Thursday, June 28, 2012

Today I Cried, A Lot

A few days ago I wrote that I didn't know what my purpose during the summer months was and after hitting "publish" I thought I knew what it was. Writing about what I am thinking, feeling, hearing from God, and experiencing seem to be my purpose for this summer.

So today I have been in tears more than not. I woke up this morning and realized it is my birthday. Yippee! Today I turn 40. This is supposed to be a happy day, and it isn't that the day isn't happy. Really birthday wishes are nice and I like getting them. I don't even mind turning 40. I have only dreaded one birthday and that was 26. Yup, 26. In my mind that was on the other side of my imaginary line between being young and being an adult. It was such a hard birthday for me that my family throw me a little girl's party. Every gift I received was for children, like a fake make-up kit and bright-colored, plastic hair barretts. It was a great birthday!

So why crying today? Well it was a dream I had. I dreamt I was just waking up and my stepdad, Rick, showed up with presents. He said he had to just drop them off because he had some place to be. Now, I wear contacts so my just waking up eyes have trouble focusing a lot. He kept taking items out and showing them to me, but I couldn't see them very clearly. They all seemed so nice and there were so many of them. Then he said he had to go and I would have to open the rest after he left.

After he left I got out of bed and started to hold up the things that he had brought. They were expensive, beautiful, and like nothing else I have. Some of the clothes were too small for me and too attractive for me. Some things were soft. Some things brought a smile to me lips because they were so cute and sweet. And I thought every thing was too good for me!

That was when I woke up and I knew, without a doubt, that dream was from God. I know that it was God giving me gifts that I couldn't imagine. I know that He was giving me things that I don't think fit my life as it is now. I know that He was giving me things that were better than me, so much better, and I know that I am not worthy of such fine things.

Not only that, I doubted. I doubted that He really would. I cried and cried off and on all day because I can't imagine that He really will give them to me. I don't doubt that He is able. I know that He is able, but I have never had what those things represnted that He presented to me in the dream. So I doubt.

I wish I was at a place where I didn't doubt, but I'm not. So in part that has always been the purpose of this blog. This blog is called "Even If My Voice Shakes" for a reason. I try to be as honest and open even when it means putting out there my hurts, doubts, and fears. So today I am being honest about my doubt.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dead Eyes

Last night I had a dream that for the most part made sense, as much sense as dreams can make. There were strange locations and situations but for the most part it made sense to me. I'm not going to go into what the dream was about, I know such a tease, but one part keeps jumping out at me. That part was the part about dead eyes.

In my dream someone I used to know showed up and we started talking. He was talking about his business, I have no idea what the business was mostly because I just kept focusing on his eyes. He looked a little rough around the edges and his eyes looked dead. There was no life in them at all. They looked like regular brown eyes, they weren't crazy or scary looking, just had no life in them. Know what I mean?

It made me so sad to see eyes like that. Eyes with no hope. Eyes that have given up. Eyes of a person who is still alive, but not really living. It made my heart ache. I know the answer to eyes like that.

The answer is Jesus; giving your life to Him and having a relationship with Him. I would have dead eyes if I didn't have Jesus. My life hasn't be tragic but it hasn't always been easy. A few years ago God gave me a glimpse of what my life would be like if I didn't have a relationship with Him and that life would have been dead. It shook me to the core and I knew that I been blessed that He chose me and that I gave Him my life. I have often thought about that glimpse and everytime I do I can't do anything besides thank Him.

So what does that mean? What does it mean to surrender your life to Jesus? Does it mean going to church? Nope. Does it mean reading about Jesus and listening to people talk about Him or go to classes where you find out about Him? No. Jesus doesn't want you to just get dressed up and go to a building or just listen to people talk about Him. He wants you to be in a relationship with Him. He wants you to know Him, not just about Him. He wants you to give up the hurts you have suffered. He wants to be the Great Physician and heal those hurts. He wants you to talk with Him. He wants to reveal Himself to you in His Word and by speaking, yes, speaking to you. He isn't just someone who talks to the clergy. He isn't just someone who talks to the ones who have it all together. He talks to each of us. What kind of relationship would it be if He never talked to us?

I pray for the one in my dream with the dead eyes. I pray that he will surrender his life to God and start a life-giving relationship with Him. I also pray for all those others living with dead eyes. I pray for the hurting. I pray for the desolate. I pray for the haughty who think they have it altogether. I pray for the ones with dead eyes and I pray that I can help them the answer is Jesus.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Am Different

I think that statement sums me up pretty well. "I am different." When I was a kid I often felt like I was on the outside looking in. I had friends, but I wasn't the popular girl who everyone wanted to be friends with. Not a pity-party statement, just stating fact. Even when I was with my friends I found myself thinking differently than them. I didn't want to do things just because everyone else was doing them. Now, I did things that everyone did, but not because everyone did them.I did them because I wanted to.

