Monday, October 7, 2013
I’ve been in this place before… and it still terrifies me. I dream dreams, make plans, work toward something and then am struck with the (often painful) reminder that I am not in control and God’s plans are different than my own. I am led… by disappointment, hardship, loneliness and a heaviness of heart toward surrender. God is calling me to trust him, to surrender my plans and let Him be Lord of my life. Surrender is a word that brings up all sorts of feelings of uncertainty, sacrifice, pain, and fear. I know God’s truth- that he will always walk beside me and catch me when I fall. Some of the most amazing things that have happened in my life came shortly after a moment of surrender…but they were never what I planned. Somehow, even though I know that God has a greater plan and I remember his faithfulness in the past, I still struggle with surrender. I like my plan. I don’t want to give it up. Being married now, the struggle with surrender is even more difficult than ever before. What happens doesn’t just affect me now. My plans and dreams involve my husband too and are often our plans and dreams. The call is no longer for me to simply surrender myself, but to trust my husband to God as well. The journey is not always easy. I’m stubborn. I’m selfish. I like control and want to feel like I have my life together. However, even though I seem to be making little progress on accomplishing my dreams, and even though I’m in a strange transition phase in my life, and even though I’ve experienced a lot of sadness, disappointment, and confusion, I am blessed to be walking alongside my Savior on this journey. He is not insulted by my stubbornness but continues to faithfully woo me toward Himself. I have so much to praise him for and am continuing to practice this act of surrender with different areas of my life. He is the Good Shepherd David wrote about saying, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). He walks with us, desiring relationship though the good and the bad. It’s a slow process, but I’m learning that it’s okay to not know what I’m doing in my life because I know who I’m doing it with.
Friday, September 27, 2013
The comparison game: we play it all the time. It started young. It always seemed like someone else had a better toy, more ice cream, got to stay up later, or choose the movie. In the teen years the comparison game got even more competitive. There were obvious "winners" and "losers" based on appearance, abilities, and possessions. Everywhere we looked we were rating ourselves on the coolness scale compared to others around us. Adults still play the comparison game and the rules haven't changed much. We still want to be more attractive, successful and talented than those around us and get frustrated when others seem to have it more together than we do. But sometimes, I think, our area of comparison is just too small. Sometimeswho we choose to compare ourselves with can make us think way too little or way too much of ourselves. It's not an accurate comparison.
I played homeschool basketball in high school. There are no try-outs for homeschool basketball (at least not with the league I played for). Anyone who wants to play is welcome on the team. Now, I was pretty good, one of the better players on the team. Did that make me an excellent basketball player? One could see how I could think that. I could convince myself by looking around that I was going to suddenly make a career out of playing basketball, when in fact, I had no idea how my skills measured up to other high school players. I could be the star player on a team with no try-outs and still not even make the team for the local high school. There was no standard for comparing. It wasn't a fair or accurate comparison.
The wrong standard of comparison can make us think more of ourselves than we ought, but it can also make us think less of ourselves. Take for example the Facebook Comparison Phenomenon. We read our newsfeed on Facebook and suddenly EVERYONE but us has _____ (fill in the blank: a successful career, the new iPhone, adorable family photos, amazing vacations, etc.) But is it really everyone? Or just the ones who have something exciting enough to post about it on Facebook right now? It's such a tiny snapshot of people's lives that it hardly gives an accurate comparison even though it feels like it sometimes. It's just not a fair comparison.
Sometimes when we get caught up in the comparison game, either thinking we are worthless or thinking way too much of ourselves, God hits us over the head with reality. Our comparison is too small. "Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?" God asks in Job 38:4. He tells Jeremiah, "Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches..."(Jer. 9:23). Then He follows with his own credentials for glory in 10:12-13, setting a new standard for comparison. "He made the earth by his power, he has established the world by his wisdom, and he has stretched out the heavens at his discretion. When he udders his voice, there is a multitude of waters in the heavens..." Humbling, huh? How can our might, wisdom, or riches compare with that?
