Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Prayer Update

Today was a bit tough- I was tempted to just feel really sorry for myself. My department head, to make a long story short, basically told me that I was teaching the different classes and my kids don't matter because it's not a tested course. He wasn't exactly nice about it. I was totally not complaining AT all. He was just... not nice.

But I decided to literally just sit in my principal's office until she got out of a meeting. To make a super long story short, I told her my spiel about not wanting to see my kids be hurt that way and that I would teach all six classes if that were possible, but that I really don't want my kids to be grossly mistreated because of a teacher's [insert many a not nice adverb] choice to leave with the school year underway.

The most amazing thing happened- she was just like, "Ms. ___, I have really thought about that. The other day I was talking with Charles Harper* and he just couldn't quit talking about how much he loves your class and how amazing you are. And I thought to myself, after [my department head] spoke to me about changing you, how crushed Charles would be if you were taken away from him. And then I realized you have three classes full of students that would experience that. So I really feel what you're saying."

So... she couldn't PROMISE me anything, but at this point I can rest assured that I will keep my current classes. The superintendent actually would like to not replace that position and what will LIKELY happen is that I'll teach a U$ Hi$tory class during my planning period. Which would be a bit not awesome, but it would actually be a blessing in two ways. For one, I'd put together solid LP's (sorry- Lesson Plans) now, and then when I'm teaching two preps (preps= number of classes I have to prepare for) I'll have done the vast majority of the work this semester and then coaching won't be as stressful .

Side note: I teach on a block schedule so I have three 90 minute classes a day with a 90 minute (in a perfect world... usually much less, if at all) planning period. Then, at semester, I switch and get all new classes.

The other awesome thing is that I'd be paid extra money. Last I heard it was in the realm of $1,000 a month. So hopefully like $700 after taxes. That would SO help me get out of debt AND save for a move home to Se@ttle. So... really, so long as I do keep my kids it's a win-win situation. Either I don't do it and still get a planning period, or I do teach but am prepared for Spring semester and make extra money and all that happy goodness.

And... if things do go down this way... I keep my kids AND the already well-qualified teachers in my department teach the kids that are being left behind. Seriously... how great is that?

Praise God for answering prayer. Please continue to pray and I'll try to update as much as possible.

And seriously- I love you guys. I'm sorry that I'm so busy and out of touch. But things in my classroom are amazing this year and I'm just happier with life in general. I was miserable last year and this year I'm happy with who I am in Christ and my walk with Him, I love people around me, I have amazing people in my life (new and old), I love my job and am just a completely better teacher, and my clothes are falling off and my roommates keep telling me how good I look :) Probably because I never wear pants. But it's all good.


Must. Sleep. Now. Tomorrow's Thursday, which is officially bullet pointed list day so hopefully I'll be able to do that.

*I never use real names. Ever.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Prayer Request

I'm entirely too tired to go into the whole story, but before I have a quiet time and fall (literally) exhausted into bed, I want to request prayer from my friends and loved ones that read this blog.

Today I got word that a teacher in my department is almost certainly leaving for a neighboring school district (she was going down to speak with the principal this afternoon to essentially give her 30 days notice) and she just so happens to teach tested subjects. My course is not a tested (state tested, that is) subject, and I'm actually certified to teach secondary social studies and my strength is US History (the courses the teacher would leave are two sections of US History and one of Civics and Economics). Many teachers in this area of the country are lateral entry, which means they have a college degree but no teaching certification- sometimes they don't even have college courses in their particular subject area... it's a very depressed region and hard-pressed for teachers.

So... if a teacher is not found who is certified to teach these subjects being left behind, which in my school district would be literally as miraculous as Jesus raising the dead, then there's an extremely high likelihood that my school would switch me mid-semester to the tested courses and give my students to a long-term sub (aka a warm body to put in a classroom; my current students would learn NOTHING).

Here's the thing- I will do whatever I am told to do, and do my best to choose joy and trust God's will. If I am switched I will work extra hard (beyond the current 19 hours a day if I have to) to make sure that these children get the education they deserve. However, it will break my heart. I am already so connected to my current students. I have rapport and already amazing things are happening in my classroom that I haven't had a chance to write about. I know the other students being left behind deserve a good teacher, and I do feel frustrated with their situation, but my kids right now are already my kids. I have connected with them. Many trust me. Many are already opening up to me and trusting me, and I am setting the tone for their first semester of high school. If they are ripped from me I will literally be crushed.

Seriously, if there were a way to teach all six classes I would. I have nothing against the other students. But it's simply unjust- almost unethical- to take away their favorite teacher (for probably 90% of them this is already true; I know because they've told me) just because their course isn't tested by the state.

So please, pray for me. Pray for the situation. Pray for the students, the administrators making decisions, the teacher who's leaving (primarily because her reason for leaving is mostly because of the money the neighboring school district offers, and she's leaving without consideration for the current students in OUR school... I have to bite my tongue on my opinion about this.) Much of this is totally up in the air and I am trusting God to work things to His will. But I am asking for a miracle- Jesus DID raise the dead and God tells us that we do not have because we do not ask. I am asking that not only will I be able to keep my classes this semester but that also a quality teacher would be provided for the other students if/when their current teacher leaves. I rarely ask so openly for prayers, but please pray- I covet your intercession for myself and this situation.

"Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God..."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Waiting for you

[Big Machine, Goo Goo Dolls]

Ok, frustrating as all get out- apparently the internet ate my last post. Grr.

This won't be as in depth as the first one. Instead you get a list.

1) I'm totally pumped for the new year. I love my new students! They are my heart and soul. Yesterday (first day of school) I had just explained my passion for education and such, and what they can expect in the class. I asked how they were feeling about everything, and one boy with bright eyes and a huge smile burst out, "I'm EXCITED!". Yeah, I love him already :)

2) Utter tragedy struck as I slept last night. My beloved ZAG4life wristband (blue, in support of the work Gonz@ga does to raise money for children with cancer, ala the LIVESTRONG tradition) broke. I want to cry a little bit. I don't even know if they sell them anymore, and even if they do Spokangeles is, oh, three thousand miles away. Sad, sad, tragic day. It's ok if you feel sorry for me.

3) The greatest moment of my life occurred today when I was wasting some time on the guide on our satellite on the telly and, as usual, felt the need to see what was goin' down on ESPN. I looked up a few channels and saw something utterly beautiful and different- a channel with the letters "NFL" below the number. So I started perusing the schedule and found a ton of preseason games. I knew my 'Hawks were playing tonight at 11, so I decided to check out what was offered and, lo and behold, my boys were on! Yay! So that's what I'm watching. They started super strong, but haven't looked so hot in the last 20 minutes or so. Boo.

