Monday, May 18, 2009

One More Night

This picture made me laugh and completely expresses how I have felt at work lately.

After my shift today I have one more night of work left before my vacation begins! That hope of vacation has sustained me through some trying days at work lately. I almost wish I could video tape a morning in the life of a staff at Maryhurst. On Friday I was cussed out, called a racist and given more attitude than I would care to deal with. This all came about because I asked the girls to sit in the dinning room during breakfast, as is the general expectation for every meal. You would have thought that I asked them to rip off their arm and give it to me. Oh geez. When I got home that morning I broke down and cried feeling so incredibly frustrated with the attitude of the girls we deal with. Even now, after I've had the weekend to recover I'm still stumped when I try to think of how best to love these children without letting them completely trample all over me. It's difficult to show grace when the kids inevitably throw it away without a second thought. For example: After the terrible morning routine on Friday I was tempted (and completely within my rights) to give out consequences for their behaviors however due to the situation and the number of girls who chose to be disrespectful and ignore the directions of staff I decided in a more grace-filled approach to instead remind them of the expectations. I printed out a sheet of paper containing all of the general expectations for the morning to make sure we were all on the same page. Well that night when I came to work a couple of the girls had torn up their pieces of paper, stuffed them into a plastic baggie and left it in the hallway for 3rd shift to pick Ahhh!! I was steamed.

Anyways, hopefully you can see my point here. It's so difficult living out the Gospel in this context without words. So I guess the only way I can think to do this is to be gracious when they respond in anger, hold them accountable for their actions despite how they treat us and forgive even when they don't ask for it. I have been reminded again this weekend that, "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12) Just when I thought I had been stretched to my breaking point I felt a flood of God's grace remind me yet again that Christ died for ones such as these. The least I can do is learn how to love and serve them better.

What the next two mornings may hold I can only imagine but I'm praying tonight that the Lord will prepare my heart to be his hands and feet in the lives of these kids. It's daunting and frustrating to lay aside what I consider to be my rights in order that the kids may hopefully see Christ in me. No matter how much I want this time here at Maryhurst to be over, I don't want to waste it. God is still teaching me.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Where is the church?

I've spent a good deal of time thinking and journaling tonight and I thought I would share something I have been mulling over. As I've said before, the Lord has been teaching me so much over these past couple of months. He has been reminding me of gifts he has given me and has opened my eyes to some of the beauty of Christian fellowship that I have never known before. Yet tonight, I find myself frustrated. I'm frustrated with the fact that my passion/fire for the things of God seems to ebb and flow when I wonder, "Shouldn't it should be more of a consistent force in my life?" I honestly feel very lukewarm, which is terrifying.

I have read often about the early church (specifically in the book of Acts) where the power of the Lord was heavy upon his people and they were quick to follow his leading. They were a people of prayer, conviction, studying the Word, fellowship, evangelism, accountability and love. I began studying the book of John the first chapter and in that chapter we see Jesus call his first disciples. These men walked with Christ, listened to his teachings, watched his mighty hand heal the sick and bring the dead to life. Those men saw him pray. Despite the fact that the disciples were staring at the very face of their Savior it wasn't until Jesus had ascended to heaven and the Holy Spirit filled them that there was any lasting and powerful movement in their hearts.

I've told Jon before that there is a certain fear in my heart regarding our calling to minister to the church here in America. We are so dead. Now I know this is a generalization because I've seen churches here in the states where God is genuinely moving. However I'm sadly aware that this is not the majority. I think part of this fear comes with the fact that I wonder if I may be a part of that majority, those who are unmoved by the sacrificial life of the Savior and unmoved by what his atoning blood has done on our behalf.

So I wonder. Why am I so easily swayed? Why do my passions quickly flicker out when I'm tired and overwhelmed with life? Isn't there something more? Shouldn't my life be more vibrant than that? Do I just need to resign myself to the fact that total victory over the trials of this world will not come on this side of Heaven or is there more God desires for us here? Where is the hunger? Where is the passion? Where is the conviction that burns in a repentant heart? Where is the love of Christ? Where is prayer? Where is the power of God? Is there not more than this and if so, why aren't we seeing it?

