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Archive for August, 2008

grace

Was reminded of a quote on a friend’s blog…

There’s nothing we can do to make God love us any less. There’s nothing we can do to make God love us more.

– Philip Yancey

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in a smashing pumpkins’ mood…one of their songs just came on…aptly reflects my demeanor.

to say i’m having a rough time would be an understatement.

to say God is always faithful is a reality.

sometimes i just need someone to hold me.

sometimes i wish God had physical arms.

but taking one day at a time.

it’s been one of the hardest but also one of the best weeks this year to date.

and i said “goodbye to you…”

anyway. not sure how to cry out for help when your friends seem too preoccupied to notice or really care.  not sure how to bluntly say “i need to be taken care of right now.”

i’m rarely in a position of being able to ask for help, so to do so implicitly and be turned down is painful and frustrating. but it’s life.

and i have to be strong for those who look to me, too…so i want to find those spaces where i can cry. where i can be weak.  not that i am putting on an act.  i purpose to be transparent with my students, and in the midst of meetings and such, have let them know where i stand…a quick update…but the reality is…life goes on and i have to pull it together enough to lead well regardless of what the state of my heart is.  God’s grace is sufficient to get me through those times.

God has given me enough strength and energy and fortitude to be able to that this week.

but it’s been a demanding week.

i’m looking forward to monday, my next true day of rest.

especially because the next few weeks are going to be crazy.

tonight is the celebration service for my friend.  it’s going to be tough.  i wanted to find someone to drive with (it’s an hour away) to help process things in the car but no one is available.

i suppose this is what it’s all about – it has to be me and God.  this is where the rubber hits the road.  this is where faith is put to the test, eh? not that i’m questioning God’s goodness or sovereignty…been there, done that years ago when i lost Dad…but on an emotional level, it is difficult.  and the questions of “why” still swirl around.  or not even “why” but…rather…”how much longer, Jesus, must we go through this before you restore things and make things right?” this pain at times seems too much.

i cannot imagine the pain of losing your spouse or your boyfriend.  and having to adjust to life afterwards.  i don’t want to see my loved ones having to walk down that road.

and this is just one thing on my heart this week.

in the midst of it all, i’ve been pulling 11 – 13 hour work days necessarily, so i’m just a tired girl today.

and life marches on.  doesn’t stop.

and with a deep breath, i plunge back into the realities of day-to-day life.

praying for God to continue to carry me through this time.

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long day

Today, a friend went home to Jesus. He was just a few years older than me.

Grieving for those left behind.

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complex

I have a love/hate relationship for watching sports…I cannot watch any kind of game without being 100% engaged which means I rarely watch because I’m not willing to devote the needed time…but when I do catch a game…I’m on the edge of my seat…and immediately, upon celebrating with whichever team I’m rooting for when they win, I’m immediately overcome with feeling the sorrow of the losers.

Good grief.

;p

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yes…

loving exegesis and hermeneutics ;p

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dinner

Fabulous dinner – baked potato, topped with fresh avacado with some lemon juice and salt, and a little bit of plain, lowfat yogurt and fresh, cracked black pepper.

Yummy. :)

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I’ve spent the last half hour alternating between quietly crying and sobbing, reading this story.

What do I say to the author but acknowledgment of the grief I feel for him and his family and the promise to pray for them as the Holy Spirit brings them to mind?

His story stirs up so many emotions and deep-seeded feelings…I had to push myself to read through all three parts…a beautiful tribute and testimony to the author’s son-in-law and the faithfulness of God to love us through community during the painful times.

I’ve staid off writing much about the time leading up to and following Dad’s death; reading the piece made me want to write more…but I’m not sure I will capture it since it’s been over seven years since he passed and I unintentionally blocked out many memories from those two years…I’m not sure I am ready to delve back into that time…but mssc54’s piece showcased what I also experienced – the grace of God, the love of friends and family, the deep pain in questioning “why?”

An ex-boyfriend is a Stryker and when he was deployed in Iraq, I could not watch the news. It was too difficult. How much more difficult for a young wife and mother to have her love deployed. And then to hear the news no lover ever wants to hear. My heart just goes out to her and her son.

Where is God in this?

I know the theological answers; I know the intellectual. And I know the love and faithfulness of God in the midst of a broken and fallen world. And that one day, this, too, shall be made right. But when the heart-wrenching moments come…sometimes the theological and intellectual answers don’t suffice – they don’t stop the bleeding of your heart or the cry of your soul. After a time, yes…but in the moment, you need others around you, to hold you, to love you, to bring you food you don’t need because they don’t know what else to do, to minister to you. [M]ssc54’s piece demonstrated so beautifully how the Body of Christ really pulls together in time of need. I experienced it on an incredible scale when my father died…it’s why I can sincerely say that was one of the worst and best times of my life. Seeing the faithfulness of God in the midst of tragedy, learning His heart grieves with us but that He is faithful and sovereign and will provide…learning what it means to trust Him one day at a time, learning what it means to grieve, to be loved, to let others take care of you when you cannot breathe or are numb.