That's it. I need to get back to work. As always, feel free to leave some love! It always means a lot to me.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Lookin', tryin' to start something real nice

[Ride Wit' Me, Nelly]

Tomorrow starts round two of my life as a teacher. Year one went pretty well, but I believe that round shall be utterly more awesome.

I met a bunch of my kids at Freshman Orientation on Tuesday and I'm already in love :) They're going to be great, and I am super excited to invest them and teach them. It's going to be awesome.

That's really all I have time to say- I'm still sick and my bed is screaming my name :) Plus, I have to be up (well, am choosing to be up) by 5:45 at the LATEST so I can be to school as close to 6:30 as possible. Gross, I know, but I want to be there early. Then right after school I have to grab some chow with the football team and head off to $0uthern Durh@m for a football game... I probably won't be home until between midnight and one. So it will likely be an 18+ hour day- welcome back to school and 90 hour workweeks, I say! At least I get a $3,000 raise this year :)

I hope everyone is well, and feel more than free to leave some love!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Shadows searchin' in the night

[Don't Stop Believin', Journey]

I'm watching myself a bit of Seahawks preseason action. My body ACHES. Too many heavy boxes and stairs and lifting and shoving and hauling and BLECH!!

Seriously, though, I was so exhausted that my whole body was shaking. What is that?? Blech. The good news is that all of my stuff has been brought into my room; I just need to unpack. I'm only about 10% unpacked. My back is KILLING me, so I'm taking a little break to watch some Seahawks preseason action against the Colts. That's nice :)

My throat is raw, and puh-retty sore; my roomie Jenny has a nasty cold and we shared a bed Thursday night so I have a feeling I'm getting sick. NOT GOOD TIMING. I have a TON to do for class, with teacher workdays and various meetings every day, and I have a community dinner at 4:30 and then Freshman Orientation from 6-8 on Tuesday; then Wednesday night a big group of us are going to the Counting Crows / Goo Goo Dolls concert in R@le!gh. I have Thursday night off (thus far) but school starts Friday so it's gonna be a CRAZY week.

Anyway, the 'Hawks look WAY better than they did last week. I love being able to watch my boys! And I love my house, I went swimming in my backyard/lake this afternoon, and thus far the Red Sox are winning (after getting SPANKED by the Yanks in three straight games), the Seahawks are winning at this point (and the starters for both sides are playing so it still actually means something despite being preseason), I get to sleep in my bed in my room tonight, and in general life is just good. The aching back, pain of death in the feet, headache, and sore throat will fade but life is good :)

Yes, yes indeed. Life is good.

Thank you Lord!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

I don't really have time to post this, but I just wanted to give a little blog love to the faithful :) I'm so exhausted that I want to fall out of the chair, but it's 9:40 at night and despite just having returned home after leaving before 8 this morning I need to pack so I can move tomorrow. This is not to mention being fairly busy all this week, plus a 17 hour day yesterday on only an hour or two of sleep (and it's not my fault- I slept normal hours but I just laid there and couldn't sleep. I think it's because I was sharing a bed with someone- don't worry! It was my roomie, Jenny. We crashed at the boys' house and Riley wasn't back in town yet so Bec slept on the floor and let Jen and I share the bed. Anyway, it was a great chance to see people I've been missin' all summer and just hang out with people I care about.)

Anyway... I went from boredom of gargantuan proportions to mega busy. It's a'ight though- I LOVE my friends! And great things are happening, I just don't have time to write about them.

I have such an amazingly blessed life.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

I think that Snakes on a Plane could possibly be the greatest movie of all time.

Hands down.

And you think I'm kidding.

I'm not.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

What a feeling- dancin' on the ceiling!

[Dancing on the Ceiling, Lionel Richie]

My classroom is 95% ready. I have to do a few small things, like organize my desk drawers, but it feels good. I can really focus on planning. Mostly I need to alter dates and such on letters/surveys/supply lists/etc., and then make a gazillion copies.

In other news, I had a LOVELY time with my beloved roomie Becca last night. 'Twas rather nice. Oh- and the quesadilla burger at Applebee's will change your life. Bec and I split one and I think between us we must have said the equivalent of, "Yum! This is SO good", about fifty-two times. Give or take forty-five.

I want to say enlightened stuff but I got up before nine today and my brain is mush. Being awake in the mornings (well, after sleeping... if I never went to bed, then it's cool) ruins my life. I can't really come up with anything interesting. Sorry.

PS I wish I could dance on the ceiling. That song inspires me.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Time has made me strong

[Too Little, Too Late , JoJo]

Things I am grateful for:

  • The chance to go into my classroom. I felt refreshed, inspired, and excited being in there. Enough to even come home and continue working on planning! Plus, one of my fave people in the office gave me my key early so I can come and go as I please. The janitor actually had to kick me out :) That's in part because I slept too late and got there later than I meant to *grins sheepishly*. Tomorrow I WILL get up earlier because I am forcing myself.

  • Friends coming back to town! Yay! Bec and I are going to have a date this week (one for tomorrow has already been proposed by me via an e-mail a few minutes ago, so I'll see if I hear from her tomorrow) and then there's already a roomie dinner in the works for Thursday night. Happy day! Pretty much everyone will be at a T_F@ event Saturday because it's mandatory with a required make-up date (lest you choose to forego your nearly $5k education award... which, honestly, who would?) so I'll get to see tons of friends. Oh, happy day :)

  • I never thought I'd say this, but I'm actually grateful for cramps. They always happen on the first day of my cycle (I know, guys are suicidal right now, but bear with me) and while they often cause me to literally feel like I might pass out when waves of pain hit, the good news is that I feel like the hormone dam that blocks all of my happiness when I'm on PMS opens its gates and my normal joyful personality can break forth. Seriously- 11 days of an aching chest (and I don't mean my heart or ribs) and the constant battle against my own chemical make-up to not be constantly irritable gets REALLY old. Cramps signify the end of that battle! And, let's be honest- I'm SUPER grateful for Advil ;) Though I actually prefer Tylenol... mainly because it starts with a T. I'm narcissistic, what can I say?

  • Motivation! In part it's my own willpower. In part it's the Lord's motivation. In part it's the prayers of friends. But I have accomplished more in the last two days than I think the entire rest of the month of August. And much of July. So here's to not being a lazy bum!

