Monday, May 31, 2010

Question Marks???

I've had a lot of thoughts and questions running through my brain the last couple of days. I'm sure they are all connected on some level, although I'm not totally sure how.
Yesterday a friend commented to me that she was surprised I could keep such a positive attitude through all that has happened. (I may not be quoting her exactly.) It got me to thinking and rethinking some things I have thought and asking some questions I have asked. (How about that for a sentence.)
One: Am I faking it? I don't really fake things well. I don't do well at portraying feelings I don't have. And sometimes wear my heart way out on my sleeve. I have actually taken some time off because I just knew I could not show up and be ok in the way that my job would "require." Am I leading this little blog world to believe that I have it together and I don't? Am I going to have a break down of massive proportions soon? (The last question I can not totally answer, maybe :) ) I know it has been hard. I know that I have talked and cried when it has come up. I know I have expressed and felt the gravity of the last 7 weeks. I also know I have felt peace and joy. I have been amazed at the days when I can get through my crazy day and haven't had to ask for forgiveness, at least more than usual! So, I don't think I am faking it, but asking the Lord to continue to reveal the me what is going on in my heart and that I would keep dealing with it appropriately.
Two: Am I allowing God to have His way in my life? This one is a little more complicated. I am spending time with Him daily. It looks different each day and it seems different than it did 3 months ago. I don't necessarily feel fired up and blown away. I more feel a steady stream of filling up that is comforting and peaceful. His Word has been amazing to speak to me at each moment. This answer I don't know, but I pray He is.
Three: Am I too much? This has come from feeling so emotional and struggling to know what to do with all the emotions. They have felt so overwhelming at times. They have felt forceful. And at times, completely unknown. I know I haven't had control over all that has happened. But, I have felt bad that it has happened when it did. Felt bad that I can't handle what I "normally" handle. That Estes Park is upon us and it takes all I have normally and I don't have that to give. That it is high function to get there and high relational there. That I have not been able to be there for my friends in their times of need, joys in their life, or just life. I have hated that the people closest to me have felt the sting of my low tank, my low threshold. And this stirs up the insecurity...Are people wanting to get away from me? Are they tired of where I am? Is how I am feeling appropriate? Hence the question, Am I too much? Is this too much?
And then I have to stop the rush in my head and think about what I know and believe!
I believe that God is in control. That He KNEW what this past 2 months would be. He KNEW that grief would be deep and real at the same time that Estes Park would be. He KNEW that I would be living moment to moment trusting that He is going to give me what I need. He KNEW that stress would pile and at moments I would break and be a complete crying, sobbing mess. He KNEW!
And He KNEW that I would be reading in Genesis about Joseph. And how Josephs life did not take turns like I would expect (or he would for that matter.) His brothers become angry with him and decide to kill him... and God KNEW. God KNEW when that would happen and sent a caravan so he would be sold into slavery headed to Egypt and He KNEW who would purchase him when they got there. And He KNEW that Joseph would be in prison and that the cup-bearer would go to his care. And He KNEW when the cup-bearer would bring up Joseph's name to Pharaoh and that Pharaoh would give him the job over everything. And He KNEW that Joseph would be in charge when his family needed to be saved from the famine. I can only think of the questions that Joseph asked along the way. Maybe nothing like the questions I asked (it would have been nice and convenient for writing sake if they had.) But I am sure he had doubts and questions of what God is up to. Did he actually see all the circumstances as they happened as God KNOWING all?
I want to think that way. I want to look at my life and rest in the fact that God KNOWS! He KNOWS where I am, what's coming, how He wired me and how all that will work together.
And so again today... I choose to trust Him.
PS: the butterfly above is called "question mark" because of the little white sideways question mark on the outside of its wing.  Photo found here.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Take the Exit

