Sunday, January 28, 2007

What Are You Waiting For?

Oh, I see now... It was me; You were waiting for me to get my heart and mind set on You, on things above, not on the thing that I thought mattered more than anything. You kept asking me to fall in love with You, and it was when I did that You handed him to me.

Your plans never fail, and I never can explain why I haven't chose you from the beginning. Your story for us is beautiful. It is perfectly planned, elegantly designed, and creatively orchestrated, to become this amazing pair that will always uplift and glorify You. I always knew that when I knew, it would be for a man that loved God as much if not more than I did. Thank You for that.

Thank You that despite every other area and aspect in my life, You gave me patience to wait for him. Thank You for giving me the grace to KNOW that he is the one, and thank You that he knew it too. Thank You for allowing me to build such an amazing friendship with him that was solely based on You. Thank You that we always have put You first in every one of our conversations, decisions, and adventures together, and thank You that I firmly believe it will be that way for the rest of our lives. Thank You for helping me, most of all, to wait for You to SHOW ME.

"Every good and perfect gift comes from above..." James 1:17

Saturday, January 27, 2007

You Move Me...

Words come easily to me. They seem to be the one thing I can depend on when everything else fails. That is, until now.

I have been so moved by the Lord in the past week that I have been unable to speak. He has shown me how to truly "be still." It's an amazing thing, to be humbled in His presence, to be living in His light, and to know that He is the center of my world.

In time, the Lord will help me to speak this blessing more eloquently like I'm known for, but at this point in time, I am silenced by His grace, strength, and plan.

Jeremiah 29:11-12 - "For I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen."

Monday, January 22, 2007

Instead of Birthday Bliss...

I've been incredibly humbled by the events of today. It's not what I would have expected if I would have been asked years ago what my 24th would be like... Instead, it's been extremely bittersweet. There were two blogs months ago that kept running through my mind today, and though none of you probably remember them, I cannot stop thinking about the words I wrote. They are more true today than they have ever been...

On Sunday, May 28, 2006, I wrote:

And Now, There's A Hole In My Heart
I lost my uncle today.

It was unexpected, but really, when is death ever truly expected...

I know God has a plan for all of our lives, and as we sat with family and friends, I realized how fortunate we all are to have God in charge. So many things happen that we cannot explain or even begin to comprehend, but God knows what He is doing. My uncle had lived a short 47 year, but wonderful life. He had a beautiful family, amazing friends, and a sense of pride that none of us will ever understand. He was a farmer, and he worked everyday in the fields, as his father had, just as his children will do. I have never been as proud to be in a farming family as I was today. I realized how precious and important they are to one another...

My uncle Gerald and I shared a birthday... As I was telling a friend this piece of information and how my birthday would never be the same, he said this:

That, in itself, is a representation of what life is: beautiful, tragic, and timed by a clock we can't read. Your birthday is something more than it was: a reflection of life now.

On Wednesday, May 31, 2006, I wrote these words:

And The Hole Just Gets Deeper...
...I remember every year around Christmas time, Gerald would remind me that his birthday was coming up, and that I wasn't to forget to send him a card. He'd pinch me until a bruise would come up and I'd yell and knock on him until he'd let me go. Usually, I'd be laughing so hard I couldn't do anything, but he'd make certain I'd be sending him a check with his name on it for his birthday on January 22. It would be then, I'd laugh and elbow him in his side, reminding him to send me a card, as my birthday was on the same day. He'd say, "I know, I know. Don't forget my card." I'd tell him that I prefer cash. Of all of those years, I never once sent a card. Funny enough, he didn't either. But I'd receive a call that night asking for his money... Every year.

I can't imagine my life without him in it. I didn't see him all the time because I knew he was always there. I could always count on Gerald if I wasn't able to get a hold of my dad. When I needed help this past Christmas buying gifts for other family members, I called Gerald. Of course, he said they'd all enjoy a box of rocks, but then he gave me ideas as his wife gave them to him. There's just a part of me that seems to be missing without him. You know that life doesn't go on forever, but I sure wish I could have told him how much I loved him. I know he knew because we weren't the loving kind, he and I; we were the picking, poking, and joking kind. That was our kind of loving. I know the last time I saw him, he gave me his fair share of loving. I had the bruise to prove it for a week after seeing him. It's hard letting go of someone you weren't ready to. It's even harder knowing you're saying goodbye for the final time.

I can't imagine my birthday ever feeling the same because Gerald is not here to share it with me. We never once were together on our birthday, but somehow I knew we were thinking of one another and it truly meant something.

Today my birthday meant so much more to me than it ever has before. I couldn't NOT spend my birthday without him. I couldn't explain this to anyone; it was just something I needed to do. I drove to Lamont to his gravesite to share our birthday together for the first time, and although he wasn't "there," something told me that he knew I was. It was freezing outside, and somehow I was comforted as soon as I walked over to the headstone and kneeled down. Those words hurt more than any ever have before, but he knew. He understood.

I drove away, feeling like it was the best birthday I'd ever had, when the snow started to lightly fall, and the tears wouldn't stop. Every year it snows, and finally, much to my surprise, tonight was the night I saw the first few flakes of snow. I called Jan, my aunt and Gerald's wife, to tell her I had thought of her all day, because I had. It was such a strange day, to be your birthday but thinking the whole time of someone else, praying for them all day long, and hoping you both could have one more day with the someone we love. It's just a new kind of birthday feeling... one that I wasn't expecting. She and I shared a moment of memories about him, and I told her how much I loved him and her... It was very emotional, but God must have known what He was doing because I didn't cry at all. We both must have needed me to say what I did.

