The Motions

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A girl I went to grade school and high school passed away this week.  She had moved away after high school, gotten married, had kids, but she had also gotten involved in drugs pretty heavily wherever she had moved.  By the time she moved back to town I didn’t even recognize her.  She was just the shell of the person she had been.  She was vibrant and so full of life, and these chemicals had just sucked any life away from her.  She had started to get her life back together and just recently had checked herself into rehab from my understanding.  Rehab is where she died.

I have a hard time coming to grips with this.  She had made a decision to get her life back and then it was taken from her.  I know that there’s a plan and a purpose, but it’s still a little fresh.

What I’ve been thinking about a lot since her death is how we can never be too far gone for God to take us back.  We may wreak havoc on our lives and our bodies, but God will always take us, however beat up or bruised we are.  I wonder if my friend knew that?  Did I ever tell her?  Did my life show her?

The whole point of this blog was for me to kind of verbalize my struggles and how day after day I sell my birthright for a bowl of soup.  Maybe that would help me realize how often I make compromises that affect my future.  Last Thursday I went to see a nutritionist.  My plan?  I don’t want to just lose weight.  I want to live a healthy life and live my best life in God.  He has created me to function at a certain level, and to be completely honest, I haven’t functioned at that level probably since high school.  Not only was I in great physical condition, but spiritually it was a mountaintop experience for me.  Within the last few years I’ve started having that hunger again for something more.  I KNOW there is something more, and I know it’s better than what I’m living now.  And I know that I’m ready for it now.

I also know that I’m not who I was.  There were “dark days” in my life, as I like to call them.  Somewhere between high school and a couple years ago I got lost.  I lost who I was and who I was in Christ.  I still played the good “church girl” and led music and prayed and inserted my thoughts in discussions, but I was floundering.  I never lost the head knowledge that God was God and still in control.  I lost the faith that He would take care of everything.

Today, though, I’m hungry…and not just for chocolate.  There’s more out there.  I feel it in my spirit.  I feel like I’m finally in the right mindset to just dig in.  While I struggle with my friend’s death, it will serve as a reminder for me to get moving before physically it’s too much for me to take.  There’s more, and I’m going to find it.  Maybe in a few months, I’ll challenge you to a full-court game of basketball?  Wouldn’t that be fun?

I’m getting ready to head this weekend to be a bridesmaid in a fabulous friend’s wedding.  I’ll have to admit that I’ve gone to weddings before and haven’t been excited to be there celebrating with them at all.  It’s mainly because of my own attitude.  Sometimes I just would rather be at home or doing what I want instead of being at a wedding.  Then I get there and am totally blessed by the love that they have for each other and the fact that they asked me to share in their special day whether I’m just sitting in the crowd or standing as an attendant.  In this instance, I’m just excited for the whole thing.

Cathy was diagnosed with breast cancer at 29.  She had long curly hair and rather than lose it little by little as she was going through chemo she decided to shave it all off just to get the shock over with.  Matt, her fiance, decided to do the same to support her.  After she had shaved her hair off is when Matt chose to propose.  Still telling that story makes me tear up.  What a guy.  When you feel like you’re at rock bottom and then someone steps up and says, hey.  I love you with or without hair.  Or I love you no matter what and in spite of everything you’ve done.  I’m yours and you’re mine.  That’s pretty cool.

Just one more earthly reminder of the love our Savior has for us.  I just want to remind you that no matter what you do, there is a Savior who will never leave or forsake you.  He’ll never quit loving you no matter what.  This is one of the songs that will be played at the wedding, and I think it’s totally fitting for the day.  Enjoy!

Quick note

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Just a quick note to let you know that I love hearing your feedback.  I would love to know if you agree with me or think that I’ve gone crazy!  So please feel free to leave a comment whenever you are so inclined!

We just got done studying a book in Sunday School called Forgotten God by Francis Chan.  One of the best books I’ve read in a really long time…and I haven’t even finished it.  We’re done with the class, but I fell a little behind ;-D  I’ve liked it so much that I went out and bought his other book, Crazy Love, that I can’t wait to dig into.  Anyway, the class on the last chapter of the book really made me think about the American church.  In his introduction this paragraph summed it pretty well all up for me.  It states as follows:  “Perhaps we’re too familiar and comfortable with the current state of the church to feel the weight of the problem.  But what if you grew up on a desert island with nothing but the Bible to read?  Imagine being rescued after twenty years and ten attending a typical evangelical church.  Chances are you’d be shocked (for a whole lot of reasons, but that is another story).  Having read the Scriptures outside the context of contemporary church culture, you would be convinced that the Holy Spirit is as essential to a believer’s existence as air is to staying alive.  You would know that the Spirit led the first Christians to do unexplainable things, to live lives that didn’t make sense to the culture around them, and ultimately to spread the story of God’s grace around the world.