A friend of mine posted a comment the other day that really got my mind thinking. She said,
"All I know is I will never be the same. I pray that He makes you more like Him in the midst of a time you will never forget." The six words that stood out to me... I'll never be the same.
I've pondered on the thought for about a week now. Thinking about the truth of each day of our lives. Not only does each day bring things that change us, both in who we are and how we see things. But it should be true because we are allowing the Spirit to change us, to sharpen us, and continue to take the dross off. The Spirit has the power to change us and I wonder how much I get in the way?! Do I sometimes avoid stopping to see, stopping to really experience? Do I just choose to rush past the exit, to not stop and see because it might hurt more?
As far as the circumstances of the last 7 weeks, I feel like the Lord has sweetly called me to not rush past. To take each moment as it comes. To LISTEN and to LEARN, and to MOST importantly REST in Him.
Here are some of the ways I think I have changed, because of what He has taught me. Hopefully to never be the same...
1) I will let my friends even deeper into my thoughts and life so that I will be more guarded from slipping into isolation and fear.
2) I have another experience piled on to the track record of faithfulness of God that I can fall back on in the future. (My rock jar is getting heavier.)
3) God's word is taking deeper hold in my life and has proved once again how powerful it is to fill up the most empty times.
4) This experience of losing people I think will give me more compassion when others around me lose someone they love.
5) Spending time in God's word every morning and trusting Him to provide for the day has once again proven vital to having what I need to get through what the day holds.
6) I hope it will make me a better friend. That I will be reminded to pursue when the "newness" has worn off.
I know this stretch of road is not done yet. But my hope and prayer is... Lord change me. Make me more like your Son. Open my eyes that I will see where you are moving and where I get in the way. I want to rely completely on You. I don't want any of it to be wasted! I want to exit and sit where You want me to. Change me!

Photo found through Google Images.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Running on EMPTY!

Last Monday when I was up and ready for work it hit me... MY TANK IS EMPTY! There has been so much over the last 6 weeks: both fun, happy times, and hard, sad times. But all of them take emotional energy. And I had none left.
So I began praying and searching for a way to get away for a little while and do some refueling. The Lord graciously provided a home (thank you Johnson's) with a pool where I could just chill. (And thanks Mark and Kyle for letting me take today off.) I basically have done nothing for 60+ hours. Ok... "nothing" I guess in impossible. But I have laid by the pool and in the pool. I have read an entire 490+ page book (Francine River's new one: Her Mother's Hope), it was really good. It gave me more to think about, but what's new?! I did go to the zoo with my parents to see the new Safari exhibit, it was really cool. Too crowded and hot today, but still neat. (I'll try to remember to post pictures later.) I have eaten, ice cream included. I have slept, thankfully that is not something that has been interrupted this last 6 weeks. And...
I have journaled. So much of my journal is saying the same thing these days... "I'm not sure how I feel." I really do want to keep processing all that has gone on. I know I can't just wake up one day and it all be FINE! Not that I really would want that any way this side of heaven. But at times it has been frustrating. I can't make myself cry. Part of me thinks there have to be more tears in there. OH, I'm sure they will come out in Estes Park :). I can't make something profound come out of my heart or His Word. Don't get me wrong. His Word has done nothing but comfort me through this time. He has spoken sweet reminders of who He is and what He has for me if I continue to look to Him to be my strength. But I have not had some great AH-HAH moment this weekend.
And so that got me to thinking about this quote from C.S. Lewis that says: "“Our Father refreshes us on the journey with some pleasant inns, but will not encourage us to mistake them for home.” This weekend has been a very pleasant inn. It has provided time to refresh and refuel. It has allowed me to not give any more out. It has given me juice so I can walk into this next week. BUT I long for more. And I long for more because I'm not home yet... NOTHING will completely satisfy me. And it kinda makes me wonder if that's why no trip, no weekend, no party, no anything ever completely scratches every itch. And that's ok. I think it might actually allow me to enjoy some of these pleasant inns a little more. Now I can have fewer expectations for perfection and can enjoy what is before me. Knowing that one day... HOLY COW will my tank be full. And I CAN NOT WAIT for that day!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hanging in there...

I'm hanging in there!
This process has been tough for sure.
Trying to stay "in life" has not always been easy.
BUT I feel like the Lord is giving me exactly what I need to get through each day!
Some main things are scriptures that remind me who, how, and why!

Psalm 29:11, "The Lord gives His people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace." I have for sure needed an abundance of both these last 6 weeks.

