01 December 2012

magic eight balls and chichés

This may not come as a surprise to you but I love technology. I could talk for hours about the pros and cons of social media for hours or the wonders of Facetime and Skype or how technology has changed the way we interact.

However, I have something specific on my heart.

"God only gives three answers to prayer: 1. 'Yes!' 2. 'Not yet.' 3. 'I have something better in mind."

This anonymous inspirational quote  has floated around this week in my Pinterest and Twitter circles. At first glance, it looks great: God doesn't say no to our prayers but sometimes has something else planned.

But I probably wouldn't be writing about it if I loved everything about it.

I have a problem with the fact that this quote implies that prayer is like a letter to santa: i want a princess pony and an A in chemistry and my grandma healed and the buffs to get a good coach and a boyfriend for the holidays and... No. Prayer isn't just listing off problems in your life that you want fixed. Prayer is so much more than that! Prayer is a conversation with the God of the universe. Which brings me to another underlying issue with the quote: it assumes that God is like a magic 8 ball with only three possible answers.

News flash: God isn't a magic 8 ball. He has so many different ways to answer prayer requests. We're limiting a limitless God when we say that he has three answers to requests.

Have you ever tried to carry on a conversation with someone who only responds with three different phrases? It doesn't go well. It isn't enjoyable to talk with someone who doesn't respond back. So why are we willing to limit our God to three responses?

Life is complex. As much as we would try to simplify it with simple clichés about answers to prayer and how good always comes from tragedy, our efforts don't make the complicated nature of life disappear. We need to learn to live life IN the complexities: to not give the pat response but instead admit that life is messy.

The only truth that I see weaved throughout all of the mysteries of life is that God is here. I don't have everything figured out and I probably never will but I choose not to hide the ugliness or paint over it with the happy brush of clichés.

May we discover the joy of being in conversation with God and the complexities of that relationship. May we discover limitless ways that God chooses to answer prayer requests. And may we learn to live within the complexities and see Truth weaved through it all.

25 November 2012

out of sorts and time away

Do you ever have one of those days where everything just feels out of sorts? Today was one of those days. Maybe it was because of the stress of knowing that finals are a week away. Or maybe it was guilt for not getting to church for the third week in a row. Or maybe it was a combination of things, I'm not going to stress out about why today was an out-of-sorts day. That would be a pointless exercise.

One of the best techniques I learned during my year from hell was to be still amidst the turmoil. Maybe that is what I need to do. Instead of predicting how well I need to do on my exams and projects, instead of planning out when to do each assignment, instead of freaking out because the day is basically over with nothing to show for it, instead of focusing on the out-of-sort-ness I am going to choose to be still, quiet, and let God romance me. He has a way of working out the kinks in everything.

May you take time to be still and let Love fight the kinks out.

“Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything.”    ~ Psalm 46:10(MSG)

21 November 2012

thanksgiving and a list of thankfulness

In honor of Thanksgiving, I decided to make a list of everything that I am thankful for this year.

I'm thankful for:

  • my mom and dad
  • my sisters and their SO's
  • my niece and her unconditional love
  • being loved and cared for even when I'm far away
  • my host family
  • the little girls who freely give of their love and their hugs
  • technology like Facetime and Skype that let me stay connected
  • having my credits transfer in such a way that I can graduate 2 quarters early
  • making new friends at school, at church, and around Queen Anne
  • the billions of independent coffee shops
  • surprise packages with everything but the dove bars
  • hearts changed
  • having food to eat
  • having clothes to wear
  • having a place to live
  • my new church family at City Church
  • my old church families at Legacy Chapel and Littleton SDA Church
  • the women of my bible study who shower me with love and prayer
  • the Starbucks near my house for the Clover, the coffees, and the baristas.
  • a laptop and phone that work
  • the mile walk from home to school that has improved my fitness
  • being able to donate blood
  • getting perfect scores on all three statistics tests
  • being able to watch some of the broncos games on TV
  • having a TV
  • my ADX sisters and AGO brothers
  • God-incidences that keep me alive and well
  • being in the best health of my life
  • two working ankles with no hint of weakness
  • rain boots, rain jackets, and my umbrella
  • life-changing experiences at GC College Camp
  • the men and women who God has used to speak a word of truth into my life
  • my best friend and her influence in my life
  • the knowledge that I get to see my family and friends in 14 days
  • being alive and out of my desert storm
  • the peace that has come with knowing that Seattle is exactly where God wants me
There are so many other things I could add to this. There is so much that I am thankful for. The last two years have been the most difficult years of my life and to know that God has used those experiences for his benefit makes it all worth it.

Abba, I thank you for life. I thank you for carrying me out of my desert storm. Thank you for not leaving me there to die. I thank you for leading me to Seattle. I know you have a reason for me being here and I am thankful that you are in control. You truly are glorious. I glorify you. 

