Monday, March 31, 2008

revealing the heart

I find it sobering... and interesting that a person's family exposes so much sin in our lives. For me, it's only too true. Dave Harvey said in a sermon that we cannot use the sins of another as an excuse to allow ourselves to fall into sin.  It is much more difficult to "take the higher road" or avoid confrontation, feelings of hurt, anger, and frustration when it's my own family. Questions like "shouldn't they know better by now?" "why don't they understand?/why can't they understand?" "haven't we been over this before?" run through my mind during conversations.

Areas of sin that are revealed:
1) discontentment - Wishing that I had Christian parents who would speak reason and truth into my life, that I didn't have to grow up so fast, that I didn't have to "be the mother" to my mom, or that I didn't have to oppose my father (not in the sense of arguing just for the sake of arguing, but telling him what God is doing in my life and going on missions trips and following God's call rather than my earthly father's instructions and plans) isn't going to change them or make me feel any better. God has given me my parents and family situation for a reason. I should be giving Him glory for giving me opportunities to build up my patience, practice for when I actually have my own family, and providing me with a like-minded sister instead of becoming angry with my parents. (I knew I shouldn't have prayed for patience when I was a kid! ha, ha.)
2) pride/self righteousness - I think my ideas are right and get frustrated when my parents don't understand. They can't understand. It's wrong of me to expect them to. The "woe is me" act I play out in my mind isn't glorifying to God at all! It is just sinful pride and self pity. I don't deserve any thing (including parents who seek discernment and God's will), but God has given me so much. I am the worst of all sinners and God is being gracious enough to give me opportunities to live for Him and speak truth into the lives of my parents.
3) impatience - Thinking that they should 'know me by now' or wondering why they aren't changing (generally its my heart that changes rather than theirs, they seem to stay pretty consistent at least) isn't helping me or anyone else. I am just stumbling and tripping over my own feet into sin on my own. I need to remember how much patience God has for my sinful heart and apply that in all situations regardless of whether it's my parents or not. (It seems like it's easier with others**see below)
4) dishonoring - I feel like I try so hard to honor my parents and take their feelings and thoughts into account when I make decisions and pray for discernment, but becoming frustrated or angry with them when they don't care what God's call is for my life is dishonoring them! I would be ridiculous to believe that I am honoring my parents when I am angry with them for making me feel bad about who I am. I need to speak truth to myself and remember who I am in Christ, even more than I normally do in times such as these. I should honor their opinions and graciously explain to them God's calling and plan for my life and that I cannot do otherwise and if they cannot understand that - not become angry with them. I should be sad for them because they do not realize that God's plan is the best plan and that I must follow where ever He leads me.

This is all easier said than done. I'm sure there was much more sin in my heart than I addressed above (those were just the instantly apparent ones) as my face flushed and mind frantically tried to tame my tongue and thoughts (oh, sinful heart of mine). I can only pray that God will work in my heart and transform me to be a more gracious and loving daughter toward my parents regardless of whether or not they care and believe that God's will is the most important of all. I pray for their souls and salvation as well, I think my mom is a Christian, but I often am worried about my dad. As angry and as hurt as I feel when/after talking with my parents, I really do love them and want them to experience what grace and love God has for them.

**I think it's harder with family because we expect so much more from them. They know us better so they should be less sinful toward us right? -Nope. Well, they should know where our weaknesses are and not provoke us right? -Wrong. They are human too! To expect anything other than human responses (especially if you're not sure if they actually believe in God or not) would be absurd.

Wow, I am always aware of my sinful nature and am so thankful that Christ has paid the price for my rampant sin in my life. I know no sinner worse than me. Thank You God for re-revealing & revealing my heart in these matters, please carry on molding my heart, and aid me in continuing to strive to be more like You. Thanks for Your word and Your truth.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

back flips, front flips, & life

Disclaimer: This got quite long once I started typing it out rather than just thinking about it. The types of flips I refer to are typical flips (tucks), not layouts. I like metaphors. I can do back flips (on trampolines only due to knee issues, I can do back handsprings & walkovers on the ground still) and fly-a-ways. There are areas in my life where I falter. If something doesn’t make sense or needs additional explanation, let me know. I am by no means perfect. I’m a sinner, saved by the grace of God. I am eternally grateful.

