Friday, August 22, 2014

106: the star you can almost touch

Some days one's dream feels so close to becoming reality you feel like you could reach out and touch it. No reason for it. No evidence. Just an irrational hope. Irrational, unreasonable, full of fancy and wind and sprightly wisps of cloud. And yet, what is the worth of dreaming without a little hopeless hope?

You know, the Bible has some wonderful things to say about hope. I love the passage in Romans 4 about God and Abraham.

". . . God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did; [Abraham] who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations . . . He did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully convinced that what He had promised He was also able to perform." (Romans 4:17-21)

I don't have a promise from God, just a desire. But sometimes it seems right edifying to, contrary to hope, in hope believe, and entrust the impossible to Him who is in my future right now.

Tuesday's back to school art project

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

105: all I need?

For a couple years at least I subconsciously wrestled with the idea of telling God, "You are all I need." I was afraid that God would dump me in the middle of some situation (e.g. a foreign country where no one speaks my language and there are no believers and no internet and maybe even everyone I know has vanished off the face of the earth) where I would be terrifyingly alone and go crazy.

But, it finally occurred to me recently that God is my provider. "You are all I need," does not have to mean that God is all I need in the sense of, oh, I don't really need food or water or air to survive, I just need YOU. It doesn't mean oh, here at school, I don't need curriculum and administrative help and fellow teachers to bounce ideas off of, I just need YOU. And it doesn't mean, oh, I don't need a friend or my family I just need YOU.

What it means, at least to me :-P, is that God is my provider. So, contrary to my fears, He's not going to leave me stranded without what He deems, or knows, I need. So yes, He is my all in all because He is with me every moment, He knows me, He has made me and knows my needs, and He will provide according to His riches in glory.

Not by my standards or wishlist, of course, but according to the standard of His infinite love and goodness and plans for my sanctification.

He is all I need because of who He is and because He is my provider.

And depending on anyone else to provide for my needs will not work.

blogging on my new computer in my classroom-in-progress

Sunday, August 17, 2014

104: a cloud of witnesses

I hurried up the church walkway and could easily hear the chorus of strong voices behind the closed windows. Inside, the fellowship hall was packed out with believers holding hymnals and belting out praise songs. A good, old-fashioned hymn sing.

I watched one young girl, about 10 years old, her eyes darting here and there as her lips moved. So observant. I wondered if she was taking in the exuberant worship of the large Filipino lady, praising her Jesus. Or if she was learning how to fall in love the Christian way by watching her brother and his fiance sitting across from her. And even if she didn't appreciate it now, she would be influenced by the heritage of her grandma who stood up and exhorted the young people of the church to learn and memorize God's Word now while we are still free to do so.

She is growing up in a community, a long-time community of children, parents, and grandparents.

Yesterday I went to a fundraiser function put on by my old church. Little girls that I had known when I was in highschool were now reintroduced to me as young ladies either in college or about to go to college. One girl had moved and was searching for a church to get involved in there. Another girl was planning on going to Bible college. I marveled. They were still following the Lord. And I remembered. They, too, had spent all these years surrounded not only by a community of believers, but by parents and grandparents that loved and followed Jesus.

Sitting in on the hymn sing, I saw a sweet beauty in the church community gathered together. There is a feeling of security to see the next generation rising up surrounded by older believers urging them on.

"One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts."
Psalm 145:4

Saturday, August 16, 2014

103: when hubby expects your day off to be a day spent with him

Excuse the marriage metaphor. Give me a sec.

I'm a teacher in the the throes of preparing for a new school year to start on the 25th. This last Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, my brain and body have been in school-mode, with the slight variation of dreaming last night of decorating my classroom Doctor-Who style (I didn't actually dream of Tardis blue, it was just a general impression when I woke up that that's what I had dreamt).

what I'll be seeing every day as I teach--the yellow bulletin board, not the mess!
I also believe in keeping one day a week as a sabbath to God, based off of Genesis 2 (God hallowed and blessed the seventh day and rested on it--I'm not Adventist and I have no plans of joining a seventh-day church; sometimes I take my sabbath on Sundays.). During the summer I don't do this as much because "every day's a holiday," but during the school year I try to be more intentional. It is such a blessing. A day where I have permission to recharge and not think about school.

