Tuesday, March 31, 2009

You Bring Me to My Knees...

...I'll give you everything!*

Since I met with Ransomed Grace last Wednesday, I've felt a renewed passion to figure this Christianity thing out. I got saved in '05, but in the last (almost) 4 years, I've been missing something.

Last night, I figured out what it is.

Two of my assignments were a belief statement about the character of God, as well as an introspection essay on what I allow to keep me from having an intimate relationship with God. I was reading through my work for both last night, and realized that I only know Jesus perfunctorily. I know Him like I know a new friend, not in the deep way that makes you give your life for someone. Not in the way you'd talk to someone who knows you thoroughly. I don't try to keep in touch.

I have violated the greatest commandment. Jesus said to him, “‘you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
(Matthew 22:37 – 40)

It got me to thinking. What would my day look like if I were seeking to first please the Lord? How would I rise each morning? Spend my free time? Order my gym time, family time, quiet time? How often would I talk to Him? I don't have those answers yet, but for the first time last night, I realized that I truly believed intimacy with Him was actually possible for ME. In a while I plan to call RG and confess this to her, get her thoughts, and see if I have more assignments from this revelation.

How sad that it took me this long. And how faithful God is that He'd try to teach me again, after all this time, to just love Him. Just love Him.

*That's a Vineyard Music song called, "More Than Ever".

Monday, March 30, 2009

Who Is Your Favorite?

Did you ever ask your parents that? "Mom, who do you love the best"? I asked that question once, but knew from the response that it wasn't an ok question.

I know that I only asked because I wanted to be assured that I was loved in the first place, which is its own problem. But with God, we're ALL His favorite. How sweet is that? That notion never sat well with me, but my friend Kate used to say all the time, "I'm an SO God's favorite today", with genuine joy. Some time later I came to the realization that since He is no respecter of persons, that had to be true. Sweet! So I AM God's favorite!

Last night we had a night of worship at my church. Worship leaders from several local Vineyard churches lead, and it was amazing. The best part? So many people I loved were there! Above-mentioned Kate was able to come and brought three girls with her. Ransomed Grace that I mentioned in my last post sat with her husband right in front of me. My friend Prisoner of Hope and her husband came and sat behind. A woman named Lu was there, and it was so sweet to see and talk with her. John and Ginger were there, as were Walt and another friend, Susan. I was surrounded by this big circle of love, and I thought my heart might burst.

Ps 139:5, "You hem me in, before and behind, Your sovereign hand is upon me."

Amen and amen.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Where Do You Go?

Do you have a place you go to get away with God? I don't. I tried making a reading corner in the living room that was just for me, but the children sit there all the time and leave their VSmile, etc., in the way which totally ruins it for me. Even if they didn't leave it, I think about all the other things I "should" be doing, like mopping the floor or starting dinner, and totally can't focus.

My friend Susan goes for a hike. I hate bugs, cold, heat, weather conditions, you get the picture. I love a beautiful sunset and all, but at the end of the day, I'm a gym girl through and through. That said, something has to change. I don't mind that I feel like I have to leave my house to get alone with God, but I don't have a place where I feel like I can go, what with disliking parks and all.

When I met with Ransomed Grace on Wednesday, she challenged me to make time for quiet time every single day until we meet again. Yesterday I made an effort at starting the homework she gave me, but then realized that's really not quiet time. How in the world is that supposed to look? I mean, I know there's no formula, but there's a general guideline, right? Something like, "listen to a few worship songs, pray a bit, read a bit, sit quietly and let Him talk", maybe?

You know where I get the most alone time? In the car. Living in the Atlanta metro area, pretty much everywhere I go except the gym and the grocery store takes thirty minutes or more. Church is almost an hour each way, so is small group. The Music Man works fully 45 minutes from home. That's our "normal". I love that time when I'm driving somewhere and have all that time to listen to music, listen for God. If only I could do that every day! Plus, RG is big into journaling, and I can't exactly wield a pen and manage the wheel at the same time.

Any ideas for this gal? This is something I desperately want to get right, and I haven't been able to in nearly four years!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How Good is God?

This is a long-ish story, but here goes. When Elijah House ended, I felt like God was telling me that I needed to start a post-abortion ministry at my church. HELLOOOOOOO. So. Not. Ready. For. That. But at the same time, I told one of my Elijah House prayer team about it, and she recommended talking to a missionary returning after a decade on the field who ran such a ministry abroad for quite a few years. It was a 100% confirmation of what I felt the Lord told me to do. Isn't He good?

They came home about a month ago, and I was afraid to talk with her, we'll call her Ransomed Grace. We all know that I'm not all that great at talking to strangers, but I felt like I had to do it. God told me clearly that I was supposed to see if she'd prayerfully consider counseling me through the abortion issue, given her experience in the field. That was 2 weeks ago. Sunday, she said yes, and that we should meet today. Isn't He good?