There are a few ways to look at this analogy:
#1 – Faith gives us the courage to start. Back flips are scary because you cannot see where you are headed. You do not know the end result until your feet (or something else) hit the ground. If you are too afraid to throw a flip (throw = to do), you will never experience the rush of adrenaline and more importantly the freedom that comes from it. We have to trust that we will make it all the way around. We have to trust that when we follow God’s plan, (of which we do not know the outcome) He will see it to completion – and He will! He promises to never leave us or forsake us [Josh 1:5]. All things work for the glory of God for those who love Him [Rom 8:28]. If we align our will to God’s will, within our hearts we will love and honor God first and we will seek glory for God as the purpose our lives.

#2 – We must make a choice. If you’re going to do it, you have to do it. God’s will is going to be done whether we follow him or not – you are either for Him or against Him – you are either hot or cold, if you are lukewarm He will spit you out [Rev 3:16]. We cannot stand on a fence between the world and the way of the Lord, we must chose a side and accept the consequences. (Personally, I choose God’s side – the winning side, which is good for those of us with a competitive nature.) Even if we are not following God, He can use whomever He wishes.

If you don’t go all out when throwing a flip, or if you get scared half way through and try to turn back – that’s when you get hurt or fall on your head. Opening up too soon or attempting to stop half way can lead to injury. As an 8-year old gymnast I was told, “there is no such thing as try, you just have to do it.” As simple as it sounds, it’s true. If you do not jump and tuck as well as you can, you’re better off not trying because you will fall on your head. The worst injuries gymnasts (and other athletes) most often encounter occur when they are tired and cannot do their best or when they do not put all the energy they have into their tricks (flips).

With life, it’s the same although the injuries we encounter may not be as visible. You probably will not break an arm, injure your neck, or twist your ankle if you halt in the middle of a non-physical activity. Just because the injuries are not physical, it does not mean that they are not as severe or important to address. Emotional injury can be more debilitating than physical injury (and may occur from physical suffering). When one ‘fails’ per se (ceases activity prior to completion), it takes more to over come the fear or hindrance that was initially present. Physical injury basically needs time to heal as the re-building process takes place. When our injuries are apparent to others (whether physical or emotional), they are able to assist in caring for us – this is why we need to share our struggles and burdens with one another [Gal 6:2]. We need to be specific (you must make the choice to get help!) otherwise they cannot pray for us or help keep us accountable.

#3 – Knowledge of an outcome does not mean its better. (When can we ever say we absolutely know what the outcome will be anyway?) What seems frightening due to our lack of foresight may actually be the more preferable option. Although you can see where you are headed and where you are going during a front flip, it is actually easier to perform the back flip. The motion of tucking your knees into your body naturally propels your body backwards. When doing fly-a-ways off the bars (or a rope swing into a river) all you need to do is tuck and let go because pulling your knees in will cause your body to spin in the right direction; it really takes little effort other than the act of letting go. (Harder than it sounds isn’t it? If you do tend to hold on tightly to what you trust in… why not let go of it and hold on more tightly to God? – He really is the only one we can trust in!) A front flip also requires tucking. However, since you are spinning in the opposite direction of a back flip where tucking assists, this motion now contradicts what you are trying to accomplish.

Just as back flips are easier even though we cannot see – if we purpose to follow Christ we cannot always see where we are going, but we are promised that His yoke is easy and His burden is light [Matt ]. I am by no means saying life is “easier” when you become a Christian as we all endure trials. Following God is to put it quite simply – the more preferable option! Jonah was told to go to Nineveh and he tried not to … we know what happened to him (he ended up in the smelly belly of a whale). The key word in the sentence: “tried.” Why fight an omnipotent being with our own idea of what’s best for us? God’s will is going to be done, He has our best interest in mind and He can see the whole picture.

