living in purity.” He laughed and basically said he didn’t know. But as the teaching went on he came back to my question (thank goodness or I would feel a little low.) As I listened to the teaching a second time I began to realize how much of my story is about becoming pure.


As I write this blog I do so with a bit of a cringe because I know purity isn’t a popular concept in our culture. But the truth is that when I confessed my sin and was cleansed this summer everything changed for me. I am living in purity. I can’t claim to be without sin. No one can. What I am referring to is not living in a state of intentional disobedience.


One thing I took away from this morning is that living in purity is not about running away from sin. It is about running toward God. Over the past several weeks I have seen the fruit of that in my life. Thank you Jesus.

Friday, September 25, 2009

God’s got me…

I went out for lunch with my friend today.  I was talking about the many happenings in my life.  There are challenges as always but I said, God’s got me.  She remarked that she didn’t remember hearing me saying that before.  She’s probably right.

If I had to characterize the change in myself over the past several weeks I would say that it has been my constant awareness of that fact.  What I have noticed is that it is giving me courage to move forward with a lot of things.  I find that I have a greater creativity and ability to solve problems at work.  I have started to work out this week.  I signed up to write an entire novel in the month of November (note that blog posts will probably go down.)  Knowing that God has you, makes life pretty exciting and gives you seemingly limitless possibilities.

Friday, September 18, 2009

The Pursuit of Happiness


This week I have been posting a simple status on Facebook. Misty is happy. It’s amazing the kind of response you get when you post you are happy. Many people click ‘like’, others comment. I think that is the status I have seen the most response on.


A friend of mine acknowledged my courage for actually posting that I was happy. To declare that one is happy seems to invite disaster. I posted last year about just that. But this year it doesn’t seem to be as courageous….


I think that it is because this time I have learned something. It is okay to fight for happiness. You see I pursuing happiness by going after material things or avoiding things that are hard. It is just the opposite. I am paying attention to this mended heart of mine. When it is hurting I am reaching out. I am praying for guidance. I am leaning on my friends.


You see last week was a challenge for me. I felt this sense of lingering sadness. Instead of hiding I reached out. I prayed. I talked to people I trusted. I asked others to pray for me. At the end of the week I was blessed by someone who released me from a burden I was carrying. So this week, I am happy. And I am going to fight to be happy…

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Mended Hearts


I learned this weekend that a healed heart is a tender one. I have found that being more fully alive means that I notice things. I notice those little hurts that used to sneak there way into my heart without my knowing. I notice when I am reacting to something someone says that triggers me and reminds me of my past. Instead of numbing my feelings in various ways, my heart serves of an early warning system. It is hard to ignore.


It is a paradox that in my vulnerability I feel stronger for the most part. I know that this is probably because my tender heart knows it needs God and goes there sooner. I have to admit this past weekend was a difficult one. But I know Jesus was walking with me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A time to…


a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance


Ecclesiastes 3:4, NIV



On Sunday I attended an event for some friends who were about to go through a very difficult time. As part of the invitation we were asked to share words of encouragement with them. So I prepared my card, made some food to share, and went to the event. What was interesting was that somehow we ended up going around the circle and sharing about the times we had each suffered most. It wasn’t really heavy at all. People were extremely vulnerable and we seemed to have a mutual shared spiritual space. What was amazing was that the evening was filled with laughter and joy.


In the morning I was praying for my friends and somehow the weight of what they were about to go through hit me. I wept for them. It seemed important that I had share that with them so I sent them a note to let them know I was thinking about them and weeping with them.


I think it is important to share one another’s burdens. Sometimes that means we laugh (even during the times when it seems impossible) and sometimes we cry.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fair Weather

Usually this time of year I start feeling anxious. I wonder if I will be able to cope with the demands of a fall and winter schedule. This year is different. I am excited about re-engaging community. I can’t wait to see what God has for me.

As I have been pondering this, a frightening thought has come to mind. What happens when the weather changes? What happens if I get depressed? How will I deal with that?

I don’t think that depression is something I have ever directly admitted on my blog. I have struggled with depression on and off since I was a teenager. One particularly bad winter I spent several months sleeping on the floor instead of my bed. It went undiagnosed until one year in my mid-twenties a friend of mine who is a nurse said she thought I was depressed.

