How Traveling 200 Miles Gave Me Eternal Perspective

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Back in August I went on a missions trip overseas to the Bahamas.  It was a short trip (both in length measured in miles and length measured in days), but it expanded my perspective in massive ways.   I wrote an article about it for my friends at Circles of Faith.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has just alerted us that we’ve reached our cruising altitude.  You’re now free to move about the cabin,” the flight attendant chirped over the loudspeaker in our tiny airplane heading from Ft. Lauderdale, FL, to Nassau, Bahamas.

What seemed like less than five minutes later, I heard her voice again announcing that we had begun our initial descent and anyone moving about the cabin had to return to their seats with seat belts securely fastened. Our flight time that August morning lasted a total of 26 minutes.

I had expected a quick flight. I hadn’t expected that through this trip God would teach me vast lessons about His character and my heart.

Read more about it at Circles of Faith!

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Redesign

In an attempt to rekindle my dedication to my blog, I’ve given it a face lift.

I was reminded today of the discipline that it takes to be a blogger.  My aim here is not to be paid to write or to change the world through my blog, but rather, to once again utilize this space as a means of public reflection and a method of accountability.  I want it to be an Ebenezer.  Or an altar.  Or just a series of marks in my life that I can stop and say, “Hitherto the Lord has helped me.”

I’ve lost the art of rest and meditation, and I need to bring it back.

So, in essence, the redesign is more for my sake than yours.  I can only pray that the victories and struggles that I hope to periodically recount will speak to you, too.

Languages of Love

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We all know about Gary Chapman’s best-selling book The 5 Love Languages.  The website has a handy quiz that even helps you discover your love language.  According to the quiz, I’m a sucker for quality time and words of affirmation.  No offense to Dr. Chapman, but more and more lately, I have come to realize that there are more than five ways to give and receive love.  I have felt loved in a number of ways this past month, including when I passed a mile marker and got to go home for a few days.  Below are just a few of them.

 

On Valentine’s Day, I could have gotten cranky and celebrated another “Singles’ Awareness Day.”  Instead I got a bouquet of flowers sent to my office from my dad and thanked God for my family (see photo above).

The students I’m living with are doing a good job of cleaning up after themselves in the living room and kitchen.

I received a strong and warm embrace from a friend I hadn’t seen in two weeks.

A woman from my church sent me an email to thank me for doing a “fantabulous” job, noting that I give God all of the glory.

I constantly get encouragement in the form of texts, emails, Facebook likes and comments from my tech-savvy momma.

Another friend played with my hair and spent time rubbing a knot out of my shoulder, where I tend to keep my stress.

My brother-in-law sent me two “thank you” notes, when one wasn’t even necessary.

My sister let joyful tears slip down her cheeks when I surprised her for her 30th birthday.

I was escorted to and from the airport in NJ by my chauffeur, I mean, younger brother.

One of my students prophetically prayed for me during one our small group gatherings.

 

I have heard love defined as sacrificing oneself for the sake of another.  That definition could not be more accurate:

LOVE

What are some ways you feel loved?

It’s Supposed to Be Hard

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The beginning of this month marked 6 months of me living in Florida. It hasn’t been easy, but that’s what makes it great.

One of my favorite movies is A League of Their Own. It’s about an all-women’s baseball league in 1943 when the men were drafted overseas during WWII. When Geena Davis’ character decides to quit the team after her husband returns, her excuse was that it just got too hard. Her coach, played by Tom Hanks, retorts,

“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard is what makes it great.”

That line has stuck with me. In the moments where I just want to give up and move back home, I’m reminded that the hard is great. I don’t want to enjoy an easy, comfortable life. I don’t want to do the things that everyone does. In those moments, I feel far from God because I don’t need Him. But in the moments when things are difficult, I need Him. I pray harder. My faith grows deeper. My spirit grows stronger. I want to be someone that others can look to and say, “If she can do it, so can I!”

I am reading The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, studying Daniel, and am going through a series called Fresh Encounter with my church. It is amazing how these three resources, in conjunction with the Bible, are saying very similar things. I am being encouraged to persevere, persist, resolve, and endure through the hard. No one achieves greatness easily. It is hard, my friend!

I don’t want to hear or use the excuse that it’s just too hard. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised” (Hebrews 10:36). I’m circling that promise! I want to be great!

Do you want to be great?

 

Year In Review

I wanted to spend some time reflecting on what God has brought me through this year. Remembering in retrospect is a valuable way to see how He has planned every step, and gives me confidence that He will continue to do so with my future.

In 2012,

I nannied for two wonderful families, bonding with their three children and learning valuable life skills for my own children one day.

I celebrated (and cried about!) the engagement of my sister.

I was offered and accepted a new job as a full time Music Minister.

I planned a surprise bridal shower in 2 months for my sister, with the help of amazing bridesmaids and my mother.

I thoroughly enjoyed our annual family vacation in Wildwood NJ.

I watched my sister walk down the aisle to the man who is the answer to countless prayers and celebrated the beginning of their lives together.

I also mourned the end of our four years together living in Ocean Grove.

I packed my entire life, minus my winter clothes, and moved to South Florida with the help of my brother.