Conclusion – The unknown can be petrifying, but if we believe that God has laid out our lives before we were born and knew all the days of our lives [Psalm 139] before He knit us in our mother’s womb, ultimately we know: God knows. I find that very comforting! It allows me to ‘take the plunge,’ to dare to dream, to follow Him with a childlike faith and recklessness, to do so much more than I could ever imagine. He has a plan for our lives that is so much better than any thing we could conceive! (I can attest to this just in this past year alone, much less my life story.) We are not aimlessly wandering through this life. We have a purpose in God’s plan. We are not alone; He has given us many blessings including those around us. He will not give us anything more than we can handle [1 Cor 10:13]. He will keep His promises. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength [Phil 4:13]. We can go with God, swimming against the current, honoring Him by following Him and glorifying Him or we can turn away and allow ourselves to drift lifelessly downstream in the direction of the world.

Back flips, front flips – who knew there was so much to say?
I praise God for those He has placed in my life to encourage and challenge me. I do not ever wish to be stagnant in my faith, I want to actively pursue God and sometimes this requires me to be spurred on by fellow believers when I am tempted and take my eyes off of my Savior. Thank God for His grace. I am so grateful for God capturing and claiming my heart before I can remember, without Him, I know I would not be in this world. I thank God for the trials and adversity in my life that shaped me to be who I am today and who I am becoming. I’m still working on thanking God during trials, but it becomes easier to do so when I look back and see how faithful He was and IS and WILL BE. Oh, how I am glad that He is constant and unchanging, so unlike everything in this world. I know I have a long way to go, but one day at a time I can focus on Him and trust that His plan for my life and His timing is perfect. Keep your eye on the prize that is Christ and run the race set before you.

-Run for life friends-

Monday, March 24, 2008

blown away

Easter [my favorite holiday] this year was one to remember from hanging out with Richardson to Kirkman children. I experienced both egg hunts and short-term memory loss that afternoon; an odd [pathetic] combination when you are really good at hiding eggs! I probably could have hidden eggs, waited an hour and then have trouble finding them. Wiffle ball, trampolines, foosball, cards, and what could quite possibly be my favorite non-sport game - 'Search & Rescue' filled our afternoon late into the night. I was so tired I fell asleep on the front room floor at one point.

I thought it was ironic that Gene used the statement and response "He has risen," "He has risen indeed" yesterday at church when at the same time (it was toward the end of the sermon so it was near to 9 on the west coast), they were probably saying it in SLO during the first service. Glorious that God's grace abounds and that His family is my family and I feel so welcomed here. When I stop to ponder the beauty of His plan for my life and how intricately He thought out each detail... I am overwhelmed with gratefulness and amazement.

I feel so insignificant when I think of what God has done on my behalf. I am the worst of sinners and my heart is devising new ways of sinning even as I type. I am so thankful that Christ endured what I cannot even comprehend so that I might live with Him and have eternal life. Astounding. I can't imagine what it must be like; to not have a purpose in life. I can only pray that God will move in the hearts of those who do not know Him so that they might be as blown away as I am.

On Saturday, I went hiking up a mountain by the name of "Old Rag," my expectations for this endeavor were eclipsed by the name of the mountain itself (sad that a name can be confounding). I wasn't sure if it was called a rag because it was floppy, greasy, dirty, or just worn by the test of time and ragged. Despite this, I had high hopes and I was not disappointed. God's splendor was on full display even on the drive there. The river that wound through the valley was gorgeous. The ripples and waters rushing over stones were so pure and untainted. A hawk sailed through the air above the trees in the distance and rainbows stretched across the sky. Three forms of precipitation hit the rocks standing in our path. I loved scrambling along the trail at the top of the mountain. How marvelous is Your work.

Another great work of His - I experienced bona fide chivalry; I have never encountered anything like it. It was refreshing... I felt protected for the first time in my life. [I often feel "safe" because of what I consider my "street smarts," but I have never felt like I was being protected. It was an intriguing sensation.] I thanked my friends' mother the next morning and she said, "it's nice to be treated like a lady, isn't it?" Awe struck by the simplicity of the statement, I laughed and nodded in agreement.

What has society done? Why don't I know how to react when I am "treated like a lady?" After all, I am a lady! My first instinct is not "thank you" but one that is prideful and full of sin. Quickly my mind assumes that men think they are stronger than women and though this is true in most cases, I become offended. The world tells me I can do everything myself and that I do not need help, that women are just as capable as men - the age of the "independent woman." I have been convicted of pride many times, this is just another way that it manifests itself in my life. I feel like I need to be re-trained or broken in to this "new" concept [ancient, but new to me]. It is sad that the world has infiltrated my thoughts escaping detection for so long. Women and men are equal, but created for different purposes. I love how Matthew Henry explains it: “Eve was not taken out of Adam’s head to top him, neither out of his feet to be trampled by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected by him, and near his heart to be loved by him.”

