Friday, January 21, 2011

Not Shaken ... But Faithful ... And Persistent

God's been at work in me for some time now. And so faithfully too. I've been really slacking off in my prayer and devotions life. Ugh! I hate spiritual ruts! But God, in all His mighty grace, is still speaking and still working. Thank you, Jesus!

In the reading of the Word that I HAVE been doing, God is pulling a few different verses together - a few different thoughts that can all be pointed back to ... yep, you guessed it ... an ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE. :)

Psalm 16:8 - "I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken."

Luke 16:10 - "One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much ..."

The Parable of the Persistent Widow - Luke 18:1-8 ... specifically, verses 7 and 8 - "And will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night? Will He delay long over them? I tell you, He will give justice to them speedily ..."

Good stuff, huh? :)
It IS good stuff! And each verse targets a different struggle/situation in my life.
~ For a while now, I've struggled with accepting who I am. I have a hard time focusing on my good qualities most of the time, and it's pretty easy for me to think on my flaws. I'm also a worrier. I struggle to trust God a lot of the time. I worry that I'll make mistakes, not be accepted by others, not live up to my too-high standards. So being reminded that I will not be shaken - I will not fall; I can not be condemned; I am valuable to God - helps me keep my fears and worries and insecurities in the right perspective - the ETERNAL one. :)
~ I've never been a person with lots of self-control. I love to eat - and eat whatever I want ... and drink as much sweet tea as I want. I'm a procrastinator - especially when it comes to school work, preparing lessons/games for my jobs, and getting to my prayer and devotions each day (if I get to them at all, these days ... gosh!). I don't budget my time or my money very well at all. If it were up to me, I'd sleep in till 11am everyday, watch movies for the rest of the day, and spend all my money on going to movies, buying music, eating out .... wow. This is brutal ... getting really honest with myself. Ewww.
So being reminded that I must be faithful in the small things pushes me to remember that self-control is a fruit of the Spirit and therefore, eternal, and I must work to improve the fruit I bear.
~ I've been feeling God move in my heart concerning His calling for me over the past year. The Praxis was a bust ... and although, I'm not giving up forever, I'd like to take a break from even thinking about the silly thing, much less take it again. And in the midst of my break from the Praxis, God's been stirring youth ministry in my heart. I'd like to go back to school for a Bible/theology degree, but so many things go into that ... money (and lots of it!); questions like, "do I REALLY wanna give up on the Praxis right now, or should I try again?"; "what about the fact that I'm ALREADY working in youth ministry?"; "what if I make a mistake - read God's call the wrong way and mess everything up?"; leaving home; SoZo; going back to school - bluck, I don't want to; etc. ... And so, I have been, am, and must continue to seek God through it all.
So the persistent widow reminds me not to give up praying about God's call for my life. Whether I hear the answer I want to hear or the one I don't want to hear ... whether the answer comes clearly or fuzzy ... whether the answer comes soon or I must continue to wait ... I must CONTINUE praying. I must continue seeking God and TRUSTING that HE is sovereign.

Oh, how great it is to hold on to the promises, lessons, and convictions of the Word of God. Lord, don't let me falter in seeking Your face.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Dance Instructor :)

God's grace. It's always at work.

I've been struggling with where I'm at in my life these days ... not doing what I thought I'd be doing; my heart's not in SoZo right now; after school's not my favorite place to be ... in short, I've not been keeping an eternal perspective - even though that's the goal. And when our eyes get off Jesus, we tend to be discontent. But I'm also restless. Been feeling God at work in me for quite sometime - He's getting ready to move me ... somewhere, for something big - just trying to pinpoint exactly what it is. So I've been battling some up and down emotions for the past month or so.

I walked in to the dance studio tonight down, but I left more up than I've been in a long time. Randy is my dance instructor, and he is amazing. He really helped me tonight, with so much more than dance. We danced, and we talked about dance, sure ... but oh, the conversation! I think it all started when he asked me about my frustrations with dance, but that turned into my fears about life, which turned into me spilling some struggles I've been trying to deal with for quite some time, which turned into some great advice, which turned into another eternal perspective realization.

Randy helped me realize that an eternal perspective can be used with the snap of the finger ... For example, when I find myself thinking negative thoughts, any thought that is dragging me down and putting me into a funk, I need to change what I'm thinking about. An eternal perspective can be changed in a second if I replace the negative thought with a positive one. "For every negative thought, think of three positive ones," Randy told me. And he's right. He reminded me that I had so much to be thankful for. And with his advice, and his digging around to help me draw out my fears and frustrations, he has helped me think further on this eternal perspective thing. ... And what a blessing the whole conversation was. I came away so encouraged and even more impressed with the person Randy is. He is a gift from God! ... I was telling my mom tonight that dancing is simply a PERK ... that the real privilege of being apart of the dance studio is knowing and talking to and getting hugs and encouragement from Randy every day. Thank you, Lord, for Randy Rud. :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Inspirationals :)

Today on Facebook, I discovered a blank you can fill in that I've never seen before: Who inspires you? I tried to fill it out, but it won't let me publish it. I must have to pick someone lame, like a famous person or something. And I don't want to do that ... 'cause not many, if any, famous people inspire me ... only people I know and love. But yeah ... it wouldn't let me post it, so I'll post it here instead. :)

People who inspire me ...

Ben Nilsen - for his spiritual depth and unfailing devotion to the Lord.

Sara-Ruth Riggs - for her passion for life, people, and Jesus and compassion for the world.