There is a big gap between what we read in Scripture about the Holy Spirit and how most believers and churches operate today.  In many modern churches, you would be stunned by the apparent absence of the Spirit in any manifest way.  And this, I believe, is the crux of the problem.” – Francis Chan, Forgotten God

The video on the last chapter of the book just gave a cartoon illustration and then Mr. Chan came on and talked like he had in the rest of the videos.  I really liked the metaphor, though, that he used during the cartoon.  It was about a big red tractor and how half of the townspeople pushed and half the townspeople pulled and worked together to get one field plowed to plant and feed the village.  They didn’t know that the tractor could just be fixed and be able to run and plow by itself with someone driving it, and didn’t believe one guy when he found the manual and told them about it.  He worked on the tractor at night and finally got it working and had so much fun he plowed the whole field.  That year the townspeople were able to plow lots of fields and have an abundance of food for the surrounding villages and anywhere they could ship it to.

After the cartoon was over Mr. Chan came on and said that the the tractor represented the church.  Then he started talking about an elders’ meeting that he had had at his church.  They were talking about all of the problems in the church and trying their best to come up with solutions for these problems.  Some of them were pulling and some were pushing.  One of the elders started talking about his neighborhood and how he had been trying for a long time to make these people make a move spiritually, and they weren’t moving.  Finally, he just decided that he wouldn’t be able to do anything for them himself,  so he just started praying for them.  He said he sat back and watch these peoples’ lives be blessed and take turns for the better…all without him saying a word to them.

So now we get to my title.  Are we trying to hard?  Are we so bent on trying to make the church what we want?  Are we so focused on ourselves that we forget to figure out what God wants for His church?  Are we so busy hiding our sins trying to put on a show to make people think that everything is just peachy in our lives, that we forget that we’re just sinners saved by grace?  Do we forget that this grace is extended to everyone?  Do we try so hard to hide our sins that it becomes easy in every aspect of our lives to just hide and do what we think everyone else thinks we should do?

Because it’s so easy to hide our sins, I think it makes it that much easier to hide our worship without even realizing it. How many times have you been singing a song to Jesus and just felt like dancing…and not done it?  Have you ever wanted to just yell out praises to the King in the middle of church…and not done it?  Are we really being real?  Are we letting the Spirit guide our lives, or are we trying to guide the Spirit?

I’m not going to answer these questions for you because they’re between you and God.  For me, though, I have to answer them.  I’m totally type A personality.  I like to be in control of a situation, and the thought of letting the Holy Spirit have complete reign in my life is a little terrifying to be perfectly honest.  I also get caught in the trap of putting God in my own little box.  What if while I’m leading worship on Sunday morning I feel the need to start dancing up on the stage or just shouting praises that don’t really go with the songs?  Will people look at me funny, or do I trust the Spirit enough to also come over those people and touch them, too?  I don’t know.  I hope I would have the courage to step out in faith and just let the Spirit take over.  There have been times in my past that I haven’t.  There have been times that I have.  The times that I have have been blessed and wonderful and only made me want more.

Really what I’m trying to say is that I’m just a traveler on the same journey as you, just struggling through the bad days and rejoicing in the good ones.  I’m trying to be more disciplined because as Proverbs 25:28 says, “Like a city whose walls are broken down is a man who lacks self-control.”  I don’t want to be caught in an attack unprepared.  I want to be real with people and see beyond the masks that we all wear at times.

The whole bigness of God always astounds me, and sometimes it’s easy to act like we’ve got it all together and got it all figured out rather than being completely honest and saying that there are times that we just don’t have a clue how to handle some things.  So here I am reminding myself that I’m human.  I screw up.  I misstep.  And unfortunately sometimes I take those I love down with me.  But through it all, God is good.  God is real.  And God is love.  I guess if I strive for those things, I’ll be heading in the right direction at least.

And, no, I haven’t started dating anyone and not told you.  That would definitely be blogging material if that ever happened for sure!  Actually, a friend of mine came over tonight to borrow my guitar for a little bit, and while he was here we just had a little bit of praise time.  He sang and played, and I sang and beat on my new electronic drum pads.  (Yes, I’m trying to learn how to play)  It was a good time of fellowship and just singing to the King.

