Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I needed that: Elisha and the widow's oil

Last week I began a new study through my Bible app for my daily devotions as I needed a mental break from studying Joshua, but still need something daily to keep me on track. the study is called "Elisha: A Tale of Ridiculous Faith." It's been good, but it's also been a weird mix of "yeah, yeah, I know this story" and "oh,  I don't remember that part at all... wow." Then, yesterday, it hit home.

I've been at my not-so-new-anymore job for almost 7 months now. I know a lot about how to do it, and about what needs doing. I also haven't had enough experience with some of the tasks, which means some days fly by in happy busyness, others creep by while I try to decide what to do next, and others are overwhelming and stressful as I feel I don't have enough knowledge and/or bandwidth to make the decision on what should be done first or how it will get done at all.

Now, please hear me. I am still so glad to be here. I am still so confident that this is where God led, and that hasn't changed. I am making friends and enjoying my coworkers, and like very much having a set work day! ;) But, my mind is very detailed (which is good for my job) which means it also over processes when I can't quite wrap my head around something, and feels overwhelmed when I don't have time to process as much as it would like. It also means I can internally talk myself into thinking I am failing miserably because I can't keep to the ridiculous schedule I've made up - even when I don't really know the best way to do that yet as I've not yet been here a year. On top of this, I'm still figuring out some personal stuff at home as well. So, I've had a few days of being super overwhelmed and trying not to let it show (at least not as much as it's actually happening - I know for sure I'm terrible at keeping my feelings hidden).

Then, yesterday's devotional was on the widow with the small jar of oil. It begins:
Do you feel overwhelmed with too many responsiblilties and challenges facing you at every turn? Do you feel like you've run out of options and you're doing life on empty? That is likely what the wife of the prophet that died in 2 Kings 4:1-7 felt. 
Wow. Now, as I read this, I was not feeling this way, but I have in the last few weeks. It's happened a few times, and it's been bothering me. I thought, "but WHY am I feeling this way? I shouldn't be feeling this overwhelmed when I haven't even been here a year!" As I processed, I realized that some of it is still leftover burnout from my past experiences. And I also have not connected at church much yet, so I am missing those parts of life that help keep me going. Thank the Lord he has given me friends at work who love him and who like me enough to hang out and be goofy and build me up. We have good discussions about all sorts of things, and because of that I have not completely lacked what I am in need of from a life group experience (camaraderie, spiritual encouragement and challenge, friendship, small-scale corporate worship).

The devotional later says:
Maybe you can relate to the widow in that when you don't think you have enough, you feel desperation and focus solely on your limitations. God sees your problem much differently from the way you do. 
...God specializes in doing a lot with a little and this story is another prime example. The world may see this as illogical or ridiculous, but God doesn't. God took one jar of oil and multiplied it so the widow could pay her debts. During those times when you feel overwhelmed and you've run out of options, remember that what you have is all God needs. God has given you everything you need.  

That's my prayer today. God, please help me to remember that YOU have given me everything (everything!) I need. And that even if it doesn't feel like it, it is enough for what you will do through me in my life and for me in my life. Thank you.

Devotional content from the Bible App from Pastor Craig Groeschel and LifeChurch.tv

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

On Weddings

(This is a bit heavy, especially for having not written since June…sorry in advance.)

If you’ve just stumbled on this blog, or it’s the first post you’ve ever actually read, or you just haven’t been in touch with me AT ALL in a very long time, know this: I’m single. As the day is long.

Most of the time, I’m ok with that. Most of the time, I’m super glad that I didn’t jump into a relationship/marriage/what-have-you and end up regretting it. I know I’m glad God saved me that heartache. I’m glad he has allowed me to become who I am – who I wouldn’t be if I had gotten married before now; if I had even been in a serious relationship before now.

But there’s a weird juxtaposition going on between being genuinely thankful for what God has done (and is doing) in my life right now, and where I still hope to be – and I’m not getting any younger. Some of you are chuckling now, because you’re older than me. Some of you are older and married, some are older and not married. Some of you tried that route and it hasn’t been good or didn’t end well one way or another. I hear you. But the truth is, I am (as we all are) getting older. And when that happens, and you’re a person who wishes to be married and hopes for children, there are thoughts that occur to you. They are not super fun.