06 May 2012

a memorial and thankfulness

Today marks one year since I started treatment for my Graves' Disease. Since that day in Seattle, Washington, I have gone through a lot of changes. Physical changes like my thyroid levels normalizing, the thyroid eye disease going into remission, and losing 75% of the weight I had gained over the course of my year from hell. Psychosocial changes like climbing out of the deep pit of depression and anxiety that the disease had brought, being aware of the fragility of life, pursuing my friends once again, and discovering that I am a creative and metaphorical woman. There are so many other ways that I have grown and changed in the last 365 days and I just know there will continue to be more and more changes as I continue on the road to full physical, mental, and spiritual health.

At Legacy this morning, Brant talked about making memorials, physical reminders of where I have been and what God has brought me through. So here is a little something that I wrote about my year from hell this evening.

I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made!
It is because of you that I can praise you today!
You alone are the reason I can sing and dance!
You walked with me, holding my hand until I couldn't walk anymore.
And when I crumbled to the ground, unable to take another step,
you picked me up and carried me through the worst of the desert storm.
You carried me whispering that you had me and to rest in your arms.
You didn't leave me in the desert with the wind howling,
the dust swirling about, and the thunder and lightening hovering overhead.
No, you didn't leave me.
You lovingly took me in your arms, pressed my head to your chest,
whispered, "I've got you. Rest now." and started walking,
while the storm raged on.

28 March 2012

insecurities and Truth

I am in a weird mood. What is going on with me? I hear C&S talking about having more kids and B&D about starting a family soon. What about me? I sometimes feel forgotten. I’m the single one. The single daughter who really isn’t independent. The one with the medical drama. The one who is good with taking care of the kids. The one who is wishy-washy. The one who is a freak. The one who talks big but has a small follow-through. That’s who my insecurities say I am. 

Yet I am not those things. I am not forgotten. I have a niece who calls me Dee and Dah and best friend. I am a responsible, independent daughter who has learned to ask for help when needed. I am the one with an incredible story of how God uses medical complications for good. I am like Jesus saying let the children come to me. I am open to change, I am not stuck in my ways. I am unique, unforgettable, irresistible, and irreplaceable. I talk through the confusion in my head and through it, I am able to take the baby steps towards real, long-term change. I am not my insecurities. I am not my fear. I am not enslaved by my past. I am forgiven and washed pure. I am the king’s daughter. I am pursued. I am a kingdom woman, I have a kingdom purpose. I am here because God has created me for a specific role that nobody else can fill. 

"God knit you together in your mother’s womb and created you in His very own image. He refers to you, as His masterpiece. The Creator’s greatest creation. Pause for a moment and let that sink in.
For those reasons alone, your value is intrinsic and irrevocable.
It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or what’s been done to you. It doesn’t matter how dark of a past you might have or how broken you may be.
Your value cannot be damaged, destroyed or even diminished.
So please, let the Truth scream louder than the lies."

I am not my insecurity.

01 March 2012

being Deaf and God's purpose

This morning, one of my Facebook friends posted a status about the Rocky Mountain Deaf School and how her son didn't have to go there. She ended it with this: "yet God truly healed [my son] and knowing that God can heal each and everyone of those kids too."

I'm sorry I'm not sorry but that is a horrible thought! There is nothing wrong with being Deaf. Being Deaf doesn't mean that you need to be fixed! You don't need to be "healed" from it! Why the hell does Deafness require "healing" yet smartness or being short doesn't require healing? Yes, being Deaf means that a person can't hear most sounds. But if you ask a Deaf person, most will tell you that they would NOT WANT to be "healed". 

Just as mathematical geniuses tend to lack the social skills that the majority of the population has, doesn't mean that they need to be "fixed", people who are Deaf don't need to be fixed. A deficit in one area tends to enhance other areas. So why are we trying to fix those unique abilities?

I am so frustrated right now; I don't know how to channel my frustration into something useful and productive. But I do know this. God loves the Deaf just as they are! Being Deaf is not a horrible issue. It is not something that our hearts need to be breaking over. Yes, we can mourn the loss of hearing, but look for the good in the situation; look for the benefits of being Deaf like heightened sense of smell or sight or touch. Starvation, child pornography, sex trafficking, slavery, maltreatment: those are tragic, heart-breaking issues. Not Deafness. Don't put Deafness in the same category.

Abba, I am frustrated and confused. I ask that you would use my frustration and confusion for good. I know that you love every human being whether black, white, Deaf, hearing, tall, or short. I pray that you would help me to love your people with that same love. In Jesus's name I pray; do unto me according to Your Word.

Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn't get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan's angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn't think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me,
My grace is enough; it's all you need.
My strength comes into its own in your weakness.
Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size—abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.

05 February 2012

nature/nurture and healing

In my Human Growth and Development class, for each development stage, we look at the relationship of nature and nurture. Today, it got me thinking about how many seemingly tiny factors play apart in making each of us who we are - biophysical, psychosocial, and cognitive.

