Seems like God's been trying to tell me something lately, so I thought I would pass it on. Everywhere I turn I've been running into the same subject, or things that throw light on the same subject. Conversations with friends and family, Bible reading. It hit me too, when I posted that poll about denominations, and how just reading through the list without usernames and not knowing who was who, like someone commented, it could be any denomination.

The subject is Christians' differences. I've seen and read a lot of debates and heated discussions on various issues, and I nearly always come away depressed and discouraged, but I never knew why. I think maybe I do now. Please know that I'm generalizing here, not pointing fingers at anyone. I think a lot of Christian debates are gone at in the wrong attitude. The attitude is, "I'm right, you're wrong, let me show you," instead of, "this is what I think, but maybe God has shown you something He hasn't shown me yet." Are we remembering that we are, despite our differences, still brothers?

What we say and how we live tells the world and other believers what we think about Christ.

What did my life say to my family and coworkers about Christ today? Am I letting God work through me, or am I doing things my own way?
...but not like your planned yearly holiday. It's like a trip you take, knowing where you'll end up, but not necessarily which roads you'll take, or which towns you'll stop in. I'm happy and content though, in the knowledge that God knows.

I was looking over old (well, having had a blog for only a year, I guess I can't really call them old, but you know what I mean) entries today, and noticed something. When I first got my LJ, my posts were nearly all quotes from someone else, and mostly heavy. Then I got more comfortable with the idea of talking about myself, and lightening up, and the serious posts all but disappeared. Currently I don't do much in the way of quotes, but I think I've been able to maintain a good balance between silly and serious. It's funny what can happen in a year.

Am I the same girl from a year ago? Yes and no. Obviously I'm the same person, but I can see growth in different areas of my life. It's been like God has shown me a mirror, and in it I see myself...disheveled. Like He's saying, 'You think you might look good, but do you really? Who is it that thinks you look good? What standard are you holding to?' And back I go, scrub, scrub, scrub. I am grateful for a Father who cares enough about me that He reminds me that how I live my life is telling the world what I think about Him.

In this journey of mine I've found out many things about God, the world, others, myself...I'm rather grateful, actually, that I'll never stop learning. That God is so great that I'll never know Him fully, that the world is so large that there will be always something new to discover, that there are so many people out there that I'll never tire of watching and interacting, and that because of all this I'll never stop growing.
My mind goes everywhere when I'm on a walk. It flits from serious to weird, introspective to silly...and everywhere in between and outside. I decided that if I ever write a book it will be written from walks.

Anyway today while walking (among many other things) I was thinking about happiness, and I came up with a theory.

Do you suppose the happiness God gives us is like the parable of the talents? He gives us a little bit of happiness to start with, and if we work it right, we'll soon have quite a storehouse of happiness...it'll be multiplying left and right. Or we can shove it away in a corner and pretend it's not there. As I was thinking about this, liking it more and more I suddenly thought of the end of that parable. "To him who has, more shall be given, and to him who has not, even what he has will be taken away." And if you think about it, that's how it is, isn't it? We've all got something to be glad about, some of us more than others, I'll grant you, but there's always something. And if we grumble and complain, well...even that will no longer bring happiness.

Ok, so that might be carrying things a bit far, but I thought it fascinating to muse over. It was brought about by realizing that my happiness today wasn't about any big thing that was new or different, but taking delight in all the little things that happen with great frequency. Just the everyday things in life.
Just some things I've been thinking about...

Growing up a PK, you tend to 'know' all the answers. Folks act like you should have it together, so most of the time you pretend you do...it's easier that way. At least that's how it was for me. I played the pious part and, though I do admit there was a lot of sincerity on my part, there was also a lot of playacting and guessing. I began my conscious effort to live for and in Christ at a young age, seven, but was somewhat hampered in growth, I think, because of my tendency to hold things in, and flounder around on my own instead of humbling myself and asking. I still do that a lot, it's hard on my pride to admit I don't know. :)

One thing that always bothered me about my Christian walk was prayer. I read countless books on prayer, and never seemed to get it. Why do we pray? Does it really do any good? How can you remember to pray every day? How to you make the time? How much time do you spend in prayer? It has only been recently, in the last few years, that I have finally felt like I know what I'm doing. That God has given me this means of communication with Him to not only strengthen my faith, but others' as well.

