Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Crazy totally insane day

I started this day with the following prayer:
Lord, let me glorify you today. Make me bold. Show me where I can be bolder.

Quick recap:
4:45 am - wake up. let out dog.
5:00 am - on the road, heading to gym at work
5:45 am - sneaking in a few miles at the gym. run into my deputy director on the treadmill.
7:00 am - at my computer.
8:30 am - guy down the hall begins having a heart attack.
8:31 am - I administer asprin.
8:45 am - EMTs arrive.
9:30 am - EMTs leave, without guy down hall.
10:00am - I yell at guy down hall until he goes to see the doctor.
11:15am - get a message from my boss that I am involved in a "confidential meeting". no details.
12:30pm - at said confidential meeting.. which I can't disclose. But. I was given an opportunity to witness the truth of a situation as well as witness.
2:00 pm - inventor of RUP (a very big deal at work) comes to my office. I don't screw up meeting, and manage to say something smart.

It got less crazy from there. I'm still processing the insanity from today, and I'm hoping I'll be able to share something that today's adventures has taught me.

Already, its a reminder that whatever boldness I do, whatever gets credited to my name, I can take no credit. Clearly, today the Lord has told me how he arranges my day, and how he gets the glory.

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." Psalm 115:1

Monday, April 18, 2011

Something to be thankful for

"I run in the paths of your commands, for you have set my heart free."
Psalm 119:32

It's been a long day - as usual, a nice long Monday to start off the work week. I'm driving home finally at the end of the day. As I exit the city and get on the highway, I notice every single runner out there. Little twinges of jealousy start to itch as I wish I had the time to be out there enjoying the weather, and the pain-free hips and joints to be able to enjoy moving freely. I try to squash this itchy feeling that I must get outside and move.. especially I'm stuck in my car for the long commute home.

It's somewhere along the road, as I'm heading westbound into the sunset, that I realize I can't stop smiling at everything that God has given me. I involuntarily smile at the sun, and the flowering trees that line the otherwise dreary Interstate 66 back home. I keep daydreaming of being outside and running free - when it hits me: now, after the surgery, I really will be able to run free.

Before the surgery, the whole impending doom of my-heart-could-explode-at-any-time thing left me almost always holding something back. I was always a little afraid. It certainly tinged all the activities I was doing a little gray - there was something a little guilty about them. But this allowed God to show up in big ways to those around me. Me running, hiking, climbing was me almost recklessly giving God a stage to glorify Himself on. After surgery, I was worried that now this stage was taken away - how will I glorify God now?

It was today that I finally realized - I can run free.

I've been telling everyone that knew about my ten mile race the beginning of April, when they ask the inevitable, "How did you do??" - I say: "I busted my hip! Of all things, after all I've been through, I go and bust my hip! The heart - yeah it was a champ - but did you see how I can't walk!? How silly is that??" I would focus on what God has taken away - not what he gave me in return.

He gave me the freedom to run, jump, hop, skim, climb, rappel, swim, leap, dive - you name it - without worrying about my heart.

It's been 5 months since surgery now. And it's taken this long for me to realize what a gift I've been given. God, I'm so sorry it took me longer to realize you have set me free, in so many ways.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

God Opens a Window. LITERALLY.

Cute, true story that just happened:

I am dog-sitting this week for some family friends. Here is the adorable pooch (because come on, how can I not take advantage of the opportunity to gratuitously post cute puppy pics?)

It's a beautiful day outside, yet muddy because of all of yesterdays rain. Dog Riley and I head outside onto the back porch to enjoy the sunshine, and I close the door behind me so the dog doesn't go straight back into the house while he's still muddy.

I close the door behind me.. and yup. Door. Locked. (CRAP!!)

Everything is inside, minus the dog and my textbook. The keys to the house, the keys to my car. What will I do??

I look around, and right next to the door is the window I had opened a couple of hours earlier, to let some of the beautiful weather inside. I nervously approach the window and it's screen.. give the screen frame a little test... it slides right up!!! I gratefully scramble through the open window and unlock the deck door that had locked behind me.

WOW. I never thought I'd literally get to live through the cliche, "When God closes a door, he always opens a window."