I struggle with understanding why my three younger brothers have had to grow up without a father. Why seven of us children were left without a Dad present here on earth. Why mssc54’s grandson will have to grow up without his father. Why men of such integrity, character and love of God and family are taken from us seemingly unduly. Why a friend currently is on hospice. Why there is pain and suffering in the world – on a personal scale and on a grand scale.

I know the answers.

But I’m thankful for the balm of human hands and human love, that God chooses to use people to reach out to us, to hold us, to touch us, to minister to us when we have to walk through the valleys.

I don’t know mssc54 or his family save for the beautiful tribute he has written on his blog, but my heart goes out to them. And I’m thankful that it is only a matter of time before we join his son-in-law and my father in heaven, to be reunited for eternity. God’s promises are true, His love, unending, and He can be trusted in the midst of the sorrow – thankful that He promises that one day, these things shall be made right.

Waiting for that day.

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fabulous

Absolutely loving Ravi Zacharias’ teachings/lectures.

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freedom

Much to write; very little time at the moment.  Lots swirling around in the resesses of my mind.  :)

Was at an amazing worship concert last night – three bands that have been favorites of mine throughout the years performed together at an outdoor concert event to raise support for Habitat for Humanity.  (Jars of Clay, Switchfoot and Third Day.)   The last time I went to that venue was a couple of months ago to see Stevie Wonder. :)  Anyway, I went with my roommate, her sister and sister’s step-son and had secured good seats on the hill for us but somehow through a series of events and the unexpected kindness of one of the employees, we were given seats up close inside the pavilion and we had chairs for the five hour event! :)  Very fun.  As Becca (roommate) mentioned to me later, it was a very real picture of grace…we were all set to enjoy the concert with great hillside seats and then we were ushered in closer to be able to partake even more.  What a blessing and quite a lot of fun.

There had to be at least a couple to a few thousand people there last night…and while over the last few years I haven’t gone to Christian concerts or listen that much to “Christian” music (and I’m not a fan of “Christian” bookstores, but that’s another post for another time ;), I was amazed and blessed by Third Day, especially in how they carried out their set.  The focus was on God and yet, they put on a great rock show, too…the quality of their artistry was great but the spirit of the night/performance was not self-elevating but rather directed attention to Jesus.  His name was lifted on high, and I just thought to myself how incredible it was to be able to gather and live in a country that allows such religious freedom of expression.  The band prayed, shared their faith in Jesus and worshiped God with their music and invited the audience to join them.  It wasn’t overtly “Christianese” (which I cannot stand ;p) but just a simple expression of their walks with God and an authentic-ness and humility that just was powerful.

I was extremely blessed to be there to participate and thankful for the beauty of a lovely summer’s eve concert.  =)  My soul truly sang for joy.  Very renewing and healing to come into the presence of God with other believers and lift Christ’s name up together in worship.

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Thinking about depending upon the character of God in light of some pretty significant disappointments this past month, in my personal life and the lives of others I hold dear — His character which is good, loving, just, compassionate and merciful.

Randomly, Pedro came on and the refrain “If I look up and the sky’s not there, is there any reason I should be scared” hit me…with a poignancy and urgency of emotion…I can trust in God’s character when the world around me is crashing down, either figuratively or literally. It’s easy to blame a sovereign God when things don’t go our way, when loved ones die, when hearts break; when we see injustice, when we struggle…but the reality is…we sometimes forget the broken world in which we live…we need to have a holistic picture of eternity and our bit in that eternity – our time on earth. But a holistic picture isn’t always helpful when you’re facing death and evil; sometimes the only thing to do is cry out to God and allow the grief to overwhelm you and loved ones to come carry you when you can no longer walk.

