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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Walk on Water

A migraine snuck up and slammed me in the head this morning. I woke up at 4:43 with a tightness in my scalp that signals a bad one is coming. I was too sleepy to get up out of bed and go take anything right that second, and I lived to regret it. By 8:00 I was miserable, by 9:00 it was unbearable, and by 10:00 I was confused and disoriented. Yes, I know it is past time to go back to the doctor. I just hate that place, but I now need something better than the over the counter medicine he recommended a few years ago.

I bumped into my masseuse at a house warming party for a friend. She worked on my pressure points for about 15 minutes, bringing a small measure of relief. I was able to remember how to find my way home and think coherently for the most part, in spite of the excruciating pain.

When I got home, I was desperate for relief. I decided to try running. Endorphins, right? Well, running with a migraine is more painful than childbirth - I've done that 4 times, I should know. The jostling makes the pain worse, to the point where all I could do was count my breaths in and out and try not to vomit from the pain. In my haste to run, I set my ipod to shuffle random songs, hoping that the music would be soothing. Sometimes that helps. Instead it was a hard pumping Audio Adrenaline song.

I have not listened to Audio Adrenaline in many, many years, and their songs are not in any of my favorite playlists on the ipod. However, a random shuffle pulls up anything in the entire library of music, and "Walk on Water" came on. At .5 miles, I realized I had been listening to the same song the entire time. See what I mean, my processing is greatly impaired when I have a migraine - It takes me about 7 minutes to go .5 miles.

I'm not sure how it got stuck on the loop track, but to change the setting after I've turned on my GPS function on my phone will erase my running data that I am charting online. So I just kept listening. Somewhere around the first mile, God reminded me of our call into church planting, "Get out of the boat, get ready for the call, I'm going to show you how to walk on water." I thought about how many times this last 18 months God had done exactly that. He has used us in ways we never, ever dreamed that he would. But the strange thing was the thought that chased after those remembrances. It was God, I think. "I'm ready to start teaching you how to walk on the water."

What the heck? What have we been doing? What are You fixing to do, God? I'm afraid. I'm already in way over my head. I already feel like I'm drowning so many days as we try to figure out this living missionally thing.

God's response, "I said, I'm ready to start teaching you how to walk on the water."

Okay. To quote my favorite pastor, I guess wet underwear is better than splinters in my butt from the safe boat. My answer in advance is yes. Let's go. But You have to help me to be obedient even when I'm afraid of the unknown.

After running nearly 2 miles, I returned to the house for an hour of brutal weight lifting. By the end of some long stretches afterwards, my headache is significantly better. It's not completely gone, but I should be able to function. Now my mind is just racing around that voice I heard, wondering what it all means. Or maybe it was just a crazy thought in my head, brought on by the meds and the pain.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

God is freaking me out

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.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Monday Morning Update 12.13.09

Another week has absolutely flown by. I haven't had any spare minutes this week for blogging, or anything else for that matter. I even missed running twice this week because of my crazy schedule. And it has to be crazy to make me skip running. I am frantically trying to finish painting a whole mess of plywood cutout scenes for Y(our) Hometown Christmas coming up next weekend. Unfortunately I have been working far too late at night. I was painting away and made a beard on baby Jesus. OOPS! That's an error that will have to be fixed tomorrow.

My 35th birthday came and went in a blur. Shawn got me a sweet electric guitar - now just to learn to play. Then the next night he cooked a beautiful steak dinner. I even managed to stay awake for the whole meal. Tonight he finished off the weekend with my favorite birthday cake - a ding dong cake.

Our band played in the Christmas Parade on Saturday. Here's the funny part - it was drizzling rain. I panicked about my really nice expensive Yamaha Motiff getting damp, so I covered it with a tarp. Then I slipped my hands under the tarp and played away. These are the benefits of being able to play without looking, I guess! The funniest moment was when the tarp was blowing away. I needed some way to anchor it, so I shoved one corner into my pants, then I reached over and tucked the other corner into my guitar guy's coat pocket. Quickly the vocalists came to my rescue with some duct tape. Love that stuff!

Services this morning were fantastic. We had a packed house. We finally broke the 100 mark. I am so excited to see so many new families seeking to find a way to serve at The Crossroads. I am loving church planting. I love that we are open and honest and find healing from our hurts together. I love that we pray for and with each other. I love that we find unmeasurable joy together.

Shawn preached another sermon in the Naughty or Nice series. My favorite point from this sermon is that the shepherds that received the news of Jesus' birth on that first night were keepers of the temple lambs. They understood the need for a sacrifice for our sins. That night they saw the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of all mankind. How incredible that must have been to see the Son of God!

Worship went well. It is good to see people engaging in worshipping God freely with emotion and expectation and gratitude and hunger and passion....Love it!

Today we had several families at our Peak 1 class. These families will be launching into journey groups in Anna after the first of the year. I can't wait to see how they will be able to engage other families as well.

Life is back to crazy again tomorrow. This last week before Christmas break will be busy, busy, busy. Love my life - even when it's insane!

Just a note: Ever notice how God gives you things that you never even actually asked for? Last week Katie asked me about what I wanted for Christmas. I mentioned some green jewelry and some more jogging pants. This morning at church a couple of friends were cleaning out closets and thought of me. What did they bring me? No lie - green jewelry and jogging pants. That was way too specific to be a coincidence, and yet it is bizarre that God would care about anything so very insignificant as jewelry or clothes. I don't know that I will ever be able to figure out God and how He works.