I remember in college going to The Formal, oh it probably had a name, but I don't remember what it was. Anyway, I went with a group of friends who were kind of the nonconformist types. They all decided to wear Burcon stocks with their formal wear. I could have chosen to fit in with them, but I proudly claimed my nonconformism of my nonconformist group and wore heals. (Now I never wear heals!) Sure I wore the same type of shoes as most of the formal-goers, but I was being different than the group I went with. That is kind of the way I think. I don't try to be different just to be different, I just am.

This is also true in my walk with God. I have always felt a lot like an outsider inside the Christian culture. I believe that God speaks directly to us, and although He gives messages to men and women to be shared, that is not the only and certainly not the best way to hear from Him. I love to hear right from Him! Does it happen all the time? No. Is it because He isn't talking? I don't think so. I think if I don't hear Him it is most likely because I'm not listening.

When I pray it is simple. I usually just start talking like God is sitting right next to me. I often don't close my eyes or bow my head. I am not saying I am irreverent. He is holy and is not my homeboy, but He isn't looking for clever words, to see if I'm peeking, or for the top of my head. Some people really are bothered by this. It doesn't fit with the way they were taught. Honestly, I would love to pray each and every time in a field full of wildflowers with my arms outstretched and my face turned up towards the sun!

I have never had a burning desire to go to church. Shocking, I know! Most of the time in church I felt like I was a small piece of a large machine that had to function a certain way to be doing it the right way. I am not dissing churches! There have been some very good churches in my past that I have enjoyed being at and being with the people there. I have made more friends in church than out of it. This is not, let me repeat, a church bashing! I just never felt right. I tried to do what others did and it didn't work. I tried to find a way to serve, minister, be a part, and I just couldn't. I prayed that God would reveal to me how to fit. You know what? He didn't!

He actually asked me to leave the church that I was attending. Not for another church. Not because the church was bad. Not because I became angry or offended by something said or done. Nope, He simply asked me to leave it. Here I was asking Him how I could fit in and He was telling me I needed to get out. That made no sense to my brain, even my different thinking brain, so I did what comes naturally when I don't understand God. I fought it!

I changed campuses, no that didn't make me fit in better. I felt like I was supposed to take on a leadership role, so I took one on. You know what happened? It failed. I felt a strong pull for people who need to know about God so I signed up to lead a group of nonbelievers. It never happened. I became a part of a group doing vital work, praying, and even as essential as that is for all of us, that wasn't it either. So one day, I finally gave in and stopped going.

A peace fell on me! I thought I would feel quilt, but I felt peace. I'm thinking I even heard a heavenly, "finally!" So I started doing this set-apart thing. I do not get it and I can't explain it. I tried once and got a negative reaction, so I decided that I probably won't do that again. It isn't the first time in my walk with Christ that He asked me to do something outside the Christian way of thinking and I got crazy looks.

It is during this time, because I am still very much in it, that He put in me a desire to know more about the early church. It is during this time that He finally made the picture I had been seeing out of focus come more into a focus. The picture of the church that I described before in a post. That picture is more intensified and bits become more clear to me. I believe I am starting to see how He wants me to be a leader. I knew before that He was asking it of me, but I was trying it my way or that way that I thought it should be done. I am excited as He continues to work in me and prepare me for the next steps.

I am different and I wonder why I find few people like me. I do know some. I actually have family like me. We aren't whack-a-doodles either. I have lived around and known whack-a-doodles. A guy who walked with a staff and claimed he was Moses?! Yeah, I would say that I know whack-a-doodle when I see it. If being different means that I get to grow closer to God, even though it makes some people shy away from me, then I am glad I am different!

***By the way this is my 100th post! Sort of feel like I should celebrate or something! I just hope that at least 1 of the 100 has ministered to someone! That would make me happy to know!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

While I'm Waiting

The words of this song have been going through my mind a lot lately. I even wake up with the words of the chorus running through my thoughts. The song is called "While I'm Waiting" by John Waller.