  • Floss! I used to never do it. And, at the risk of alienating readers, I also used to only brush in the morning. I know that's kind of gross. Hey- at least I'm honest! And repenting ;) Lately (the last month or so) I have been brushing morning and night, and my commitment is to floss at least 3-4 times a week, though I actually might start doing it every day because I'm starting to like it. My gums bleed and ache less, and I just love the feeling of clean teeth! I'm even going to figure out a time to go to the dentist in the next few months. I'm kind of scared, but it's needed. Plus, I pay like thirty bucks a month for dental insurance, dang it!

  • Family and MySpace. I've totally been able to connect with cousins that otherwise I would never talk to. One of my fave cousins is going to college (W@zzu) on Wednesday, and I can barely believe it. I can almost remember when he was born. And I love his younger sister, and really feel like I have an awesome opportunity to be kind of like a big sis to her even if it's just through keeping in touch via MySpace.

  • In that vein, Google Talk! I heart it much. And seriously- Gmail changed my life so if you want an invite just ask. I hang my head in shame that I ever was a faithful Hotmail user with an unused Gmail account!

  • An amazing song- it's called Too Little, Too Late by JoJo and I feel it is such a perfect song for all that I went through in my break-up earlier this summer. I still stand in awe of all God did and has done (and will do). I'm finally in a healthy place, not haunted like I was. That doesn't mean I won't ever have to deal with anything God may choose to bring up, but I feel a peace about all He has done. I know that I am wiser, and truly want Him to interrupt my life with someone and am not concerned about when that happens. I'm happy with my life, right now, and grateful for the lessons learned. I also know that even if I first meet someone randomly online (aka NOT a dating site! That's just not for me.) I need to know them in person, over a period of time. No rushing or jumping in. I only want God's best and He has been so gracious to bring me back to Him. I am His alone until He decides He wants a man in my life.

    Back to the actual song-- the reason I love this song so much is it just sums up the break-up and how it all happened. It also is about a female that says, "Enough is enough, I'm doing the right thing, and I'm strong." Her boy [not man] was a player and flirted with other girls; mine was deeply insecure and manipulative and a ticking time bomb particularly to my spiritual, mental, and emotional health. Other than that small difference, I can just really identify with the lyrics. Here's the money graf:
    I was young
    And in love
    I gave you everything
    But it wasn't enough
    And now you wanna communicate (You know it's just too little too late)
    Go find someone else
    In letting you go
    I'm loving myself
    You got a problem
    But don't come asking me for help
    'Cause you know...
    It's just too little, too late
    I can love with all of my heart, baby
    I know I have so much to give
    I was naive in love and didn't actually love him, though I thought I did at the time. I did give the guy my best (even he admitted I was an amazing girlfriend, and I knew I was! I put him first and really did my best to love him well in Christ), yet he was constantly self-focused and only saw me for the wife he thought I'd be, the mother he thought I'd be to his children, etc. He was always trying to prove he was better than me though and was threatened by my qualities of being friendly, funny, smart, a talented singer, etc. He also was simply very unhealthy spiritually and his doctrine was way off. In fact, it was false doctrine and when I was no longer open to it he accused me of not even being saved! He said I was a counterfeit, then a fake, and then all but accused me of being a Jezebel- a seductress trying to take his focus off of God. HELLO! I'm a virgin and consistently sought God in the relationship- I'm the one who broke up with him as a result of God revealing how unhealthy the boy was for me! Needless to say, I never believed or took personally any of the cruel things he said because I knew he was wrong.

    Then he did what he made a habit of- tearing me down and then pleading for forgiveness. The last time he did this he was begging me to not remember him that way- as a cruel person who said horrible things to me. At one point he even admitted his problem of being so cruel to me out of selfishness on his part when I hadn't done anything to instigate it. I simply didn't reply to the e-mail; it's not my job to help him fix himself. It truly was too little, too late. He could say the perfect words but no longer was I going to let him try to manipulate me. I deserve far better. I love myself and will not settle for any less than God's best for me. That said, when God prompts me to, I pray for him to truly put his identity in Christ, and I ask God to not allow him to have any sort of ability to affect another girl's heart until he has done so.

    As for me-- I do have a LOT to offer to the man God wants me to spend my life with and I refused to waste even on more ounce of it on someone that wasn't God's best.

    I'm still grateful for a song that hits the heart of the matter for me :)
  • God's Word! I saved the best for last here: I've been thinking a lot lately about how Jesus Christ was sinless, yet He was tempted in every way. His ability to resist temptation- to choose God over sin- was a result of dependence on the Holy Spirit in Him. The Holy Spirit is equally as much God as Christ Himself and God the Father. He [the Holy Spirit is a He, not an it; see Romans 8:26] enabled Jesus Christ to choose not to sin, and that exact same power was sealed in me upon my salvation! (Ephesians 1:13-14). I have the option to choose God if I'm willing to rely on the Holy Spirit in me.

    Last night God really wowed me with a verse I've never even noticed before though- I was reading in James (I'll link the entire fourth chapter) and this portion just enraptured me, considering my recent ponderings on the Holy Spirit in my very being:
    What do you think the Scriptures mean when they say that the Holy Spirit, whom God has placed within us, jealously longs for us to be faithful? He gives us more and more strength to stand against such evil desires.
    [James 4:5-6a; NLT]
    He longs for me; rather, jealously longs for me to be faithful to Him! So much so that He continually strengthens me so that I can choose God. This just blew me away. I can't stop thinking about it. I love my Father God, and I've re-begun to fall in love with Jesus Christ, but never in my life have I thought about what it means to fall in love with the Holy Spirit. And He's the One that lives in me! I can honestly say, however, that I am falling in love with Him for the first time and I pray it only deepens throughout my life.
I know this entry has been long (as usual) but thank you for sticking through to the end. I pray you are blessed by what (Who!) is at work in my life. For those of you who blog, particularly those who blog about what our precious Jesus Christ is doing in your lives, I am consistently blessed. What a precious gift to engage in one another's journeys via the written word. I'm barely two months younger than the personal computer (no joke) but I praise God for the blessings that the Internet can bring.

For those of you who are Christians, is it not amazing that the very same Holy Spirit that lived in Jesus Christ (and is Jesus Christ since They are both part of the Trinity) lives in both you and I? What precious unity. I stand in awe of such things and my words fail to do them justice. Nonetheless, praise God!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

If you drive a HUGE, gas-guzzling, and disgusting SUV then you have ZERO right to complain about high gas prices. I feel negative seventy-nine percent sorry for you.

This one's for you, woman from R@leigh that I just saw with a FORD EXCURSION whining about gas prices on the news.