And then this verse in 2 Corinthians 1:9, "...we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God." Truly... I CAN NOT do this! I need Him to give me what I need for each step... whether grieving, working, or loving others.

And then Isaiah 58:11, "The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength..." Truly, I feel dry and He is watering my soul. Giving me exactly what I need when I need it!

I am so thankful for the provision of His Word! And then the other ways He is providing... little things from people saying they are thinking about me, answers to specific prayers, fun little distractions like raccoons in the chimney, and PEACE! It has truly been beyond my understanding. This storm is hard, I'm trying to not rush through it, and I'm trying to listen and be faithful.
I'm going to disappear this weekend. Take time to process, rest, be filled up. Thankful for the gift of a place to stay and praying for sunshine!!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

My Mom!

Loves cats!
Is great at editing anything.
Notices new things about us... haircut, new glasses, clothes etc.
Drinks Coke!
Always adopts my friends into the family... birthdays and all!
Does thoughtful gifts... trip to Ethiopia care packages.
Is a master at crossword puzzles.
Always answered my why questions.
Never forced her childhood dreams on us.
Encouraged us to try anything.
Avid reader.
Notices what we say we want and it appears under the Christmas tree.
Doesn't like the taste of alcohol... just like me.
Excellent photographer.
Ready to help in time of need.
Super great cook... and let us pick meals when we were kids.
Offers great opinions when sought out.
Number one supporter of what we do.

I am thankful that God chose you to be my mom.
I Love You!
Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

We Have FLEAS!!!

A little delayed in posting this... but it was too great to pass up.
Sunday, April 25th I came home kinda late from a dinner with some awesome ladies. We had a great time and was a sweet escape from all that had happened that day. When I was in my room I notices a flea on my foot. The 3rd flea to be found in my room in about 3 weeks. I went out to talk with Lindsey and Charla to see if they had noticed fleas and in the middle of the discussion Charla says... "I think there may be a critter living in our chimney."
I quickly say... get my a flashlight! I went to bend down to look in the chimney and I flashed the light up there before I got down where I could see and "something" moves. I tell myself it was just leaves... don't panic. Then I get all the way down... and BULL if there is not fur about a foot from me. I jump up and declare to my roommates there is an animal in there. I was pretty sure it was a raccoon! Both of my roommates at some point are sitting on the kitchen counter :)
I immediately called my neighbor Chris, who puts me promptly on speaker phone! I tell him we have an animal in our chimney and he has to come over now! (Side note: He tells me later that he didn't believe me!)
He gets to our house... better flashlight in hand, and looks up there and chuckles. YEP, you have a large raccoon in your chimney. I get so excited. Let's get up on the roof and look at it. To which Chris replies. "Are you serious?" Yes, I'm serious. Of course he is totally in. He brings over a ladder, I change in to climbing clothes with tennis shoes and off we go.
As I am about to get on the roof, I realize that thing could have climbed out and be waiting on me... I get up very cautiously.
Chris and I get up there and we both stand at the chimney deciding who is going to climb up on the chimney to look first. NOT ME :) Chris jumps up and chuckles... "Hey buddy!" He tells me that it is a BIG ONE!
We decide to make a bunch of noise down stairs to see if the raccoon will leave.
Chris and I stand way back as we do not want to be in its exit path!
The critter does not exit so I decide I want to get up and look. Chris hoists me up there.
Yep it is a big one. I want my camera. The dialogue goes like this" Chris, "Ok I'll get it." Me, "Oh wait, get me down first." Chris, "No, hang on, I'll just grab it and give it to you." (Chris tells me later that my tone changed from, fun, to very serious." Me: "GET ME DOWN!"
I get down, get my camera and then get back up... and this is the pic of our critter.
We decide to board up the fireplace and call pest control the next day! SUCH a highlight to my week! I was so entertained and laughed more that night than I for sure had all month and maybe in a while.
The next day was lots of phone calls and emails on how to get our friend out. We found out that the raccoon was probably a mother about to have babies... on no, please not in our chimney!
One of the places told us to play really loud music and that the raccoon would leave out of irritation. So I blasted 106.1 in the chimney all afternoon. It would make me want to leave! And we got home that afternoon, looked in the chimney... SHE'S GONE! Chris helps us cover up the hole... duct tape to the rescue, and Lindsey's dad and brother came out the next day to really fix it. So thankful for men to help us out in the critter crisis's of life!
It really was such a welcome distraction to all the hard things going on. I kinda felt sorry for the raccoon... we were loud and annoying AND I wouldn't doubt if I get to heaven and found out God put her in there... just for me!
(And this week, one of my co-workers brought me a picture of a raccoon waving with a note that said... "Here's your raccoon for today, Love ya!" So sweet and thoughtful!)
Think maybe I should find a stuffed raccoon to remember the little joys in life!
P.S. Haven't seen a flea since!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