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am hopeful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it is painful
But patiently, I will wait

I will move ahead, bold and confident
Taking every step in obedience
While I'm waiting
I will serve You
While I'm waiting
I will worship
While I'm waiting
I will not faint
I'll be running the race
Even while I wait

I'm waiting
I'm waiting on You, Lord
And I am peaceful
I'm waiting on You, Lord
Though it's not easy
But faithfully, I will wait
Yes, I will wait
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve You while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting
I will serve you while I'm waiting
I will worship while I'm waiting on You, Lord

I always have the same question when I hear them, "how do I serve you while I am waiting?"
This is the problem with summer vacation. I look forward to it each year but about two weeks in I start to get restless and feel like I have no purpose. During the school year my purpose is quite obvious, and although draining at times it is fulfilling because I know that is my calling. The few days of rest, sleeping in or going back to sleep after feeding the demanding cats and dog, and staying in PJ's way passed the time I would be in school doesn't fulfill the times of feel directionless and purposeless.

Now, I am not waiting for school to start again. That will happen again in middle August. Honestly, I am waiting for what happens after I turn 40, and that is next week. A few years ago I felt that 40 was a significant number for me and I had no desire to wait until I turned 40. I thought I would never make it. Now it is less than a week away. I am both excited and a bit apprehensive, okay mostly apprehensive.

One thing I want more than any thing is to be married and to have a child. Even though this is what I want I fear it too. I listen to the radio and they do these snippets about family and marriage. The name of it escapes me right now, but I am sure it plays on many Christian stations. They are good, helpful, practical helps for husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, and children. At times these helps scary me to death. And the memories of my parent's marriage and others that have not been successful make me scared to death of being married. Not to mention, I see the failure of those who are supposed to protect and care for their children and instead damage them. I know parents make mistake and I fear screwing up a child.

What does this have to do with the song, well that is what I am waiting or, even though it scares me. So as I wait how do I serve? Like I said, that is my question. I also said in the summer it is hard for me to find purpose. I don't want to just start doing the things everyone does to serve, not that many aren't worthy, but rather I know they are not the way He is asking me to. How do I know? Because I have tried. I felt less close to doing what He wanted when I tried to do what others did or what others expected. So I will continue to ask the question until God gives me the answer.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pearl in the Sand

Can I recommend a good read? I had to buy some books to fulfil one of those book club deals. One of the books I bought was Pearl in the Sand. It is a story of Rahab and Salmon (spelled Salmone in the book). I thought it would be a good book, at least I hoped it would be. I wasn't prepared for it to be more than just a simple historical fiction novel.

The book is very well written and the characters are very real. The story taught me a little bit that I didn't know about the history and culture of the Canaanites and Israelites. I was able to visualize the story taking place. I felt for the characters and enjoyed the triumph they experienced. Yet none of those things are why I am recommending the book.

The reason? It is full of nuggets of wisdom and personal revelation. There were plenty of times when I had to stop and talk to God about what I was learning. There were times that I had to stop and ask Him to forgive me. There were times when I had to stop and thank Him for how He loves me.

One nugget that I loved was a picture that Salmone made for Rahab and her pearl earring that was lost in the sand. I can't write about it here because well it's called Pearl in the Sand for a reason. One that I can share is actually about Joshua when he stood outside the walls of Jericho and the Commander of the Lord visited him.

"As he raised his eyes, he gasped with shock. A few paces in front of him stood a man with a drawn sword in his hand...Who was this man and what was he doing here? Joshua clenched his jaw and steeped forward.

'Are you for us or for our enemies?' Joshua asked....

'Neither,' he replied.

Joshua raised an eyebrow. Neither friend nor foe? Who was he then? The man's next words wiped every thought from Joshua's mind.

I am the commander of the army of the Lord,and as such I have now come.'

...'What message does my Lord have for His servant?' he asked.

'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.'

...Slowly, Joshua came to his knees. What did it mean? Why had God sent him this visitation? If God had sent him the commander of His own army, why had He not said that He was on the side of Israel?

Then it dawned on Joshua that God was not on Israel's side; He beckoned Israel to be on His side. Joshua couldn't claim God for himself or for his own interests the way the people around them used their idols. Rather the Lord claimed Joshua and His chosen people for Himself."

I skipped a lot, you will just have to read it for yourself. :)

Just like Joshua, we need to realize that God isn't on our side. We need to be on His. We tend to thank of God for us. Not that he isn't, but when we think that way we are focus. He needs to be the focus! I have to remember this all the time. I focus on me and how God loves me. (Once again, He does.) I focus on me and what God does for me. Me, me, me. But the commander of the army of the Lord was telling Joshua, and each of us, that it's about being on His side.

That is just one of the many lessons, words of wisdom, and thought provoking nuggets in the book. So if you want to read a good story, that has realistic characters, and nuggets in it then get Pearl in the Sand. (I so felt like an advertisement!)