I can't sleep tonight with all these thoughts swirling in my head. They are confusing and muddled, but at least if I write them down, maybe I can sleep. So apologizing in advance if all this makes no sense at all.
My relationship with God has always been pretty cut and dried. I at least thought I had a decent handle on how He operates. I worship, pray, adore, and obey. He gives me peace, strength, and guidance. I feel guilty when I sin - at least sometimes - pray and confess and He forgives me. I try to have a consistent quiet time, then feel bad that I'm not.
The funny thing is that I usually don't question God in tough times. During my miscarriage several years ago, as I lay on the exam table staring at an ultrasound picture without a heartbeat, I turned to Shawn and said, "God is good, all the time and all the time, God is good." I often don't understand what God is doing during the tough times, but I know He is good.
But lately, God's been changing all the rules. He has redefined our relationship in crazy ways. Let's start by giving me an entirely new personality last year. "Merry Christmas - or really happy Labor Day - I'm turning you into a sanguine." Want to talk about shaking up my life? My kids were talking about this yesterday. They were remembering how things used to be and how things are now. That will be a blog for a different day. It was an unbelievable, yet really tough and painful conversation.
God has always been very real to me. I have been able to see his hand in many areas of my life, and yet at the same time he has also been very distant. In the recent past this has all changed - beginning probably with the day I ran in the rain (see archives) and began to understand God desired more than obedience, he wanted relationship. God speaking into my life in very clear and intimate ways is hard to get used to. At times I think I am very fortunate, but at times I think I am totally crazy. Maybe the voices in my head are not God. Maybe I'm nuts and don't know it. It does run in the family.
But even more recently things have just been freaking me out. Before Thanksgiving we were at a friend's house to watch football on his big TV. On the way home, I said to Shawn, "Gosh it would be nice to be able to see the TV that clearly from across the room." Now we don't need a TV. It is not anywhere near the top of our want list. However, that's what Shawn's mom bought us for Christmas. Without being asked.
Shawn's back has been bothering him for quite a while. I was thinking that we needed a mattress, but couldn't come up with any funds. Again, Shawn's mom called up out of the blue and told us she was buying a very slightly used mattress from an elderly lady who was downsizing her bed.
Last week, Katie, my 9 year old, asked what I wanted for Christmas. I gave her the inexpensive short list. On that list was a green necklace and jogging pants. That was on Friday. God gave those to me from friends cleaning out their closets on Sunday.
This afternoon, Shawn told me that he was having to rethink my Christmas gift because he had planned to purchase a week long trip for us for spring break, but was concerned that it would be too hard on his mom to try to keep all the kids for that long. I said out loud, I guess we will be more limited in what we can go and do if your mom isn't available to babysit often. Tonight, our small group and friends got together for our Christmas party. Our gift from our church was each member took a blank gift card and filled in what they would be willing to do for us. There were several overnight babysitters. (Loved lots of the other gifts, too - a day of manual labor - that will be so useful in trying to get the house on the market) Anyway, I was floored. Not that we will seriously go on the trip, but I was amazed that I expressed a desire - not a need out loud, and God met it within 4 hours.
An even smaller detail? When I'm running, as I pray or meditate or even just have crazy random thoughts, more often than not my Ipod shuffle matches up to whatever is going on. It shifts as my brain changes gears. Last night my run started with a journey song that was mine and Shawn's first "our song." I spent the run thinking about where we once were and how we have been redeemed. The last song on my way back in was another journey song that is our current "our song." How wild is that that my shuffle opened and closed my run that way?
Bottom line, this is all just a little weird. I think that it is so cool that the God of the universe who created the stars is a personal God that loves us enough to care about these little things. I shouldn't be surprised. After all, I am not surprised when my husband does little things for me. I don't know why it seems strange that God does those same types of little things. I absolutely don't get what or if God is using all of this to teach me something new. It is beyond my comprehension to understand that I even register on the radar with God. After all - who really needs a new necklace, or babysitters, or a big TV? These are not necessities, nor do they further the ministry.
What makes this even more complex and confusing is that I am not getting clear answers to big things that I'm praying about. I am seeking God about my future. I feel that long term there is more for me than teaching first grade. (I don't know if more is the right word or if different would be better.) I do not know how God plans to tie together my love of writing, worship, missions, and speaking. I cannot see into His plans at all. All I know is that right now, today, He is using me beyond belief right where I am. I am waiting and trying hard to be faithful serving in the role where I heard from him last. And I am trying to figure out why He is giving me things that I have only expressed a breath of desire about having.
The crazy thing about this is that I can believe God is good in bad times - but I'm a little suspicious about why He's being so intimately involved in my life. Why me? It's hard for me to accept any of this as unconditional and undeserved love with no strings attached. My attitude about all this is a surprise to me.
I guess I should learn that God is not predictable, explainable, or containable.