I have struggled with being a Christian who has depression. There are many in Christian circles who think it is a sin to be depressed – a form of bondage. They think that depression is always some sort of spiritual flaw and that the depressed person just needs to believe more or differently. The terrible thing is that I can be my own worst enemy in this area.

About eighteen months ago I decided I was cured from depression. I believed that I had found the ‘spiritual formula' to stay out of it. So last fall when I recognized that I was depressed, it shattered my faith. I started going to church infrequently and then stopped going all-together for three months. I was caught up in sin and miserable.

I so want this year to be different. Typically around October or November I start struggling with depression to some degree. I AM going to pray for God to shield me from depression. Someone once advised me that instead of focusing all of my energy trying to get out of or avoid depression I need to figure out how to cope with it. Many of the things I figured out then are still helpful today. Yet I think God has more for me and there are more things I need when I am depressed. Maybe the beginning is naming it, and being honest now – while I have a surplus of emotional energy.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Veggie Tales


I am reading Wide Awake by Erwin McManus. I started reading it earlier in the summer and I put it aside. I wasn’t ready for it. The book is all about living the life God has set out for you – not settling for monotony.


I started reading the book again yesterday. I got to the chapter on adapting and it hit me right where I am. McManus mentions the stories of Esther and Daniel so I decided to read the book of Esther.


As McManus points out and I confirmed in my reading Esther was really in a bad spot. Her parents die when she is young and then she is taken away from her family to spend a year being prepared to sleep with the king. I imagine what that year was like. I wondered what those beauty treatments where like for Esther. I am guessing it wasn’t like being at the spa. And for her to spend a year thinking about having sex with the king must have been terrifying and somewhat sickening for her.


Yet she becomes queen. She saves the Jews. She follows God. She listens to wise counsel…


I read the Bible in a very different way yesterday. I realized I had romanticized the story. Perhaps this is because Veggie Tales was my first experience of it. Reading the story in Scripture really made it come alive for me. I felt a kinship with Esther. My belief that God will use me even in my brokenness seems to have more substance than before.

Fasting

*** I wrote this on paper yesterday and I am typing it out today***


I have a prayer evening to go to tonight. The organizer encouraged people to enter some kind of fast during the day. They were fasting from music during their nine hour drive here and throughout the day today. I decided that I would fast from entertainment – namely the computer, tv, and reading fiction.


Lately I have really been questioning how I spend my time. To be honest I spend a lot of time on Facebook and I hate it. Facebook just seems to be a way for me to be on the outside of a whole bunch of people’s lives looking in. The newest trend on Facebook seems to be putting up bizarre , obscure, or statuses only insiders understand. At best they clutter my home page and at worst they make me feel like I am back in junior high watching the popular crowd.


I have over two hundred friends on Facebook. I know all of them but the reality is not all of them are close connections for me. So why spend copious amounts of time monitoring it? I love people’s pictures. Sometimes the status updates do keep me connected. Still I have a lot of friends who I could have over or go for coffee with instead of wasting time on Facebook.


When I woke up this morning everything became a status update in my head. I wanted to check my email, look up stuff on the web, check the weather. When I made breakfast this morning it seemed like I should turn on the TV while I was eating. I know I turn to these things instead of God.


I decided to read one of the many non-fiction resources I keep putting aside to watch TV, play with the computer, or read a novel. You know what? I learned something. It prompted me to read a book of the Bible.


And now as I sit writing out a blog post to type out after I break the fast I wonder what to take from this experience. I enjoy television often but I don’t need the television to be on to eat a meal. Facebook is a good tool for connecting but it doesn’t have to be open all of the time. Fiction is good and important but easy reads are not the only thing I need.


So maybe I don’t need to get rid of my television and computer or burn my books. Perhaps learning to keep them in their proper place is the key. This day has been a gift already. It is something I plan to do as often as I can. I wonder if I can do it every Saturday…

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Shine


A few weeks ago my pastor taught a sermon called ‘How to Find a Wife.’ He discussed many things that single people should be looking for. He wanted men to be called to a higher standard. He focused on all of the things men who are looking for a woman should be. Often he will receive text messages during the service and answer people’s questions. One woman asked him something to the effect of ‘so I am supposed to just wait until God is finished preparing a guy for me…’ His answer after some thought was, ‘it is a woman’s job to shine.’