This will have me thinking the rest of the day.. what opportunities has God closed for me, while leaving other options open?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Psalm 130:3-4 - Like Talking to a Wall

"If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared." (Psalm 130:3-4)

"Keeping a record of sins (or holding a grudge) is like building a wall between you and another person, and it is nearly impossible to talk openly while the wall is there. God doesn't keep a record of our sins; when he forgives, he forgives completely, tearing down any wall between us and him. Therefore, we fear (revere) God, yet we can talk to him about anything. When you pray, realize that God is holding nothing against you. His lines of communication are open." (YouVersion devotional)

So my question of the day: what if we're still in the business of building walls? I have the same issues of forgiving others as the next person - it's hard! But I do believe I'm come to a point when I'm healed that all I can see in a transgressor is how God has used that for my benefit. How can I be angry at that? Wall down!

Rather, my issue stems from rebuilding walls between myself and God. God keeps tearing them down, reminding me I'm forgiven. And I keep rebuilding them. As if I'm telling God - "seriously, are you sure you forgive me for this?" And it's not as if I'm out committing crimes - but I consider things sinful for me that aren't sinful for others. Exhibit a - full confession of a binge eater. I have this terrible relationship with food, and I can't ever seem to really enjoy it, because every bite feels guilty. This is a wall I daily rebuild between myself and God. (Last time I checked, we have to eat everyday).

"If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?" And yet, I still list of all my faults and ways I've screwed up and ways I'm not perfect. And I never seem to forget them, and I'm quick to remind myself and others of how I'm not good enough. The truth is, I keep doing this to myself, and it cuts my legs right out from under me. How can I stand when I continually list my imperfections, despite being perfectly aware that there is only ONE perfect person to walk this earth (his name was Jesus, fyi).

I think these walls we're constantly rebuilding, even as God takes them down, are the daily struggles. The big events (see heart surgery) are almost more tolerable because they're so extraordinary. It's our mundane, daily, absurdly normal routines that threaten to wear our relationship with God away.

Again, I've got to bring it back to love. God tears down these walls so he can love us perfectly, completely, wholly. He has torn down the walls, and 'His lines of communication are open'. WE are the ones who keep closing off our communication with God. He wants us to know how he loves us, and we think we're unworthy of that love. Yes, we are. BUT, that's why Jesus died on the cross for us.

Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Psalm 127:2 - too tired to love

Psalm 127:2

"In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat— for he grants sleep to those he loves."

I loved the devotional that went along with this:
"God is not against human effort. Hard work honors God. But working to the exclusion of rest or to the neglect of family may be a cover-up for an inability to trust God to provide for our needs. We all need adequate rest and times of spiritual refreshment. On the other hand, this verse is not an excuse to be lazy. Be careful to maintain a balance: work while trusting God, and also rest while trusting him."

We work and work and work, trying to provide for ourselves. And we work and exhaust ourselves to the exclusion of Christ. We do this for several reasons:

1) we think we have to provide for ourselves, alone, or that God won't provide everything we need.

2) we think we are essential - that work won't get done if we don't do it ourselves. By the way, you Martha's out there (of which I am one too), this applies not only to work, but to our family and church activities.

3) we seek to be exhausted and busy because of the distraction that it provides. If we're too tired and or busy, then we think we don't miss or notice that God-sized whole so much.

All of these lead to exhaustion, often hopelessness. This is a symptom of our priorities not being aligned with His.

Even when we toil at God's work, why are we destroying ourselves? Is it for Him, and we do this out of sacrificial devotion? Or, more likely, are we killing ourselves because one of the reasons above? Or maybe were not trying to please God, but we're trying to please those we work with. We think that we must earn the respect of our peers and coworkers by pushing ourselves so hard. Part of me does take pride in the fact that I'm often the first one in the office, and the last one out. Pat of me wants to be known as someone who really pushes themselves, expects more from themselves.

But I know when I am exhausted at the end of the work day, the first thing I want to do is not pray, read my Bible, or meditate on God's word. It's usually along the lines of feeding my face and watching Hulu. And the more I tire myself at work, the more I want to stuff myself with chips and tv. It's like I seek to achieve balance not by taking things away, but by overloading my plate until I'm equally extreme in everything I'm doing.