This morning I drove about 80 miles mostly through snow that melted immediately when it hit the glass of Lazarus' front window [then another 50 miles back home afterwards]. On the way there I was so tired and falling asleep multiple times, but it was way too early to call someone on the west coast and still too early to call anyone on the east coast. So, I prayed a lot as I nodded off, only to be awoken with a jerk once I remembered I was driving. (Unsafe, I know! Pray for me, thanks!) I pray that God would enable me to glorify Him and help me to over come my pride in various instances (including the specific one mentioned above). I have five more weeks with which I can serve and glorify God by doing my best in this internship. I'm going to need to dig deep and persevere to the finish. God, I'm going to need Your help!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

longings of the heart

At CG on Tuesday visitors/new people were asked questions. One had to describe a perfect day - he thought of the beach and the mountains, another had to choose between the two, so even if the first hadn't mentioned it, I would have had the same emotions running through my mind. The moment I heard the word "beach" I felt a sharp pain in my chest. It gripped my heart and drudged up fond memories of my past.

I smiled on the outside but inside I was longing for the crashing waves and calming affect the ocean has on my often overwhelmed soul. It's so beautiful - so dangerous. The great blue depths of the salty water contain many secrets. The wind and gravity of the moon pulling the waves toward the shore in a constant rhythm. I cannot even begin to comprehend how God imagined and came up with such an idea.

I was on the brink of tears just thinking of home, writing this entry tortures my heart. I can't even include the beautiful people I miss so much and would die for that reside at home because that would hurt too much. Simply the place, the creation that God has made brings me to tears. When I was little we would play in the sand at the beach, building walls to block the ocean, we never succeeded. The waves always crashed over the top and we would frantically build up the wall for the next wave. We never expected the wall to last, we built it to see how long it could handle the strength of the ocean. I recall a picture of our mom and my sister and I on the beach in my little pony swimsuits. [This could be a metaphor for life: we can build and build up our treasures in this world but when the time comes... you can't take it with you. However, instead of just barely escaping, God has made it possible for us to store up treasures in heaven that will survive the flames. see 1 Cor 3:10-15]

I ran to the water, biked to the beach, and have been drawn to it all my life. As I got older and was able to drive, whenever I was feeling heavy with emotion; whether happy, sad, angry, frustrated, excited, confused, or whatever... the first place I would go was the beach. I would take off my shoes and walk through the cold water (Nor Cal represent), the waves lapping at my ankles. I would stand on the rocks listening to the waves crash and feel the wind whip through my hair. A friend who listened to my problems, my feelings, the longings of my heart. One who had answers that lay deep beneath the surface.

Once in college we had bonfires at the beach, I was the only one who would roll my pants up and venture into the water. The water was warmer in Central California compared to home but no one else would join me. I was alone walking down the beach praying and praising God for His phenomenal creation. Often I'd build a sand-recliner to look up at the sky on the beach while listening to the sound of the ocean. The stars meeting the ocean water on the horizon is so stupefying. It is so hard for me to understand anyone who could deny a creator when they are right in the middle of His splendor and majesty, when they walk through the waters of the ocean, when they glide across the surface of the water on the waves, the closest I will ever get to "walking on water." I miss surfing, my 3/2 wetsuit, and I still need to air brush and get my board glassed that I made 3 years ago. I miss it despite rip tides, sharks, sea urchins in my foot, under tows, corral, and getting thrashed about like a rag doll in the powerful sea.

The ocean's effect on my life brought me to the east coast. I only applied to schools on the east and west coast so that I could be as close to the ocean as I could. Unfortunately I did not realize the beach would be so distant from Midlothian prior to my arrival. I know it's all part of God's perfect plan for my life. When asked if I wanted to live in Colorado, I laughed and said "are you crazy? There's no ocean." Colorado is breath taking in it's own way but God has made me fall in love with His tide 'there's something about the ocean, that makes me rise up and praise' (lyrics from 'ocean' by ten shekel shirt, one of my favorite songs).