It makes my stomach do somersaults.

And not the good kind.

So far away for far too long

[Far Away, Nickbelback]

In his book The Screwtape Letters, CS Lewis wrote some of the most poignant prose I've ever read aside from God's Word. The basic premise is of an experienced demon, Screwtape, writing letters to a lesser-experienced demon and understudy named Wormwood. "The Enemy" refers to God the Father of the Judeo-Christian faith. Allow me to share a chapter of it with you (it's not as long as it looks, so don't just skip over it- it's really good!):

My dear Wormwood,

So you "have great hopes that the patient's religious phase is dying away," have you? I always thought the Training College had gone t pieces since they put old Slubgob at the head of it, and now I am sure. Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation?

Humans are amphibians — half spirit and half animal. . . .As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation — the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life — his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth, periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.

To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now, it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself — creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct.

And that is where the troughs come in. You must have often wondered why the Enemy does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now se that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation. But He never allows this state of affairs to last long. Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creatures to stand up on its own legs — to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with, the better. He cannot "tempt" to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.

But of course the troughs afford opportunities to our side also. Next week I shall give you some hints on how to exploit them.

Your affectionate uncle,

Now, Lewis talks about Christians being led astray and ending up in "our Father's house"- aka hell. I disagree with this- as does the Bible. Once someone is saved and receives forgiveness for their sin, they are saved. It's crucial to one's spiritual health so seek Christ and remain intimate with God but the fact is that once someone has received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior they can't sin big enough to lose that salvation.

This is applicable to me because, as I have divulged in during recent entries, I recently have had a spiritual wake-up call. I responded immediately, and the first few weeks proved relatlively easy primarily due to the fact that things were exciting, fresh, refreshing, and exhilirating. In the last week or so, the freshness has worn off, and the tedious mundanity of my daily life has reared it's ugly head. It is, if you will, the trough that Lewis referred to.

Friday night, for the first time after three and a half weeks of not skipping a quiet time, I made the deliberate choice to forego my time in God's word and prayer, opting to "do my own thing" instead. This was wrong, and utterly sinful. I rejected Christ and chose to disobey.

The Lord is faithful, and has used this passage to bless me: most of us ask God to make us obey. Life would be SO much easier if I were a robot programmed to do God's will and never make my own choices. I can't lie- I would prefer this. However, I cannot deny the beauty of God's plan.

Think about it. Think of that one person you would only dare to dream of of spending your entire life with- whether you know him/her or not, get that person in your mind. If you're like me, you might have to utilize your imaginative juices, but think about him/her. Now, imagine that you could give him/her a potion to drink that would make him/her love you unconditionally, for life, totally committed and undeniably yours. Option two is that he/she would fall in love with you on his/her own, growing into that deep, lifelong love where they choose you.

I doubt many would choose option one. I certainly wouldn't. I see, all the more, God's infinite wisdom in allowing me to choose Him. The fact is, I'm at the point where God's saying, "Choose Me." He won't force me, or allow it to be an easy, breezy, beautiful road with no challenges. He allows the trough so that I will make Him my choice. And though it won't be easy, it will be worth it every night to know that I chose God that day; that even after a moment of not choosing Him, later I refused to wallow in that mistake and did right when offered another opportunity.

So Lord, I choose You. Despite it not being easy, I choose You.

Too bad, I hid a boot is officially my favorite palindrome ever.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

I knew it!!

Proof that Tony Reali wants to marry me:

"Boo too much of a good thing. Hooray T^K!!"
(Said only moments ago on the Oddsmakers segment of PTI- aka Pard0n the Interrupti0n on ESPN.)

Yeah, you know that's right. And he's quoting my favorite commercials!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Rahab's Song

Last night I wanted to post the lyrics to a song I wrote about Rahab 3 years ago, but, alas, it was three years ago and I couldn't remember them.

True to Sergeant Awesome (my new name) form, I ran the part I could remember through my head again and again last night trying to fall asleep. Finally they came to me. So here you go*:

Who do you think you are?

Why should you be saved?
Why should you be used
by God?

Now I see
That there's a God of
Second chances

Now I know that
He knows
What you've
Been through

And I believe
That this God of
Second chances
He chose you

I am so much
Just the same
Hating myself
for the things
I do

I am
So similar
To you
And I've been
Chosen to be used
By God

Now I see
There's a God of
Second chances

Now I know
He knows what we've
Been through

And now I believe
That this
Chose me.

* I'm not really privy to the entire copyright world. But I wrote this song, so don't steal it please. Thank you.

I gotta step outside these walls

[These Walls, Teddy Geiger]

Last night I was reading in Hebrews 11 in my quiet time. Something jumped out at me; I'm not sure why I've never noticed, nor had this pointed out to me before, but only two women are mentioned in this book referring to heroes of the faith from the Old Testament. Now, a quick tangent- some might say this is evidence that God hates women, or even that the Bible was crafted by men and not God and those men left out the women out of spite... in both cases, people are wrong. God loves women every bit as much as He loves men. In this case He handpicked few in general to be spoken of, and two women happened to show enough faith to be chosen for this chapter.

The two women are Sarah (Abraham's wife; mother of Isaac and first matriarch of the people of Israel) and Rahab (prostitute in Jericho who helped Joshua's spies and thus was saved when the city was sieged by the Israelites; read the first 7 or so chapters of Joshua for her story).

I was particularly struck that Rahab is mentioned. Rahab is a woman of the Bible who is dear to my heart. She was, seemingly, beyond redemption. She was a prostitute! Biblically speaking some of God's harshest moments of rebuke are when He likens the people of Israel to an adulterer prostituting herself to other gods. Ezekiel 16 in particular is heartwrenching, especially when one (I) applies it to her own life and sees how wretched and naked she is before her God.

The point here, however, is that prostitution is often listed amongst the most vile sins (not that any one sin is worse than another, mind you; rather these are sins that carry the most destructive consequences). Rahab is even referred to as "Rahab the harlot" almost with ease. It was so much a part of who she was that her occupation was essentially her surname.

And yet God, in His infinite wisdom, handpicked this broken and battered woman, from the lowest of lows, to not only join in the victory of Israel over Jericho, but so much more- Rahab is in the lineage of Christ. Rahab married a man named Salmon and they had a son named Boaz; he and his wife, Ruth, (more on them in a moment), had a son named Obed, who had a son named Jesse. Jesse was the father of a name anyone- even non-Christians- would recognize; Jesse's most famous son was a Goliath-conquering boy who would one day become the great King David. David, of course, was of the tribe of Judah; Jesus Christ's lineage can directly be traced back to David himself, and, thus, Rahab.