Sometimes they’re just that – thoughts. You have them, you process them briefly, you move on, and that's enough. Sometimes, though, they get stuck in your brain and they start to monopolize the cells up there and keep you from moving on. Oh, sure, you can (mostly and usually) still function: get up in the morning, work, eat, exercise...but your brain is constantly playing the scenario of sad lonely single you in your head. And of course, it is always played against the people in your life who have what you want. You’re genuinely happy for them. You know their lives aren’t perfect. You know there are hard things and sometimes even horrible things that some of them are walking through at the moment. Still, they have joys you don’t have, and blessings you desire. And that’s hard.

This past weekend I was at a wedding. It was beautiful, it was joyful, and it was full of celebration. I am so happy for the bride and her groom. I pray for years of happiness, and that their marriage is truly fulfilling and that they are able to grow together as they grow older. I sat with my parents and grandmother for most of it (and I love them. I had no qualms about going into it that way. I knew I'd be with them). But on the day, I felt very alone. Why is that? Why could I not focus on the joy of the newlyweds? I mean, I did, but there was a constant tinge of sadness beneath it as well. I was (and maybe still am) grieving what I don’t have. Grieving and fearing that I may never have it.

I honestly pray that last line doesn’t come true. I ask (ok, sometimes it’s more like beg) God that he see fit to pair me with a spouse, that he let me be a mother, help make a home. But I can’t honestly say that I know if that’ll be true or not. I haven’t heard him make me any promises other than that I am his. And at the end of the world, that’s enough. It really is. And I know that in my head and in my heart – but right now, and for the past several weeks, and probably the next few as well, it doesn’t feel like enough. I feel incomplete and lonely. I feel left out. I feel unattractive, and like I must not be good enough for some reason (I could give you plenty, but I’ll spare you that part of my inner dialogue).

I don’t have any upswing at the end of this. I don’t feel like it’s that much of a downer, so I do apologize if that’s how it comes off to you. It’s just facts. It’s not happy, but it is factual. So, for now, that’s where I leave you. Learning to keep resting – intentionally – in what I know to be true, and trying to find a way to feel like that is truly enough.

Friday, June 12, 2015

My Crazy Life

Time for an update? I think so. I can’t really believe I haven’t written since December! The past 3 months have been a little crazy in my little life. Since Easter (April 4 & 5), I worked my last week at The Compass, moved to Minneapolis, started my new job at the Evangelical Free Church of America, finished unpacking and organizing (except for the books and movies – they’re shelved, but that’s it) and got my new driver’s license, and am getting a new car next week (hopefully – and that isn’t partially broken!). That’s a lot.  I still haven’t settled on a new “home church” but am close. I miss friends, family, belonging. Some mornings I wake up, walk into my living room and think, I’m in Minnesota. Woah. I still can’t completely believe it. My beloved cabin is only 1.5-2 hours away now instead of 8. Yes, I am a lucky girl.

Next up: finish getting a car and... get a library card! ;)

Ok, so I bet you’re wondering how this all came about. Well, for the past couple years I have felt restless – I have prayed for clarity, peace, calm, and many of you have prayed with me. Several months ago, on a very bad day, I decided (thanks to prompting from my mom) to just see if there might be something to apply for at the EFCA in Minneapolis. There wasn’t, but there was a “give us your email and we’ll let you know if anything opens up” box – which I completed. I didn’t really think about it again after a day or so, partly because I was pretty sure if I ever did hear from them that it would be something for which I wasn’t qualified. 

Fast forward to March 12th. I received an email notification for an administrative job – a perfect fit. I was shocked. I prayed, and since I was at work, decided to ignore it until after our big event on Saturday morning. I could NOT stop thinking about it. I asked God to get it out of my mind until Saturday unless He wanted me to do something sooner. I couldn’t get it out of my mind! So, Friday morning before I went in for an extra day of work to prepare for the event, I completed the application. Friday afternoon while I ate a late lunch I saw that I had an email response – a form letter asking for completion of a few more questions, which I did. The event on Saturday went well, I worked Sunday too since one of my coworkers was sick and two others were out of town, and Sunday afternoon I crashed.

Monday MORNING I received a phone call asking if I could interview that week. I did a Skype interview that Friday, at the end of which I was told I’d be sent some assessments on Monday. I actually received the first one that afternoon, which I completed. On Monday morning (now we’re at Monday, the 23rd) I got the other assessments, which I did that night right after work. Tuesday around 11a, they called to ask for a second interview. I let my boss know what was going on and she gave me her blessing to follow God’s apparent leading, and that she’d be praying. That Friday, March 27th, I was in Minneapolis for my first in person (but second) interview. It went very well, and I felt like I was already joining the team. I had to remind myself all the way home that it was not for sure, but even my brother was lamenting already how unfair it was that I’d be moving only a couple hours from our lake. ;) I told him it wasn’t for sure, we didn’t really know that, and he confidently said, “Yeah, but you’re moving to Minnesota.” It made me smile. I had been told I’d hear by the end of the week – likely nearer the end.

