Saturday, May 31, 2008

From the Outside Looking In

I prefer fruit flavored gum to mint flavored gum Y I would rather take the picture than be in it Y If I could do anything in the world…I would travel every inch of it YA man in uniform will make me melt every time…that’s the secret, boys! LOL Y I run every day…even though I loathe running Y I have a secret desire to be a famous country singer Y I still prefer film to digital Y I give my dad a hard time for having an all-blue-and-gray wardrobe…when I have an all-black-and-white wardrobe Y I wore a plaid pleated skirt and knee socks for the better part of my schooling Y I want to live in New York City for 1 year…long enough to experience all the seasons and major events, but short enough that I don’t grow a hard heart Y I used to have bangs thick enough that could stand on end on their own Y When I was little, I used to fake coughing attacks when people were smoking in restaurants Y I have a secret love of rap music Y I like to people watch…people are so fascinating. And so weird Y I’m not really bothered by awkward silence Y I have never had braces, but I did have a retainer Y I eat one thing at a time on my plate (all of one thing, then all of the next, etc.) Y It takes me a really long time to warm up to people Y I was queen bee in elementary school and class outcast in middle school. I like to think I made it to a happy medium by high school Y I can’t handle bugs…of any kind Y I once held a 5 foot metal pole as a makeshift antennae for 2 hours so we could hear the Spurs win the championship! Y I have never been kissed Y I like stupid humor…Napoleon Dynamite, Zoolander, Spaceballs…classics Y I don’t do the party scene. Never have. I’d rather watch a movie with friends or curl up with a good book any day Y I am a realist Y I prefer hot weather to cold weather Y I was voted most likely to become president Y I could live on rice, pasta, and dr. pepper and be perfectly content Y I want to sky dive before I die Y I can’t handle liars or hypocrites Y I have broken only one bone in my life- my baby toe. But I once had a bone bruise on my shin Y The only time I have been taken to the emergency room was for a tear in my esophagus. Random Y I once cut grass with a sickle Y I tend to have high expectations…mostly of myself Y I have a favorite pair of flip flops and a favorite pair of heels Y I love a good hymn as much as any contemporary worship song Y Yes, I was a girl scout Y My first car was a 1992 Buick LeSabre (fully equipped with 2-inch speedometer numbers and push buttons!) YI rode the bus my senior year of high school…with my best friend (also a senior) and the kindergarteners. It was amazing Y

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Our Hero is Coming Home!

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!! After serving his country for 10 months in Iraq, my cousin is finally coming home! I got a SUPER excited (and rightfully so) text from my aunt today saying that he was in Kuwait and would be back at Fort Bragg within the next 48 hours. Thank you for all of your prayers as we have watched and waited for his tour to end. God kept him safe and is bringing him home safely, so my prayer is that my unbelieving family recognizes God's hand of protection over his life. None more so than him.
I am proud to be a part of a military family and am deeply grateful for all of the men and women serving in our armed forces. I can't even express in words the appreciation I have for the sacrifice of brave men and women, who leave their homes and family to ensure our freedom. They even ensure the freedoms of those who don't really understand the value of their own freedom. Freedom is such an expensive commodity and, sadly, so many of our countrymen's actions today cheapen it. To those who have fought for our nation, past and present, freedom has a flavor the protected with never know...

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Burdened Heart and the Chipping Process