I was nervous about tonight. RG is a virtual stranger. She lives an hour away. I left my house at 4 and, because of the rain in the Atlanta area and afternoon traffic, got to her house 5:20, 20 minutes past our appointed time. To quote Olympia Dukakis in "Mr. Holland's Opus", "What an auspicious beginning".

RG challenged me. She challenged me in my relationship with my mother, with my relationship with God, my husband, myself. She gave me homework (LOVE), called me on my crap (double love). She let me know that she's in this with me for the long haul, even said that we're not in a hurry and was talking in periods of months.

Now, my heart isn't accustomed to being accepted like that, and certainly not used to someone who doesn't know me inviting me into her home, sharing her story, walking me through something so hard and making it clear that she was not going to leave me alone. I feel safe, loved, and important. Isn't He good?

Well, isn't He?

A Weighty Issue

As in, mine. The scale hasn't moved, I'm still at 136ish. Again, that's higher than the recommended weight range for my height, and I feel the need to drop at least 10 lbs, preferably 15 to 20. But what I hadn't counted on was this size thing.

A couple of months ago, I bought some pants in a size 6 at my favorite thrift store (2 pair, one each from the Gap and Bass). I try them on about once a week to keep myself accountable. Today, the Bass pants fit fine, comfortably even. The Gap ones button and zip, no muffin top, but I'd like to drop another 4 lbs or so before they're truly comfortable.

And I am astounded. My weight hasn't changed, but I have gotten smaller. And I still feel like the fat girl. Four people have commented on my figure since Sunday, all of them saying I look good, and I can't so much believe them. My friend/instructor Pam asked if I was a size 2 yet. Not hardly, but she's a kindly soul, that one.

But again, I still don't feel different. Still don't feel like I belong at the gym. Still think people look at me when I eat a treat food in public.

For anyone who has lost a relatively large amount of weight, when does that change occur? When does your mind come around and realize that you're not the same size you were, and that maybe when men look at you, it's not in disgust? Sigh. I'll get there.

I'll get there.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Banging the Rust Off of the Old Pipes

I've been busy and sick and stretched a bit thin the last couple of weeks and haven't had anything to write about. Or perhaps I have had things to write about, but have lacked the energy to make it all happen. This prompt has circled the internet for at least four years, but I'm finally doing the "I Am From" writing prompt.

I Am From

I am from dusty softball gloves, glass Pepsi bottles and ball park pickles.

I am from the farm house with no farm, no air conditioning, and no heat but the pot-bellied stove. From white antique wrought-iron beds and six layers of wallpaper. From Hoosier cabinets and well water and the garden down the hill. Empty chicken coops and a rusty grain silo and falling through the barn floor. Picking fresh blackberries from the bushes and exploring the creek for hours on my own, with an old ice cream pail holding my lunch and a book. Reading on the back porch swing with a blanket, and gathering there during especially violent thunderstorms. From the fresh, loamy smell and the brightest green this side of the Emerald Isle.

I am from the Black-Eyed Susans and Queen Ann's Lace, clover blankets, buckeyes and soybean fields down the hill.

I am from stubborn independence, from Herbert and Edna, and Rhoda and Emerson.

I am from bootstraps and responsibility, duty and daily chores.

From "every block has to have an alley" and "I never thought you'd be this much trouble".

I am from hard Sunday pews and a gregarious English preacher, gilded hymnals and thick, humid summers. Clanging coins on brass collection plates and half-pieces of Wrigley's Double Mint. Dresses on rotation and sticky, sweaty legs, burnt from vinyl car seats, permanent lines.

I am from Ohio, straddling the line between agriculture and blue-collar industry, sauerkraut and Uncle Steve's "recipe". A half-formed ancestry, father's side unknown.

From the time grandpa dressed up as the New Year's Baby, learning to tie my shoes with a pair of purple moccasins, and snapping beans until my fingers bled under the nail.

I am from a box of jumbled photographs, spared water damage by the grace of God. Smiling faces at seemingly random moments, fragments of the lives we wanted to appear we had. From pristine manuals, every detail preserved by Aunt Kay who, though childless, has birthed memories better than anyone else.

I am from the swirling tumult, the hazy days, the symphony and the noise. It comes with the breeze, but sticks like dandelion seeds. That's me.

Monday, March 9, 2009


*This morning, the police showed up at my door at 7:30 am. APPARENTLY, my littlest called 911 SEVERAL times while I was making my hot water for cayenne tea. They were exceedingly kind and didn't reprimand me at all, as I expected. They looked around to see that we were ok, asked if anyone else was home, and left.

*At the moment, I am LOVING this time change. My children are going to bed at the same time, but got up at 8 am yesterday and 7:30 today. That's a nice change from 5:45-6:30. Will it last? Who knows, but I'm not complaining right now!