All in One Bottle?

I am somewhat in shock I think. My mom called last night to tell me that my Grandma in CO had passed away. We aren't sure exactly what happened but maybe a stroke or heart attack. She had Alzheimer's and I am thankful it didn't drag out, just like I was for both my Grandad's.
But WOW! That's a lot in one month!! There is a lot to grieve. As per the post before, the rains are still coming. (Both in circumstance and from my eyes!!) But there is a sense of calm in my heart. I'm hanging on the Psalm 119:114... "You are my refuge and my shield, Your word is my source of hope." (Is there any wonder why I stalled out in memorizing right there??!!) I know the processing will continue for all that has happened in the last month, for me and all those I love that are grieving loss. Praying I hold fast to truth and love those
around me well.
And a little side note... I don't think it is possible for me to run out of tears. And if Psalm 56:8 is literal, which I wouldn't doubt, then I can't wait to see what size bottle He has for me!

Sent from "no tellin' where!"

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

3 little... YET Powerful Words...

This morning I spent time marking all the places in scripture where God says "do not be afraid." (Note: if you decide to do this and use, be sure and just put the word afraid in so you can get all of them.)
It took me over an hour to get them all marked. I was amazed as I did it to look at all the circumstances facing those that needed to hear "do not be afraid." Some of them were afraid of other people, some at the presence of an angel, others of physical circumstances, or unmet dreams. There was also a couple of other words that often accompanied those 4 words, "do not be discouraged."
I began asking myself, where in my life am I afraid? Where do I have fear? And where am I discouraged? The last month has been tough. (See previous post. My Dad's dad did pass away a week ago.) I have battled having fears inside that I was going to get a call about someone else passing away. Or I have felt discouraged that I am so emotional and don't feel much like doing anything. I have battled fears of disappointing people or not being enough. Being discouraged that I don't have all the answers. (I know... duh!)
Then as I was going through all these passages, I came upon Mark 6:50. The disciples are out on the sea and they are in a storm. They are struggling to row and fight the wind and waves. An interesting thing to note before we go farther is that Jesus actually insisted that they go out! Read 6:45. He knew where He was sending them, and He knew what was coming. But He also knew He would arrive to be with them in the storm. I like the fact that Jesus walked out on the water. I like that He arrives in a supernatural way. And then what He says to them... "Do not be afraid. Take courage! I am here!"
OK, so it clicks in my head... the fear and the discouragement come together at this moment. The answer for their fear and the way to take courage is by knowing Him. Taking Him in. Allowing Him to be the calm. When He got into their boat... the wind stopped!
I will pause here for a second and open a little of that part of me that has doubts and questions. Some of the things I ask myself as I read this passage... and just plain walk through this life with others. "Why?" "Why send them out when you knew it was going to storm?" "Why make them go through it in the first place?" "Why not spare them the fear and discouragement?" I don't always understand and I don't always like it... but I know the answer is true. He is the only answer and of myself, I will just battle the waves and try to row my way out. He wants me to let Him in, He wants me to trust Him, He wants me to realize that HE IS HERE! And I know, and HE KNOWS, that I won't naturally trust and rely on Him!
So today, as I continue to wrestle through the storms that have come this past month... and they have been the thunder and lightening kind, I am continuing to invite Him into my boat. And looking to Him for peace and courage. Choosing to believe that I DO NOT have to BE AFRAID... because HE IS HERE!!!