I wept when he left.

I began mentoring and discipling young women who are students at Oceans’s Edge.

I studied Pastor Counseling from Liberty University Online and completed my Master’s Degree in December.

I’ve kept the airline companies in business by visiting my family or researching the cheapest flights for them to visit me.

I’ve met and bonded with new people, adjusted to a new life, and embraced new challenges in my career.

These are major life changes and it is wondrous to watch them unfold! I am thankful for 2012 and hopeful for 2013. What about you?

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An Unhurried Christmas

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This month has been ridiculously busy.  being in full time ministry during the Christmas season calls for overtime and increased productivity.  I wrote, organized and directed a Christmas production involving almost thirty people at my church (thus the banner I made above).  the students at ocean’s edge put on their annual Christmas show, Not So Silent Night.  On top of that, I finished my master’s degree from Liberty University Online on December 14, so had to complete final projects, papers and exams.  I’ve also been having problems with my car and am in the midst of getting new car and health insurance for the new year.  Additionally, I hadn’t done any Christmas shopping or preparation for spending time with my family until today, when everything else was out of the way.  At times it felt like I was just trying to keep my head above the water.  There was just so much to do!

For one of my classes, I had to read a book called The Life You’ve Always Wanted by John Ortberg.  Like so many of the other books I was required to read, I really enjoyed this one.  One of the chapters talked about developing a discipline of an unhurried life.  I’m one of those people who stresses easily about being on time… I hate being late.  I like to leave ample time in my schedule so that I don’t have to hurry. I hate the anxiety and adrenaline that accompanies haste.  I resent people, whether they are loved ones I’m spending time with or complete strangers in a beat up, pick-up truck driving ten miles per hour under the speed limit on a two lane road, who make me late.  I’ve got to go!  I have things to do!  Especially if I want to sabbath this week!

John Ortberg diagnosed me with hurry sickness.  I need to be productive.  I rush, even when there is no need.  I love multi-tasking.  I’m impatient in the slow lane.

The cure?  Purposeful patience.  Intentional slowing.  Practicing solitude.

I literally groaned when I read that.  The next time I went into Publix, I chose the lane with the slowest-looking cashier and the customer with the most groceries.  And I was purposefully patient.  On I95 in South Florida, I chose the lane furthest to the right to drive in, and put my cruise on 64 MPH.  Nightly, since the student I live with have gone home for their Christmas break, I have enjoyed solitude and began reading more of my Bible again (there was just not enough time before!).

These simple cures have changed my perspective.  I have seen results, even though it has only been a few weeks.  Today, I drove up to a mall in Boca, two days before Christmas which might have been one of the bravest or dumbest things I’ve ever done.  There was a long line of luxury cars at the traffic light to turn into the mall.  The parking lot was a free-for-all, with Land Rovers and Explorers alike creating their own parking spaces.  People’s eyes were manic with shopping fever.  Hurry sickness everywhere!  Yet, in my spirit, I was calm, relaxed and peaceful.  I accepted that I was not getting anywhere quickly and enjoyed a slower pace.  I did not get angry or flustered.  It was amazing!

It’s a shame that the Christmas season is so busy and hurried.  We focus so much on all we have to do, that we miss the reason why we’re doing it.  Don’t hurry Christmas.  You must ruthlessly eliminate it!

I’m flying home in the morning, and am going to enjoy an unhurried week with my family and friends in NJ.  I pray your Christmas is happy, healthy and unhurried!

freedom in truth

back in elementary school, i took algebra and i loved it.  solving problems, working with variables and using the quadratic equation was so exciting to me.  i know, i know, i’m a first-class nerd… i can remember learning the transitive property of equality, which states that if A = B, and B = C, then A = C.  it makes perfect sense.  it can be proved.  it is rational.  it is truth.

i’m in a bible study where i recently was reminded that part of God’s character is truth.  He speaks truth.  His Word is truth.  but to take that one step further, He IS truth.

to put this into algebraic terms:

God = Truth (A = B)

Jesus said so: “I am the way, the TRUTH, and the life.” – John 14:6

Jesus calls the Spirit “Truth”: “But when He, the Spirit of Truth comes, He will guide you into all truth.” -John 16:13

John makes reference to Jesus coming from the Father, “full of grace and truth.” – John 1:14

Jesus also says that the truth will set us free (John 8:32):

Truth = Freedom (B = C)

thus, using the transitive property of equality:

God = Freedom (A = C)

this fact dawned on me this morning while i was reading outside.  the weight of it fell on my spirit like a ton of bricks and warmed me inside more than the hot Florida sun warmed me outside.  this is the message of the Gospel.  Jesus proclaims time and again that He came to set the captives, broken, and hurting free (Luke 4:14-19, Luke 13:12, John 8:36).  He is Truth.  Truth sets us free.  He sets us free.  we are all captive, broken and hurting to one degree or another, but in Him, there is freedom.  if you don’t know this freedom, ask me about it!

in honor of veterans day, i am thankful for the men and women who sacrificed and served and who are sacrificing and serving to maintain our country’s freedom.  but, i am more thankful for the One in whom there is true freedom.

“now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom” – 2 Corinthians 3:17