The mighty ocean, with more drops in it that we could ever count; the beaches with more fine grains of sand or pebbles than we could even fathom. The prayer of my life - as the song goes, "how many times have I turned away? the number's the same as the sand on the shore. how many times have you taken me back? and now I pray you do it once more. Please take from me my life, when I don't have the strength - to give it away to You."

Lord keep me strong, I know where it is that You call me. I know that if I follow You that is where I can best serve You and glorify You. I do not want to take anything for granted, I do not want to fight You. I want to glorify You through my life and follow You to the ends of the earth. Thank You for everything You have given me, my memories, family, and friends. I thank You for all You have created, especially the oceans at this time. Please help me to be content with where You have called me. Please ease these longings of my heart. Please make my heart to long only for You.

Monday, March 17, 2008


I am so thankful... and SO tired. I just finished my research paper that I dominated procrastinating on. However, since I have been attempting to stay a step ahead, if not just afloat with all my assignments... I am done with all my work for this week. I have declared this week "spring break" since some of my friends are home for it. :) Amazing. God is so good. Now I shall be turning off Jac (my computer) and checking very infrequently until Thursday because I have class and an interview on Friday. I cannot express in words the gratitude I feel for this delightfully unexpected mini-vacation. Praise the Lord. I am so glad He only gives us what we can handle. I really felt like I needed to be done or have a break soon, otherwise... I'd be done. My brain is fried from long hours & major lack of sleep.

All I want to do with my life right now is run, play guitar (I can only play worship songs so it works out quite well), hang out with friends, relax, and read books related to God & His greatness. I feel as though I would be perfectly content if that's how I spent most of my life, unfortunately there is still more education that needs to be attended to (once I get back to it I will do my best to glorify God through learning, but for now...) Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever! So excited. Toodles.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


Today was another in the ladies' series "Delighting in God." The topics were 'submission' and 'wise communication.' The main point I took away from the talks were that wives submitting to their husbands is active. Wives must actively submit to their husbands, it is not being passive or a doormat. You are still called to share your honest opinion in love and truth, even though the final call is by your husband. Submitting to your husband glorifies God.

For someone such as myself, I am amazed at the words appearing on the screen as I type. However, God is doing good work with in me and I know that His plan is perfect. The reason many women today are against submission is because they fear it. They fear submission because 1) they are prideful and think their plan is better than God's, 2) they see the sin in men and are afraid/do not understand that God gave men leadership qualities that we as women were created to compliment. Honestly, I had both of these numbers down pat. With the history of my own family, I was not about to submit to a man who was domineering and would lead me in what I thought was the wrong direction (the pride comes in here). Though I don't like to say that I think my plan is better than God's [that just sounds so sinful! - which I am!] - it is shown by my thoughts and actions. When I rebel against God or do things against His will (when I sin) I am pridefully telling/showing God that I think my way is better. Sadly, this is a daily occurrence for me. By God's grace I have been justified and saved through His Son and I am so thankful that He washes me of past, present, and future sin - separating my sin from me as far as the east is from the west (I know for a fact that this is far and that's only the east and west coast of the United States!)

This brings me to another metaphor that I have been using. When we sin - it is as though we were muddy. We need God to cleanse us with the blood of Christ, that is the only way to be free of all the dirt and mud. He will do so the moment we truly seek and ask for forgiveness. However, once God has forgiven us we must turn and run from our sin so as not to become entangled again. Those who do not turn and flee are wallowing in their sin. Those who wallow in the mud don't actually want to get out, they are comfortable in their mud puddle. No matter how many times God washes them of their sin... they cannot be made clean because they are sitting in the mud puddle and refuse to get out! This means that they cannot be forgiven because they are not truly repenting (even if you're standing in your mud puddle, you cannot be fully clean because your feet are still dirty within it). It sounds harsh even to myself, but I equate these people with those who confess with their mouths that they have done something wrong, but do not have fruit or show by their actions that they are sorry. What they say is true - actions speak louder than words. If you are sorry for doing something, but continue to do so and do not even attempt to change... are you truly sorry? This says your way is better than God's way. (Obviously there are people who are truly sorry and fall back into sin, but are honestly trying to change and turn from their sin, I am not referring to those people.)