But sometimes it is inconvenient. And sometimes it seems mentally impossible.

As I was laying in bed this morning, lounging through the mid-morning hours because I CAN, I was browsing through teacher blogs on my phone, repinning great ideas, making notes to myself of what I want to remember to do this next week before school starts.

Bear with this illustration, but I could imagine if God was my husband, him saying something like, "Babe, this is your day off. I thought we were going to spend the day together."

And me, scrolling past photos of lime green book bins and rows of ocean blue chairs, going, "I know......."

Now I believe God gives us grace for those times when we just can't mentally turn off and focus on Him. And I also think that we can turn our current preoccupations into prayers: "Lord, help me teach so-and-so this year."

But, as with a husband, I think God also deserves more of my intentional time on His appointed day than I gave him today. I think I need it desperately too.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

102: what to expect when you're expecting a difficult year...or, renewing the mind in advance

Here are my thoughts before I officially go back to school tomorrow. (I welcome prayer and accountability.)

I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed (Psalm 77:3). Maybe complaining aids overwhelmtion?

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (2 Thes. 5:16-18).

Love others (John 15:9-12). It's not something I've practiced, but like the verse above, it's clearly God's will. I cannot do wrong in trying to do God's explicit will.

"What have I to dread? What have I to fear? leaning on the everlasting arms. I have perfect peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms."

And above all, my goal, by God's grace, is to abide in Him (Jn 15).

I cannot ward off the complaining now. I cannot give myself an immunization shot of hope to battle despair. I cannot get all the sleep now for the rest of the year or do all the grading now or even do all the lesson planning now.

I cannot fortify myself now for the upcoming school year. So I remind myself that today's obedience and abiding in Christ is fighting the war.

I would have lost hope unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

"You're an overcomer! Stay in the fight til the final round. You're not going under! Cuz God is holding you right now. You may be down for a moment, feelin' that it's hopeless. That's when He reminds you. You're an overcomer." --Mandisa

P.S. I AM excited about going back to school and am glad I'm going back tomorrow!
P.S.S. Another reminder to self: Only abiding in Christ will achieve effective results. Abiding in chocolate, Doctor Who, cheap library book sales, cute decor, or time alone with a movie and icecream just won't. Not that they aren't blessings God uses sometimes!

Monday, August 4, 2014

101: no, not dalmatians

Is it just me or has anyone else ever prayed, "Lord, I pray that he would pursue someone so I can stop thinking of him"?

Maybe that's just me. (and hey, God has answered this prayer before!)

On a different note, have you ever thought, "I'm missing it. I'm missing it big, and now everyone knows it. And I should know better by now! I do know better. But I forgot. *sideways mouth face*"?

That's me.

This year, my goal for the school year is to spend more time with the Lord every day, pray more, and overall, abide more.

I have my excuses and justifications why I didn't last year. For one thing, praying meant thinking about my problems, and thinking meant being overwhelmed again, and being overwhelmed meant depression, hopelessness, giving up, and looking for icecream.

And yet, mid-year, when God showed me that I hadn't been abiding, the horrible, rotten, no-good year began to change.

I want God's help this year. I NEED His help. I need Him IN me.

That's just in the area of school. Then I open this book a friend lent me (she reads my blog...maybe she knew I needed it? :-P) called Your Half of the Apple: God & the Single Girl by Gini Andrews.

Because God hasn't fully gotten hold of me yet so that I can say these things in my own words, I'll just quote her, 'k? She writes,

"How exciting is your relationship with the Lord? . . . Think of the traits you love in people: gentleness, imagination, tenderness, warmth, understanding -- to name only a few. Now realize that God is infinite in each of these areas."