Okay seriously, shine? I carried that with me for some time. I was feeling pretty lacklustre at the time. How does one become shiny? I remember bringing this up in the small group at the conference last week. Suddenly the answer became apparent. When I am resting in God, I shine.


Since I have come home from the conference I have been quite ill. I have had a flu that has kept me at home for the most part. Even with my physical illness I have felt something glowing inside of me. Yesterday I started feeling better and I shared with a couple of people over e-mail what had happened at the conference. Their responses were amazing. It was clear that I was shinning for them. That makes me so happy.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Dance


When I was a little girl I would spend hours in the basement dancing. This past week I was reminded of that many times as several people who were attending the conference I was at had some kind of vision of me dancing. The thing was I had the same vision before they did. So last night when the worship leader suggested that he needed some ballerina’s, I took my chance. I danced with all of the grace I could muster. I twirled, pirouetted, skipped back and forth. The people there shared my joy. I feel like a new woman. One who is living as the woman God created her to be.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Windows


When I lived in my house the blinds were closed the vast majority of the time. The main reason for this was that I lived on a busy street and the bus stop was in front of my house. I didn’t want people staring in at me while I was on the couch watching television. To some extent I think I also wanted to hide away from the world. Interestingly it was only when I was showing my house to sell it that I figured out that the amount of light that came into the house was one of its’ best selling features.


Now I am living in the condo my blinds are open in the living room most of the time. I like to let the light in but I also enjoy being able to see out. I have a beautiful view of the river and downtown. Even in the winter I like being able to see the weather and look down into the parking lot to see how much snow is on the cars and how many people have ventured out.


I have been thinking that having the blinds open is kind of a metaphor for my life. Sometimes I don’t let people see in. But in order to get the light in, I have to open the blinds. There is a poem somewhere about opening the blinds to let God into those dark places in our hearts, I’ll have to find it.


Several of my friends have been quite vulnerable in their blogs lately. I am inspired by their honestly. I it an honour to read posts that reveal so much about someone’s heart. Right now I am feeling like I need to open the blind to God first. Stay tuned…

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Worthy

For the summer our church is having services on Thursday in addition to Sunday.  I always tend to go for the smaller more intimate gatherings.  So when I found out they were having a Thursday gathering I offered to help.  I am doing the media (running the software that puts the worship songs and pastor’s presentation) for the summer.  It feels really good to be involved again.

We had a guest speaker who was talking about communion.  He talked about how some people, especially those who grew up in the church, struggle with taking communion when they don’t feel like they have it all together.  That feeling is based on the following scripture:

Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. (1Cor11:27, NIV) 

The speaker argued that the passage is not referring to sin or struggle or doubt.  He said a lot of good things but the thing that stuck out for me was to think of the opposite.  Could we ever think we are worthy to go to the table?  I laughed out loud.  How could we ever possibly feel worthy of eating of the body and drinking of the blood of Christ?

I have never struggled with taking communion.  I have always been part of a church that taught we should be taking communion when we are struggling.  But when I think about the symbolism of communion I have to step back.  Accepting the gift of Jesus’ unconditional love is something I struggle with.  I have fallen.  I have turned away.  I walk with a sense of guilt and trepidation.  But how could I ever be worthy?

Monday, July 06, 2009

A Strange Sort of Wonderful


I am wondering about certainty. There is a book called The Myth of Certainty that claims no one can be certain of God’s existence or attributes. The author claims that at best our search for God is like looking through a fog.

I know people who act as if they are certain. Their relationship with God is as if He is in the room with them. They just seem to have this natural ability to trust Him, they seem to get what exactly it means to ‘rest in Him.’

Sometimes I feel like I have some sort of defect that doesn’t allow me to unquestioningly trust in God’s promises. Yet the Bible says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. So what does that mean? What is the purpose of my lack of steadfastness? Or do I even trust enough to believe that I am wonderfully made?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Christian Grief


Today my pastor taught about grieving. It is a subject that is near to me. I lost some people close to me at a fairly early age. My losses came before I was a Christian so I don’t share the assurances that others might of a promise of heaven. I used to think grief was harder for me because I didn’t have that. Yet somehow I at least get permission to grieve in the Christian community. Others can be assaulted by well meaning comments. I could list some of them but when my pastor did it made me physically ill… You can insert your own comment.

