Sunday, April 12, 2009

Life to the Fullest

Yesterday, I had some of the coolest God time that I've had in a while. I realize "God time" isn't a great technical term, but that's just what it is. There were so many things that came to my head and that I was thinking about- and for anyone who knows me, I don't have to explain that my thoughts tend to jump around a lot :) So this may not make much sense to anyone other than me and my Lord. It was strange to come away yesterday feeling full of shame, and yet, wonderfully redeemed at the same time.

I guess it started because I was talking to a friend the other day about suffering. He's going through an incredibly difficult time right now, and we were talking about the hard time I went through a few years ago, which was a similar situation. It's so hard to see someone else go through a time like this- knowing you can't "fix" it or take away the pain. So Nick and I have just been encouraging him and talking with him a lot, even though there's not much that can be done to heal this wound quickly. And then I told him the other night that now, looking back on what I went through, I'm so thankful for those terribly painful months I went through. I remember my mom's friend once said to her, "Wow, God must really love you to allow you to go through something that hard." And it's so true- it's such a privilege to go through those dark times. I had some indescribable moments with God as I was going through my pain. And I know I'm a different person as a result- although still a definite work in progress :) But it hit me, that looking back on it now, I feel so selfish about my suffering. I mean, Nick is obviously a huge blessing that came out of my whole situation- and I get overwhelmed when I realize how awesome God's plan was in preparing us for each other. But, what if something that great hadn't come out of my suffering? What if there had been no Nick at the end- no reward in this life to make it make sense? Would I not have been thankful for God leading me through that valley? Would the promise of eternity and God's grace and love not have been enough to satisfy me? I feel like I'm all the time saying to people, or thinking to myself, that God has a reason for the pain and rough times that people go through. But do I fully trust in that and live like I believe that? Am I truly comfortable in giving over my life to whatever brings Him glory- even if that means pain? It just frustrates me that I act like I deserve some reward or honor for the suffering I go through. Or that I deserve some earthly justice when I'm wronged. Is Christ's sacrifice and my eternity not enough? And was His life not full of suffering and injustice? I love thinking that one day, we're all going to look back and any pain and difficulties we faced will seem so trivial and so worth it. But it's so hard to stay focused on that in the midst of the hurting.

Then, my mind jumped, and I started thinking about how I probably screw up 99% of the time. And then in that 1% that I may actually act in a way pleasing to Him, I'm still so quick to want the credit and the glory for it, rather than for it to go to my King. My war with my flesh side is so frustrating- and I hate how I get distracted so easily from what is eternal and what my true purpose is!!! Why am I so willing to seek Him in the dark times and give Him my ugly stuff, but then be so selfish in the good times and with my talents?

And yet, despite all my failures and my sinful ways, it's impossible to ignore the Easter message and the great hope I have that's bigger than all my faults. It's our God's way of affirming us and reminding us of His amazing love. Here are some of the verses that really spoke to me:
Colossians 2:14: "He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross."
Isaiah 53:5: "He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our sins,
The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him,
And by His wounds we are healed."
(***Totally cool song called "By His Wounds" on the Glory Revealed CD)
And one of my all time favorite verses:
John 12:25: "Anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys that life. But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you'll have it forever, real and eternal."-The Message

What a great reminder that only in dying to His purpose can I truly live life to the fullest. I hate to wonder how often I forfeit that awesome opportunity by simply getting distracted and sucked into the world's idea of living to the fullest. Thank you Jesus, for your incredible sacrifice. Forgive me when I'm so quick to forget the price you paid. And may I be willing to give you my glory as well as my sins.

I just want to end with some of my favorite lyrics ever, from Bebo Norman:
"Take my voice, and pour it out,
Let it sing the songs of mercies I have found.
For I have nothing, I have nothing, without you.
All my soul needs,
Is all your love to cover me.
So all the world can see that I have nothing, without you"

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

My 28th Birthday Skating Party :)

This weekend, Nick had a surprise skating party at Skateland for me :) Which really makes me laugh to think that I had my 28th birthday party the same place I had my 8th birthday party. It was super fun, and I'm ashamed to admit that I was a little sore the next morning. There was also a delicious Dairy Queen cake involved (2 cakes actually- due to some miscommunication), which made the festivities even better. So I now can mark off my #82 "Host a roller skating party" from my list. Other updates for my list:

-#32 "Confront people who need to be confronted." I'm getting better at this one, and this past Saturday was my biggest one yet. I'll try to make this short. Nick's in charge of the church basketball league, and so I've seen lots of the games in the past few months. Our team was playing FAB's team, and I have some frustration with their coach. There's a guy on their team who LOVES basketball and is at every one if their games. I see him coming or going at the Y all the time to play basketball. However, the last time Nick played their team, I noticed that the guy never once got in to play. Not for a second!!! And the next time, I found out they had only put him in for about a minute at the beginning, and then I saw him go in for the last 15 seconds of the game- since they had already sealed the win. Needless to say, I was furious!!!! Of all places, the church should not be the place where someone feels left out or inadequate. It had seriously bothered me so much, and I'd even made sure that Nick had sent a message out saying that all players must get play time each game. I feel like it's also important to note that things are a little harder for this guy- that he's slightly mentally challenged- which makes me feel even more protective. So, this Saturday Nick was playing FAB again in the tournament, and the coach didn't put the guy in the entire first half of the game. I had told my friend Ashley about the situation, and had already warned her and Nick that I was going to give the coach a piece of my mind at the end of the game if he seriously left the guy out again. But at half-time, Ash pointed out that I should say something now instead of wait- since something could actually be done about it now, but not at the end. So I marched across the floor to his bench, and immediately I felt myself tearing up and my mouth started quivering. I hate that!! No matter how mad I am about something or how much I've "practiced" what I'm going to say- I always get emotional when the actual time comes to let it out. Anyway, so I basically just told him that I've seen this go on for several games and thought it was unfair what he was doing and that it just really upset me. He explained that the 1st half of the game was just so rough, but that he'd play him a lot the 2nd half. (Sidenote: I don't know much about basketball, but I do know that in any close game, the 2nd half is always rougher than the 1st! So I think that excuse was shenanigans.) Anyway, he did end up getting to play for about 3 minutes the 3rd quarter, and about 3-4 the last quarter- which was way more than usual. I have no idea if what I said made any difference, but I'm just glad I said something instead of always wishing I'd said something. That coach probably thinks I'm a bitch (especially since I started the conversation out, "I'm sorry, I don't mean to be a bitch, but...")- but I still think he was wrong for what he'd been doing. Sorry- that was long.

#34- I just wrote an email today to someone at Marshall about leading Zumba classes. I heard a rumor that they're looking for new instructors, so I figured I should at least check into it!

#43- I'm a blood donating reject!!! I tried to go to the Red Cross and got myself all pumped up for it- only to get turned down :/ Apparently, my iron level was not high enough! Seriously, who gets turned down for giving blood??? So, I guess I'm just gonna have to work on getting my iron up. Clearly, my 2 weeks of being a vegetarian will have to be at a different time than my blood donating. I just hope I can get myself motivated to go again, b/c it seriously stresses me out to think of the needle!!!

#57- Erin just gave me a certificate for my bday to go to the culinary institute to make sushi! So excited!!!

#75- Have started working on this, but don't want to spoil anything in case my parents stumble onto this website.

#48- Got rejected AGAIN. Tried to go out to Little Victories to drop off supplies and do some work- and the lady basically said they didn't need anything done. I asked if I could exercise the dogs and play with them, and she said sure. But then she realized the building was locked, and I guess wasn't motivated enough to just get the key for me. Seriously, the building is less than a minute walk from her front door- but I still somehow left doing nothing except dropping stuff off.

#27- So today is my 36th day- almost there! However, I forgot that Lent is not just 40 days- it's like 46 b/c it doesn't count Sundays. I plan to go til Easter, but I have 1 thing I need to buy- a new zipper. I took a pair of my pants and a shirt b/c the zippers are broken- and I thought this would be fine since it's not buying anything, it's just fixing something I already have. But for the shirt, they need me to bring in a zipper to match it. So, I think what I'm gonna do is wait til the 40 days is up and buy the zipper. And then I'll still wait until Easter before I buy anything else. I realize this is a little OCD and legalistic, but I'd really like to make it all 40 days and not feel like I cheated.

That's the main stuff for right now. Hopefully I'll get a little more accomplished this next week! On a totally different subject, I had a great morning run this morning in the yucky drizzle :) It feels good to be getting back into it and to be motivated again. One teensy step closer to a marathon! :)