A prostitute- and gentile, no less- chosen to be part of the lineage of the Messiah? God's ways are higher than ours, certainly. He uses the base things of this world, that which human wisdom rejects as worthless, frequently to bring about His best work. Speech impedimented Moses. Young Samuel... Isaiah... Timothy. Christian-hunting Saul (to become Paul). Abraham and Sarah, who laughed when God said they would have a baby in their elderly years (certainly post-menopause). Esther, a mere virgin girl whose beauty enraptured a king, and thus she saved the nation of Israel. Peter, whose foot seemed to be in his mouth more often than it was walking with God. Rahab, the prostitute. Harlot. Sinner. Chosen to be in the lineage of Jesus Christ, Messiah of the Jews and the gentiles.

If you've never read the Book of Ruth, do so; and don't make excuses, because it's short. It's one of my favorite passages in all of scripture. It's a beautiful story of courage in tragedy, loyalty, purity, honesty, and faith. Boaz, in particular, sets the bar high with qualities I pray my own husband one day would possess. He's generous, kind, fair, loving, and quietly fights fiercely to make Ruth his bride. One might venture to say that a man of his integrity and valor must have come from good stock; indeed, his mother was Rahab. A great theme in the story of Ruth and Boaz is one of his doing all he can to be her kinsman redeemer. Redemption. It seems to be written deep upon his heart. Again, how could it not be? His mother was Rahab.

His mother was Rahab.

Seemingly, she wasn't just redeemed in that one moment when the walls of Jericho crashed down; she stepped beyond them, outside into a new world in which she lived out her redemption. Her son attests to that.

And then she is mentioned as a hero of faith in Hebrews 11. Even David himself is merely named in a list of faithful men; Rahab gets an entire verse (the thirty-first).

It was by faith that Rahab the prostitute did not die with all the others in her city who refused to obey God. For she had given a friendly welcome to the spies.
I pray I would be like Rahab- that I would walk in my redemption and let it be a testimony to all in my life. God's anger at my sin lasts but a moment, but His favor for a lifetime (Psalm 30:5). A lifetime! And He blesses thousands of generations due to faithfulness (multiple passages). I pray I would be molded into a woman like Rahab; you can safely assume her husband and son (Salmon and Boaz) rose up to call her blessed (Proverbs 31:28).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

This means you don't have to have a blogger account! And you can save your info so you don't need to enter anonymous and what have you to comment. Also, you can add a link to your own blog, no matter where it is (MySpace, Mindsay, Xanga, etc.)

Have at it!

And if you don't have it, GET FIREFOX.

Monday, August 07, 2006

So many things that I wanna say

[Your Love, The Outfield]

Sometimes I say something out loud, and then immediately think, "What if you do one of those surveys where you have to write the last thing you said out loud?".

So I'm watching Wheel of Fortune. It's college week (reruns, I'm sure) and tonight's three were the type that made me think, "You've got to be kidding me. How am I not on this show? I could beat them with my eyes closed!".

One puzzle annoyed me in particular- mainly because the second people get money they start spending it all on buying vowels! This drives me crazy. Mainly because you can figure out words without the vowels at all. Case in point:

Ppl tht spnd ll f thr mny n vwls n th shw Whl f Frtn r dmb.

Tell me what that says- I bet you can!

Then, later, the puzzle was "Put the pedal to the metal". I had it figured out with just the h's and t's... for posterity's sake, here:

--t th- ----- t- th- --t--

If you don't believe me, that's fine, but my roommates can attest to me figuring out puzzles when they're still seemingly impossible- watching Jeopardy and Wheel is kind of a tradition on most weeknights at our [LAKE!] house. I'm not sure if it's talent, skill, luck, or some comibination of all of the above, but I also used to tick off the entire football bus in high school (I kept stats) because someone had a little handheld Wheel game and I never lost. Ever. Not even against the coaches. I was actually kind of embarrassed about it and always downplayed my wins.

However, tonight my humility was... not to be found when I figured out the puzzle and then shouted out, "I'm a GENIUS! I win at LIFE!"

Yeah, that's right. I said that.

In the words of... well, pretty much all of my roommates (I have four):

"Oh, [insert my name], what are we gonna do with you?"

Everyone I knew was waiting on a cue to turn and run when all I needed was the truth

[Over My Head (Cable Car), The Fray]

Last night I started thinking about something.

So often people experience something good and think it means they (we... I...) need more of that good thing. This is understandable, since most of us are trained that some things are good and other things are bad. Avoid the bad, embrace the good.

Allow me to insert pieces of a conversation written on the journal of an acquaintance elsewhere in cyberspace:

His original post

Maybe I just scared the crap out of [a little girl that started crying on the train] with my remarkable blandness. No, on second thought, make that: "My intense physical ugliness." I'm so ... blah! I know this is classic pathetic insecurity, but lately I've been feeling it.

What would you give to be intensely beautiful? Not inner beauty, but outer beauty. The kind that causes gasps of wonder and turns heads. The mesmerizing kind of beauty. The enchanting kind.

My response
Per beauty... I can relate. There are times where I see someone with that kind of dazzling beauty and wish I could know for even five minutes what it feels like to be seen that way. To be desired, to have others wish they could just experience my beauty. But then I look in the mirror and realize that I am robbing myself. My weight is something I can control and am taking the reigns of. But my smile is genuine. My eyes are sincere and they sparkle. I am a handcrafted product of the Living God! How dare I apply my limited understanding to what physical beauty is. Particularly, I don't let Hollywood and the media define my moral and faith values, so why would I let them tell me I am ugly? Confidence is what makes a person truly beautiful.
I think about friends that, to me, are stunning. Were I to not know them and passed them on the street I would merely go on with life. But because I know them, and I've been there when they are alit with joy, or seen the beauty of strength in personal tragedy exhibited by them, they could not be more attractive to me. And this is not JUST because of inner beauty.
I had a friend when I was younger that was stunning. Toned and athletic yet sexy size six with a chest that simply didn't seem natural (yet totally was). She was blonde haired and blue eyed, and had that casual "I'm not even trying to be sexy" sexiness. And she was far beyond simply losing her virginity by middle school. Then another friend in high school, similarly gorgeous, went through almost a boyfriend a month. Usually she broke up with one because she was caught making out with an ex.

I, in my limited scope and frame of reference, often complained about wishing I could be like them, to have guys lining up to date me and girls envying my physical beauty. Both of them told me, separately and years apart, in moments of depth and vulnerability, that they sometimes envied me. They envied that the boys (and girls) thought I was smart and funny, easy to talk to yet deep. They told me that if I were pretty I would always question if a guy was with me because of who I was, or because he just hoped to get in my pants.