These are all burning questions that I am not necessarily posing to the church but more so to myself. I desire so deeply to see God capture the hearts of his people and I honestly wonder what keeps mine locked away from that freedom and power. I have found no specific answers to these questions but I know I desire more and that is what I will pray for. I can't imagine my life is exactly where God desires for me to be so I'm not willing to settle for anything less.

As Jon and I pray over where the Lord will eventually lead us my heart cries out to God asking him to use us in some small way to see change occur. May the teaching of God's word convict the hearts of his people so that they, that we would be transformed!

"Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone...Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."
- Romans 12:9-18, 21

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Looking Ahead

It has been an overwhelming and frustrating couple of weeks, mainly because I've struggled to cope well with all of the stress. I feel very close to my breaking point (especially tonight). However thanks to a wonderful husband who chooses to show me his love by being honest and holding me accountable...I am reminded I have a lot of wonderful things coming up. So to help cheer myself up a bit here is a list of 10 things I have to look forward to the remainder of the year. These are in no particular order and I'm sure I'm leaving many others out.

#1- Our trip out to California
We fly out to LA for Matthew's graduation and then drive up the coast to San Francisco. It will be about a whole week without any responsibilities or stress from work. Woohoo!!

#2- Just being able to spend more time with my husband.
Now that Jon is out of school for the summer we have an infinite amount of time to devote to each other. It will be nice to have our date nights back, maybe take the puppy to a new class at the Humane Society, and just enjoy Louisville in the summer.

#3- Seeing my family in July!!
They are heading up for a family vacation in Tennessee and Jon and I will be able to drive down there for a couple of days. Unfortunately I don't think my sister Heather and her husband Michael will be able to make it but it will still be nice to finally see my family again. It has been too long!

#4- July 22nd, 2009
Jon and I will celebrate our three year anniversary on that day. It's crazy how time flies.

#5- Enjoying the summer
I can't wait to really have some time to enjoy the sun, swim, lay out, take the puppy to the park etc. I'm gonna soak it up!

#6- Planting our first garden
We have a small section of dirt attached to our patio and we hope to plant a few vegetables. Honestly we hardly have any idea what we're doing but Jon is having a lot of fun reading up on what to plant. We've already bought some onion bulbs and broccoli plants. There are a few other ideas we are throwing around. It will be our pet project for the summer.

#7- Spiritual Growth
God has been teaching and challenging me so much this year and it's only May. I can hardly wait to see where he will bring me by the end of 2009.

#8- The final year!
I can hardly contain my excitement knowing that this will most likely be my last full year of working 3rd shift. I think I've forgotten what it's like to sleep at night.

#9- The Next Step
Sometime in the fall we will begin the daunting and thrilling task of seeking out where the Lord will call us in ministry. Who knows where he will lead us.

#10- Bye bye Southern!!
Jon will graduate from Southern Seminary (December 10th!!!!)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

More Thoughts on Adoption

I've been thinking about adoption once again lately. It's funny how these emotions come in waves. There is never a time I forget this desire but it's almost like these feelings lay dormant until stirred, which is what took place a few days ago. Jon and I were talking about some thoughts and concerns about adopting a child who is a different ethnicity than us. There are a ton of things to think about and pray over when you are considering "transracial" adoption and I am convinced more than ever that since the questions and doubts are innumerable and easily distracting we must fully trust in the Lord. Faith in His calling and complete trust in His provision will be some of the foundational truths we will need to remember when He begins us on this amazing journey.

I've been praying over and journaling a lot about some of the questions that have been swirling around in my mind. Here are only a few of those questions. :

- How will the timing of our adoption work out? When in the order of children will we feel lead to pursue this option?
- How can we make our beautiful little girl completely part of the family?
- Do we, or how much do we integrate her culture with the culture of our family?
- How can we make her feel like a special part of our family without making the other children feel less loved or longed for?
- How would I handle rude comments from people about our adopted daughter?
- Should I encourage her to embrace her culture or let her decide that on her on?
- How will family and friends react?

I know I've mentioned this before but more than anything I long for our children (however many that may be) to most importantly come to know the Lord who has adopted us as his sons and daughters. Along with their growing love for God I desire for them to enjoy learning about other cultures and hopefully to instill within them a heart for missions/evangelism.