I knew he was coming over to get the guitar, and I knew he’d stay a while, but I had no idea that we would just start goofing off and worshiping through song.  One of the songs we sang is below.  I just absolutely love it and can listen to it over and over and over again, one because it’s got a great beat and it catchy, but, two, the message just never gets old.  I don’t care who you are and what you’re doing and what you’ve done.  You can never hear the message that Jesus loves you enough.  It’s new, like His mercies, every morning.  I hope you enjoy the video! And, please, don’t ever forget that you are loved by the King!

So Sunday morning our pastor was trying to talk about Jacob and Esau and kept putting the wrong name in the wrong place.  He, of course, realized it and tried to fix it, but just kept making it worse.  It was pretty funny.  First day back from vacation…it’s understandable.  Throughout all of the confusion, he said something that stuck with me.  He said something about how Esau hated Jacob.  I knew this.  I’ve known the story my whole life.  But then it hit me…Esau sold out to Jacob and hated him after he sold out.

Genesis 27:41 Esau held a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. He said to himself, “The days of mourning for my father are near; then I will kill my brother Jacob.”  42 When Rebekah was told what her older son Esau had said, she sent for her younger son Jacob and said to him, “Your brother Esau is consoling himself with the thought of killing you. 43 Now then, my son, do what I say: Flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran. 44 Stay with him for a while until your brother’s fury subsides. 45 When your brother is no longer angry with you and forgets what you did to him, I’ll send word for you to come back from there. Why should I lose both of you in one day?”

I know I would be pretty angry with my brothers if they had tried to trick me out of something that was rightfully mine, and not only that, but something that could change my life forever for the better.  But the thing that gets me is that in at least part of this story, Esau willingly sold his birthright…then he regretted it and hated Jacob.  He hated his brother, the very person he had sold out to?

There’s another passage in 2 Samuel that basically makes me sick, but it’s kinda saying the same thing.  2 Samuel 13:7-15 reads as follows:

7 David sent word to Tamar at the palace: “Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.” 8 So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. 9 Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.  “Send everyone out of here,” Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, “Bring the food here into my bedroom so I may eat from your hand.” And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, “Come to bed with me, my sister.”  12 “Don’t, my brother!” she said to him. “Don’t force me. Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.” 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.  15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, “Get up and get out!”

Amnon had intense hatred for the thing he had just craved so much that it had made him sick.  How often do we do this?  We buy something or eat something or do something that we really, really want to do, so much so that we compromise our budget or diet or ourselves.  We sell out.  I know I’ve been repeating this theme over and over again, but really, isn’t that what this blog is all about?

How do we get past this?  First, get in the Word.  Become aware of what is a compromise and what isn’t.  Become aware that God has a plan for your life and start searching out how to live in the Spirit daily so that we can achieve that plan for our lives.  Get in the Word.  Spend time in prayer seeking the Spirit to come alive in our lives so that we can live fully.  And finally, get in the Word.  Notice a theme here?  How are we going to know who Jesus is if we don’t read about His life?  How are we going to know the will of God in our lives if we don’t know the character of God?

Finally, today it’s been on my heart so much today that Jesus came for everyone…not just me…and not just the people that I think He should save.  I’ve fallen in love with a song by a gentleman whose music I don’t really love.  My challenge to us today is to get in the Word and get to know the character of God and the never ending love of Jesus.  It will change your life and every life around you.

So I turned 30 Saturday.  I’ve had birthdays where I’ve had a hard time dealing with turning a year older, and I fully expected that to be the case with this one.  However, I was pleasantly surprised when I spent a very good day going to rummage sales, cleaning my house and then going to dinner and a movie with some friends. Sidenote…I highly recommend Killers.  Great movie.  Don’t let the title scare you away!

Like I talked a little bit about in my last post, are we ever really ready and/or willing to let go and move on?  There are some times in my life that I’m totally ready to movie on, but I’m not ready to let go.  Know what I mean?  Mentally I’m ready for the next chapter in my life, but have I really given up the past yet?  Am I willing to?  I think, also, there’s a common misconception that letting go of something is forgetting it.  I disagree with that.  Letting go of something is relinquishing control and taking the next step forward.  Forgetting something is just that.

Then there are also things that I’m more than willing to let go of and move on.  When it was time for me to change jobs, I was ready.  I know for the first part of my career as a court reporter I loved the job.  For the last couple years I was so ready for something different, but until I got the call for my current job, I was still hanging on to the job because it was safe and secure.  There have been times in my life that I’ve worked 3 or 4 jobs at one time.  I like to keep making money just in case I would need something extra at some point.

