Thursday, January 24, 2008

If you want me to

If You Want Me To -- Ginny Owens

The pathway is broken And The signs are unclear
And I don't know the reason why You brought me here
But just because You love me the way that You do
I'm gonna walk through the valley If You want me to
Cause I'm not who I was When I took my first step
And I'm clinging to the promise You're not through with me yet
so if all of these trials bring me closer to you
Then I will go through the fire If You want me to

It may not be the way I would have chosen
When you lead me through a world that's not my home
But You never said it would be easy
You only said I'd never go alone

So When the whole world turns against me And I'm all by myself
And I can't hear You answer my cries for help
I'll remember the suffering Your love put You through
And I will go through the darkness If You want me to

This is just one of those songs. I'm feeling a little melancholy this afternoon and I've been scrambling around looking for encouragement. I always find joy in the Truth of the promises of God.
When people ask me how I'm doing I've been known lately to say "There have been better times, and there will be worse", to which they give a chuckle and nod in agreeance. I'm doing very well. This morning in prayer time a coworker shared their heart. Their spouse is in pain constantly, debilitating at times, and their lives have changed. I watched as stress lines and tears welled their eyes as they shared what the family is going through - I admit my own heart stings tighten now every time I hear of anyone suffering. Could God have used my pain in order to comfort others and sympathize more with a hurting world? Yes. Some days it just all makes sense.
My husband is ill. He has been for a month now. Nausea, dizziness, etc. The kind of sickness that just hangs out but no one has an answer for. I watched as he had his blood taken for tests, as he winced briefly in pain and later as he slept on the couch with a crinkle in his forhead giving sign of the pain he was feeling inside. But...nothing helps. I felt my throat tighten up like I wanted to this what he must have felt as I was continuously poked and prodded and picked at just a few weeks ago? More so... is this how the Lord looks at us when we suffer and endure through agony? He HAS to, and even more then we do. God, please heal my husband and continue to work in me the something "beautiful" that you planned before the foundations of the earth.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Evil addiction... ?

"To get to the bottom of this puzzle, a team led by Dr. De-Kun Li, a researcher at Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, Calif., conducted one of the first studies to take into account morning sickness. They concluded that a daily habit of drinking 200 milligrams of caffeine — the amount typically found in just two cups of coffee — significantly increases the risk of miscarriage."

These are the words I heard on the news this morning... and I almost threw up right there on my living room floor. In my heart I know that trying to figure out a "why" is not only unrealisitic, but just me trying to once again control my circumstances. I'm an avid multi-cup drinker of the blessed coffee bean, many days I've been known to skip breakfast and fill up on that extra mug...and have been known to enjoy the "jitters". When I found out I was pregnant, I cut back to one cup a day - and didn't even drink it every day. But now I'm wondering... as I'm sure everyone in my situation would do... just wondering... did I cause this? I know I can't think like that, but you can understand why it would be in the back of my mind.

Oh Lord, once again, just as I think I'm climbing back up the mountain... I begin to tumble back down in the wrong direction. Today I'm asking for that "Peace that passes all understanding", please remind me that in this life it's YOUR plans that matter, not my ideals or imaginations.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Capturing something beautiful

Back at the end of September Bradley and I had a photo shoot, with a new friend, Jo. She's an amazing photographer and I waited in great anticipation for our special day. She had taken time in advance to scout out places to shoot us in Scranton and we had such a blast following her through the busy streets to our destinations. I've had my picture taken a million times before, but this day was so special - she helped Brad and I create new memories and for that I am grateful.

I spent some time with Jo in June, while she shot Jon and Amy's wedding, I was working as her assistant and we got a few hours to get to know each other. She's a mother of three, very creative and very kind. I loved watching the gentle way she focused on each picture, turning her head to think and scrunching her forhead thinking about her ideas. Jo inspires me to follow my dreams. Although she has a life full of great responsibilites she still makes time for beautiful things - nature, quiet moments, kisses and fall leaves. When she gave me our finished pictures, she also gave me a small box full of decorated papers - it was a "thought box". She encouraged me that any time I heard a quote, had a thought, a whispered prayer or a frusration to write it down and keep it, "treasure it". I've already started my collection. Jo reminds me to look at the small things even more then I already do. Notice the wind touching the dust, see stars at night above a city sky, smell pine branches after the snow melts off...

During this shoot I felt like a princess or a super model. I felt like every ray of bronze sunlight and every rush of wind was there just to make me look and feel amazing. I had just found out I was expecting... and the day couldn't have been more perfect. I believe with all of my heart that God wanted me to feel like that for that day. God is good like that.

Lastnight during some quiet time I had read through Psalm 10. It's not an encouraging Psalm or one of those happy praise ones, either. It's a whining, questioning, angry Psalm asking God WHY the wicked continue to prosper. I like reading those every now and reminds me that i'm not the only one who wonders... and it reminds me that God hears me and does answer me. The ultimate question in life is not "why or what?" but "who?". Who is this God? Who allows the Sun to shine, the moon to hide during the day, kittens to be born and seeds to sprout into new life? Who is this God who would send His only son to die for a world of horrible people who won't love him back? Who is God to me? Once we understand the "who", our complaints start to dwindle and our whining subsides, and our hearts begin to soften. In my own life I'm learning this daily. The Why isn't necessarily the end all, it's understanding and loving the Who.

