Monday, June 30, 2014

A Hatbox, Yesterday's Shoes, & Elizabeth II

I have ADD. Clinically unproven, but constantly displayed. Let’s just say that my 6-year-old Sunday School students and I have the same attention span, as a recent example proves.

I was looking through my brother and sister-in-law’s junk for my garage sale, and I found a set of earrings and a matching necklace. They looked old and kind of cool. In other words, one moment I was dutifully sorting a garbage bag into shirts, shoes, and electronics; an hour later, I’m ogling an online database for 1960s Sarah Coventry costume jewelry.

Sparkly, fluffy unicorns.

Sorry. You see my point. And my room reflects my personality. A few months ago, you could find those three random items—my hatbox, my Toms, and Queen Elizabeth II’s biography—sitting on my floor. (One of these days, I'll decoupage that hatbox, if I ever get inspired.)

Well, one day, when I was analyzing the randomness of my floor, a thought occurred to me. It’s odd, I know, but here goes:
When Jesus “cleans my heart,” does He get distracted by the “cool stuff” He finds?
You know, those little things in my life that seem insignificant, but will eventually trip me up spiritually--if left laying around long enough. 
“How about the way you absolutely cannot stand this certain person?” 
“Now, Lord, you know I have good reason to be utterly irritated with that person.”
“Or look at how much time you spend online, and yet you can barely drag yourself out of bed for morning devotions?” 
“Well, you know, my day does start pretty early. And have you seen the new concept art for Avengers: Age of Ultron?? A lot to be studied there."
“What about your near-obsession with having a relationship?” 
“I’m not obsessed. I’m just…lonely. It’s so hard sometimes, having to watch all the couples around you.”
Things like that. Not doctrinal heresies that might send me to hell, but little things that can affect my relationship with God if I don’t control them.

No, a hatbox is not going to kill me if it continues to sit on my floor. But I got tired of doing expert yoga poses to reach my bookcase, so I finally put the hatbox back in the closet. Neither is the Internet "wicked," but if it steals so much of my day that I neglect my time with God, then I have to learn to close Pinterest and open Proverbs.

These things I mentioned are 3 big things that God has convicted me of the past year. Yes, a year. Some things take a while to get through my thick head.

That “person”? Well, if you knew him/her, you would get annoyed, too. For me, I think it’s a matter of seeing too much of myself. Didn’t a wise person say once that we are quickest to judge other people for sins that we ourselves commit the most? No? Well, then I just said it. The fact that we attend the same church increases my annoyance, so I have to pray much about this one. At this point, I can honestly say my attitude towards this person is improving, which is good, because he/she is not going away any time soon…

And the whole time-management thingy? *sigh* Do we have to discuss that which is literally the bane of my existence?! Honestly—I have struggled with this for years. I get lost in a book quicker than you can say “Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon.” (EXCELLENT series, by the way. Finished it in a week.) And, well, I have problems with Pinterest. God knows this, and He doesn’t let me forget. So I started by restructuring my devotional time, and am diligently attempting to have it first thing every morning. Helps set a positive attitude for the overall day, you know? The rest of my day…well, dropping my tablet on a concrete floor certainly decreased that temptation.

The last one—wanting a guy—well, that issue is more deep-seated than the other two. It could be a while before God and I completely work it out. I wrote a whole post on my struggle with this longing. It isn’t so much wanting a guy: I want the companionship. But I am working on this. And praying. I’m learning to look to God when I am lonely and focus my thoughts on my goals.

So, to answer my inner thought/question…no. I don’t think Jesus gets distracted by the “cool stuff” He finds in my heart. Rather, He points it out. And He keeps pointing it out until I get His message: when it distracts me from my relationship with God, or affects my attitude in general, then it is time to get rid of that not-so-“cool stuff”.

Lay the shoes in the shoebox. Set the hatbox on the closet shelf. File the biography on the bookshelf.

Move on.

Linking up today with these bloggers:

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Dear Friend

I have a dear, dear friend (whom I have known for basically half my life) that is going through a very rough patch with her family right now. I never realized you could hurt so much just by watching your friends hurt. I felt impressed to write her this a few weeks ago, and I thought I would share it here as well. For any of you who have friends or family hurting, you are welcome to share this with them. I pray it would minister to you and your loved ones.