So how is the response of a Christian different from that of a non-Christian? I think of it as the courage to grieve. When my mom passed away we did everything to avoid the pain. In a lot of ways we didn’t allow each other to express that pain. My sister-in-law put up a ‘no tears’ sign on her door. We didn’t have a funeral for my mom and that is probably the single greatest regret of my life.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Faith


I have been thinking a lot about faith lately. It feels like there is some magic formula God has not given me yet. I want to move forward. I want to be steadfast in my faith but somehow it seems to elude me over and over. I have this general sense of fear when I walk around. I don’t feel grounded at all right now.

This morning I received an email from a friend who I haven’t talked to in a while. She said that she had asked God for someone to pray for and she sensed God put me on her heart. She had a vision that was very powerful and meaningful for me. I believed her and I believed God can and did do that for me. He spoke to me in a powerful way – that is enough faith for today.

But God didn’t stop there. My friend Lisa did a blog post about my blog. She talked about the title. The title comes from the message version of Matthew 11:28 and I hung on to that when I went through a crisis of faith 5 years ago. I am not necessarily tired of religion but I am tired of myself. I am tired of trying and striving for things that are empty and have no meaning.

There’s no magic formula. Just the unforced rhythms of grace.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Charley's Web


I have been reading this book called Charley’s Web by Joy Fielding. I purchased it as a light summer read and I have found that I have loved it. The book is a thriller about a woman who is asked to write a book about a babysitter who is convicted of violently murdering three children. Charley is also receiving death threats to her and her children.

What I love about the book is that Charley, who previously had few connections, is forced to trust and reconnect with those around her. The relationships aren’t perfect and some of them are not easy but she has to learn to rely on them (don’t worry I haven’t given you any information that isn’t on the back of the book.)

I think the reason that I love the book so much is that I can identify with it. I have slowly let people into my life over the past several years but I still had a lot of trouble asking for help. Since I had my surgery last year I have grown closer to family members, especially my Dad. He helped me move and has been much more a part of my life since last year. I have been really blessed by that.

And as for asking for help, I am getting better at that too. Yesterday I was in terrible pain and I needed to go to the hospital. Rather than taking a cab I called until I found someone to take me. I’m okay now. Maybe God was just showing me something new about myself (and the pain medication was really helpful.)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Where to Start


Where to start… I really don’t know what to say in this post except that I know it is time to start blogging. I guess I need to start at the beginning. The beginning for me is why I haven’t been blogging.

My blog is mostly about spiritual things or my spiritual walk. To be honest for the past few months I haven’t had much of a spiritual walk. When people would ask me why I couldn’t really tell them for sure. I would site that I was angry. I was frustrated that life wasn’t working out the way I thought it should. Somehow that answer didn’t even satisfy me. The ironic thing is I needed to go back to church to figure it out.

I figured out that it has nothing to do with not believing in God. Although I was angry I knew I was past that a long time ago. The issue was that walking this walk began to seem somewhat pointless. It didn’t seem to make a difference in my life anymore. So many things were still crappy. I was tired and the extra effort of calling out to God just didn’t seem worth it. I knew God intervened in other people’s lives but I didn’t believe He would intervene in mine any longer.

I have started to realize that even though things aren’t working out for me so well, the alternative has been worse. Nothing terrible has happened. It is just that life has seemed lonely and empty without the journey. So I am slowly getting back on it.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

I need to acknowledge my grief today but I am afraid to. For a few months I have been living in this fragile equilibrium. I am living on the surface – not wanting to go too deep. Now it’s the Friday before Mother’s Day. Part of me just wants to let numbness set in. I could just go to sleep, forget about it for a while. But I know it would just come back in the morning.

I was thinking the other day about what I would buy my Mom this year if she were alive. It would be cool to spoil her on Sunday. She would chastise me for spending so much. We would pretend to argue. Secretly she would be thrilled and I would see her using whatever her gift was over and over. She would talk to her friends about what I gave her.