As I am often tempted to worry about things that are not even issues yet I am reminded that we are not even close to needing any answers. These questions may not even come up for years because most likely when we do pursue adoption our other child/children will be young. All of these questions remind me again and again that the questions are not what my focus needs to be on, I need to learn further what it means to trust the Lord and wait patiently on his perfect timing.

Sorry if this was a bit all over the place but that is what my mind is sifting through right now. I realize that a lot of people who might read this may find me crazy for thinking so much about a child I have never seen or held but I can't explain it. There are no words to show how exciting it is that God has placed this passion on the heart of me and my husband. Who knows what this journey will look like and when it will begin but I'm sure it will be amazing!!


Just a funny aside: I was thinking of praying that all of our children would look different so that our adopted daughter could see that none of us really looked the same. Jon's family are all red-heads, my dad has blonde hair and my mom is a brunette. So we could have kids that are blonde, brunette, red-headed ;-) How great would that be?!?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Grace In Rivers

It's no surprise to those who know me well that I've been struggling with being content in my current job. Chalk it up to working nights for over 3 years, difficult situations at work, selfishness, discontentment, whatever you like, but no matter what the reason may be these frustrations and emotions have gotten the better of me. I've been angry, bitter, emotional, has just been rough for a couple of weeks. After an emotional night yesterday I was at my wits end. So I sat down and asked the Lord to show me what was going on and why my heart was so callused.

I spent some time reading through scripture (some chapters out of Psalm and Isaiah) and I journaled a bit. The time spent in the word was encouraging and refocused my eyes on things above but I still felt like I didn't have any more insight or clarity in how to handle all of these emotions. Later on during the night I began to read more of the Amy Carmichael book. Amy was a strong woman with even stronger convictions. She didn't want any people coming out to the mission field with a rose colored perspective. The work that Amy partook of was difficult and by no means glamorous. She even said:

"Not a word of attraction can I write to [a prospective recruit]. It will be desperately hard work, iron would snap under the strain of it. I ask for steel, that quality which is at the back of all going on, patience which cannot be tired out, and love that loves in every deed, unto death."

Amy talked about how "grace in rivers was required for this" when she spoke of workers doing the most mundane and seemingly unimportant jobs around the compound.

As I read through a few chapters a truth that I have known for some time hit me again. This job that I am working now may not be God's calling for the rest of my life but it is his calling for this period in time. No matter how long I am here or how difficult it may be this is a calling and a mission field nonetheless. Although some may equate prestige/honor to those working with this demographic my job is in no way glamorous. So instead of just sucking it up and waiting it out until God moves me elsewhere I've been convicted to pray. In these prayers I have asked the Lord to overflow my life with grace in rivers because these small drops of grace I've been living off of have left me parched. His grace will be the only thing that can sustain me. So God is lovingly dealing with my sinful emotions and teaching me that as a Christian my life, all that I do, is hidden in Christ. That identity makes everything I put my hand to a task that can bring glory to my Savior and a task that is not done alone.

It's a dangerous place to be when I think in "if onlys". If only I could have a new job, if only Jon and I could start our family, if only I could work during the day...then I would be happy. No other calling will be painless and easy, not if I am following the will of God. His greatest desire is for my life to bring Him glory and that can only happen if my life is transformed into the image of Christ. That transformation requires hardship and sacrifice and I just feel like I am beginning to grasp what that may mean. I hesitate to even use the word sacrifice and hardship when I read about my brothers and sisters all over the world who are dying for their faith. The lives of those who have given up everything spurs me on to remember the One I serve who gave up everything for me. I've got a lot to learn.

A card pasted on the inside front cover of Amy Carmichael's Bible:

"These children are dear to me. Be a mother to them, and more than a mother. Watch over them tenderly, be just and kind. If any heart is not large enough to embrace them, I will enlarge it after a pattern of my own. If these young children are docile and obedient, bless Me for it; if they are froward, call upon Me for help; if they weary thee, I will be thy consolation; if thou sink under thy burden, I will be thy reward."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The 135th Kentucky Derby

I honestly have nothing new to talk about should check out my husband's blog. He recently posted a great entry on the annual Run for the Roses. It's Derby time folks!