I think a good word I can use to describe how I feel right now is burdened. I feel burdened for so many people around me right now…it’s kind of overwhelming. So many people are hurting. So many people are lost. And I am at such a loss on how to help them. Sure, I pray for them- I am on my knees pretty much all the time now (which is a good place to be, by the way, so I am not begrudging that). Sure, I am there for them as much as humanly possible…but still does not seem like enough. It bothers me when I can’t just fix things and make it all better. It bothers me even more when there really is nothing I can do but sit back and hurt for them. I wonder if this is just a unique time when all of these things are happening all at once or if I am just noticing it more now than ever before. I have prayed that God breaks my heart for what breaks His…
For those who know me well enough to know my family…well, enough is said when I say my family is lost. I have the blessing of godly parents and an aunt who knows Christ, but otherwise that’s it in my family. And the family I grew up in is not the kind you only see on holidays or visit once a year. I grew up with a family that sees each other at least every other week. It has gotten harder now that all of the grandkids have gotten older, but for argument sake- I have a close family on both sides. I still have both sets of grandparents. I have yet to experience the loss of a loved one. So when my family goes through a crisis, it’s not some distant relative in another state that I am removed from. And they all need Jesus….
Some of you know that I have an aunt who for the greater portion of my life abused drugs and is now in prison. God tugged at my heart my sophomore year of college to reach out to her and write letters to her while she finished her sentence. I have done the best I can, but she continues to reject Christ and continues to hurt the people who love her the most. So it makes it really difficult to write to her. My grandmother called my mom crying the other day because my aunt had sent her a nasty letter. She is supposed to be released this year, and I am really struggling with that. She needs the love and light of Christ, but my family has been through so much with her already, I fear what will happen when she is out. Her son, my cousin, has just recently contacted my grandparents again and he has chosen to live the same lifestyle his mother did. Each time they both come back into the picture, I watch my family go through a new round of heartache and pain. But what else can come from a life without Christ?
I have another cousin who is serving in Iraq. With the Memorial Day holiday, I was reminded of the heavy sacrifices that so many men and women have made. And it reminded me of how fragile life can be, how dangerous things still are over there, and how much I miss him. I am so proud of him; he volunteered and is a brave hero. But he’s just a kid, and how can I not worry about him? It makes me angry when people go off on the war. When I get letters from him, I can feel the disappointment and the defeat when he talks of how people back home don’t support him as a soldier. I just wish people would realize that I have family and friends fighting and putting their lives on the line so they can have the freedom to complain. I pray that he encounters a Christian soldier who is brave enough to share Christ with him.
I have another cousin who recently was admitted into a treatment facility for anorexia. She’s 12. She is not doing well with her treatments. She is angry and is lashing out at her parents. When they first took her to the doctor, her heart was already beginning to fail. After a month at this treatment facility, her weight is back up, but her psychological battle is far from over. She still sees herself as overweight. The nurses caught her exercising in the bathroom and say she is only getting her weight up enough so she can get out. But she is not ready to leave in terms of her mental state. I struggle to understand…she’s 12 years old! How does a 12 year old learn to think so poorly about her own self-image? My aunt and uncle are doing the best they can…but how can you cope with something so huge without Christ?
My grandparents still aren’t speaking to each other. They have been married for 58 years in October, and I guess they have just had enough. Luckily they come from old school values, so they are not going to divorce. But it is so heartbreaking to watch them live separate lives under the same roof. My grandpa is ex-military and has the mindset of a commander. My grandmother holds grudges like no one else’s business (seriously, she still talks about the girl who wronged her when she was 12 years old…). So you put the combination together and you have 2 people living under one roof who no longer have a connection. My grandpa stays upstairs and my grandma stays downstairs. It’s gotten so bad that my grandma will leave and not tell my grandpa where she is going. She’ll just disappear. It was all a little comical at first. But it’s been almost a year now. But how can two people who don’t have the love of Christ love each other or even begin to understand the meaning of forgiveness?
I talked with my dad today and he told me my uncle has had thoughts of hurting himself and that the doctors think he may be bipolar. We knew he had been acting erratically the last few months, but had attributed it to the sleeping medication he was on (which really isn’t better, but we were unprepared for something like this). My grandpa drove to Austin to be with him today. Too many people around me are having these darks thoughts of hopelessness and emptiness. And I just don’t know what to do about it. It scares me to think of how much I have encountered it in recent months.
I know my family is not the only one with issues. And my family may even look normal compared to some (although, that might be stretching it a bit...). My heart is so burdened for them right now. My heart literally aches for them. They need Christ so much. They are hurting right now and I don't know how to comfort them. How do you comfort someone who is not open to the comfort of Christ? I can't even begin to imagine the sense of loss and hoplessness they must feel. How do people live without Christ? It just makes me realize how much I need Him, how much I depend on Him for everything.
In my own life, aside from what’s going on with my family, I feel trapped in so many ways. That whole “stuck between a rock and a hard place” thing is an understatement. While I know I am where I am supposed to be right now, things still aren’t easy. And things really aren’t improving. I can’t tell you the number of people who think I’m crazy for staying. And even if they haven’t said it, I know many of them are thinking it. My heart hurts when I encounter these conversations, because I know that they all mean well. But how do I even begin to explain? So for those of you who think I am crazy…it’s ok. I am crazy. But I am in God’s will and that is all that matters. No, it’s not the ideal situation; I am smart enough to recognize that. From the outside looking in, it doesn’t make sense for me to still be where I am. I don’t like it any more than anyone else. But sometimes God calls us to do hard things. And sometimes it’s not about us, but rather about other people. And so I stay. I stay until God moves me, until He has new plans for me. In the meantime, I am just trying to learn all that He is teaching me; I am just trying to let Him use me in the way that He sees fit.
I feel like there is a huge weight over me. I am still working through so much of what God has been teaching me over the past few months. I am still healing from the brokenness and the pain. I am still trying to figure out what it looks like to be the godly woman He desires for me to be. I am still working through my own feelings of inadequacy and failure. Some recent situations have made me question so much of who I am and who I can be. Every day is a new day for God’s mercy, love, and teaching. And I am so grateful for the work He is doing in me. God is chipping away everything in my life that does not resemble the image of Christ. And my desire is to become more and more like His Son. My desire is to be the godly woman He desires me to be. It's just that....well, the chipping hurts. 
Currently Reading: Freedom Flight: The Origins of Mental Power, by Lanny Bassham