I think what I always had the hardest time with was reading about all these great Saints [note: my use of the word, Saints, includes living Christians as well as dead] who would spend hours on their knees. Who would, when they prayed, feel the nearness of their Savior. Who would also see great things happen because of their faith. Me? I can't kneel for long because of knee trouble. One strike against me. I would begin well, following some pattern or other, but then my mind would begin to wander, or I'd fall asleep. Two strikes against me. I rarely 'felt' anything. Three strikes against me. And, heh...nothing seemed to happen when I would pray. Strike four. How big is a mustard seed, anyway? Huge, I'm telling you! :) But I kept on trying, because I knew I was supposed to.

Communication is vital to any relationship. Husband-wife, parent-child, sibling-sibling, friend-friend, coworker-coworker...if we don't communicate, nothing happens usually, unless it's bad. Talking to one another, writing notes or letters, even physical communication is important, waving, hugging, holding hands. So, I wondered, why do we place so much importance on human communication, and there aren't really any 'rules' to how you communicate with one person or another, but we put God in a box and say that we must do it this way or that? I began to talk to God more. Just conversationally. I'd tell Him about what I was doing, and send quick prayers up for small things....shoelaces that wouldn't come un-knotted, keys that I couldn't find, dinner that wasn't coming along as fast as it should be, that I'd hear from a particular person or other, the loveliness of a flower, the brilliance of the sky, the wind on my face, a kiss from a child....and I began to feel like I had found something that I had been searching for all my life. God should be approached reverently, but He is also our Father. What if (since I live at home) I only talked to my dad at specific times, and not at all the rest of the day? 'Sorry, dad, this isn't our talking time.' It totally didn't make sense. So I really worked on communication with God, and it did take work, it didn't come naturally. I talked to Him sporadically throughout the day, and also just listened. It was wonderful. I began to see things in my life that I hadn't seen before, some good, some bad. I began to want to talk to Him. I wanted to pray, instead of just doing it because I knew I was supposed to. And He blessed me with not only that desire to pray, but strength and growth in my walk with Him. I began to pray for others more, not just when they asked me, but whenever they crossed my thoughts, I would pray for them. I think also my prayers, growing more frequent, also grew less selfish. I had an intense desire to see God's blessing in the lives of others, and to see them share this same joy that I had.

There is a closeness in knowing that God has given us this means of communication with Him. There is something amazing about knowing that even if my prayer is no more than a nearly unintelligible, "Oh God", that He knows. That in my time of quiet listening, I may feel nothing more than a peace and happiness, or I may hear Him whispering my name, reminding me that I am His. There is great happiness in belonging to Him.
It seems like every so often (more often, actually, than I'd like to admit) I get caught up in pietism..."I'm a pk, so I know all the answers" "I'm a good person, much better than those folks" "I've never done anything really bad like they have"...I feel like such a righteous person and don't really think about my own sins...they're such small sins.
I get caught up in doing good things, being a good person...for the wrong reasons. And all of a sudden I realize that it's out of my control, and that I'm doing all of these things for my own appearance, instead of for the glory of God, but I can't seem to stop myself...I keep on, piling more and more good deeds on, as if they will help me be a better person. And God waves His hand in front of my face, trying to get my attention, and I kind of blink and keep on struggling. Then He whispers in my ear, and I brush it away as if I just felt or heard something in my sleep, and I just keep going...growing somewhat frantic as I realize all over again that I can't be super-girl and be everything I'm supposed to be. Then His voice reaches my consciousness. "My child." And I stop suddenly, as if a person steps out in front of my car. My heart races as I strain my whole being to listen..."My child. Why do you weary yourself and take upon you burdens too large for you?" And suddenly I am conscious of what seems like the weight of the whole world upon me, bearing me down so that I can hardly stand. I feel ashamed and disgusted at the weight that I have gathered upon myself, but cannot shake it off. "My child. I am always here. My shoulders are infinitely stronger and more able to bear burdens. Will you give me yours?" And remembering this, as a dream repeating itself, bowing before my Maker, tears of sorrow and repentance stream down my face. He reaches down and touches me, and I sob for joy as the weight lifts, wondering why and how I could forget that He has given Himself for this very purpose; that I might be His child. I look at Him wonderingly, and shyly ask Him once again to teach me to rest in Him, to seek His face, to desire His glory above all else, and to never again try to do it on my own. He takes me in his arms and says, "My child. Rest in Me. For only here will you find perfect peace. My child, know that I only give you what I know you can handle, but even that you cannot handle without Me. My child, never grow weary of coming to me, for I will never grow weary of you." And as I lay there in His arms, a peace that only He can understand and give, washes over my soul. Once again I remember that I am His, and He is mine. By His mercy, I will never cease to be His, and by His grace, He will never cease to be mine.

