Monday, November 28, 2011

Sweet, Sweet Blessings

I lost my job on Monday -- it's a business decision and not based on my work.  It'll be ok.  In the midst there have been plenty of mixed blessings: I had all of my Christmas shopping completed.  I only have to get 1 allergy shot vs. 4 per month - I can afford that.  Our show opens in 2 weeks - I now have time to work on items for the show.   (Buy your tickets now - Dec 9-11 - - no pressure!)

The biggest blessing is time to go thru my storage unit to get rid of things.  This is so hard!  I have already gone thru 22 boxes of books and am getting rid of at least 10.  That's big for Debby!!

Today I was going thru a box of letters and cards I have kept over the years.  And they make me cry just thinking about them.  There are letters from my dad.  There are letters from my brothers.  There are letters from my mom.  And they just make me cry.  Seeing in writing that my dad was proud of me -- tears, even now.  Seeing fun letters from my brother wondering why I would mail his letter in the same envelope with my mom's in hopes that she wouldn't read his letter.  Silly Debby.  Letters from my parents in the midst of a job loss for my dad and their constant faith and trust in our Living active God.  Letters from another brother wondering where God will send him as he is looking to be a missionary.  Sweet, sweet letters.

My mom loves to skype so she can see what I look like.  (I told her to hold up and move around my  most recent picture to get the same effect - doesn't work as well!)  At the end of our conversation, she said, "Debby, I'm praying that God directs you in the means where you should go and that you get a great job... let's pray right now."  Sweet, sweet blessings.

On thanksgiving, one brother called to let me know that my 2 year old niece has been praying for me in my job loss.  That morning they had been reading the story about Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus.  The little one said, "Jesus help Bartimaeus, Jesus help Aunt Debby!"  Sweet, sweet moments.

What blessings in the midst of struggle to be reminded that God is in the midst, is at work, and loves his people - for they are his.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Living Right Now

I know, I know, it's quite expected that I'd be keeping track of the Tim Tebow saga going on in Denver.  Even though I'm a Gator fan and he may have graduated with my same exact major (bonded, I'm sure!), there are more than those reasons the whole situation has me intrigued.  That which fascinates me the most is his desire to just try it out.  He wants to do it his way, yet people just can't seem to be okay with it.  And that part I get. 

My mother calls me her bohemian flower child.  I go where the wind takes me and really just let life happen.  My life choices are not exactly what society would have expected.  And, for the most part, I'm okay with that.  But, I can't really seem to live in the moment.  My "going where the wind takes me" mentality is partially to let life happen with the potential for something to hit right around the corner.  I don't really like to take chances; I just don't think I have what it takes.  But, I'm a sassy, bright, colorful woman who likes people but definitely needs down time.  And being all of those makes me a bit unconventional - and sometimes I don't think it's good enough.  And I don't like that.

Tim Tebow is unconventional.  People don't always like it.  They don't like how he throws, they don't like how he slips out of the pocket, they don't like how he risks his own body for a touchdown.  And they really don't like how he lives ... with a purpose, with a focus, with a sense of calling.  With that calling he lives with a clarity of who he is.  He doesn't waver.  And all he's asking for is a chance, even if no one likes it.

A pastor friend and I were talking a few months ago about how he doesn't quite fit into the picture of what the congregation feels he should be.  His leadership is off, his presentation is quirky, his focus seems too driven.  But, that's who he is, and God placed him there for a purpose.  He is there to fulfill God's calling on his life, to complete the work that God has placed before him, no matter how long it takes, even if no one likes it.

I know a lot of high schoolers who are going to college soon, auditioning for programs this month, and are basically losing their minds in the weight that burdens their shoulders.  And to each of them, I leave this message...

You are who God made you to be: creative, bookish, a thinker, a talker, a singer, an artist, math wizard, science investigator, gentle spirit, a feisty one, a parser, a patcher, a tender heart, a brave soul - some of all or just a touch of a few ... you are exactly as you were meant to be.  And, you are right where God wanted you to be right now.  Your job today is to live this life.  You aren't making your life plans, you're living them. For the future that is in front of you is in the hands of a great, good, gracious God who knows your heart.  He knows the fears, he knows the haters, he knows the amount of terror that sets in your soul.  He knows.  And he continues to love and hold you.  So, Live. Right. Now.

When talking with my pastor friend the message was the same, people might not get it, they might not like it, you might not like it, but God put you there for a purpose.  Live that purpose and do God's work.  There's really no need to figure it all out, God has that down too.  You just do what you're called to do and live it.  Live it large. 

That's what really intrigues me about Tim Tebow - he just wants a shot to use who he is in this moment.  And he's living it.  He is living right now.  I don't know about you, but I want to live right now. 

The future is already determined.  What have we got to lose?

Monday, August 8, 2011

Joy, Joy, Joy

The joy of the Lord is my strength
The joy of the Lord is my strength
The joy of the Lord is my strength
The jo-oy of the Lo-rd is my strength

You remember that song don't you? 

I think when I was a little one, the concept was a little skewed.  Something like - you gotta have joy all the time.  And that joy is only from the Lord.  Well, talk about one messed up girl when I got sad, or depressed, or frustrated.  And then what if I was too happy!?  Well, then it's not just the Lord at work over there.

As we were talking about abiding with Jesus from John 15 yesterday at church, I was struck by that one verse .... "I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.  Yes, your joy will overflow!"  How is my joy overflowing when I'm hearing about being pruned back or disciplined?  How am I to be filled with joy when I'm told to abide with Jesus even though I just can't do it all the time!?

Sounds just like the Israelites in Nehemiah, doesn't it?  They had come back to Jerusalem, started to rebuild and they began to recount all God had done.  Nehemiah began reading the covenant laws of God.  And they started to wail.  They had royally screwed it up.  They hadn't followed, they hadn't obeyed, they had turned their backs on a loving, gracious, merciful, just God. 

They acted like we act. 

Yet, Nehemiah calls to them, "Don't be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!"

It's not their joy.  It's not their doing.  It's not a perpetual happiness.  It's not even their emotion.  It's all God's.  He has joy over us.  He knows our name - joy.  He remembers his promises for us - joy.  He remains faithful even when we are faithless - joy.  His joy over us which causes him to sing, sing, sing for you and me -- that is our strength. 

The reality of his joy because of his work for his child in his timing with his Son and Spirit - that joy is our strength.  Our strength when we don't want to (and just can't) love well.  Our strength when we can't get up to face another day with that job.  Our strength when our spouse, loved one, roommate, friend, brother, whomever is knocking us down so much that we just want to scream.  The joy that God has for you and me is the strengthening factor with helps to know that we are loved by more than our circumstances and more than our possessions and more than our marketing value. 

We, as Christ followers, are what causes the Creator of the universe to sing. 

That's strengthening.