For some reason, thinking about all the tiny puzzle pieces that interact to influence our person made me wonder why God answers prayers in different ways for each person. Is it like the nature/nurture interaction, where if we just get the right combination of pieces together that we get the answer that we're hoping for? Or is it more than that?

I have had a lot of medical struggles. But is that because I haven't hit the right combo to be healed completely? Do I need to pray more diligently for healing? Is it a faith problem? I have no clue. I have struggled a lot with these types of questions especially when I'm sitting in another doctor's office.

I know many Christians that believe in the power of healing, that God can heal in miraculous ways. He can remove the cancer from a man's body or repair the organ that is failing on a child or take away a bad headache. I absolutely believe that God can heal any person of any disease. But what about those times when God doesn't heal the disease?

When I have spent more time than I would ever wish on another person in hospitals, doctor's offices, and medical machines, it's hard not to be envious of the people who have experienced God's amazing healing power. Why have I had to go through it? Why didn't I get to have the miraculous story of how God healed me?

Then I remember that I wouldn't be me if I hadn't gone through those really hard times. My medical struggles are just one tiny factor that makes me, me. Maybe God really does have a plan for me that uses my struggles for good. Maybe my experiences can be used for His Kingdom purposes.

Abba, I know I often question "Why me?" "Why can't you take this away?"Abba, I want to change that. Instead of asking "why," I want to be asking, "what are you teaching me through this?" I'm changing my perspective. Use all of me, even my medical struggles, for your purposes. I trust that you have something great planned for my life.

31 January 2012

editing and iron

In my English Composition class, we have do peer reviews for our essays. I haven't always been a fan of peer editing even though I've been doing it for nearly eight years. Today, one of my classmates and I were talking about peer editing and how we both liked a review that ripped our paper up rather than a review that was nice. Yeah, it sometimes hurts my feelings to see all of the problems that the reviewer wrote down, but I know without a doubt that my essay gets better because of the criticism.

It got me thinking at how similar that it is to my faith and having my brothers and sisters in Christ hold me accountable. Accountability can often seem like a negative thing. But God calls us to help each other grow closer to Him. Proverbs 27:17 says, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." That is kinda like what a peer review does, it sharpens your essay.

So, may God use your brothers and sisters in Christ to sharpen your faith and may God use you to sharpen the faith of your brothers and sisters.

30 January 2012

potty-training and persevering

Do you ever feel like all of your hard work is for nothing? My mom and I have had several experiences of that today between a macbook and potty-training.

Maybe how we react to those situations that interrupt our lives reveals what our faith is like. Maybe if our foundation is strong, instead of getting discouraged and giving up, we would get up and try again, trusting that God is in control. Perseverance is hard work! And sometimes it seems like a near impossible task! Between distractions and lack of focus, it is really easy to wander off and give up. Yet when we are in communication with God, he will give us the strength and focus to persevere through the tough stuff.

29 January 2012

paul and vision

Today's talk at Legacy Chapel was the last in a series on personal vision. It was a really awesome series and I'll probably talk more about what I've learned from it at some point in the future.

Today, we focused on Saul who became Paul. The main point was that God has an exact location for your vision. There is a specific place where God wants you. In Acts 9, God speaks to Ananias and tells him to go to a specific location. There he will find Saul who is waiting for him.

The absolute coolest point that stood out for me was that God used Ananias to bring Saul/Paul's healing. If not for Ananias, Paul wouldn't have fulfilled his vision, he wouldn't have transformed the Christian faith. God uses ordinary people like Ananias for His Kingdom purpose. He blessed Ananias and Saul/Paul simultaneously! How cool is that!

So get up and go! Go to the exact location where God is calling you! Go!

15 January 2012

an illustration and God's best

I was given this by one of my wonderful sisters and I thought I would share it. It's such a good illustration of what God wants for us, genuine beauty.
The Pearl Necklace: Author Unknown 
A cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box. "Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!"
Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl's upturned face. "A dollar ninety-five. That's almost $2.00. If you really want them, I'll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday's only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from grandma."
As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked if she could pick dandelions for ten cents. On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.
Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere--Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had abubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.
Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story. One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, "Do you love me?"
"Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you."
"Then give me your pearls."
"Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess-- the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She's my favorite."
"That's okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night." And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.
About a week later, after the story time, Jenny's daddy asked again, "Do you love me?"
" Daddy, you know I love you."
"Then give me your pearls."
"Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my babydoll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper."
"That's okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you." And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.
A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek. "What is it, Jenny? What's the matter?"
Jenny didn't say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And, when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, "Here, Daddy. It's for you."
With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny's kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of beautiful genuine pearls. He had had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.
What imitations are we holding onto that stops us from receiving God's genuine treasures?

May you be like the little girl and be able to let go of what we hold closest to your heart. May you experience the joy that comes with letting go and receiving God's treasures.

Abba, I pray that I would  not continue to hold on to the imitations in my life. Help me to remember that you have the absolute best for me and it's worth the sacrifice of surrendering my all to you.