My Mom would be proud of me – I hope. I can’t say that she would agree with all of my choices. My Mom didn’t believe in God. She would tease me about being a Bible Thumper, going to hang out with the other Bible Thumpers. But I think she would see it made me happy. Maybe it would intrigue her enough to come with me. Who knows…

I do know she would be proud of me for graduating and having a good job. So much of that is because of her. Mom sacrificed so much for me. She supported me in a middle class neighborhood on a waitress’ salary and child support. I was an ungrateful teenager sometimes – thinking that moving to my dad’s would make life easier.

I can see so much of my Mom in me. People tell me I am courageous and resilient. My Mom taught me that. I have an ability to solve problems that comes naturally, my Mom taught me that. I try to be a quiet, gentle, but strong presence in people’s lives in times of trouble. My Mom taught me that.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Grace


Last week a friend of mine asked me if I believed that God wanted good things for me? The question was not an accusation or coming from some sort of prosperity gospel. The question stayed with me all day and into the evening. I had to respond, that if I were being honest, I would say no. I mean I could quote Scripture that says God does want good things for me. I have seen God do good things for me. Yet I could not be authentic in saying I believed God wanted to bless me given the way I had been acting and feeling. She went on to ask if I had been praying, well no if I don’t believe God wants good things for me praying doesn’t really make sense. She ended the conversation with the statement, ‘there doesn’t seem to be a lot of grace in your day.’

That evening I had the Ministry of Listening. I am part of a team now. So before the evening actually starts we listen to each other so we can sort of clear ourselves to be available and fully present. It was the first time I actually told anyone from beginning to end what I have been experiencing or how I feel. It has been difficult to talk about because there is no big crisis. I have just been disappointed by stepping out in faith and falling over and over.

That day was the beginning of something for me. I can’t say I am all of a sudden on fire for God. I haven’t had some huge insight that made the clouds clear. Yet somehow the power of speaking that experience out loud to a couple of people put it in context. I haven’t made any huge steps. However I am realizing that even though life is hard and I am disappointed, I need help to make it through it. I am pleased to report that this week there has been a little bit more grace in my day.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bleh


I have started to write a blog post at least three times now. I have some ideas of what to say but when I start writing nothing that ends up on the page seems to come out coherently. I don’t know how to characterize how I feel, my spiritual life, my physical health, or even everything that is going on in my life other than say ‘bleh.’ There is no big crisis in my life. Yet everyday, normal life seems difficult. On some level I feel like I am just existing. I just get by day to day. Part of me wants to resign to just surviving, the other part of me is fighting that because going beyond just surviving is what I believe God created me for.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

What Happens in Vegas


“But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the LORD is with us, why has all this happened to us?” (Judges 6:13, NIV)

I read Judges 6 when I was in Las Vegas on vacation. My first thought about this was how much just about anyone could relate to the question. My second thought was my surroundings in Vegas. When you walk down the Vegas strip there are rows of people in t-shirts for 1-800-girl-4-u trying to get you to take their little pamphlets. People often go to Vegas to escape the rules. They overeat, carry open liquor legally. What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas right?

Then I thought about my own circumstances. I was with my family. I was grateful for that but also yearned for it to be less difficult, less complicated. My foot was acting up again which made things really hard. Anyone who has been to Vegas knows that there is a lot of walking involved. Once you are in a hotel, it is next to impossible to get back out until you have walked through the whole thing in the most indirect route possible.

I have been thinking about this passage of the Bible today and I have to admit my heart cries out with the question. I have no doubt that God exists or even that He intervenes in the life of others. But today, life is harder. And I get frustrated with myself that my faith is sometimes so wavering. But that is how I feel today. On the bright side, I know that I won’t feel that way everyday. And I know that Gideon felt that way too.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Testing


Yesterday at church our pastor taught about testing. I really don’t like that concept or want to think about it. Yet it seems that the Bible is pretty clear that God tests us. So I can’t keep running away from that fact. The other reason is that I began to get the sense as I was listening that perhaps I had been tested in November and December – and failed.

