January 30, 2010

Saturday Morning Walk

This morning I lived up to my recently acquired status of 'city girl.' I had a meeting at a café about three quarters of a mile from my house and instead of warming up the car, I bundled up in scarf and hat and hit the sidewalk.

Never mind the fresh layer of snow on the ground. The sun was shining and I had a bounce in my step. I've missed the sunshine, it's been a while since we've spent much time together.

January 29, 2010

I'm not ready to call it a night.

Tonight I am feeling a little closer to 30 than I am to 20. Technically, of course, numbers don't lie and I am, in fact, way closer to 30. Usually, though I would say that, on the inside, I'm a solid 24. I'm a grown up, but I still have that certain je ne sais quoi of a girl in her early twenties.

On Monday, a colleague asked me how old I am. I told her, with a straight face, that I was almost 28. It wasn't until I was home, many hours later, that I realized I had lied. I'm already 28, I have been for many months and 29 is looming on the horizon. Was that my first senior moment? I won't even discuss the abnormally large number of gray hairs that I've found in my hairbrush over the last few months. Life is looking more like 30 every day.

Tonight I am home wearing my favorite flannel pants (they are this lovely blue and yellow stripe and they have been my faithful companion for the last 10 years), and I am conflicted. The near thirty-something part of me is pleased. More than pleased, even, I am proud. I'm proud that I am a woman comfortable in who I am and content with my life. I embrace the fact that I like to sit in my pajamas on a Friday night, from time to time, bake and drink a nice glass of red wine. I've worked hard to get to this place of contentedness. I've spent countless hours turning my heart and my life over to God again and again. I have fought for the rest I find in placing my identity in him and not my social calendar. The twenty year old in me, however, is much more restless. I'm not ready to call it a night. I want to go on an adventure, try something new, meet interesting people and stay up way too late. I'm embarrassed to be found in my blue striped flannel.

I'm not sure what to do with the discord I feel. I guess, like any other reasonable adult, I'll have to embrace it. I'll continue to be glad for the last ten years I've spent growing, maturing, paying my own bills and learning to separate my laundry, but I'm not throwing out my pink lip gloss yet.

January 24, 2010

Being Flexible

My Community Group is an amazing group of people. We get together every Tuesday night and attempt to share our lives together. We eat great food, laugh, pray, cry and talk about Jesus. It's pretty amazing. We also, from time to time, serve together. I'm not talking about easy serving - like passing out bulletins at church or picking up the donuts. I'm talking about serving outside of our comfort zone. The kind of serving that makes me feel very privileged and very selfish. It reminds me that I am more often haughty than humble. It's good for me.

This year we've been working with a lady in a neighborhood not too far from our church. It's been going ok. We helped her do some gardening and some of the ladies from our group have been in contact with her on a close to weekly basis. She was having some of her grandkids come live with her so today we were supposed to go over and help her paint the interior of her house. On Friday eveing, after all the paint supplies had been bought and the plan laid she called and said that she had to cancel. She had found another group of people that were able to do much more remodeling to her home - rip out walls, etc... I'd say we were bummed or disppointed but that wouldn't be honest. We were angry and discouraged.  We felt used and lied to. It was a tough Friday night, especially for our group captain who had done all the careful planning.

On Saturday morning I had coffee with a dear friend. I was venting about the situation and trying to process how to work through all these emotions and frustrations with our group. I said "I guess we just don't know what God is doing in her (the canceler's) life." And my friend said to me: "Or in yours." Ouch, Straight to the heart. She was right. I still contend that this woman we had been trying to help, partner with, and serve had been dishonest with us. It wasn't kind what she did, but God was working in me, too. Why was I serving? Why did everything need to go exactly as planned? Was I leaving room for the Holy Spirit to work in our group and in my heart? Not so much.

Then on Saturday afternoon another one of our group member's called me. She had an idea. There was a family that she knew that were having a hard time. We'll call them John and Susie. They had to move out of their home by Sunday. She thought maybe they could use a hand. I said go for it. See if we can do something. When my friend talked to John he nearly cried. They were losing their home and they had no one to help them load the truck. Their kids had been sick all week and nothing was packed. They were desperate.