Now to decipher the title of this entry for you. I am in Virginia and I want to go home, but I have this feeling God wants me to stay because He is not done with me here. Sitting in the second row during the conference this morning it hit me that God has brought me here to teach me and mold me. I feel like I am just absorbing everything around me and I want to hold more, I want to learn more. I have never been in an environment that is filled with people who are seeking Biblical truth all around me and proclaiming the gospel where ever I turn. How can I leave a place where God has placed me to learn more about Him for His glory? I cannot fight my all-knowing, all-powerful living God. [Side note: I had this feeling that God was preparing my heart for marriage and that is scary.] I submit to God's leadership in my life and I am discerning what God's plan is for my life so that I can live it out. God's timing is perfect and I want to allow Him to work in and through me so that He may be glorified.

And finally, a quick update on the internship & dietitian status - I finished my foodservice case study and will present it this Friday. Afterwards I will interview at CJW for a clinical dietitian position there (God is really working on my heart in this area as well.) I was thrilled to discover that I do not actually have to meet any where this coming week other than Friday's class! I have Monday through Thursday free other than finishing my papers. I have worked a lot these past months to keep up and get ahead if possible and I suppose I am reaping the benefits. I need to make one more chart for my research paper and type up the results, discussion, and conclusion. For my business entrepreneur rotation I am to write a business plan and those two assignments are really all I have to do this week...I'm hoping to finish both by tomorrow night. A family in my care group is going for a basketball tournament and by God's grace I happened to be free this week, so I will be in Powhatan a lot to let their dog out and house sit a bit. I am hoping to strengthen friendships and relationships with those who are on spring break since I have been blessed with this pseudo spring break this coming week. Lord I pray that You reveal Yourself and that You will bless the fellowship that I have with others this week and that You are glorified in all I do and say. Thank You.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

i don't wanna grow up

"From bikes to trains to video games, it's the biggest toy store there is... I don't wanna grow up cuz if I did... I couldn't be a Toys 'R' Us kid." Remember the good ol' days when you could sleep all day during the summer if you wanted? Those lazy Saturdays when you could wake up, maybe watch Saturday morning cartoons and eat a bowl of cereal. The days of no responsibility. Life flies by so quickly. I'm glad that I know there is something beyond this and something to look forward to afterwards. I guess I should try to savor each moment (other than homework) because I've only got this one life to live for Christ and if I just let it slip by ...when it's over, I won't know where its gone.

I spoke with the new program director at camp today. I feel a lot better about the safety and the spiritual growth of my children and staff now. I pray that God will be there and show Himself to my kids who don't know Him and to those who do know Him so that they will put their trust in Him especially during this pivotal season in their lives. It'd be so easy to go back to camp; I don't want to get a real job. Sigh... I know that God has something better in store for me. I just need to keep following His will with recklessness.

**Today is Anita's birthday, my favorite sister! Hooray! I wish I could be home, but I am glad that she only has to work half a day and that she will be surrounded by people who love her. Happy birthday sister.**

On another note (as if anything I wrote about so far has anything to do with each other), I visited an elementary school today to do a plate waste study. I was talking to some second graders about what they were eating when a particularly bold 7 year old piped up her own rendition of "Don't Cha" by the Pussy Cat Dolls. I thought I was hearing things and I must have had a weird look on my face because she said, "what's wrong, don't you know that song?" and began singing the real words. Let me tell you I was just as appalled that she knew this song at such a young age as I was that I knew it too.