Brad has been gone for 7 days now. He won't be home until 2 more. These long trips wear me out and put pressure on us both. I never considered myself to be a "needy" person, but when I'm without my partner I feel lost and alone and disconnected from life, really. I'm so anxious to see him and hug him and hear him speak again. It's the simple things that I enjoy most with him. His grins, excessive sighing when he wants attention, the way he takes up an entire couch with his 6 footed self. I love him. He's such a jewel in my life, and I treasure what we have.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

You make everything Glorious

Glorious is my favorite word lately. That's a self revelation I've had this week as I look back over different things I've written, blogged, face booked, commented on... Glorious. :) Glorious food, friends, life, etc. Even my favorite song right now has the word Glorious all through it.

This morning on my way into work there was a perfect vertical rainbow shooting down from the sky. It looked very obviously like an arrow stretching from the dark blue right into a mountain top. It guessed it..glorious. I saw this rainbow after a fairly emotional ride into town. My favorite CD currently is David Crowder's new one and the song I mentioned earlier that has my favorite word in it goes like this...

"You make everything glorious,

you make everything glorious,

you make everything what does that make me?".
Pause. I'm glorious. I'm made in the image of God. I'm saved for an eternal life in Heaven. I'm created to enjoy rainbows, life and the GLORY of God. Do you ever find yourself listening to a song and you feel like your soul is just going to explode because you feel that love and longing for our saviour? That's how I felt this morning. I'm on the highway, Crowder blasting at high volume, tears running down my cheeks and I'm worshipping. People are passing me and giving me odd looks at this point, but the tears keep coming and my soul is being satisfied with the knowledge that God has made everything glorious and that I AM IN THAT CATEGORY! Then...the rainbow. If I were the type to get all creeped out by "signs"...I would have been creeped out. God gave me that rainbow this morning, reminding me of his intimate love in my life. He reminded me that no matter how much my body fails and my heart deceives and my mind wanders... that I'm glorious to Him and he cares about me. The truth is, God has always used nature to remind me of these things. Short story - In college, I went through a few weeks when I would wake up without an alarm every day before the sun was up, around 5ish and couldn't fall back asleep. And every morning (while everyone else slept...and I wanted to be sleeping) I just felt the Lord tugging at my heart. But about what?! So I'd wander into the lounge and sit on a couch and just think. I would mentally open my brain and just try to absorb whatever it was I needed...obviously. On the very first day of all of this, while I'm sitting on the lounge couch I notice a small black spider on the floor a few feet away from me. My normal reaction would be to 1) remove it to the great outdoors or 2) smush and flush, but starting on this day... I just felt like I needed to watch it. So I spent the next hour talking to the Lord and watching this spider mosey through the lounge in the quiet. Day after day this happened, and I'm not kidding when I tell you that this spider was right back in that same spot (and yes, alive) every morning when I arrived on the lounge couch. Occasionally, I caught myself worrying about this spider throughout my day - "I hope nobody squashes the poor thing", "I wonder if that weird spider will be back again tomorrow", "I wonder if I'll be up again that early tomorrow?". Weird, I know. Then came the day when I stopped waking up and that spider either met his doom or found an escape and that phase of my life was over. And do you know what I learned out of all of this... God created that little spider for a reason. He wasn't an accident or a morph of evolution, he was a detailed little thing that our God took time to create and much MORE important was I to the Lord. Maybe the Lord woke me up every day for those few weeks to remind me of that. That I was a glorious creation to him, that I had purpose... that my life was for more then sleeping in everyday and going to classes when I felt like it. While I spent those mornings praying and watching I learned to appreciate God more. I appreciated his attention to detail, I appreciated his intelligence, I appreciated his concern for me...a lazy college student who lacked motivation. I guess, tying this all back in, the rainbow was another one of God's little reminders today. Reminder that he Loves me, and a reminder for me to "wake up and smell the flowers" literally.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Good friends

Good friends...
They like the same things you do, and if they don't it's still fun doing them.
They know when you are lying
They understand you when you are "speechless"
Good friends see your heart, feel your pain, catch you when you fall...or start to.
Good friends can give you a kick in the pants when you need it or build you up higher then a kite when its due.
They pray with you... they pray for you... they cry with you, and they laugh even harder.

Good friends text you every half an hour to check on you in hard times, like Naomi did.
Good friends find ways to protect you from other people, like my mom does.
Good friends share their own pains, like Aaron does with Brad.
Good friends treasure the "Good ol' days".