In the meantime, Trinity International University (my alma mater) had called me for an interview for a position I’d applied for about a week prior to the EFCA job due to the urging of a friend and more prayer. It was something I thought I could do, but I didn’t know if it would really work, or even if it was the right idea. My interview was to be Tuesday, the 31st, so I stayed with my friend Alicia on campus from Saturday night through Monday. Monday I worked from a desk near her office. At 8:30a I got texts from 2 of my references saying they’d just talked to the EFCA. WOAH. By 10a I had a job offer, which I accepted via phone – and would accept officially via email a few hours later. It had been two weeks and two days since I’d HEARD about the opportunity.

Clearly, very clearly, this was God’s plan. I cancelled my interview with Trinity, called my parents and told my closest friends, and my boss – who were all excited for me. Tuesday first thing I submitted my notice. The week following Easter was my last. It was a good place to be and I learned a lot, and I love people there, but I cannot explain the peace that exists when you are living in God’s plan – it has been chaotic and crazy and fast, but it has been good.

I have learned a ton in my first two months here. I have made connections with people here, and some of them are becoming friends. I look forward to settling into a church (which is hard in the land of 10,000 lakes during the summer) and getting into a small group. My apartment feels like home, though it will more so once a few friends have been there, which is happening soon as friends from Illinois come to visit. I will also feel more settled once I reorganize (properly) my book and movie shelves and get a library card so I can get … more books!

Thanks to all of you who have prayed, all of you who have been patiently waiting for the details of this update, and those of you who have listened lovingly and kindly to the moments when I’m freaking out (DMVs and driver’s knowledge tests are STRESSFUL)! God has blessed me richly, and most of it is because of you. God is good, and my story is proof!

I promise it won’t be as long again before I write… at least, I hope not! Until then...

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Books? Yes, Please.

So... I must love reading. I mean, I know that, and you probably know that, but in case you didn't, it really is true. I love reading. When I move to a new place, one of the first things I do is find the library and get a library card as soon as I can. Barnes & Noble is a very dangerous store. I believe I have only walked out of there with no new book in my hand maybe a handful of times in the past 10 years. So I don't go unless I have money to spend or a specific gift to get for someone else - then I get out as fast as I can before I splurge!

This year, I tracked the books I've been reading for myself - both here on this blog and on Goodreads. I wrote a post about it back in March. I have really enjoyed doing it, too. I have heard many people talk about trying to read 50 or 100 books in a year. I still can't quite fathom 100 if you're someone who works outside writing book reviews... but to be honest, even 50 sounded impossible. That's about a book a week. And while I read fairly quickly, and more than one at a time as well, I just imagined I'd make it to about 30. By September, I'd read 25 books, and I felt pretty good about that. I thought I might be able to get to even 35 by the end of the year.

As of today, I've read 42 books. That's only 8 books shy of the impossible. I've set up 2015's list and can't wait to see how far I get in the new year. I'd like to see if I can hit 50 next year. The interesting thing - at least to me - is that out of 42 books read this year, only 4 (FOUR!) of them are re-reads. People, I re-read books all the time. But there have been so many good books that were new, or that I just hadn't read before that I finally got around to, that the re-reads have taken a backseat. Even my common re-reads (Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, the Harry Potter series, the Narnia series) didn't get read this year. You can bet they'll be part of next year's goal. :)

So, on with the books. As always, feel free to let me know if there's one you think I should read. I'm always on the lookout for more to add to my "to read" list (because 104 isn't enough)!

Monday, December 29, 2014


Today, both of my parents are having surgery. In fact, my mom's in hers as I type this. They'll both be fine, and I shouldn't really be worried, but that's the part of me that is my mother's daughter. But I'm also my father's daughter, so I find myself in this detached worrying state. If I think about it too much, I start to freak myself out - but I'm not so far gone that I can't recognize what's happening and stop it. It's sort of like part of my brain is saying "freak out! your parents are in SURgEry! you can't do anything! and your mom insists she doesn't want help once she's home even though that sounds crazy! yOU HAVE to be there for the next 2 weeks to be sure they're ok!!" and the other part of my brain is saying "seriously? chill out man. help 'em out tomorrow, but good grief, calm down. they're fine. the doctors are good and your dad doesn't seem worried so just quit it. and your mom's not even as worried as you'd expect so just cut it out. drive them home tomorrow and then go on with life." Yeah, ok brain. Whatever you say (that's the first part breaking in again).