At the time I huffed and said, "Yeah, well, I bet you still would never trade places with me." But now that I'm older, I see what they meant. And they were right. I was in a relationship recently where he was caught up in how beautiful he thought I was (even though I was like, "Have you LOOKED at me? Do you have beer goggles on?"). He was also nearly obsessed with my sexual purity. He was enthralled with the idea of showing me sexual pleasure I had never known and being the only man to show me that pleasure for my entire life (his exact words there, actually.). He was also caught up in the kind of mother he thought I'd be. But I realized that he didn't know me. He was threatened by my intellectual abilities, told me he always hoped he'd end up with someone who can't sing so she'd be impressed with his abilities (thus he was threatened by my singing talent), and he always tried to one-up me in everything-- even faith.

I've recently met someone. I'm not sure where things will go with him- we're being careful to seek Christ and not jump to conclusions about one another. But I know he's in awe of me. He loves my writing, thinks I'm brilliant, constantly remarks at my wit, can't wait to hear me sing, is excited about seeing me succeed in anything I put my mind to, and is inspired by my walk with God. I wouldn't trade that for the entire WORLD- if I could have unmatched beauty but had to surrender being seen for who I am inside I would turn it down.

Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman [or man] who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)

As I mature into a woman I realize all the more how true that really is.

So these thoughts were on my mind last night. Misjudged beauty- both physical and that of character, from within- mingled with how faux my first relationship really was, in contrast with just a good, healthy new friendship. Not to mention other friendships of varying lengths with people who see into the depths of me and love me for who I am- none better than my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

You may wonder what this has to do with "good" and "bad". Upon my pondering I realized that my relationship with said ex was bad. It was bad and I got out. The Lord was faithful in revealing how bad it really was, and as I dealt with the layers after the fact I discovered rottenness I couldn't have even seen before. Had I not been faithful to peel away and was content to look only slightly bruised on the surface they would still be eating away deep within my core.

But now- now it seems I have something good. Something healthy. A friendship where I am being careful in ways I never have been before. And that's when it hit me- I do have something good. Worldly wisdom would say to dive in. This person gets me- why not run with it, take the chance that this is IT and force on full-steam ahead? This that I have with him is good so why not embrace it and go to the next level? That's the logic that many would say makes most sense, and they would question why I don't operate by it.

For a moment I asked myself why, indeed, have I not sought more? And then it hit me- I want something better. So frequently, I said to myself, we run away with "the good"; how many refuse to accept "the good" and hold out for "the best"? In the world, there is good and bad. Healthy and unhealthy. Right and wrong.

Life in Christ offers something more- beyond good, healthy, and right. Christ offers the best. That which far exceeds our greatest hopes or expectations. I want His best and will. Not. Settle. For anything less. Not in my relationships (not even with said new friend), not in my walk with God, not in my life.

For some of us the good... well, it simply isn't good enough.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. [John 10:10, NKJV]

"No eye has seen, no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
what God has prepared
for those who love him." [Isaiah 64:4, as referenced in I Corinthians 2:9]

Sunday, August 06, 2006

And every day I am swayed by whatever is on my mind

[Shifting Sand, Caedmon's Call]

Yesterday was not a grand day, to put it lightly. I was rebellious. My means was utter apathy. I didn't do anything wrong, primarily because I didn't do anything. I won't list out the sins (though they're confessed in my journal in full) because that's not the point; the fact is that, in general, my heart refused and was unwilling to yield.

In my quiet time last night I confessed my deep need of Christ. He has been renewing me spiritually, and I don't want this to simply be a spiritual high that passes and then I settle back into a life lacking the fresh and flowing cleansing water of Christ's word. My flesh wanted to either say I was fine, or to wallow in self-pity for my inherent imperfection. But I confessed my sin, asked God for a heart lent to repentance, and beseeched Him to speak to me in His Word.

Did He ever!

Hebrews 9, which I linked at the beginning (just click on the title up above; the three little dots mean it's a link), is a mind-blowing passage in scripture. Its primary focus is on the fact that Jesus Christ has gone into the temple of heaven and provided the one full and perfect sacrifice necessary to forgive all sin.

In the Old Testament, in the temple, there was a four-inch thick veil that separated man from the Holy of Holies, where the Ark of the Covenant (which contained the very spirit of God Himself) was kept. Once a year the high priest would go in to offer sacrifices for the sins of the people- blood sacrifices- but it was a task no one would necessarily want. He had to wear bells and a rope tied to his ankle; this was because if he had any unforgiven sin while in that room the holiness of God would strike him dead. If the bells stopped jingling then the other priests would use the rope to pull his body out, lest they went behind the curtain and were killed themselves.

Hebrews 9 explains that Jesus Christ has done what this old system could not- His blood was offered once for all- every sin is covered and cancelled because Jesus went to heaven itself, a place not made with human hands, and offered the blood sacrifice that purified mankind. Even more amazing is that it is able to cleanse our consciences. He took His perfect, sinless blood and offered full payment for sin and then has the ability to renew us to be sanctified- the process of being made more holy- as we trust Him with our lives.

One verse, the fourteenth, really stuck out to me:

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our hearts from deeds that lead to death so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.
I love this. The Lord doesn't just forgive my sins- He, thanks to Christ's sacrifice, purifies me from the things I have done that otherwise would bring death upon myself. I have eternal life and have been delivered from eternal spiritual death (hell is eternity with the absence of God- in other words, spiritual death), but when I choose to sin in this life I bring other "little deaths"- my selfishness brings death to my relationships and my spiritual growth is stunted. But Jesus Christ cleanses me when I come to Him and humble myself, admitting my sin and asking His forgiveness. If I believe Him that He has the power to do it, He sets me free from my sin and allows me to move beyond it.

Often I beat myself up when I see my sin, and cling to my shame. But Jesus Christ purifies me when I ask for forgiveness and repent! I am free to worship the living God and see His hand in my everyday life. Verse 28 confirms that Jesus died one time- He will not come back and die again. It is finished- the power of death that separates God from man has been conquered. The four-inch thick veil was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38) when Jesus breathed His last, and now all of mankind can not only go "behind the veil"- the Holy Spirit is sealed in any person who receives Jesus Christ. The very power of the Holy Spirit that led Christ lives in me.