And yet, even though we have nothing to be prideful of in comparison to God, he has chosen to exalt us, care for us, commune with us. David writes, "When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you visit him? For you made him a little lower than the angels and have crowned him with glory and honor. You have made him to have dominion over the works of your hands..." (Psalm 8:3-6). In Matthew, Jesus encourages us to compare ourselves to other aspects of his creation to understand his love and care. "Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet our Heavenly Father feeds the. Are you not more valuable than they?...And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you?" (Matt. 6:28-30).
Of course, the ultimate expression of our undeserved worth in God's eyes is his sacrifice for us. "Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." (John 15:12). Let's go back to the passage in Jeremiah. After telling us not to glory in our own wisdom, might, or riches, God says this: "Let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am The Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgement and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says The Lord" (Jer. 9:24). Next time you find yourself playing the comparison game, try broadening the playing field. Looking at who God is and what he says about us puts everything back in perspective. Otherwise its just not a fair comparison.
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Over the summer I have been working on compiling a list of 101 things that I want to do in the next few years, a mini-bucket list basically. I got the idea from a friend of mine who did the 101 things in 1001 days inspired by Day Zero Project. I decided to make my own list and start it today, September 22nd, 2013 so that I would complete my 1001 days on my 30th birthday: June 19th, 2015. Here's my list! As I check items off the list I will share about those experiences here. I hope that this inspires you to make your own list or at least try to accomplish a few of those things you've always wanted to do!
101 Things in 1001 Days:
1. Go Backpacking
2. Ride an overnight train
3. Snowboard at Bluewood
4. Go white water rafting or white water kayaking
5. Go skydiving
6. Camp in a hammock
7. Go jetskiing
8. Visit Angelina and Scott in Minnesota
9. Change my last name on my passport
10. Visit another country
11. Visit Grandparents in Iowa
12. Visit 3 new cities I've never been to before
13. Send or take Tom and Melinda on vacation
Dates and Day Trips:
14. See a Broadway play
15. Go to a country concert
16. Visit Leavenworth in the winter
17. Go to a drive-in movie
18. Go on a wine tour
19. Learn to play an X-Box game and play it with the Hubby
20. Try every class at Gold's Gym
21. Run a 5K
22. Run a mud run or obstacle race
23. Run a half-marathon
24. Take dance classes
25. Try Bikram Yoga
26. Hike Badger Mountain once a week for a month
27. Fix my Bike
28. Hire a personal trainer for a month
29. Take a self-defense class
30. Complete the entire Insanity program
31. Get book recommendations from 10 people and read them (1/10)
32. Read the Harry Potter series
33. Take a Spanish class
34. Blog or Journal every day for 2 weeks
35. Keep this blog updated at least once a week
36. Learn how to edit videos
37. Take a photography class
38. Take a photo of a place through all four seasons
39. Take up a new hobby
40. Make a baby quilt
41. Learn how to make latte foam art
42: Make 3 DIY projects from Pinterest
43: Make 10 recipes from Pinterest
44: Eat all whole foods for a week
45: Make homemade jam
46: Collect 20 favorite family recipes and make them
47: Learn to make Pad Thai
48: Try out 5 new restaurants
49: Make homemade bread
50: Make homemade pasta
51: Make a berry pie
52: Make carrot cake
53: Make a meal with items purchased at the farmers market
54: Go one week without sugar
55: Become a home owner
56: Reupholster the ottoman
57: Get a live Christmas tree and then plant it
58: Get a china cabinet and actually use my china
59: Get a filing cabinet
60: Get a sewing machine
61: Plant a garden
62: Redecorate the bedroom
63 Get a school Counseling Job
64: Spend at least one hour a week for two months researching a topic related to counseling
65: Learn ABA (Applied Behavioral Analysis)
66:Update my professional wardrobe
67: Collect 50 great children's books
68: Pay off credit cards
69: Make a budget and stick to it for 3 months straight
70: Save $20 for every item completed
71: Learn how to french braid
72: Learn how to curl my hair
73: Get a tattoo
74: Purchase prescription sunglasses
75: Get my hair cut every 3 months for a year
76: Invest in a good pair of classic pumps