Birthdays are blessings, and I mean that now in the most meaningful way. This birthday has taught me to cherish each birthday and day more because I don't know what the Lord has in store. I miss my uncle more than words could ever express, and today I realized that in a deeper way. My birthday will always mean more to me because I know that I share it with him.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Go... Expecting a Blessing.

I'm learning very quickly that God is doing some amazing things in my life. He's opening doors for me that would have never been possible, but I can't explain why and I'm not exactly sure how He puts these people in my path to help me understand where I'm supposed to be... It's not about these people though. It's all about leading me down a path that will take me closer to Him, and though I've tried to make my own way, God's expecting me, asking me, pleading with me to follow Him, and in doing so, I've been blessed far more than I deserve.

Friday night, I came home with the anticipation of sitting on the couch and doing a lot of nothing. I didn't feel like doing anything; I was tired from the day, and I did not want to be interrupted. That was until God moved, and He moved in a big way. He had moved in the heart of my precious friend, Daniel. Daniel called, and I knew as soon as he called that we needed to talk. God said, "Go... and expect a blessing." I knew that God had a hand in the two of us meeting up that night. God has had a hand in both of our lives in an extremely similar way. I believe D calls it hitting a "spiritual wall," but we've both hit them at the same times in our lives, and we've always known that the other was in the same position. It's not until now that the Lord has taken a firm hold over the both of us and directed our paths to cross in a HUGE way. Dinner and a movie have never gone this way for me before... They were solely based on the will of God, expressing our thoughts on the past, for the future, and sharing scriptures. I left feeling stronger than I ever had, excited to study and pray, and anxious about how God was going to WORK... I cannot explain this now, simply because I don't know what the future holds when God is in control, but He has a plan in which D and I seem to be walking side by side and creating a major force for Him...

Sunday was exactly the same. I woke up not feeling anxious to get to church but actually nervous about teaching my 7 and 8 year olds their lesson that morning. I was struggling over how to make it "real" for them. Teaching stories from the Bible isn't ever easy for me as it was never that simplistic and fun for me as a child. I walked into our little classroom, and the Lord said, "Stop. Review what I have taught you." We had been studying, "We Worship God because He is Powerful" for six weeks. Take in mind that when I first started with these kids, they did not know who Mary and Joseph were, and Adam and Eve were foreign characters to them. I questioned God for all of two seconds but asked the children to take a tally of every question they answered aloud and the child with the most would receive a prize next week. It didn't take long for me to see how POWERFUL God truly is. These kids were fighting for questions, and their answers could not be better if I would have answered them myself. I was in awe. "Go... expecting a blessing." I was so humbled by God's movement in the room, our class of 3 children and me, their inexperienced teacher who is learning WITH them. It was so amazing.

I knew God wasn't finished. Sunday night, Alicia, my best friend, and I drove to see my sweet friend and pastor, Brian, preach in the church where he preached his first sermon three years ago. This time, I went EXPECTING A BLESSING, but what I received was so much more. We drove to Brian's hometown, two hours west, to Clarksburg, Tennessee, in a town where the new Dollar General was quite the excitement until the newspaper recently printed that there is talk of a 10-screen movie theater may possibly be in the works. We heard an amazing sermon, straight from the throne of God, and I know that it was directed toward everyone sitting in that small church building. "What will you leave behind?" I thought of his words as I drove home tonight, and I contemplated the ideas others might have of me if I were to leave this world sooner than later. Have I truly lived the life God expected of me? That's easy because I haven't. Am I living it right now? Of course not. I can't be leaving behind the true meaning of my life.

In a week from today, I will be celebrating my 24th birthday, and in those 24 years, I have made some amazing memories. The friendships I have made and lost over the years have shaped me into and out of the person I have become in some ways. My family has been more wonderful than anything I could have ever deserved, and they have pushed me to strive for nothing short of the very best in me in most ways. So, I guess, most people would look back on my life and see the memories in photographs of the friends and family that fill my rooms. But, to me, that's not what has made my life worth living, and though I haven't always said so, it's something that can't be seen in a picture.

I was 10 years old, kneeling at a church bench, when my life changed, and I received the true meaning of life. Not an hour before I ran to that bench, I had walked around in a handshake, and I realized that I didn't know if I was going to Heaven. God gently tapped on my heart, but I was scared. I ran to the bathroom, sat in the floor of the back stall, when my best friend, Amanda, and her mom, came and asked me if I needed to pray. It was like God was telling me to, "Go... expect a blessing." I didn't just walk to pray; I ran. I had to KNOW that I was going to Heaven, and I had to make it right with God that day. It couldn't wait. I cried out to Him for what seemed like forever; I heard others in the church praying for me too, but it was ultimately up to me to make it right with God. When I let go, and let God have control, it was then I received the greatest blessing and my purpose for living. The burden was gone, and I knew I was going to Heaven.

I guess what I am trying to say by all of this is that I can try to live my life the way I want to, but it will never be enough to satisfy me the way that God can. He gives me everything I need when I don't even realize that He can and will. He proves Himself to me time and time again. It's when I'm at my lowest that He picks me up and takes me back to the place where my life REALLY began, and that's the time when I found the truest blessing.