I believe that Jesus Christ will return; if for any reason I hear trumpets resounding I don't want to be gripped with regret at how I am currently living my life; I don't want to stand before my Savior in shame. I want to have joy because I have been eagerly awaiting His return.

Praise God for speaking to me. Praise God that today is not yesterday. Most of all, praise God that I am no longer a slave to sin (Romans 6) and have the choice of living for Jesus Christ.

I pray I would be found faithful.

Friday, August 04, 2006

But You never said it would be easy- You only said I'd never go alone

[If You Want Me To, Ginny Owens]

Part III has come.

I know what the Lord has spoken over my life. I am set apart for Him, to love Him and chase after Him with every fiber of my being. His plans for me far exceed what my feeble mind can even hope to dream.
I teach high school, and that does, in essence, make me a teacher. But being a teacher is not who I am. It doesn't define me.

Who I am is a daughter of the King, and my purpose is to follow hard after Him no matter what He calls me to. Who I am is wrapped up entirely in the identity of Christ; what I do, or my calling, is teach.

Since last November- so for 9 months- there has been a growing desire to move back home to the P@cific Northwest. More specifically, Se@ttle. I'm a born and raised eastern W@shingtonian girl, but Se@ttle is where my heart longs to be. I refuse to just go somewhere because it sounds nice- I only want to be where the Lord clearly would have me. However, the more I pray the more I believe this desire is from Him. I would like to make the Se@ttle area a place where I can put down roots and build my life.

That said, two years ago I was certain I would never leave Spok@ngeles, and that I would marry someone from my church, teach in the Me@d School District, have 2.5 kids (ok, I actually want 4-5, some adopted), a two car garage, and a comfy suburban house in a nifty ticky-tacky housing development. The Lord had rather different plans- I never actually
asked Him if He was planning to make that my life, and now I'm fairly sure His will doesn't involve me living in Spok@ne ever again. But, time will tell :)

I am committed to one more year here in T*F_A. After that, I am uncertain as to whether I am even supposed to keep teaching. It makes sense, yet God doesn't always operate on what's sensible. In fact, He rarely does. His thoughts are so far beyond my own that were He to reveal certain truths to me I'd likely laugh at Him just as Sarai and Abram did. However, He changed their names and soon what was once ridiculous to even consider was tangible reality as they raised their son Isaac.

I would love to teach, but at the same time I would love to be more committed to working with youth in a church setting, and writing and teaching Bible studies. To be a good teacher requires at least-
at least- 15-20 hours beyond regular school hours, and that's just for planning and other essentials. That doesn't include investing in the lives of students via the miscellaneous extra-curricular activities that I am involved in. If the Lord says teach, then teach I will, because I do love it. I also am open, however, to the possibility of working a different job (such as an office job, where I have almost 6 years of experience at various tasks) where I could make a decent salary to pay off debt but also be done with work when I leave each evening in order to have more time to commit to church and ministry.

Either way, I want only to be in the center of God's will. I want His best for me, for my life. I don't know what the future holds, but I am open to whatever He says for me to do. I would rather be in a place I don't particularly love but where my God wants me than in a place that I love but in rebellion against the Lord. The very thought causes me to literally shudder.

Regardless of my location and career, I know that God has built a unique testimony into my life. I have a background that opens doors to share of God's faithfulness, glory, and grace in the life of one who wasn't looking for Him. He has given me many gifts and talents to use for His glory. Please see my heart- I am not saying I am any more special or unique than any other person- I'm certainly not MORE special or unique. I'm only saying that I am special and unique.

There are lives Jesus Christ can touch through me that He simply wouldn't be able to touch other people; similarly, there are people to whom I am not necessarily the best option for God's use . I embrace, however, whatever it is He does want to do with my unique and precious life. I fully recognize that nothing about
me is what makes me usable; rather, it is unconditional and complete surrender to God in my pursuit of Him that allows Him to use me.

I simply must insert the entirety of today's (August 4) entry in Oswald Chambers'
My Utmost for His Highest; to try and select a portion would do no honor to the impact it had on me:

Oh, the bravery of God in trusting us! Do you say, "But He has been unwise to choose me, because there is nothing good in me and I have no value"? That is exactly why He chose you. As long as you think that you are of value to Him He cannot choose you, because you have purposes of your own to serve. But if you will allow Him to take you to the end of your own self-sufficiency, then He can choose you to go with Him "to Jerusalem" ( Luke 18:31 ). And that will mean the fulfillment of purposes which He does not discuss with you.

We tend to say that because a person has natural ability, he will make a good Christian. It is not a matter of our equipment, but a matter of our poverty; not of what we bring with us, but of what God puts into us; not a matter of natural virtues, of strength of character, of knowledge, or of experience— all of that is of no avail in this concern. The only thing of value is being taken into the compelling purpose of God and being made His friends (see 1 Corinthians 1:26-31 ). God's friendship is with people who know their poverty. He can accomplish nothing with the person who thinks that he is of use to God. As Christians we are not here for our own purpose at all— we are here for the purpose of God, and the two are not the same. We do not know what God'’s compelling purpose is, but whatever happens, we must maintain our relationship with Him. We must never allow anything to damage our relationship with God, but if something does damage it, we must take the time to make it right again. The most important aspect of Christianity is not the work we do, but the relationship we maintain and the surrounding influence and qualities produced by that relationship. That is all God asks us to give our attention to, and it is the one thing that is continually under attack.

So, to reiterate, I desire to be in the center of where the Love of my life would have me, concerned only with His will. I have much maturing to do until I can honestly say I am in that place; perhaps I'll never entirely feel there, but that is the goal which I seek to attain.

Earlier I mentioned the changing of Abram and Sarai's names- by adding the H, and making them Abraham and Sarah, the Lord added His own spirit. The H represents God Himself in the new promise with Abraham. I believe names can mean so much- and in the Bible, again and again you see that someone's name in many ways represents their character. Seth, the first son born after Cain killed Abel and was banished, means "replaced". Jacob, famous for his deception of Isaac and his routing of his elder brother Esau, means "supplanter". Cephas means "rock", and Peter means "stone"; this blossoms with significance when Peter's role in building the church- as chosen by Christ Himself- is considered. Saul means "asked for" (certainly applicable to King Saul
and the man to be renamed Paul), Paul means "small" or "humble". Each of these names possess such significance in their meaning and how they correspond to the named.

I say all of this because my name is the root of the Hebrew word "tâmîym". Usually written as "perfect" in English, here is the literal meaning: entire (literally, figuratively or morally); also (as noun) integrity, truth: - without blemish, complete, full, perfect, sincerely (-ity), sound, without spot, undefiled, upright (-ly), whole.