Dear Friend:

                I’ve wanted to write this letter for a long time, but I’ve hesitated because I didn’t know if it would be right. I’ve never been in your place, and there’s nothing I can say that will solve your problems. But then I realized that I do know what it’s like to hurt, and how it feels to be frustrated with people you love, and I know what it’s like to ask God “why.” I can’t tell you “why.” I wonder if we’ll ever know “why.” And it’s not fair. It will never be fair. But it’ll be okay. I promise; it will be okay. Because He is with you.

                Right now, your family is like a glass vase. Before now, that vase was sitting on a thin ledge, teetering, until it was pushed onto the tile floor below, where it broke into pieces. Those pieces lay there until the Master Craftsman decided it was time to put the vase back together. But the individual pieces were so used to being separate, that it’s taking some time to adjust to being together again

                Some pieces liked being separate, and refused to be part of a vase. And so, for now, the vase has holes.

When the vase hit the floor, other pieces suffered more than just the obvious damage. They broke as a whole piece, but sustained tiny, hairline fractures. You can’t see them at first glance, but these small cracks hurt them as the vase is being mended.
As some pieces lay on the floor, they decided that it hurt so much to be broken apart that they would become even harder. They let the Master Craftsman rejoin them with the other pieces, but they fight to remain stiff and barely malleable—just in case the vase ever breaks again.

Still other pieces were broken so badly, they don’t think they can fit back together with the other pieces, especially when other pieces have left holes. These pieces have the roughest, most jagged edges. They were so used to being on the floor, they aren’t sure they really want to be in a vase. And because they’re not sure, sometimes, their sharp, pointed edges unintentionally cut the other pieces.

Then there are big pieces. They are grateful to be part of a vase again, but don’t know how. They wonder if broken pieces that have been separate for so long can really come together to become a beautiful vase again. And this is the question that all the pieces are asking. Can broken become beautiful?

I say it can. Because the Creator is also the Recreator. If the Master Craftsman can build the vase in the beginning, He can rebuild it again. Oh, the vase will never be just like it was before. It will have cracks, it will have holes, and it may be slightly misshapen. But it will be useful. It will be a new kind of beautiful. And it will be a testimony of the Master Craftsman’s handwork.

It may take years to make your family really whole again. It is hard, it is painful, and it is bewildering. And I don’t know how God will heal your family, but I have to believe that He will. Those cracks are painful, and messy, but He will smooth them and gradually ease their pain. Those holes are ugly, and they ache, but He will fill them with His presence, and He will slowly shrink them, over time. And we may wonder what use can possibly come from a situation like this, but there is always a purpose. God said there was a purpose in everything. “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

A wise woman named Patsy Clairmont once discovered this:

She asked God how He could ever use her, a former psychological basket case who couldn’t even leave her own house. She wasn’t perfect; she was messed up, frankly. But God said, “Look at that vase in the window. Where is the sun shining the brightest?” She looked, and the sunlight was streaming brightly through the cracked spots. And God said, “You see, My Light shines brightest through the broken places.”

God has never needed perfect people or perfect families to spread His witness. Perfect people, if they exist, don’t need God. Hurting people, broken people, flawed people need God. And He wants these imperfect people. So it makes sense that He can best show His love to broken people through broken people. There is our purpose.

                Today is hard. I know. Go ahead. You cry. You get angry. You ask “why.” Pray, too. And until tomorrow comes, I will cry, get angry, ask “why,” and pray right alongside you. As I said, I’ve never been in your shoes, but I have my own shoes. I can’t promise to fix it, but I promise to hurt with you. I have a shoulder, and I have ears. And I pray. I pray hard. I know He hears, and I know He sees. He has started a work, and He always finishes what He starts. And when this work is done, it will be beautiful, because “He hath made everything beautiful in His time…” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

I love you.

Your friend

Linking up today with these lovely bloggers:

Monday, June 2, 2014

I Will Praise Him--A Cappella

So, if you read my last post, then you know why I ruined my Easter Sunday 2014. ;-) Well, here is the video of what got me all worked up. Please ignore our flaws and hear our hearts, as I know that the other girls worked their tushes off, and we're all a little proud of pulling this off all by ourselves. :-) Enjoy!