Because of this, I have found myself researching thyroids and gall bladders over the past few days and I know the symptoms related to problems, and the expected recovery time after surgery. I (thankfully) did not dig to deep, so I don't know complications or weird stories that have happened to the 1 in a thousand or whatever. And I feel confident that they'll be fine. I really do - but sometimes your emotions start to try to convince you otherwise. I mean, it's my parents!

Of course, I start thinking I should distract myself. Read a book, watch tv, do something crafty, whatever. Just get busy. I started thinking about posting about the books I've read this year. But as I even thought through that post (which I'll likely post tomorrow instead), I realized I should address what I'm really thinking about so I can let it go and not over do the stress on myself, which really isn't necessary. My youngest brother is with them today, my other brother and his family are praying warriors, and I'll be there to get them and help them tomorrow.

So what do I do now? Well, I'm with one of my dearest friends, and we both need rest today, so we plan to get some decongestant medicine and such from the store and then chill and watch Doctor Who for most of the day. I will also be knitting. We'll likely take some time to read as well. But you can bet I'll have my phone beside me all day, waiting to hear from my brother (who's with them) or until I can call them myself.

Then, tomorrow, I'll be the one to pick them up and take them home. I know they've already had friends dropping off meals and offering to help, which is encouraging. I will hang out there until we all feel comfortable with me leaving - could be same day, could be longer. Good thing I like reading and quiet, huh? Of course, I have movies to watch as well. :)

So if you're the praying-to-Jesus type, please join me in praying for them. For peace, for steady hands of the doctors and nurses, for quick and full healing, for little pain and good pain control, and for rest. Pray for low stress levels. Pray for the rest of my family not to be worried more than we should. And praise Him for the blessings - both surgeries are fairly common, my parents convinced the hospital to put them in the same recovery room, and my brothers and I have all been available to help.

At the end of the day, and all throughout it, actually, despite surgery, worry, and stress, God is good. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Part of a Promise

I have finally had (read: taken) the time to process some of the Christmas/spiritual life thoughts I've been having lately. Because of that, what began as a short post on Facebook became this blog post. And as I wrote, it kept lengthening. But it's so good to think through these things - for me it helps them sink in better...and I need that!

I've been reading a daily devotional I received (thanks, Mom) that is designed to prepare you for the arrival of the Son of God through the month of December (Advent) through January 6 (Ephiphany). The reading from yesterday has stuck with me, especially as part of this past weekend's sermon echoed these thoughts as well.

WE are part of the story! WE are still receiving the blessing that resulted from the faith of those in the story we read. WE should be amazed and awed at the wonder God has shared with us and sing praises giving thanks to Him. For unto US a child was given, and He is our Savior and the Prince of Peace (paraphrased Isa. 9:6). Because of His birth, and our part in the prophecies foretold (which, incidentally is also because of His birth and our salvation through His death), WE (should) celebrate the glorious arrival of Jesus and His infinite wisdom, power, and love.

How can we just sit still? I mean, we don't really, but we do where it matters. I do! I am so tired from all the running around, the planning, the trying to be sure I haven't somehow left someone out or hurt them (how ridiculously far I over think this, few of you have any idea).

How do we not shout the news like the shepherds, or make the journey like the wise men? (This still makes me think of little Gladys Herdman: "Hey! Hey! Unto you a child is born!" When you haven't heard it before, it really means something, and it's worth shouting! People gotta know!)

How do we not trust like Joseph or wonder like Mary? I get so caught up in what I need to get done, or planning who to see and when (which is good, I grant you, but not enough), that I completely forget to TRUST God with the things that are stressing me out (today. this happened MULTIPLE TIMES - TODAY.) and I forget to wonder at the amazing story that He has given us, and made me part of when He made me His child!

I have always loved Christmas - just ask my mom. I love the seasons, the change, the beauty of each one, but winter is my favorite, and I know a lot of that is because of Christmas. The joy in the air, the family (both biological and chosen), time with friends, activities, and demonstrations of love through food, fun, gifts, laughter, and shared craziness - it is a wonderful thing. But often, I let the stress society (and myself) puts on it seep into my enjoyment. I let the stress of preparing to be away from work for a few days overshadow the joy and celebration of the season.