Over Christmas break in Iowa, we were able to get together for a brief second with our friends Aaron and Laura. We met at Caribou Coffee and enjoyed some conversation early in the day. Brad and Aaron grew up together - although not always "best friends", they share a friendship that is growing and changing over the years. I loved sitting and watching them interact. They have so many memories together... always hilarious to hear retold with embellishments. Aaron played a key role in Brad's life - and for me, getting to know him now is just too much fun. Aaron's wife is gorgeous. She reminds me of a fairy tale princess with her fair skin and golden orange/red hair. She's proper and seems patient and quiet. Although our conversation isn't deep or by any means deeply moving, we are new to each other, and the little ounces of her that I get to know are always wonderful. In a perfect world, we would have had hours to sit and talk and catch up and get to know each other...but, that's not how life works. After coffee, the four of us took a quick tour of some local shops bustling with all of their Christmas and after Christmas sales. We stopped into a French country shop that none of us could afford, but was fun all the same. Then we said our goodbyes, not knowing when our next seconds together would be.

I guess I'm writing all of this because after this visit I really got to thinking about what a good friend is. In my mind I think of someone I lived with in the dorm, someone who knows all of my business and loves me anyway, or someone I talk to daily and we know all the details in every situation. But then after our visit with the Pals, it dawned on me that we only see these people twice a year maybe... but every time I see them I feel like we are just picking right back up and time hasn't moved a second. Good friends. Moreso for Brad and Aaron as Laura and I just married in and are along for the ride... a fun ride.

Today I'm thinking of my good friends. Friends like Karen, who after just one weekend of volunteering together - impacted my life and my dreams of being a mom. She does it with her whole heart, and I want to be like that. Friends like Suzy who bring humor and insight into my everyday. Friends like Meredith who mourn with me and we tag team wait for the future. Friends that I haven't seen or spoken too in ages... Jon in Kentucky with his hilarious antics. Bonnie and Nathan who love me and encourage me with quick hellos on facebook. Janice, who has been with me in hard times and hilarious times and is ALWAYS strong. Beth, whose patience and quiet spirit have taught me more then I could have ever gotten from college.
I'm thinking of Emily, my survivor. Kim, my determined professional. Karyn... my long lost college best friend. We live 10 minutes apart physically, but it's really like light years. How does that happen? I'll never understand, but I'm sad about it.

I once heard someone say that you are a blessed person if you could count on one hand your friends. Well Lord, than in that case... you have blessed me beyond measure, even if I don't always feel like it.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Once upon a time...

I had a little brother once. His name was Josh. He was a stout little muscle ball that I could get into trouble any time. He tanned up like a little indian baby in the summer, mom called him "Brownberry". His nicknames were Junior, Herman, Doshie and Brudder. I had a little brother once who would come into my room in the middle of the night and sleep on my bedroom floor because he was afraid of his own room and the darkness. This little brother let me play with him and his matchbox cars, even though my barbies were way too big. He and I would play outside until it was too dark to see the dirt mound we had created... Once upon a time I had a little brother named Josh... and now I'm wondering... where did that time go?

My little brother, who now stands well above 6 feet tall and weighs much more then I... my little brother who is married and to have his first baby, before me. My little brother who fights in a war that no one understands or wants to, but he does it with Pride and with STRENGTH and with a heart of gold.

Christmas was emotional this year. I knew it would be and I didn't even try to prepare myself because I wanted to feel it all. We spent a week in the state of Iowa with Bradley's siblings and parents. His parents are leaving their chuch that they have been at for 14 years. God has other plans for them, but now that the house is for sale and they don't have jobs... God still hasnt directed. My sister and brother in law want children... but God hasn't blessed them, yet. It's been so long...

It was a fun time, we laughed every day and were loud and rowdy and enjoyed each others company...but still every night there was a weird uncomfortable feeling for me. God, why do I feel like you leave your people hanging? These are GOOD people. They LOVE you and serve you with their entire lives. I watched my father in law sit and watch his kids...for the last time in the house they'd known for over a decade. He doesn't know what tomorrow holds or when we will all be together again. I watched him cry as we all said goodbye one last time to a brother and his wife as they drove out of the driveway. I felt like my throat would explode as I held in every tear as hard as could...
Christmas with my family was just as emotional but for other reasons. My brother's wife is 7 months perfectly pregnant. She has the pregnant figure that I would die to have, that I thought I would have only a few short weeks ago. I did my very best to be secure in my faith and understanding that God DOES have a plan, but I still failed daily as I once again asked forgiveness for doubting and discontent. Days grew harder each time a new "announcement" came. I rejoiced with people, honestly I did, but then would weep... I am so thrilled for God's blessings in others lives - but its still an open wound for me and I can't act like its not. And remember that little brother I mentioned? I got to spend time with him, for the first time in probably a year. He's different. The war has changed parts of him, although he still has the deep sensitivity to me even if he wont' admit it. That's why he got up at 6am to say another goodbye as I left for my flight. As I hugged him goodbye I felt that throat bursting feeling again. Would this be my last goodbye? I'm SICK of goodbyes. I'm tired of loving and losing although I know that will never end while we are on this earth. I hugged him and hugged him and wanted him to feel my heart and feel the things I can't say to him. He's not walking with the Lord. Afghanistan is only a few weeks away again...
I love my little brother. I love our closeness and our similarities and how we have so many inside jokes that no one else is in on. I love his laughter and his boldness, although its gotten him in trouble so many times.
Once upon a time... it just seems perfect to say.