What is society teaching our children? Adultery, sex, and succumbing to temptation is good and acceptable. What other message could a song that has 2nd graders singing the lyrics "don't cha wish your girlfriend was hot like me?" possibly be trying to send besides poor grammar/vocabulary lessons? Do what feels good? (I don't understand that at all because our feelings are so changeable and inconsistent - or maybe that's just me.) I never liked the song but I know it because they played it dt when I was back in SLO and went out with my friends. I am becoming more aware (and afraid) of all the media, songs, and lyrics... ones that are glorifying sin and the things that God despises/detests (see Proverbs 6). Subconsciously evil messages are being repeated incessantly in our minds. Satan can take hold if we believe them and do not fight them with truth. I don't know why I was so shocked that a 7 year old knew the song, it's not like parents can filter the radio (I doubt most of them even care). This lead to a "whoa, I am glad I was already thinking about home schooling my children" thought that freaked me out because I want to go home and I had grown up thinking all the kids who were home schooled were weird and had poor social skills. (I thought this based on my experience with the limited amount of home schooled kids I met in California, prior to my introduction to home schooling in Virginia. Obviously my views on the home schooling issue have changed since many of my friends here have been home schooled.) I can honestly say that I want to go home. It would be easy to find a place to live, to get a job in the bay area (as my dad says, there are people who need help everywhere), to visit my friends and family, and the weather is gorgeous pretty much year round. There is another part of me that really believes God wants me to stay and grow with this new church family He has brought me to.

Second graders say the funniest things. One little 2nd grader said, "you remind me of Mulan" (Mulan is pictured above) and another a few tables down said, "you're pretty." When the 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders came through (they ate lunch by grade) I was just walking around asking them if they were going to eat their fruit and vegetables. Some of them wondered why I was there and how old I was. They aren't bashful about asking questions or voicing their opinion either. When lunch was over I determined the majority of elementary school kids "don't like fruits and vegetables" as one 2nd grader announced fearlessly while eating nacho cheese and chips, wrinkling his nose at the apple on his tray. The snacks they allow in elementary school are terrible because they give the children an option that is unhealthy - most of the kids would eat the chips and not eat their lunch rather than supplementing their lunch as a snack. I would say that 1st-4th graders threw away 40-60% of their lunch (60% in lower grades and less as they got older). Even the 5th graders were throwing away perfectly good sandwiches and opting for chips and cookies.

Ugh, how the world has bought into short term satisfaction. With food, sex, laziness, and any other thing that can become a temptation or an idol in our lives. It breaks my heart to see children having role models that have no purpose for their lives. Why is our culture so obsessed with famous people and what others are doing? I read an article last year that voiced the opinion that it was because our population is so lonely these days and they feel like they "know" the famous people because they see them on television and read intimate details about their personal lives. I think it's partially because they're lonely as the article stated and partially because they are truly lost and do not know what they are supposed to do with their own life. They do not know that there is a God who loves them, who knows their inmost being and sacrificed His beloved Son on their behalf.

The world needs a Savior and they know it. I hear non-believers questioning the meaning of life and their purpose in life but they don't want to give up ownership of their own lives. They feel like deserve something. They want to live for themselves rather than glorify a God they cannot see or feel. All I can do is pray for my kids back home, my friends, my family, those I don't know, those I worked with and will work with... that God will reveal Himself to them and transform their minds and hearts. Lord I entrust those I love to You, please use me where You will to Your glory.

Monday, March 3, 2008

greater than all things

I am constantly amazed. Seriously.

Everything in my life is definitely a blessing and I am so thankful for everything from salvation, family, church family (-ies), friends, life, gifts, trials, lessons, talents, discernment, to the pure-simple joy in my heart.

On Saturday I was in Germantown, MD (a very small town indeed! However the county is apparently the wealthiest in the nation ~ Montgomery County ~ or so I was told). I parked in Germantown and was bussed out to Damascus where the marathon and 50k started. Wind froze the already chilly air and blasted all of us standing in line for the port-a-potty. I had forgotten my H2O bottle in the car (I really had to use the restroom and was in a rush!) and was praying that someone would have an extra at the start. I registered for the race and grabbed some honey wheat pretzels (another of God’s gifts to people) when something caught my eye. It was a plastic Dasani water bottle that was almost empty and had been left on the table by its careless owner. I looked around but everyone was already lining up at the start, normally I don’t just take things without asking but no one was around and it was almost empty and looked like garbage to someone strewn with the empty bags on the table. I thought of the story of the man who was in a flood sitting on his roof praying that God would save him – telling a boat, helicopter, and plane that God would save him and he didn’t need them ~ then when he got to heaven he asked God why He didn’t save him and God said “I sent you a boat, helicopter and plane!” I grabbed the bottle and trotted toward the line.