I think a lot of the battle of letting go and moving on is having faith that this is the right step, the right direction for us.  Sometimes we know exactly what we’re heading towards, and sometimes it’s a complete blind leap of faith, yet I’d bet that in both instances there is fear and anxiety.  I can honestly say that in my life there have been very few instances that I’ve taken the next step or made a big decision and felt completely at peace about it.  Is it because of my lack of faith or because it’s just a change and perfectly normal to be a little anxious?  Honestly, I don’t know.  My best guess is that it’s probably a combination of both, but really who’s to say?

What I do know for certain is that last Saturday I turned 30.  What I thought would kinda be a depressing day turned out to be very enjoyable.  I realized that I’m comfortable in my own skin.  I’m happy where I’m at and where I’m going.  I love some of the places I’ve been, and I hate some of the places I’ve been.  But those are in my past.  I was able to let go, and with arms high and heart abandoned I’m welcoming in the next phase and/or chapter.  So in the words of Superchick…It’s on!

So I’m actually sitting here typing this blog waiting on paint to dry so I can see if I need to give it another coat tomorrow or start moving furniture.  Now I know how those of you who have been anxiously awaiting a new blog have been feeling.  But seriously, I apologize for the long absence.  I started moving and painting walls and started working on another little job for a couple hours after work.  I’ve been busy, but that’s no excuse.  I committed to this blog, and it seems as though I’ve sort of abandoned it.

Last week was a rough week in this Esau Project author’s life.  Monday afternoon I got a call that my mom was headed down to Kentucky.  My cousin who has been fighting leukemia for the past 7 years was in the hospital and his organs were shutting down.  I spend the rest of the afternoon cleaning my house and waiting on the call.  It came about 7:30 that evening.  He was ready to go, but you’re never ready to let go, are you?  I think maybe that’s why we don’t get a choice in this part of our lives, when it comes to death and life and change.  Would we ever let go of the past so we can move on?

That Tuesday my grandfather went into the hospital to have back surgery.  Wednesday, when my grandmother went to visit him, she was admitted into the hospital because she had a bad case of pneumonia.  They were both in the same hospital about an hour away, while my aunt, uncle and cousin were two hours away grieving.  I wanted to be both places at the same time, but I couldn’t seem to be anywhere.  I tried to work, but my mind wasn’t cooperating with me.  I tried to go visit one, but my heart and mind were somewhere else.  I wanted to be everywhere, but ended up never really being present anywhere.

The week eventually started getting a little bit better.  My cousin, who was 25, was never really one to go with the flow.  He charted his own path in life and in death.  Thursday was his Celebration of Life service.  He didn’t want to have a funeral.  He was dancing on the streets of gold in heaven.  Let’s celebrate!  I knew it would be an emotional service, but it wasn’t the kind of emotion I was expecting.  Chris had given his life to Jesus years ago, but I lived two hours away, and really didn’t know how he lived his life.  Was he living it in a way that brought glory to God?  Person after person got up and testified about the way Chris had been a light shining for Jesus in their lives.  It was good for my soul.  They also had some incredible music.  To be perfectly honest, it was one of the most powerful worship experiences I’d had in a long time.  The next day my grandparents were both able to come home from the hospital, both sad that they weren’t able to go to the service for Chris, but both thankful to be home and healthy again.

What struck me about Chris’ life was that even up until his last day, he never gave up.  He was still planning his opening of his training facility in Cocoa Beach, Florida the week before.  But when it was time to go, he was ready.  Right before he passed away he told his nurse, Hey, I’m going home.  She looked at him and said, Oh, honey.  You can’t go home.  He smiled and said, No.  You don’t understand.  I’m going Home.  He was ready to let go of his earthly past for his heavenly eternity.  He let go.

How many times are we fighting changes in our lives.  It may not be letting go of a loved one, but maybe it’s just completely letting God have control of our lives?  If we’re not letting God have complete reign in our lives, are we really living?  And if you think we are, are we really living life to the fullest?

I walked away from the celebration of Chris’ life with a renewed fire for this blog.  I can talk all I want and write on here all I want, but when it comes right down to it, I’m still compromising.  I’m still trading my future for a stinking bowl of soup.  Sometimes I try to tell myself that I’m really making the best decisions, too.  Do you ever lie to yourself?  Do you know what’s right and still do the wrong thing?  I don’t have my Bible in front of me right now, but the verse that talks about doing what we don’t want to do and knowing what we should do and not doing it and living in our flesh instead of living by the Spirit.