Then, today's reading spoke of mercy. The author describes mercy as "that which fulfills our heart's desire, that which gives purpose to our lives, that which also allows us not only to be loved, but also to love completely." While I'm not sure I agree with this definition 100%, I do love the perspective it gives and the direction it looks. Mercy from God is something that "always astonishes us." Or it should. Have you become accustomed to the mercy God grants? I pray it is not so! I pray you are always awestruck by the grace of God in granting His mercy to us. I hope that we are all astonished by the things God puts into our lives as He shows us His plan.

Lastly, the sermons at my church this month (first 3 weeks of December, anyway) have been about the 3 great blessings that are ours because of Christmas: Joy, Peace, and Hope (you can listen to the sermons here). I cannot tell you how much a blessing these have been to me these past couple weekends, and how much I am looking forward to this coming one! What gifts. Joy inexplicable! Peace that calms the soul. Hope that looks up and out and forward. Glorious Savior indeed!

Now, go enjoy your Christmas, and don't let the stress in - let HIM in!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Who are we, really?

I've had a strange couple of weeks. I feel overwhelmed, stressed out. I know that some of it is from lack of sleep which comes from lack of exercise and... stress. Work has been busy, but not really much more than normal. I have found I have less time for God, less time for friends, and less motivation in both departments. I have only really stayed on top of work because of my ridiculous sense of responsibility, but that just makes everything all the more draining.

The problem is, I'm having a really hard time identifying the source of this unrest. It has caused no less than 6 mild migraines, which doesn't help either. I feel simultaneously terrified of making a change, and completely stuck in almost every way. It's very strange. I don't like it.

I pray constantly, but have not had a dedicated time of prayer due to the schedule I'm keeping. Except as I try to fall asleep at night (or go back to sleep in the middle of it), and then, I'm usually praying that I can stop thinking about everything for long enough to fall asleep and be rested enough to do tomorrow. God has been good, gracious and faithful, and I keep getting through each day, each night, each week - He truly is awesome and I don't deserve what He gives me. And still... I feel this way.

So yesterday, and again this morning, it has had me thinking about my capital 'P' Purpose, and about who I really am. What am I doing here on this earth? Why am I still here instead of in heaven celebrating and worshiping my great God? I know that everything I attempt to do, if done with the right heart attitude and work ethic is glorifying to Him and gives purpose to my life. I know that there are many people who value me not just for what I can do but for the relationships we share, or have shared. I am grateful for them and for the work God has allowed me to be part of, but now, I am feeling like a change is in order... I just don't know what that means.

I also realized (today) that I seem to have 'holed up' internally, so to speak. I am a fairly emotional person. Most of you already know that. I'm not good at hiding how I feel, and even if I manage it, it does not last for very long. I get teary at movies, I cry reading books, and at the thought of people I care about moving away I sob. I am still tearing up at books, but that's it, and has become rare. What's wrong with me? Who have I become? I'm tempted to watch the saddest movie ever just to see if it upsets me, but then, part of me doesn't want to do that... we'll see what the week holds. The potential of a couple of friends moving away saddens me, but emotionally I feel like "oh well, I'll miss them, but it's whatever." WHAT?? Maybe once/if they actually go, I'll find the emotion that is lacking, but for someone who can't usually keep it hidden, I'm shocked. Not to say i burst into tears during the day all the time, but often it'll come out on my pillow, and that's not happening either. I just feel sort of lethargic and like I'm going through the motions more than anything else. Maybe I'm having too many emotions, so they're stuck and they just won't come out.

So, if you're the praying type, please be praying for me. Pray that God would show me His clear direction, His clear guidance for my life, and in the mean time, that I don't get discouraged taking step after step on faith. I trust Him, I do, and yet, I wish He would give me a break and shed a little more light on the path ahead. And if you see me, please encourage me - but please, don't patronize me. I do that enough to myself.

NOTE: I also realize I should say: I completely recognize that there are people struggling with much worse in the world - even people in my life - and I do not discount that fact. I think you can see in what I've written above that I fully know that God has and is taking care of me. Many things are good and well for me. But this feeling of ... whatever it is is beginning to feel like it will never go away, and that's not good, which I also recognize. So, I ask for prayer, I write to get it out, and I trust that God will, as He always does, follow through with me - because I am not forsaken. I am special, I am loved, and I am His. And He protects and guides His own. I just wish it was a little more clearly and quickly. So, for me, right now, this is my struggle. I continue to pray for those others to help keep my perspective, and trust that He will lead me out when He sees fit.