"You learn to love a human being by being with him, spending time getting to know what he's like. . . . You talk and you listen; you think about one another a lot.
God thinking about me? The world, sure; mankind, yes, but . . .me?
David said, 'How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God . . . . If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand'; and in another place: 'we are ever in Your thoughts.'"
"Yours is a God who cares for you in detail, who wants to be involved in all you do. He is truly interested . . . --well, there's just nothing about you He doesn't care about. How many hairs in that nice head of hair on which you spend so much time? You don't know, do you? He does. If God notices a sparrow fall, do you think He doesn't care when you burn a cake, wreck the new nylons, or lose a boyfriend?"

"The love relationship between you and your God is forever. It's not just til marriage and not just till death either. The intimacy and comradeship begun here is being forged every day as a link in the chain of a permanent relationship, so permanent that it's eternal. . . .
Loving and radiant, He goes with you on the subway to work, into the kitchen when you're tired, with you as you open the door of your lonely room at night . . . ."

"Does this mean we have no need for human companionship, human love, for marriage? Of course not. . . .
This is the Biggest Thing life has to offer: a deeply personal, day-by-day, hour-to-hour love relationship with the living God, and it's as freely available to you as to your married sisters. Everything beautiful in life enhances this, but nothing replaces it."

"Does God know as much as you do? Are you willing to trust Him enough to put yourself, your whole self, into His charge and go forward with real excitement into the future He has for you, telling Him as often as you like that you want love, you want a home and husband and kids, but you're on your way on the route He wants you to go, that you understand that He really does know how to make you happy?"

My personal summary, what I have lived to be true, and a reminder for when I forget: Whatever hobby horse I have--marriage, teaching, a love for icecream--the basis, the foundation, of life and all its pleasures, of meaning and of hope, is my relationship with God.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

100: advocate

There is something deliciously incognito about writing a post and not posting it on Facebook for a change.

See, ever since I went to the Homeschool Alumni Reunion, I've both gained a new readership and discovered that girls are reading my blog who I didn't know were.

Which brings with it a level of responsibility. I thought only about two people read my musings. And musings they are. Thoughts and formulations of thoughts.

One fellow read one of my posts and said, "you poor thing, you really need to meet someone already haha."

Slightly embarrassing!

But see, I've been reading this book Getting Serious about Getting Married, and it has clarified what I think I've already known. I want to be an advocate for marriage, and specifically in this time of my life, advocating young people pursuing marriage.

Funny, because if marriage inched my way I think I might freak!

Debbie Maken has so many good things to say in her book about the Bible and culture and generations past and Christianity past and Christianity present.
"My goal in writing this book is to resurrect this duty as found in Christian antiquity. Duties inform us of what is expected and affix our responsibilities. Thus duties also affix blame when they are spurned or grossly neglected. If the duty is once again touted with the same force as that expressed in classical Christianity, then those who are in a position to execute it (i.e., the men) are more likely than not to follow through. Instead of taking this duty to marry at a specific time as a personal affront and reminder of failure, let's embrace it and ask for a return to a Christian worldview that believed in this duty to marry and held responsible those who failed to execute it. The older order of things held far more promise for women, for it saw women as vulnerable, had compassion for them, and shamed men who abandoned their duty of timely marriage." (page 50)
I have no desire to shame men anymore than I have a desire to shame women. But I do have this deep rooted desire to join Debbie Maken in resurrecting marriage as an expectation in the church, something to be encouraged beyond "Is there someone...? No? Well, just wait on the Lord." I always blush but am thankful when older women say they'll pray that God brings me someone! God did not design us to wait indefinitely for marriage. Nor did He ask us to. He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.

I can't rewrite what Debbie Maken wrote. You're just going to have to read it yourself.

But if I write too much about desiring marriage . . . I don't know. How can I apologize? Is it shameful to desire what God saw as the completion of the creation process?

Desires can be out of balance, true. And a blog devoted to this subject will look out of balance for sure. But I feel like someone needs to say what we're all thinking.

"The reason we feel a lack of wholeness is because God designed us to feel incomplete without a spouse. God himself called the state of singleness 'not good.' By being dissatisfied with singleness, we're simply agreeing with God!" --Debbie Maken, Getting Serious about Getting Married, p.24 (Isn't she bold??)