Sunday, April 28, 2013

"Single" Minded Contentment

I don't remember where I first heard about it. I probably thought it was stupid or only for girls who were self-absorbed or something. Maybe they were a bit smarmy or sentimental. But, knowing myself, I had probably thought I'd never do that. But then years later, living in Iraq, when the budget allowed I started. It wasn't out of some claim to my self-worth, but rather out of the joy in it, I think. But over time is has come to mean more than that.

Some girls do the same thing in affirming their adulthood by buying a queen size bed, others go out to eat at a fancy restaurant, but I... I buy myself flowers.

Anyone who knows me for very long will know that I love flowers. In fact, even in high school I was told that I was "all about God and flowers". (Part of me was irked at being so easily defined, but alas, it's true.) So, I realized that buying something beautiful that I enjoy was not something relegated for the mystical world of marriage. God made beautiful flowers to be enjoyed and appreciated; God gave me money enough that I could spend on flowers; God gave me a love of flowers; God gave me flowers. It takes a step of confidence to decide that as a single woman you can still have nice things in your life.

I know that I've been graced with many friends who know my delight in flowers. The flowers pictured here were a gift, after all. But God has given us so much beauty in the world and I don't need a husband or a boyfriend to enjoy the good gifts that God gives.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Year

It's been a year since I left Suly.

It's hard to comprehend.

It feels like I was there yesterday. I can imagine it all so clearly, the smell of kerosene in winter and the warm settling of dust over everything in summer. The chatter in the bazaar, the kisses on both my cheeks of wrinkled smiling women, several sets of small arms wrapped tightly around my waist hugging love, and so so much more.

It feels like a lifetime ago and sometimes I wonder if it was really real or all just a dream, a really good dream  with a nightmare at the end that caused me to wake with a start.

The wounds are real even though there is no external presentation of them. I have nothing to show to people to explain the hurt, no jagged lines on my skin to represent what's inside. And that's ok.

More and more I've begun to realize that everyone has a story. Most adults carry themes of pain from their past. Just because I can't see the scars doesn't mean that they aren't there.

I'd really like to tell these stories some day. People need to know that life is hard and real for people other than themselves... but in such a way as also speaks the truth of God's presence in suffering.

The health and wealth gospel people would like to say that God will give you a good life if you follow Him. Others look to Scripture and see only the suffering. The thing is, both are true. It's just that a "good" life doesn't look like what we think it does; and suffering doesn't mean that the rejoicing is ended.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Waking to Tears

All of us born into this world have cried ourselves to sleep. Generally this gets less as we get into adulthood; but it ebbs and flows a bit even then (at least in my experience). But I had a new experience this past week as I woke up crying. This is rather unusual for me. It was connected to a rather long and complicated dream that involved wandering around in a dimly lit church and peering through windows into various rooms. I think I was looking for where I was supposed to be and I didn't really have a clue where that "room" was nor did I know what it would look like when I got there. I finally ended up in a room with two of my dear friends where we watched some sort of video on a laptop that seemed to have no bearing on the rest of the dream except that by the end of it I was sobbing and begging my friends to let me go home and just to send me home.

It was this longing and anguish of heart that I woke with. I was surprised to find my face wet and my pillow wetter. It was strange because the intensity of the feeling was so strong that it feels almost foreign to me and detached from myself. I can feel it even now remembering the dream, but nothing in my life currently corresponds with that level of emotion. Sure, I miss Iraq and the people there, it feels a bit like home, but God hasn't sent me back there and most of the time I'm ok with that. It isn't my hometown because that hasn't felt like home in years. Where else could it be? 

I may be a bit of a mystic, I guess, but I think taken in context I want to go Home as in, with God. I don't know my purpose or my future here on Earth, I am tired of sin and corruption and evil and never fitting in anywhere. It isn't that my life here is difficult because it isn't. It isn't that I'm not loved and cared for, because I am. It's just that I know it will be so much better to be with God. I feel like I know the taste of Paul's words that he would rather be at home with the Lord. And yet, I also know that, for now at least, he has not chosen for me to be there, but here. So I must be patient even though I wake with tears. 
"For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil." ~from 2 Corinthians 5

Friday, April 19, 2013

Men in Suits

Someone was talking to me about singleness and finding a man the other day and I realized that I had suddenly become depressed. Now, this is a topic that hasn't made me sad in quite some time; enough other things have been going on that being single hasn't bothered me.