77:Try waxing my eyebrows
78: Get a spray tan
79: Buy a new (ish) car
80: Learn to drive stick shift
81: Work a Journey with Christ retreat
82: Read the Old Testament in the TaNaKh (Hebrew) Order
83: Start a prayer group
84: Take someone out to coffee once a month for a year (1/12)
85: Call grandparents every month for a year
86: Create a birthday calendar and send birthday cards to my friends and family
87: Send one encouraging note every month to a youth kid
88: Send flowers to someone just because
The simple things:
89: Watch the sunrise and sunset in the same day
90: Sleep in our backyard
91: Watch 26 movies I've never seen- one starting with each letter of the alphabet (1/26)
92: Make a new friend
93: Go to a haunted corn maze
94: Build a blanket fort
95: Discover 10 new bands/music artists that I like
96: Make an "Awesome" list of life's simple joys
97: Make a list of 101 things that make me happy
98: Have a technology-free day
99. Meet and learn the names of 10 people who go to my church
100: Inspire someone to make their own 101 things list
Post this completed list on my blog
Friday, September 13, 2013
I thought it appropriate to start this blog by explaining the meaning behind the name. It comes from a passage in the Bible from Jeremiah 17:7-8. The tree planted by the stream represented in these verses has become very symbolic for me in my life. I adopted this passage as my life verse after an experience I had in high school where someone I knew spoke this imagry into my life. This woman said that she saw me as someone who is like a tree, strong in my beliefs, not shaken by circumstances, and not afraid to stand alone and point to Christ. Those are powerful words for a high schooler to hear. Though at the time I wasn't so sure that those words were true about me, I sought to be that person: strong and unshaken, pointing to Jesus. My perspective changed, however, when i discovered this passage in Jeremiah:
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:7-8)
It stood out to me that the reason the tree was strong was because of the stream. I realized that I didn't have to be strong for God but that it was God that would make me strong if i trusted in him and allowed myself to grow more and more connected to him. Since then, this passage has been a continual reminder thoughout many different circumsances to trust God and keep a proper perspective.
Over time I've made several other observations about trees that can be applied to life. Here are two of them:
1- Trees take the heat and give shade. The tree by the stream isn't thrown off by the weather. Because of the strength recieved from water and their deep roots, these trees can withstand the heat and still provide shade for others. Christ's strength enables us to not only handle the trials that come our way, but also show grace and mercy to others around us, no matter our own circumstances. A tree not being fed by the stream has nothing to offer those around them. Just as a dried-up plant is no good for shade, I can't help others unless I am personally spending time with the Lord, learning and growing in my own faith.
2- Trees experience seasons. Healthy trees still lose their leaves in the fall. Yes, being rooted in Christ sometimes feels like you're thriving and the fruit of your faith and God's blessing is obvious. Sometimes though, it's more like surviving the winter. Things are just dry and lonely. Other times, it can even be barely holding on by a single root when the storm is raging around. The good news: as long as the tree is well rooted and continually depending on the water for strength, it will overcome and make it through any season or storm. We don't need to panic when we don't feel like we're thriving. It's natural to experience seasons of life. Those winters just make the spring blossoms that much more beautiful! If we never experienced times of spiritual dryness we wouldn't know the sweetness of those times when God's presence is evident.
So that's the meaning behind the name and my observation for the day.
Welcome to my blog! I believe in people growing together and learning from each other so feel free to comment on my posts and let me know what you think! Please note that these are simply some of my observations about life, faith, and my experiences. The things I will be writing about here are rarely the product of extensive research or debate. Rather, they are simply my latest musings. This blog is a way to express some of the things that I'm learning in this quest to be a healthy person mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually, and ultimately become closer to my Savior, the spring of living water.