My only prayer tonight is that we come with ears to hear the whisper of the Spirit in our lives, the hearts to live and love like Jesus and to do the will of God in our lives, to let God have the complete rule and reign in my life.  That’s my prayer for me and for you.

So…I started this blog several weeks ago, and I am just now at least working on it again.  First, let me tell the story.

So I had gone to work that Sunday, just like any other Sunday.  I am scheduled to get off work at 7:30, and that evening I was clocking out around 8:20, which is not unusual on Sunday evenings.  I began the trek home.  As is usually the case, I zip over the the left lane – here in Texas, that is the PASSING lane (for all of you left-lane drivers) – and speed on home.  However, on that Sunday night, I figured I was already late getting out of work, so I may as well take it easy after a long day.  Glad I did.

As I drove along, I noticed several cars ahead of me braking, and I joined in the braking game.  As I drove up a small hill and around a “blind” bend, a car was driving the wrong way in that far left lane – against the traffic.  I am not quite sure how that driver got to even be in that lane, and I am amazed that I did not witness any head-on collisions as I passed.

It’s amazing how many thoughts can go through your mind in the blink of an eye.  However, it wasn’t so much the thoughts that I have lingered on…it’s the question of whether or not I am going the wrong way.

Esau, previous to his decision to have his cake and eat it, too, was going the right way for all intents and purposes.  He made a choice – he went the wrong way, if you will – that changed his future.  He wanted instant gratification.   Aren’t we all guilty of that?  I know I am…and not just from time to time.

My thoughts about that car going the wrong way went from hoping that no one got hurt to how did he/she end up on this side of the road to other wrong-way events on the same interstate (it’s not an unusual story, unfortunately).

Are the choices I am making on a day-to-day basis hurting anyone else, or are they helping?  How did I end up on the path that I am now on?  How long will I be safe driving in this lane?

I’m at a point in my life that I’m not really sure of the answers to the those questions.  I still love Jesus…and I know He still loves me.  I have a great husband, a beautiful daughter (and another one to be here SOON), and great friends.  However, some days I wonder what happened to who I was.  I’m not trying to re-create that person, but I am searching for who I am now.  As I am on this quest, I’d appreciate your prayers…I don’t want to alter the course of my future just to be satisfied today.

I moved in to my “new” house tonight.  I’ve been working pretty hard every available night I had for about two to three weeks to get my bedroom, bathroom & laundry room painted so when I moved in, I wouldn’t have to move all that big furniture around just so I could paint, and that I’d have a “safe” place to go when I decided to paint the rest of the house.

I bought my old trailer that I had lived in for five years of my life.  It’s a good feeling to be a homeowner and be back out of my parents’ basement again.  Good feeling, indeed.  I had this great idea of something to post a little bit earlier, but right now sitting here typing I can’t think of what it was.  Maybe it’s because it’s late and I’m tired, or maybe it’s because of the Bacardi Sangria I just drank (doubtful), but I can’t really remember, so I guess you’ll just get to hear me ramble a little bit.

So my house had been empty for about 2 1/2 years…just long enough for a family of mice to have taken up residence.  They’re such dirty and gross little things.  I have a hard time trying to believe that God has a purpose for them.  All they do is make things yucky, at least in my opinion.

Do you ever wonder about other peoples’ purpose in your lives?  I know a lot of people.  All of them have affected my life in some way or another, some good and some bad, but had their effect either way. (not sure if it should be affect or effect.)  Anyway, there are some people that quite honestly drive me crazy, like the mice in the above paragraph.  What is their purpose in my life?  All they do is drive me crazy, but for some reason God has brought us together.  Is it for them to drive me crazy or for me to just be a friend?

Here’s the real question, now that I think about it a little more…What is my purpose in their life?  It’s a fault of our culture that my first question would naturally be what can they do for me instead of what can I do for them?  We’re (I am) so focused on myself that I had to sit back and think about it for a while before I came to the conclusion that maybe it’s just not all about me although most of the time I think it is or should be.

I’m still not really concerned about the mice.  I’m going to let my affect on their lives be feeding them peanut butter as the trap shuts down on them.  But I am reminded of Gandhi when he said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  I guess the only way to break this culture of selfishness is to change my thoughts to others instead of focusing on me.

I’m guessing this is going to be a difficult process, especially since I described some of the people in my life above as those that drive me crazy.  But, God, grant me the ability to love the unlovable.  Teach me to help the helpless.  And help me to learn to love unconditionally and realize that everyone and everything has a purpose in Your plan.