I trust in the One who never changes, in the Alpha and Omega, in the one whose promises I cling to when I cannot see through the tears. And I bless His name.

promise by pedro the lion

i’ll take something to believe
something with long sleeves, cuz it’s unpredictable
that jesus said he’d fill my needs, but my heart still bleeds
he’s just not physical
why can’t i see
if i look up and the sky’s not there,
is there any reason i should be scared
but a promise, is a promise, i know

now we’ve established a lack of sight
maybe vision’s the right word
and what i need, cuz i can’t see with human eyes
lord knows i’ve tried to follow where he leads me

why can’t i see
if i look up and the sky’s not there,
is there any reason i should be scared
but a promise, is a promise, i know

for what i’ve seen so far, i can’t believe my eyes
and what a nice surprise
if i look up and the sky’s not there,
is there any reason i should be scared
but a promise, is a promise, i know
if i look up and the sky’s not there,
is there any reason i should be scared
but a promise, is a promise, i know

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pretty please

A flower for your vanity, a penny for your thoughts.
– Jars of Clay

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smile

Loving work. So incredibly happy to be where I am now. WAHOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow and for providing a way for me to be able to pursue my passion and heart headlong in my daily job. I am beyond excited. :)

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confession

I’m a bit of a control freak. ;p

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insanely blessed

…to be living life and loving it.

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To give truth to him who loves it not is but to give him more plentiful material for misinterpretation.
– George MacDonald

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on my lunch break…

Listening to the podcast “Cultural Relativism & the Emasculation of Truth” given by Ravi Zacharias.

Fabulous stuff. :)

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faith

“With faith like a child…”

(Jars of Clay)

What does it mean to have “faith like a child”?  Practically for those of us familiar with the theological terminology or intimations surrounding the phrase…what does it mean when we put flesh and blood on the concept?

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a very british snack

Tea, English-style…and some dark chocolate from England that Randy and Anna brought back for me…make for a lovely mid-afternoon break…five minutes of indulgence…and then back to the swing of things. (Thanks, guys – the chocolate is incredible! :)

I am not a fan of insurance companies and the fine print/paperwork. ;p Just for the record.

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life

Mom: Sigh. Christy, you always get into the most difficult situations.
Christy: I know, Mom, but you know I did not choose this one.
Mom: I know.

Life is never dull.
My girlfriend L. says I don’t respect easy. Perhaps so. Perhaps explains why very little is “easy” in my life. I wouldn’t be able to respect less.

Anything worthwhile requires sacrifice, discipline, patience and trials, eh? So it would seem. :) So is my prayer.

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mhmm

My humanity is my leprosy.
(According to John)

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sadness

My morning started out with a fly nose-diving into my coffee mug before I had had my first sip.

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Thanks to Laura for another reminder. :)

“And the beauty of grace is that it makes life not fair.” – Relient K

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back to work

Jumping back in this afternoon. I love what I do. I am insanely blessed. =) Insanely blessed.

Life is beautiful.
Enjoy today!

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happiness ;)

It’s just been hitting me this week as I took a week’s worth of vacation time in between my last day at the law firm and going full time in my current position, so it’s only been this past week that I’ve only had one job…and as I was processing that life seems very…”open” – I realized this is for the first time in forever that I have only had one job and all of a sudden, I have weekends again!!! :) I love weekends. It’s been phenomenal. I’ve been able to bum around, write, read, take a long shower/bath, hang out with my best friend, catch up with other friends, grocery shop, get some work done, sleep, etc…and I don’t feel pressed for time or feel that I cannot possibly get everything done that needs to get done! It’s been incredible. :) I can start prepping for my work meeting tonight in a little bit and it’s been great to just relax this morning and afternoon.

I’m not even sure what to do with myself.
This is incredible. Such a blessing. And very much enjoyed. :)

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What do you do to feel alive?

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I like pleasing people. I like pleasing people a lot. I used to think I had overcome this trait, which, in general, I believe to be detrimental to health and vitality…but…I’ve come to realize that deep down at my core, I still struggle with the desire to be liked, to be affirmed, to be approved. It’s just become disguised in a more “mature” fashion – I care about the opinion of people I highly respect or esteem and thus give a place of “voice” in my life and I don’t want to upset them or disappoint them. I’m fine with upsetting the boat with most others – got good at that being a homeschooler when the academic and social merits of the homeschooling movement were still being questioned at large – and then again during college when I didn’t quite fit the status quo…I never like conforming, never like living inside the box, am always looking to live outside of it…but I still succumb to being adversely affected when those closest to me aren’t pleased with me or the decisions I make.

I wish there was a way I could just not care – not go through the emotional upheaval when someone tells me they don’t approve. I’ve gotten good at working through it anyway (i.e. rarely do I change my actions in response), but I’m still not immune to being emotionally upset over it.

