Monday, March 31, 2008
I'm bummed. Not that the top seeds don't deserve to be playing in the Final Four, and not that these games won't be exciting as the (theoretically) strongest teams match up against each other. I'm bummed because there's really no underdog, and I tend to root for the underdog. I think that everyone enjoys a good Cinderella story, a classic match-up of David vs Goliath. Sure, in these situations Goliath tends to come out on top, but sometimes David does stage an upset and take home the crown. Not this year, though.
With no Cinderella, no David left to root for, I find myself trying to find a team to get behind. Because as much as I love the game, it's not nearly as much fun to watch if I'm not at least somewhat emotionally invested in it, and that means rooting for someone. For no other reason than the fact that it's the southern-most team, I will probably root for Memphis. Then again, Saturday is still a few days away, and I could change my mind. I am a girl, after all. You never know.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
While multitasking can be a great asset, it can also become a liability. When I'm trying to do several things at once, I often find myself distracted and end up getting things done either more slowly or with more errors. Although I enjoy having diverse projects to work on, both at work and at home, too much of a good thing can be a not-so-good thing.
The past few weeks at work have been crazy-busy, and I'm finding myself running low on energy by workday's end because of all the tasks I'm trying to perform. We have an awards banquet tomorrow night that I've been working on, so things should slow down at least a little bit after that, for a couple of weeks anyway.
I also have a laundry list of projects to do at home, and lately most nights I've been too tired from work to get any of them done. I'm planning to put my house on the market this year and have several things to get done prior to that, but at the rate I'm going it may be November before the "For sale" sign goes up.
In the midst of all my seemingly endless to-do lists, it's sometimes difficult to take the time to slow down, breathe and just be instead of constantly doing. "Be still and know that I am God" is a very challenging verse when you feel like you'll never get all your work done if you take a break. But I need to take that time to slow down and rest in God and trust Him to help me get everything done today that needs to be done today. The rest can wait til another day. He is, after all, the ultimate Multi-tasker, and He can do exceedingly more than I can imagine.
Friday, March 21, 2008
Then I found out yesterday that I have to attend a meeting that same night. It's actually a meeting that I've been looking forward to, and it has already been rescheduled a couple of times, and now they've decided to have it on the same night as the fellowship night.
I was bummed about it at first, but quickly concluded that I'm meant to be at the meeting more than at the night with my friends. And I feel at peace about that. Yes, I'm still disappointed about not being able to attend both, but I know that God wants me at this meeting.
There is great peace that comes in knowing that where you is where God wants you to be at that moment. That doesn't mean that we have to like where we are, but we can be content and at rest in the assurance that wherever He has us is for our own good and for His glory.
I wish I could say that this is something that comes naturally to me, this contentment with being wherever God has me. Even the apostle Paul said that he had learned the secret of being content, so I'm not sure that it's a natural instinct for anyone. And I admit that I still struggle with this at times. There are times when I'm frustrated over where I am (whether a physical location or a point in my life), times when I wish I were elsewhere. But I'm thankful for the reminders that I'm at this particular place in my life for a reason, and that He intends to use that place and circumstance for good.
Hopefully the remaining SEC teams will fare better today--although I did pick Indiana over Arkansas. My dad's from Indiana, which makes me half-Hoosier, so I have to go with them. Plus, with all the Ralph Sampson drama, I feel bad for the Indiana players and would like to see them have at least one win in the tournament. And I never liked the Razorbacks anyway, even when they won the title years ago.
As I said before, I often lead with my heart rather than my head. But so far, at 14 for 16, my heart's not doing bad!
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
(Quick aside--have I mentioned before that I'm not the most patient person on the planet? Yeah, I thought so.)
Despite my impatience with people in the grocery store line, I don't always notice that I am likewise slow to act when the time comes. I think that I often associate waiting with inactivity, or unproductivity. Truly though, when God leads me through periods of waiting, I am not to remain inactive but rather to see that waiting period as a time of preparation for the next season of life. Much like the ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom, my lamp is to be trimmed and I am to be prepared for whenever God is ready to move me to another point in my life.
Several weeks ago I bought a new car. I went to the dealer on a Saturday, ready to test drive but not really expecting to buy. Of course, when I left on Saturday I'd fallen in love with a car and had started the paperwork process to buy said car, which I did on the following Monday.