I am
by no means saying I am perfect. I am, in my humanity, far from it. However, I believe that my past is filled with brokenness because it is in stark contrast to who I am as God makes me complete in Him. He is building into me the testimony of one who is complete in Jesus Christ.

As I yield more of me to Him, God makes me full and perfect in Him and desires to use me to flood the testimony of His grace and mercy into the world around me. His name spoken over me is to be one who walks in integrity and truth- without blemish, undefiled, and whole in Christ. Perfectly surrendered to Him. Completely yielded.

This, then, is where I am going. I am still human, inhabiting a body of flesh that can oft detract me from the Lord's purposes, but my deepest desire is to be that which the Lord has spoken over me with my very name- one I long despised for being so different from everyone elses; I am set apart to be
tâmîym in Christ.

This blog will detail, as appropriate, my journey as I seek to follow Christ, and you are welcome to join in what the Lord is doing at will. There will still, of course, be references to sports and randomosity, but as my heart changes I pray my blog would reflect that.

My life verses (those I most closely identify with as defining my purpose are:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory. [Colossians 3:1-4, NKJV]

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Holla at the big two-nine, TB!

Happy 29th birthday to my future husband!!

If you're an utter dolt and don't know who that is, that would be Tom Brady. One of very few good things to come out of the seventies ;)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

All of this is more than I've ever known or seen

[Nothing Left to Lose, Mat Kearney]

As promised, the continuation of the previous to be continued entry.

This is installment two of a three part series; the first was where I've been, this is where I am pertaining to the next year of my life, and the third will be where I'm going.

So where, then, am I? As always with me it requires prefacing.

For nearly two years I let a hardening come into my heart. After walking with God in a way previously unknown to me for a summer in China I came home committed to living sold out for Christ. However, it was at this point that I slowly but surely began to turn from Christ. It happened in small ways, not even really able to be measured.

Looking back I can see the signs of having a heart that was retaking the reigns from Christ are all there. I packed on not only the 30 pounds I lost in China but also about 80 more. I slowly but steadily began to rack up thousands of dollars in credit card debt, and grossly overborrowed in student loans. I lost my passion to talk about Christ and what He was doing in my life with my family and friends- Christian and non-Christian alike. Eventually my desire to spend time in God's Word and to fellowship by going to church all but fizzled. I was selfish and defensive in relationships, focused on the negative in everyone else.

Up until about four months ago I go to the place where I wondered what my purpose for living even was. I never contemplated suicide or anything like that, but when I thought about my future it felt heavy yet empty and devoid of meaning.

God has graciously brought me full circle. He allowed me to find a healthy church, literally brought two Christian friends out of the woodwork of largely (albeit not entirely) anti-Christian T_F*A, and used a relationship to wake me up to the path I was on. I was ready to pledge my life to someone with drastically different beliefs that would have ended, eventually, in my spiritual deadness. I would have lived a miserable life. I have no doubt. Yet, in His infinite wisdom, God chose to use that relationship more than anything to show me just how hardened and far my heart was from Him.

Recently Christ has been reopening my heart to His Word, and His will. I am convicted that this year I need to get into a routine and be disciplined in the areas of time management, finances, and eating/exercise. I've already started all of the above, but when I get back to school it's imperative that I actually do my best as a teacher. The truth is, with half-arsed effort I can be a good teacher. I say that not with pride, but nearly with shame. The Lord has enabled me to excel at anything I put my mind to-- how dare I waste His talents and gifts?

This year I desire to be the best possible teacher I can be (putting effort into good planning, and refusing to sit around and waste time; also getting sleep!), a better friend (no more gossiping/whining/complaining/negative focus, but loving and encouraging), a better steward (stick to a budget and stop being so wasteful- getting out of debt is not enough), a better caretaker of my body ( about what I eat and exercise even if I don't feel like it), and, most importantly, a more passionate pursuer of Christ. Church must be a priority, not an "if I feel like it" deal. I simply must make time for God's Word and quiet time spent alone with Him each day- not because it's a rule or a requirement, but because, simply put, I need Jesus Christ. As with any friendship, I can't shut Him out of my life and expect Him, then, to be a central part of it.

All of these areas require vast improvements... the good news is, I suppose, that I was so lame last year that almost anything would be quite the jump. But I don't just want to be merely "better"- I truly do want to do the very best I possibly can.

As anyone even remotely close to me knows, I love sports. LOVE them. When those men (yeah, I think watching women's sports is 40x less exciting 99% of the time as opposed to watching men's sports. That's just the way it is.) step onto that field, court, pitch, etc., they know that no matter how much they want to win, so do the other guys, and someone has to lose. At the end of the day, what matters most is that they trained their hardest in preparation and then poured out their very hearts and souls in the battle. Better to lose with one's head held high in defeat than to win and know deep down that the victory belongs to someone else who did his job when you were lackluster. And, of course, how much sweeter the victory when you know there are no questions about who played the better game and deserved the W (interestingly enough, the [loathed] Pittsburgh Steelers just came to mind, since this DOESN'T apply to them in last year's Superbowl. Yeah, I'm still bitter.). The simple truth with sports is that you simply have to give your very best because someone else is always going to exploit your weaknesses if you're not.

I feel this way about my life- I have to be my very best. It's not about being a better teacher/Christian/friend than someone else- it's all about ME knowing that I did the best I could with what was entrusted to me, as in the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14-29). To whom much has been given much has been required. Something tells me I'm not the guy with only one coin. Who am I to waste this precious gift of being me? My flesh- or at times the adversary, at times other people, and at times circumstances- are standing at ready attention to exploit my lack of diligence. I want to come to the end of my life and be able to say, like Paul in II Timothy 4:7, that I have fought the good fight, finished the race, and remained faithful.

I am leaving it all on the field, my very best. I have long said (since 2002 at the latest) that I intend to live my life with no regrets. I do not regret the hardening of my heart because it was the decision I made at that time; I would, however, regret not taking every opportunity to draw close to the heart of God while He's drawing me at the present time.

I want to leave you with lyrics to the Joy Williams song No Less:

I wanna give my all and
No less
I wanna live my life with
No regrets

I'll listen to
The call
Because You gave
It all

And when You put me to
The test
I'll give You
No Less

Part III to come...

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


I have to give major props to Shiona for correctly guessing my top three favorite Ammo nicknames. She's so getting taken out on a date the next time we're in the same vicinity.

I'm not posting the answer just so the rest of you get a chance, so feel free to put forth the effort :)

And yes, the to be continued episode is still to come. Worry not.