Andy Schnur - for his faithfulness, leadership, friendship, and love for God.

Wes Masterson - for his positive perspective of life and desire to see the world come to know Jesus as Lord.

What a gift from God to have these people in my life!

Glorying in Christ

Tonight, for SoZo, we looked at Philippians chapter 3.

Philippians 3:3 says, "For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh."

We took a closer look at each part of this verse, and my favorite part is part 3: "glory in Christ Jesus."
What does it mean to "glory in Christ?"

I took a look at a commentary by somebody Ironside ... it was on Pastor's shelf in his office. Why not? :) Glorying in the Lord is boasting in the Lord. Well, what does it mean to "boast in Christ?" So I took a stab at it ... glorying in Jesus is boasting in and about Him ... it's realizing that we are NOTHING without Him and living in light of that understanding - living humble, thankful, and servant-filled lives.
To take this a step further, glorying in God is always striving to keep an ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE. Eternal Perspective - living humbly and in thankfulness, asking how we can honor God in every situation, realizing that nothing on this earth compares to knowing and living for Christ, and living in light of eternity. My SoZo kids are probably nearly insane from all my references to EP during youth group, but maybe that'll make it "set in" in their minds too. ;)

I'm so excited that this eternal perspective is beginning to set in. I can't do much these days without thinking "eternal perspective" ... "okay, I'm upset when I need to have an eternal perspective in this situation" ... "breath. Where's your eternal perspective?" .... Okay, so I don't always think this. But I think it often. So I'm excited about that ... and I'm excited to keep trying - not only in "thinking EP" but putting it into practice - actually HAVING an eternal perspective in those specific instances. It's a process, that's for sure.
Continuing on .... :)

Saturday, January 1, 2011

The 2010 Recap

Alright. Well, I have orders, from my bosom buddy, to get blogging again. So here, I try. :)

Day one of 2011. Isn't it nuts how fast life goes? Older folks always tell me that life gets faster as you get older ... and that blows my mind 'cause my life is already zooming by! ... In effort to not forget this past fast year, Emily, I loved your idea to recap your 2010, so I'm gonna do the same.

In all its hurry, my 2010 is already gone, 'tis true ... but some great stuff came out of it too!

~ At the beginning, I set out on a journey through God's grace. What a journey it was! I was incredibly blessed to really focus on God's grace ... just glimpses of it. I learned that a hug from one of my after school kids and a conversation with one of my SoZo kids and rain and song lyrics and a day spent watching movies on the couch were all glimpses of God's grace at work in my life. How incredible, to know and experience a (THE) God who loves His children so much that He lavishes His grace on them in both big and small ways. I will never forget this year's grace. :)

~ I finished working in the writing center at IUPUI and continued working with the SoZo-ers and started my job at the after school program in Danville .....

*Writing Center - I said goodbye to some really great people and tutors ... and the campus on which I spent 3 1/2 years of my life trudging back and forth to classes, feeling lonely and even, uncomfortable, with all the secular vibes.
*SoZo - I continued to grow in my leadership position ... slowly started overcoming insecurities in youth ministry (although I've still got a long way to go!) ... grew to love the teenagers even more ... and developed a friend in Andy - he's not just one of my kids; he's my friend and a huge encouragement to me.
*After school - whew! That's been a trial! 15-20 crazy 5 and 6 year olds all to myself everyday after school. They are beyond a handful ... and I lose my patience far too often. But I've tried to be consistent in apologizing to the kids, starting over the next day ... and I'm doing something right 'cause I get bombarded with hugs when I walk in everyday. :) And I can find something that I like about each one of my "little crazies," and I've had a few chances to instill godly ideals and even outright talk to them about Jesus ... so God knew what He was doing when He provided this job. It's been pretty crazy there ... but I'm looking forward to trying again this year.

~ I started taking dance lessons!!!! And they have been totally amazing!!! I've been learning so much ... and doing so well. I've found one of the greatest passions of my life in DANCE. I'm good at it! I love it! I'm enjoying it more than anything I've ever done in my whole life! And there's so much more dancing to come! :)

~ And probably the greatest part of 2010 is that I got to see the FAITHFULNESS OF GOD at work in my life. 2010 was the worst year of my spiritual life ... in that ... I struggled to desire God and His Word and prayer more in this past year of my life than in all of my other "following God" years! I strived and strived and strived. And striving may sound good ... but I don't think it was ... or at least I hated it! The definition of striving is "to exert serious effort; to struggle in opposition." And that's what I did almost all year. It was such a struggle ... almost like an invisible wall was standing in opposition against me ... keeping me from WANTING God and His ways. I just got so sick of it all ... not even wanting TO WANT Jesus! Blah. But anyways ... God, in all His mighty grace and faithfulness and love for me, never stopped working. He never stopped tugging at my heart or let me go. He's been stirring hopes and dreams in me, confirming things in me, exciting things in me ... pushing me to dwell on gaining an eternal perspective ... and I've just been so thankful.

So now ... for 2011 and beyond ... I am dedicating my life to working at this thing that I harp on all the time - GAINING AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE. And I bet that part of the eternal perspective has to do with not letting the "hurry" of life be couch time and neglecting my Bible. Ha! Of course it isn't! An eternal perspective can only come from putting more of Jesus into my life ... or rather ... making Jesus my life! And that's what an eternal perspective is all about ... JESUS. Thinking like Him, being like Him, living for Him. So here's to JESUS in 2011. :):):)