So why would a loving, all knowing God test us? I mean God knows my heart. He knit me in my inner most being. God knew I would fail so why would He test me? Then the answer came to me. Next time maybe I won’t fail. Or maybe it will be the next time after that. Eventually I will be strong enough to withstand the trial.

I took a course on how to study before I started university. One of the things I learned from the course was that the best way to study was to test yourself. The method I used was to make a list of questions. By doing that, I was rarely surprised by any question on the test. I actually learned way more content than was tested.

I wonder if I had recognized that I was being testing if I would have acted differently. Maybe next time…

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Be Real


I was watching my pastor’s teaching online today because I had missed the service on Sunday and I thought I should catch up. I have to admit that I often find ‘vision’ services annoying and something I put up with because I am a part of a church body. I knew that the teaching had something to do with vision because I had seen the first little bit a couple of days ago. I watched the rest and it intrigued me.

What I heard was that he characterized his vision for Soul Sanctuary as being real. I had to stop. Most people would probably say that I had that down pat… I mean I post honest and authentic articles to my blog. I am approachable and easy to talk to. I don’t pretend to be okay when I’m not. Still I sense a challenge in that.

To be honest about being honest… I am selective about what I share. Sometimes that is because it is not wise to post some details to the internet. However, more often that not it is because I don’t want to talk about something or admit something. There is often a long lag in posting to my blog because I don’t want to post until I have come out of something. Maybe that’s okay but I also tend to distance myself from others when I feel that way too.

Even when I do finally share I noticed that I tended to smooth out the rough edges. Instead of talking about sin I talked about darkness. I talked about making bad choices to deal with my pain. I never admitted that I made a series of choices. I never admitted when I was going through it that I was being tempted.

Even beyond the honesty in being real, I sense a greater challenge. Being real is also about being authentic. There was a list of questions in the teaching. Are you praying, are you reading scripture, are you worshipping, are you giving, are you in community? I have to say that I have not been doing all of those things consistently.

In the fall I had a vision of a group of people who would strive to be disciples together. They would pray together, they would lift each other up. They would confess sin. They would have words for each other. They would be reaching out to others outside of the group. That is my prayer for Soul Sanctuary. My prayer for myself is that God would use me somehow to make that happen.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Be Still


So as I mentioned in my last post I have started to read the Bible every day. My routine is to read first thing when I get up. Before I went back to work I had a nice routine of getting up, making tea, then sitting down to read the Bible. Of course I was pretty well rested by that time too. Now I am getting up really early so I can be into work early. AND I am making sure the read the Bible.

The thing is that I find the quality of this time is much diminished from when I was reading when I had the luxury of not reading at 6am. Now I read much in a fog and I was starting to doubt if there was a point. Yet this morning God shone through again. I was reading the story of Moses when I came to this verse:

“The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.” Exodus 14:14, NIV

I have been moving forward by changing residences and by waiting for God’s direction in ministry. That has been very difficult and I went through a tough time. Last night I met with a friend who offered me an opportunity to be part of a ministry that I think will be fulfilling and brings me nearer to who Jesus wants me to be. I am excited about finally moving forward. You see God asked Moses and the Israelites to move in big ways. But He also asked them to be still. I could see that in my own life.

In November I sensed God telling me to just wait – that He had something for me. But I was restless to the point of wondering if there was anything left for me to hope for. I gave up to a certain extent. And God has rescued me. I have many reflections on what I have learned... about how I got to where I did. But I am also excited to move forward.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Psalm 103


Psalm 103:1-22 (NLT)
A psalm of David.

Praise the Lord, I tell myself;
with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
[2] Praise the Lord, I tell myself,
and never forget the good things he does for me.
[3] He forgives all my sins
and heals all my diseases.
[4] He ransoms me from death
and surrounds me with love and tender mercies.


So it’s been a long time since I last posted. I even had a really hard time writing my Christmas letter. I got it in just under the wire. My Christmas cards went out late so a bunch of people probably got them after Christmas. I was trying, then I stopped trying, then I started trying again.

Throughout this time God has sent people to rescue me. Particularly one day, right at one of my darkest moments, someone showed up at my door. They didn’t go away when I didn’t answer. They pulled me up. That day I purchased a new Bible and I came across this Psalm. I have been reading the Bible every day since. I have been holding onto this Psalm because this is who God is.