God wants us to have balance. He doesn't want us so exhausted we cant worship Him or enjoy the things He's put on earth for us to enjoy. What reason are we using to exhaust ourselves? What part of our day are we not leaving to God to provide for us on?

It's my prayer for myself that I find this balance. When I'm exhausted I can only focus on myself and how to relieve that exhaustion. I can't focus focus on others and that's a problem. I hate myself for not being more focused on others, which in turn makes it harder for me to pour out love on others if I can't love myself as well.

The question is this: are we too exhausted to love?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Psalm 119:123

Psalm 119:123

"My eyes strain to see your rescue, to see the truth of your promise fulfilled."

This is us as mentors and leaders, & I feel us especially at hopewell as we pray for God to be at work in the lives of our young people - even as we watch them exit the safe doors of the detention facility to the scary real world beyond. We desperately want to see for ourselves Gods positive impact on their lives - I know for myself, I selfishly want to know that what I have done has not been in vain & that I have added some value to their lives. But the danger is for us to strain to see Gods work even when it may not be Him working, and seeing maturity in the youth that's not there. Or for us to get discouraged when we think we see nothing.

We need to be satisfied with the fact that we may only be blessed to have the privilege to plant the seed in this youth, & trust that God will provide to our young ones those that will water and feed them into maturity & strength.

Remember that it is the tree that takes many, many years to mature is the tree that will live long and endure. Those trees that grow quickly also lack the support to stay and become rooted in the word - and thus are quickly uprooted when their secular foundation falls apart.

We strain our eyes not to see just growth and progress - but to see the truth of God's promise revealed in the lives of these young people. Meditate on what this difference of progress & Gods truth looks like.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


So I hope you know by now that I have a pretty crazy story.

Please help me continue to write it and share it.

I'm running the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon on October 30. Just under a year after open-heart surgery. I want to celebrate this by running the 26.2 for the Semper Fi Fund: join me?? If you've got a better excuse than I do to NOT run a marathon, then please consider donating. If you don't have a better excuse than I do to not run a marathon, consider donating. :)

It's my prayer that throughout all of this I can be bold and consistent in giving the glory to God and using it as an opportunity to boldly declare how sweet He is, and how good He is to me, and to you.

Lessons (not) learned

I wish I could say I've found something really profound to share. I guess the profound thing is the lack of profoundness? Um, let me explain that one.

As I have found myself more physically able to pick up my insane schedule again, I have found myself focusing less and less on God, less intentional about devotions. And what have I learned? Nothing! That's my point exactly.

When we take away our focus from the one who we should be glorifying, we often end up glorifying ourselves instead. And we know how that ends up: it's like building our foundation on sand instead of the bedrock it should be on. It only takes one little event to knock everything you've carefully–but foolishly–constructed to come tumbling down.

I confess to having been extremely consumed with running lately. I would intentionally use it as a time of worship, but I admit I've been distracted on my runs. My goal with running has always been as something that is part of a balanced, healthy lifestyle, sort of like a healthy prescription (runners know it can totally be like a drug, and addicting!). I wanted to be running and training in a way I could keep up my whole life. Have I always achieved that goal? Not so much. This time around, I thought it would be BRILLIANT of me to change up my stride two weeks before a race (despite frequent advice from my =PR= Running coach to never try anything new right before a race). I was faster, it felt more comfortable...right up until I couldn't walk. Race day, instead of it being a glorious debut, I was in pain the entire time. The heart was AWESOME, and stayed in a comfortable zone the entire 10-miler. Instead, I literally limped along for 10 miles at a 12:24 pace - a minute behind my last long run.

If I were to look at this with a me-perspective, I am tempted to be disappointed and frustrated. But I am determined to keep this race in perspective with all that God has blessed me with, especially over the past 5 months. It's amazing (and quite humbling) that 5 months after open-heart surgery I race 10 miles, even more so that the trouble that bothers me race day isn't the heart, but a stupid left hip I injured due to my pride. It's also promising.. which I think is a weird word to use considering I'm injured and my 'short-term' outlook isn't sunny. But it's promising in the sense that He's given me a big, healthy heart and the ability to run again.

It really is a GIFT to be running again, and the only one who can take that away is me - through trying to run on my own, and not by His grace.

"Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness." Psalm 115:1