Down the asphalt road we clopped gamely along until .8 miles into the race where it became single-track trails. Easy on the joints and lovely, like music to one’s soul. There was a river that we had to cross on stepping-stones in several places and a woman was hit by a deer! Hazards abundant during the race, the runners did not heed them and continued on.

Around mile 9-10 I began running with an older gentleman named Wayne, he resided 4 miles from the starting line and mentioned another 50k trail race in Yellow Spring, West Virginia in May. Intriguing. A large-face watch adorned his wrist. GPS tracking, mileage, and pace/mile were recorded instantly and could be downloaded on a computer at home. He seemed like a seasoned ultra runner that I could hang with. After I was informed that the marathon was actually closer to 28 miles than 26.2 and the 50k was only 3.4-4 miles longer, I chose to run the 50k with my new friend Wayne and Rob – another friend we picked up around mile 13-14.

It was an adventure, trudging up and down the hills through the state park. The scene was beautiful, the weather was perfect, as it had rained the night before making the trails softer and the air fresh. I was muddy up to my knees and in desperate need of a shower by the time I finished (under 7 hours, which seems long to me but they said to add 2-3 minutes/mile on trails verses roads). It was my new PR for the new distance, I checked the results and I was the youngest female to do the 50k and/or run that day (first out of one for my division! Ha ha). There were 3 guys younger/same age as me (18, 19, 24) that ran the 50k. That amazes me. I think I’m in love with ultras. I want to still be doing them at 60-70+ like the crazy, splendid people I ran with on Saturday.

Post race I missed the shuttle because I was grabbing brownies (surprised? Didn’t think so.) Mark offered me a ride back to Lazarus (he said my car, in my head I thought Lazarus). It turns out he is involved in the sports medicine field (as I would like to be), I mentioned my internship and how I wanted to do sports nutrition when he asked what I was doing in Virginia (he resides in Maryland, close to the race location as well).

I was set to get back to Virginia; hopped in my car, called Hannah, and turned the key. Nothing. Silently praying I popped the hood, moved the cables that connected to the battery because that usually helped – to no avail this time. Another runner who was leaving attempted to help me jump my car – nothing. A couple that had also run had a wrench and they tried to help me tighten the cables – nothing. I called triple A and a volunteer stayed with me until they came and even lent me his extra jacket from his trunk and a blanket because I couldn’t get cell phone reception in my car and it was freezing outside.

The tow truck guy arrived around 5:50pm, well after I had attempted to start Lazarus the first time (around 3:20pm). By this time God and I had a whole conversation going. The tow truck guy had a special tool to tighten the cables on the battery and tightened them – nada. He tried jumping the car, but still nothing. After listening to the clicks emitting from the engine, he determined that the starter was bad and took me to NTB in town – the only auto shop still open on Saturday evening. The man at the desk informed us that their mechanics were gone but they could look at it tomorrow and there was a possibly they could fix it if they had the right part in stock. Wide-eyed I looked at the tow truck guy whom I had told I was living near Richmond. He attempted to start my car one more time and came back in down cast when he was unable to. Suddenly brightening he told me there was a hill nearby and took me to it. We started Lazarus on the hill and I pumped gas while my car was running for the first time in my life.

I drove home through Maryland traffic and arrived at KingsWay very late for the start of Resolved, but early for judging the chili cook-off (around 8:45-9pm). Afterwards Jason and Rob pushed my car around the parking lot until they were able to start it so I could follow Evan to the Dunnavants where he was going to change the starter for me – and by God’s grace they already had a starter for my car’s make/model. God works wonders and miracles all the time and I am never ceased to be amazed.

I fell asleep on the couch inside only to be woken 30 minutes later after he was done; I rolled off the couch and drove home – with one headlight (apparently it had been out for a while, I just hadn’t noticed until I was standing in front of my car with Rob, Evan, and Jason). I got home exhausted from a very intensely blessed-could have been stressful day. I was so thankful for all that had happened and in awe of how God provided and worked through my new friends from the race and friends at church.

I plopped onto my bed after brushing my teeth without a shower for the night and passed out. I am so glad God is in complete control of my life, without Him today I might have been lost. Everything worked for His glory (Rom 8:28). He gets all the credit, because I did nothing but trust He would take care of me through the race: the run and life. Praise God, You are greater than all things.