I was only going to post this to a small handful on my friends list. As I read through my scribbles, through my tears, it seemed as if God was asking me, "Why? You share your happiness, why not this? Why are you only willing to share a part of yourself, an incomplete picture? This, My child, is a gift, just as your happiness and love of life is a gift. And none of the gifts I have given you are for you alone; they are yours to live, and by living, share. If you were to keep these gifts locked away, they would grow pale and wither. Never be afraid of repentance. For with repentance is growth, and health, and maybe not immediately, but also joy." And I said to Him, "I am afraid", and He softly asked, "Has the lesson been unlearned so quickly?" And I, by His grace, was able to once again give back what I had so quickly taken to myself, and know, to the very depths of my soul that His ways and will are perfect, and that I am His.

funny

Sep. 25th, 2005 02:54 pm
Humans are funny creatures. Isn't it weird how nobody can experience something without having someone either one-up them, or even just compare or share similar circumstances?

Example:

Girl 1. Wow, I'm tired. I slept very poorly last night.
Girl 2. Yeah, I know what you mean. I haven't been able to sleep well for a week...it's weird.
Girl 3. When I was sick once, I had insomnia, and didn't sleep for 72 hours.

That's kind of the mild form...but I'm sure you all know what I mean and could share similar stories. ;)

So, the thing is...are we helping the situation any? Sometimes it is comforting to know that what you are experiencing is not just you. Sometimes it's just silly. How to know... *shakes head*
I have a confession to make. I am a selfish and hypocritical friend. I have always said that communication is important, vital to a friendship, and that lack of communication annoys me. My dear Bookend (a bookend, by the way, is someone who shares between you the important and best things in life, be they serious, mysterious, interesting, boring, funny or childish) pointed this out to me (though she may not have realized it). I don't like to be the initiator. There. The truth is out. I would much rather just sit back and wait for someone else to do the work of initiating, whether it is by mail (e or otherwise) or in person. I'm happy to do the listening, excusing myself by saying that I'm just not a talker. I also like to excuse myself by the fact that I can't always say things how they are in my head, but if I'm honest with myself I guess I don't practice enough. When I first began cooking, things didn't turn out like they did for my mom, but that didn't stop me. Bottom line? I expect others to be perfect and accept my imperfections. I've got a long way to go to get this friendship thing right.

I share an ideal with my three year old sister. Yesterday, Hailie said, "When I grow up, I will have children, and they will obey me."
heh..yeah, I do it.

So I've been thinking about my questions, and though I can't fully answer them even to my satisfaction, here they are.

1. Are there homes like that for you? Are they family, or just close friends, or even just acquaintances?

There are homes like that for me. There are actually seven if I count my three married siblings...which I don't usually, just because they are an extension of our family, and it would be very strange to me if I weren't at home there. So...I say four. All three are friends, though one is kinda related.


2. What is it about these homes that makes you feel so completely at ease?

The first family I felt completely at home with was a gradual thing. We met at their home for church, and after doing so for a few months, I suddenly realized that I was completely at home with them. The second family is my sister-in-law, Rebekah's, folks house. That was pretty much from the second time I visited there. The third family we'd known for ten years before I ever visited. We met when I was a teen, and our families got along well together, but though we never lost contact, we rarely see each other (or write or call, for that matter). But when I walked in their door, I was completely at home. The fourth, of course, is Jessica's home. It wasn't instant, but obviously it wasn't months either. :) By the second day there, I felt very much at home.

As to why? This is what I can't figure out. Is it the hospitality? I know plenty of people who are hospitable, but I am not at home at their house. Is it that we're great friends? I have other great friends whose homes are not another home for me. Even a combination of the two...*shakes head*. I just don't know. But I am very thankful for the pleasure of homes away from home.


3. Do you feel that your home is a 'home away from home' for others?

I hope so. We do our best to make it feel that way, but since there seems to be no formula...I guess you'd have to ask our guests.

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mrs617

August 2011

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