*Have you ever wondered about the song "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing"? Specifically the line, "Here I raise mine Ebenezer/Hither by thy help I'm come". Apparently it has to do with Samuel 7, and I'm working to figure out what my Ebenezer stones would be.

10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the LORD thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Car.

12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, [b] saying, "Thus far has the LORD helped us." 13 So the Philistines were subdued and did not invade Israelite territory again.

*I'm undertaking a colon cleanse and, while I'm excited about it, I'm a bit nervous. It's a long 90 day process (I could probably do it in 30 if I were willing to fast, but I'm not willing since I exercise so much and am still nursing).

*I also ordered some new gym clothes from Old Navy that are supposed to come, so I'll let you know what I think. They're one of the few to make pants in petites (even petite capris, woohoo), along with a couple of styles at Target, NY & Company, and a single style of Nike at REI.

I think that's all, almost time to get the kids dressed and head to my dance class at the gym!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Made With Love By ____________________

Did anyone you know ever make you clothing and put one of those labels inside? My gram used to make me an Easter and a Christmas dress every year, and my music-in-law made my rehearsal dinner dress with a "Made with love by _____" label on the inside.

I have issues with owning things. I don't write inside books (ok, I'm starting to, a little, but it feels weird). I don't write my kids' names on the tags inside their coats. I keep EVERYTHING. I was thinking about this phenomenon in my life the other day in the car on the way to the gym. It hit me like a bolt of lightening, the realization that I am absolutely petrified.

I am afraid to ascribe something to myself because I am TERRIFIED of losing things. And by things, of course, I mean things that matter. My home, my children.

I was raised to know that I own nothing. I remember very clearly when I was in junior high, my mother told me to bring her HER yearbook. Really? Did you really own the pictures of thirteen-year-olds? Why would you even WANT to? It wasn't about owning the book. It was about lording power over me, letting me know my place. Letting me know that I was worth so little that a book with my own picture in it didn't belong to me.

Years later when I was in my 20s but still childless, I went to a friend's house and heard her tell her son that he didn't own some toy of his. It wasn't malicious, he was being a little smart and silly and she was letting him know, but it made me immediately nauseous. The thought of telling my children that their things are mine just seems wrong to me. Firstly because it teaches them nothing about caring for their things. Secondly because it teaches them nothing of stewardship. I don't want to teach them that first their things are God's, then mine, and THEN they might get to claim some stake. And of course practically, if I own it all then it's my job to clean it all, put it all away, keep it in good working order, etc. I don't have time in my life for that.

I am so, so afraid of God. Terribly so, specifically that He would just randomly snatch away all that is "mine". I attribute this fear to my mother's iron-fisted will to control everyone but herself. I don't know if that was or is the truth of her character, but it sure felt like it to me. I've always lived with the pervasive sense that I should have just been grateful that she didn't abort me and that anything over survival was a blessing bestowed by her on someone as worthless as me.

I'm working through a range of emotions right now (obviously). Some lovely, some horrible, and all intense. I have a friend in my life who is moving to another level of intimacy, and it's nice. I adore her, she's just the cat's pajamas. She loves me too, and it's good. She's showing me that I don't have to perform perfectly for her to love me, and even loves my efforts. She's challenging me to develop some areas that I feel weak in, just for the joy of it and for God's good pleasure. It is blessed. But then there are those feelings from my childhood that bubble up like tar and threaten to explode on the prgoress I've made.

I'm also having dreams about all of the people I need to forgive. How sweet and gentle of God to bring them to mind in such a safe way. A couple of weeks ago I didn't do any work toward it, and God brought this person to me in a second dream, as if to say, "Babe, I showed you what to do. Please do your part, too".

See how gentle He is? See how irrational my fear is? I've often said that we as the body of Christ have lost a healthy fear of the Lord. I still think that's true, but I'm no better. I'm just the opposite, seeing damnation around every corner.

So today, Lord please show me what a healthy fear looks like. Though each day is a surprise gift, when I say, "I PLAN to do X" is really just fear speaking from my heart, not a respect for Your awesome power. And please use just a tiny bit of that power to allow this woman to touch the hem of your garment and be healed from years of wretchedness.

"Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Birthday Littlest!

Today, my littlest child turns one. A year old already! My sunshine girl, my precious babum, she is the joy in our lives. While she has been known as the Look Alike until now, I think it's time to change her name, since she is her own person. That child of mine will now be known as the Joyful Babe (or JB). She's so wonderful, so precious, so smiley, so fantastic.

So on your first birthday, little babe, I thank you. Thank you for teaching me about three baby grace. Thank you for making my heart swell with each accomplishment. Thank you for being so easy going and lighting up every room you enter. I love your chubby thighs, your eagerness to walk and explore the world. I love that you spend time playing alone, learning where you fit into this little family. I don't expect that you'll be the littlest forever, but I cherish the days that you are.

I love you, Babe, I cherish you, I'm so happy to be your mama. Happy birthday!