Before you think that I made a huge impulse buy, let me assure you that that was not the case. I'd spent long months prior to that researching various cars on line, figuring and refiguring monthly payments, and reading reviews from consumers, so that by the time I came in to test drive, I was confident that that particular car would be a wise choice for myself. Because I'd spent time in preparation, when the time was right I was ready to take action and buy.
As I go through various seasons of waiting on God, I'm trying to prepare myself. I believe that God has called me to be a wife and mother someday, and now I'm asking myself, In the meantime, what skills am I learning and fostering in order to prepare myself for marriage and motherhood? There are other goals that I have--mission work, writing, speaking, teaching. How am I preparing myself for that?
Waiting is not meant to be inactive. I am certainly not supposed to move ahead of God, but while I remain under the protection of His timing and ways, I am to wait with anticipation of the next step, and to prepare accordingly.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Then they reached Jericho, and as Jesus and his disciples left town, a large crowd followed him. A blind beggar named Bartimaeus (son of Timaeus) was sitting beside the road. When Bartimaeus heard that Jesus of Nazareth was nearby, he began to shout, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”
“Be quiet!” many of the people yelled at him.
But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”
When Jesus heard him, he stopped and said, “Tell him to come here.”
So they called the blind man. “Cheer up,” they said. “Come on, he’s calling you!” Bartimaeus threw aside his coat, jumped up, and came to Jesus.
“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.
“My rabbi,” the blind man said, “I want to see!”
And Jesus said to him, “Go, for your faith has healed you.” Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus down the road. (Mark 10: 46-62)
For me, one of the most remarkable questions in all of Scripture is that of Jesus asking, "What do you want me to do for you?" Even more remarkable was Bartimaeus' boldness in answering Jesus honestly.
I'm not sure that I would have been so bold back then, as evidenced by my often less than bold prayer requests now. Many times when I come to God in prayer, I find myself feeling selfish in asking for certain requests--i.e., requests that I deem as "wants" rather than "needs. But notice that Jesus did not ask Bartimaeus what he needed--rather, he asked what he wanted Jesus to do for him.
Note, too, Bartimaeus' response to being healed: He followed Jesus. The answered prayer not only brought about physical changes to Bartimaeus' life, but spiritual changes as well. He obviously had faith in Jesus' ability to heal before this encounter--Jesus said that it was his faith that had brought healing--but his healing caused him to not just believe in Jesus but actively follow Him.
This story reminds me that I too can approach God boldly in my prayers and not be afraid to ask for my heart's desires, in addition to my needs. Granted, that does not mean that every desire will be fulfilled in the way that I want it to or on my timetable. But He encourages us to approach His throne with confidence. Not so that we can get all our desires met, but rather so that we can follow Him more closely.
Whenever I read this story, I feel challenged to unleash all of my desires and dreams unabashedly before the Lord in prayer. Rather than look for the fulfillment of those desires to be the outcome I'm looking for, however, I need to recognize how telling Christ what I want draws me closer to Him.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
There is a certain ebb and flow to all friendships. There are times when I have more time or desire to invest in a friendship than my friend has, and vice versa. That can be frustrating. I have several friends who are mothers of young children, and their time (not to mention energy) is at a premium. As much as they would love to get together on a moment's notice for lunch or coffee and some adult conversation, that's simply not practical at this stage in their life. Get-togethers with my married friends usually take a little more planning than when I'm trying to get together with my single friends.
When I find myself getting frustrated over feeling like I'm investing more in a friendship than I'm getting in return, I need to ask myself the following questions:
1. Am I expecting them to fulfill a role in my life that only God is to fulfill? Am I expecting more out of this person than is fair?
2. Are there extenuating circumstances in their life that is preventing them from contributing more to the friendship (i.e., family matters, work schedule, health issues, etc.), or do they seem genuinely disinterested in the friendship? Is this "season" of friendship at an end?
I've had many friends who have come and gone out of my life for different reasons. I have quite a few friends who I expect to be lifelong friends. I've had some friendships that drifted apart, only to have that friend come back into my life down the road. I'm sure there are some friends from years past who I will not see again this side of Heaven. And I'm learning to be okay with that.