Very few people thought I could do what I have done – switch out of the well-paying, “secure” legal world and, in essence, go into business for myself to work with college students – raise up enough financial partners to do so in an especially suffering economy, and live with the “insecurity” of having others invest in my vision and partner with the work instead of the security of a 9-5 job. But I made it. One day at a time. :) And I owe it all to God, completely, but there is also a measure where as a single, young woman who completely supports herself, it is a bit risky to make this transition and it took guts. And I faced a lot of flack for it. Especially as my mother is a widow and I’m the eldest daughter. The amount of disapproval, both voiced and implied, from others when they found out what I intended to do was painful and remains painful. But I am so determined to do this, with God’s provision, and so believe in investing in students’ lives that I had to learn how to navigate through the voices that told me “no” or told me they’d be there for me when I failed, implicitly letting me know they thought I wouldn’t make it.

As people started to see I was not being foolhardy, that I was making it, and that although I had to give up a lot the past twenty months to make this transition (i.e. primarily my social life and a lot of things within my lifestyle), they started to become more supportive and in some cases, even excited for me.

You would think, after going through that that I might have a little bit thicker skin…but the reality is…if my Mom or best friend (or supervisor, for that matter) says something to me, it hits me at the core. The world could be against me as long as my closest friends and family are standing with me…but if I feel they are questioning my judgment or choices…it really…paralyzes me on an emotional level and I have to work through it. I cannot just cast off their good judgment.

And I value input and advice and wisdom of others, especially those who know me well…but there really does come a point where it’s God and me. I cannot live for man’s good opinion. There are so many differing voices in my life, that, even if I were to try, I’d be exhausted by the waves of dissent or the expectations of others. Cast to and fro, trying to please one person and another…

The question for me, practically…is how do I guard against this people-pleasing streak in me that I cannot seem to rid myself of?

I’ve come to believe that at the core, whether most realize it or not, we live to please others, to seek approval and affirmation, to be loved and petted and admired. It drives us in our relationships, in our lifestyle choices, in our career choices…I really think that on many levels…we are affected in early childhood and young adulthood by a myriad of factors, and these factors…propel us into careers and lifestyles…we are constantly chasing something, constantly trying to excel, achieve, this and that. We want to find fulfillment and we think, on some measure, that others can offer that to us. And so we exhaust ourselves in the pursuit only to realize it’s an empty pursuit.

When will we step off the merry-go-round?

I want to be grounded in who I am as a woman bought by the blood of Jesus to live in freedom. I’m living for an audience of One. I don’t want to be living for others. I want God to say at the end of my life, whether that’s tomorrow or fifty years from now, “Well done.”

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Laura reminded me of one of my favorite quotes…(thanks, Laura!) :)

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.” – C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Sigh. I love Lewis. =)

A good reminder that I am, indeed, far too easily pleased.

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hungry

I’m eager to find my copy of Screwtape Letters and finish reading it…I love reading that book from time to time; I borrowed a copy from a friend when I was out of town earlier last week for work and got through a third of the book but I returned it before coming home, so now I need to remember to whom I lent my copy – or just go out and get another copy. =)

I love Lewis’ mind…it’s such a fabulous and difficult book to read. :)

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yawn

I feel hungover but there’s no possible way that I can be. Ugh.
I’m hoping this coffee and a good shower in a bit will do the trick. It is a gorgeous day and I have much I’d like to get done.
I’m not staying up to 2 a.m. again any time soon. ;p

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hello, world

I stayed up to 2 a.m. last night with my best friend, and while we had a blast, my body can just not handle that anymore.

I could easily push 3 or 4 a.m. until recently and be just fine the next day, but after the past two years, having to be so disciplined about when I got to bed because of working both jobs…my body is so used to starting to wind down at 9 p.m. and I want to be in bed by 10 that it’s a feat to stay up much later than midnight. Hoping to reprogram myself at least a little bit…but it’s clearly going to take some time. ;p

Yawn.
I’m going to make some strong coffee this morning.

On other fronts…in the span of two days, I received four gifts of chocolate. Mostly dark. ;p Very fun…

My roommate’s gone for just under a week…I have my students coming over for a meeting tonight. Life continues to fly by so crazily fast.

Anna asked me if I like the adjustment of working from home…I do. There is a huge benefit to being able to walk to the kitchen to make a cup of tea during your day and not being forced to drink horrendous coffee out of a machine. ;p But it’s also much more difficult for me to leave work or get my mind out of work mode when I both work and play out of the same place. I’m pretty good with compartmentalizing, so it’s not too bad, but I know that’ll be the challenge – learning when to walk away from work that is never ending and being able to switch gears when my office is simultaneously my bedroom. The advantage of working at a firm is usually, at the end of the day, I could leave work and not bring it home. :)

Anyway, I am loving being full time now, and that’s exciting.

Off to pour the water for my coffee before I burn down my kitchen… ;p

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