Sunday morning our group met for breakfast before we started our service day and one of the guys said "blessed are the flexible for they shall not break." Even though our carefully laid plans has been canceled, they had served their purpose. We were ten people with an entire Sunday morning free, three empty trucks and four pots of coffee. We were ready to go.

This afternoon as I watched my commuity group clean a dirty kitchen, fold mounds of laundry, load truck load after truck load of boxes and do it all while with laughter and a generous spirit. I was so proud. I remembered that God works in his own ways. We don't often get to see the big pitcure, but he always does. Today I learned that if we are willing to be his hands to our neighbors then he won't let our energy go to waste. I learned that serving isn't about a well planned work day, it's about partnering with God on the things he puts in our path.

January 12, 2010

Stop focusing on camels.

Matthew 8:14-15 And when Jesus entered Peter's house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. He touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and began to serve him.
I was reading this today, catching up the Engage Scripture reading plan, and this verse struck me in a entirely new way. She served him. He healed her and she served him. So basic, but man it's rocked me all day.

How often do I cry out for God to fix me, heal me, help me? A lot. And most of the time I want him to act for my plans. So I can get up and take care of the stuff that I think needs to be done. I want to be move on with my agenda, but that's not why God saves us. It's not why he heals us. He moves in our lives so that we focus on him.

When Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law she did get up and get back to her camels or her bread baking or whatever it is that she might have been in the middle of when she got sick. She got up and served him. He was her focus. She was made well so that she could service him. It's the same reason that God heals me, heals my body, and heals my heart: so I can serve him. I need to stop focusing on my camels and start serving Jesus.

January 6, 2010

So far, so good

Well, we're in it now kids. The New Year is feeling less shiny and more like the quotidian life I know so well. I know I said I was trying not to make any big resolutions, and while I didn't do that officially I definitely did that in my head. I vowed to go to bed earlier, keep my house cleaner and start recycling. Well, it's day six and a lot of that has already fallen by the wayside. True confessions: I've been to Taco Bell three times and I've thrown all my paper goods away in the dumpster (well, I plan to take the trash out tonight...).

The one official goal I set for myself this year was to keep up with the Engage Scripture Bible Reading Plan and so far, so good. Part of the reading for today was Genesis 5, which is mostly a genealogy of the line between Adam and Noah. I must confess that I usually find these sections of the bible boring. More often than not I succumb to the temptation to skim and skim fast. I breeze right through the all the begottens. The section in Genesis 5, though, happens to be my favorite such list and I rarely skim it. In fact, often I find myself savoring it and reading it over and over, because hidden smack dab in the middle is a hidden treasure.
Genesis 5:214-24 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.
Enoch must have had such a special and remarkable relationship with God to have it noted here. I mean, the man didn't even die; God came and took him. And generations later the story teller still knew that Enoch had walked with God and found it important enough to write down for us to know thousands of years later.

This verse reminds me of Genesis 3:8 when the author talks about God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. Whenever I hear people talk about intimacy with God this is what I picture. I find myself walking arm in arm with my God, surrounded by the majesty of his creation and conversing as easily as I do with the friend's of my youth; no pretense, no rush. Just me and God, sometimes talking, sometimes walking in silence because there are no words, but always we are together.

January 1, 2010

Not so much a resolution, but a goal.

I've tried not to make too many resolutions this year. I'm never too good at keeping them anyway. I am, however, setting one goal and it's a big one. I'm going to read the entire bible this year. I know, gulp. Double gulp. That's a big goal, a daunting task. I've tried to do it before and failed. I have high hopes of success this year though and here's why: I'm not in this alone. I'm following the Bible Reading Plan set out by The Journey Church in St. Louis. Check it out and join us!

So, today is day 1 on a 365 day adventure to know God better and delight in his word. Here is an excerpt from today's reading:
Psalm 1:1-3

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he mediates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
This is my prayer for you and me: That we would be like trees planted by streams of water this year. That we would delight in that law of the Lord and meditate on the word that he has given to us.