Each friend that God has brought into my life, whether for a season or for a lifetime, has been used by Him for a reason. But it's easy to be so caught up in the friendships that I neglect that Friend Giver. He is my ultimate Best Friend Forever. His time, energy, and most importantly, desire for friendship with me never waxes or wanes. It is constant, steady, and sure. That is important to remember, particularly on days that are lonely and it seems that no friend is around to talk to. Sometimes we need those days to remind us of how valuable our friendship with God is.
Sunday, March 09, 2008
As much as I enjoy traveling, I'm not so sure that I would have enjoyed taking this journey with the Israelites. I like to know in advance where I'm going, and, specifically, how and when we're going to get there. If I'm going to an unfamiliar place, I like to do research and read up on what to expect, the best route to take, how much time to allow for getting there.
The Israelites, however, were not privy to this sort of information. It does not appear that they had much (if any) advance notice about when they would be packing their tents up and moving to the next location. And when they arrived at their destination, they didn't know how long they would be camping there. In some cases it was a few days, in others, a few months or longer. There was no itinerary or atlas to consult.
All they knew was to look for the presence of the Lord in the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. Wherever the cloud went, they followed. And they did not move until the cloud did, and did not stop moving until the cloud stopped.
I can't help but marvel at how this method of traveling must have tried the patience of some of the Israelites. I wonder if they awoke each morning expecting this to be the day that their journey continued. Did they eagerly look forward to moving on to their next stopping place, or did they dread the packing process? How difficult it must have been to live out of suitcases for forty years.
As I read through this passage in Numbers, I was struck a couple of statements in particular. First, no matter how short or how long the amount of time was that they camped out at a location, the Israelites stayed there. They did not break camp without God's lead. I imagine that there were times of frustration over not knowing how long they'd be there. But they knew that it was in their best interest to follow God's lead rather than to strike out on their own.
The second statement that I noticed was the fact that as soon as the cloud lifted, they moved. They didn't dilly-dally or make excuses about not being ready to go. They were prepared at all times to move on whenever God was ready to move.
The image of the Israelites following God's lead through the wilderness is an important one to keep in mind in each season of life that we journey through. There are seasons that may only last a few weeks or months. Some may last years or decades. Some may go by in a flash, while other seasons seem endless. It is important for us to remain encamped wherever God wants us to, for as long as He wants us to. Waiting on God to move us can be a painful, frustrating experience if we keep looking ahead and trying to figure out the next destination on our journey or when we're going to get there. When, like Israel, we instead focus on our Guide, the journey is much more pleasurable.
It is equally important to be prepared to move on when He's ready for us to move into the next season of life. We can become so accustomed to where we are right now, so comfortable with the place God has us in this particular season, that we become reluctant to move on, fearful even. It's good to remember that God will not leave us in one particular place longer than absolutely necessary, nor will He lead us anywhere that does not ultimately benefit us.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
I must admit, however, that in times past I've gotten bogged down in (or sometimes, merely skimmed through) books like Numbers and Leviticus. I've often wondered why it's so important for us to know all the laws and instructions given to the Israelites. Yes, I understand the value in knowing the Ten Commandments, but do we really need to know how to deal with mold on a piece of fabric?
This time around, I'm trying to read the Bible with a couple of questions in mind. Whereas before I might just wonder why certain passages are in the Bible, this time I'm asking more specifically, What does this passage tell me about God? and What does this passage tell me about me? That is making a big difference in the way that I view Scripture now, even those seemingly endless passages about all the different sacrifices and the dimensions of all the components of the Tabernacle.
For instance, Leviticus 12 includes instructions for a woman who has just had a baby. For a certain amount of time following the birth of her child, the woman was considered unclean and not allowed to touch anything holy.
Fast forward a few hundred years to the birth of Jesus. Here was Mary, a woman who had just given birth and therefore considered "unclean" under the old law, now nursing, bathing, cuddling the very Son of God, the picture of holiness. How mind-boggling this thought must have been to the Jews who were so accustomed to being under the old law!
Reading through passages such as Leviticus certainly makes me appreciate that I live under New Testament Christianity, and that I don't have to sacrifice bulls or perform ritual cleansings before worshipping God. More importantly, it reminds me of God's great desire to be near to His people. Every book of the Bible seems to bring God closer and closer to us, to the point that now His Spirit lives within us ("unclean" as we are!) and that our next step is to live with God in Heaven.
I am thankful that God is revealing Himself to me in new ways, even in Scripture that I've read several times before. His mercies are "new every morning".