At first I couldn't figure out what it was about this conversation that affected it me. I went over each part... it was all fairly normal: having a career, not being in control, men attached to perpetual adolescence, trusting God. I've had this conversation before. Then it hit me. It all came down to a comment about how I should visit a certain church because the men there must be mature because they were the type who wear suits and ties to church. *Cough*


Now maybe it's true that they are mature... but they are also something else... the type that wear suits and ties to church! I'm no legalist, I realize that wearing a suit and tie to church certainly isn't a sign that they are stuffy, up-tight, overly concerned about... whatever. But is that the only way to find someone who's not a kid? And somehow in this Southern culture is that how you signal that you've grown up?

I mentioned this distressing conversation to some people who know me well and they laughed. It made me glad. They told me that it was ok because I wasn't a suit and tie kind of girl. That's not the only option left out there for me. And it's true, God knows me and knows what I will be attracted to and what I need, so there's no use getting glum about it all. Nothing is impossible for God so it's not impossible for God to have made a man who is both mature and doesn't wear a suit and tie to church.

Men's Tie by George Hodan

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

December 2, 2005

...But what all this comes to is being unsure about knowing God's will next for me. Right now I want to go to Iraq with a group that runs Classical Christian Schools. But how do I know if I should pursue it and what if I fail? I am so afraid. I am afraid because this opportunity looks so perfect~but other things have looked like a perfect fit too. I don't know if I am just doubting myself, doubting my ability to know God's will, or doubting God, his ability to give me direction. So many times I hear or read that God has a plan for my life... but so often I feel that he has plans for everyone else's lives and God tells me, "Okay, you get to make your own choices and do whatever you want and if it is terrible, too bad!" HA! It works! That was a majorly stupid thought. The lie is so much more obvious when it's on paper. But I do feel somewhat adrift all the same. 

Reflecting again on these things. It is good to see how God did direct me and did have a plan and still does, even when I don't feel it. It is still true that writing out thoughts often shows how foolish they are and the lies are easier to distinguish. But it is also encouraging to me that I haven't felt this way in a long time. I don't know what God is doing with me, but I do not feel adrift. I feel solidly planted on firm ground rather than all storm-tossed by the uncertainty of my future. God is good.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Journal -- November 29, 2005

This is the first time I mention going to Iraq in my Journal. I've been reading through it... tracing God's grace.

It is fascinating how fast things can change in my heart. But really, I had made the mistake of dwelling on the past and memories and could-haves. My heart is again with the Lord and free. It has been snowing today--the first real snow  and it is so magnificently beautiful that I have been dancing and singing all day. God is so good and even better when we are in tune with Him.

Most of my thoughts have been with where God might want me to go after I graduate in May. If I had my choice I'd go overseas. Right now, I am exploring a Classical Christian School in Iraq. There are dangers and I don't know what God wants me to do, but I am seeking. God has promised that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. I still don't know what god has for my future, but I become more and more excited as different possibilities arise. What next?

"Whatsoever Thou sayest unto me, by Thy grace I will do it. This is my vow." Amy Carmichael

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Personal Property

Americans can get very worked up about personal property. Those who have it don't want it taken away; those without want to get it from others but then not have it taken away from themselves. The government tries to holler over like an exhausted teacher from the other side of the classroom and solve things by making things "fair". And as noble as that all seems they fail miserably.

So one kid complains wanting the teacher to do more and the other kid less. The real problem is that the kids are fighting over something that never really belonged to either of them nor does it belong to the teacher.  Thus are Americans wrapped up in their ownership of the Earth instead of realizing that the Earth is the Lord's and we are merely stewards. Sure, there are economics involved, practical considerations governing earthly recognition of ownership. But how would we as people behave differently if we looked at material goods as a blessing instead of a right?