Tag Archives: prayer

[Weekend Thoughts]

How do you know when you’ve read a book that’s changed your life?

You want to give a copy to all of your friends.

Unfortunately, that isn’t financially feasible for me at the moment, but here’s a shameless plug for a book that’s probably out of print (and therefore deliciously difficult to find among wobbly stacks at little used bookstores):

“Decision Making by the Book” by Haddon Robinson.

Ignore, if you can, the horrendous title and the equally ugly book jacket, because let me tell you, IT’S WORTH IT. The whole time I was reading, I thought of moments in my life when I wish I’d already had this sucker in my back pocket.

What if “What’s God’s will in this situation?” isn’t even the right question to ask?

What if “How can I glorify God?’ is a much better one?

I wish I could force my friends to read it, but my powers are only so strong.

~     ~     ~

Went to a museum Saturday with my city-friend. We got lost on the way (Surprise! I stink at directions!), but we didn’t panic, which is a vast improvement and I think shows that we’re maturing. They asked if I were a student, and for a second I thought, Yes, and then I realized, No, and had to pay the entrance fee. No photography was allowed, but we furtively snapped some photos of the cool bathroom. So retro.

photo

photo copy

~     ~     ~

This afternoon, I went to a coffee shop to get work done, found a too-tiny table without a plug nearby, and plunked down, hoping to get at least some of it finished. Sent some emails about the musical (Alice in Wonderland, Jr., by the way!), and was able to just start writing my midterm exam for Latin I when WHAM! my computer died. So sad. But I thought I’d truck on, using good old pen and paper, when a girl’s tiny voice rose above the din and said, “Just so you all know, we will be closing at 3:00.” She paused. “That’s in two minutes.”

Oh well.

Headed home, made some Genmaicha tea, sat down to finish writing the midterm…and started writing this blogpost instead.

So now, according to the bizarre countdown on pbs.org, I have roughly 3 hours and 31 minutes until “Downton Abbey” starts. Can I finish the test?!?! We shall see.

Christmas Joy at 6:28am

I woke up far too early for a Sunday morning. I was mad.

My alarm was set for 8:00 – the perfect amount of time to shower and get ready for a 9:30 church service. But the clock said 6:28, and there was no hope of falling back to sleep.

So I spent the first moments of Sunday, December 9th, realizing that I am entirely and completely not ready for Christmas.

Yes, our tree is up. Yes, I went to the Christmas concert at my Alma Mater this weekend, and yes, it was “aesthetically pleasing in every way.”

Yes, I went to the first Christmas party of the season last night. Yes, I have already eaten too many cookies.

But did I decorate the tree? No, I was at work.

Did I sing in the concert? Yes, but it annoyed everyone around me. (Just kidding. I contained myself.)

Did I bake the cookies? No, I just consumed them.

Today will be the day I regain some holiday spirit.

IMG_0982

First step: coffee. I am not addicted. It’s half-caff.

Church. I am not really in the mood. But I will say, every time I have dragged myself there, every time I have prayed that God would open my eyes, it has been worth it. (It doesn’t seem worth it now, in my cozy pajamas with the candles burning and the tree lit…)

String popcorn and cranberries. Unnecessary, you say? I think not.

FIGURE OUT WHAT I’M GIVING TO PEOPLE. Oh. my. gosh. I have no idea what I’m gonna do. My little brother is leagues better than I am at gifts – he’s been done for weeks. So annoying. The only gift I have is a sweater I made my other brother (that thing counts as so many gifts, I’m set for years.)

Lesson planning. NOOOOOO!!! But I’m thinking of working mostly on Christmas songs in Latin. The grammar school kids have been begging me, and I have a sneaky idea of making my high schoolers carol around the school. (What’s the point of power if you don’t use it?!)

Music. I’ve had enough of this everyday music junk I’ve been listening to. Bring on Messiah.

Prayer. Scripture. How can I be surprised things feel so harried and “un-Christmas-y” if I haven’t taken the time to soak up the moments?

And, last but not least, family. Working six days a week is okay when you like your job, but that doesn’t mean other things don’t suffer. I can’t wait to sit on the couch with my family and watch a Christmas movie. Maybe a little Bananagrams, if they think they’re up for the challenge.

Is it hard for everyone to take a breather and enjoy this time of year? People have told me for years that it “goes so fast,” they can’t believe it’s Christmas, etc. etc. I just hope I can grab a little bit of the calm and joy.

IMG_0983

Reading the Future

My whole life, I have tried to make sense of things too early. Even before I have time to step away, close my eyes, experience what just happened, I am trying to understand. When I was little, I strived for answers, for connection. I remember when I was around seven or eight. We were learning about Gideon in Sunday School, how he trusted the Lord, but even in that trusting, he laid out things to prove his questioning.

Gideon’s fleece.

And I thought, Maybe I’ll do something like that.

When I was younger, my communication with God was like breathing; I don’t know where my thoughts ended and my prayers began. I said (or prayed or thought): Lord, if You’re there, take this note.

I took a yellow post-it note and wrote carefully in my best second-grade cursive: “I love you, Jesus.” I stuck this note of trust to the wall right by my bed, and all night I felt half awake, wondering if God had come. If God my Friend had reached down and scooped up my love-post-it.

The next morning, I turned over, afraid to open my eyes. When I did, my wall was bare, and I remember jumping out of my bed, ecstatic. I remember running down the stairs to tell my mother what had happened.

God is real!

God loves me!

And now He knows I love Him too!

I don’t remember my mother’s response, or anything else about that day, really.

~     ~      ~

A few months later, when I was cleaning my room, I pulled my bed away from the wall to vacuum.

There, crumpled in the dusty corner, was my post-it.

I picked it up, stared at it. I felt betrayed. My first reaction was: Wow.

~     ~     ~

I didn’t stop believing in God, but I did start questioning myself.

Am I too quick to read into things? Do I try too hard to see things where they aren’t?

It wasn’t until more recently, when I started thinking about that childhood moment, that I thought: Maybe God was showing me something after all.

He didn’t take my post-it, whisk it up to heaven and stick it to some sort of heavenly bulletin board of love-notes. But He didn’t just leave it on my wall, either. He let it drift off the cranberry-colored wall and under my bed. He gave me a moment of ecstasy. He showed me He was listening.

God wasn’t proving Himself, because He doesn’t have to.

He was loving me.

That’s the sense I’m making of most things these days. I may never know why some things happen. I might always be confused by the connections I feel, by the people I’m drawn to, by the many relationships that held so much potential, but that for some reason didn’t play out the way I imagined them. I am learning to let go of people I loved, friendships I cherished. I am letting go and learning not to regret the closeness we once shared.

Sometimes, I have to admit I may never know what drew me to that man on the train. That woman standing in line behind me at the post office. That little boy with the big, sad eyes.

But I’m starting to think it’s not all a loss. Maybe it’s just God loving us.

Kinship with Strangers

I am already past the halfway-point of my TEFL course, and I can’t believe it.

Mostly because that means the time of decisions is feeling terribly close.

I was hashing it out with someone (my mother? myself? i can’t remember), and I realized that I don’t like this making of decisions. It’s not that I’m indecisive – that is far from any trait I possess – it’s that I hate the idea of being boxed in a year down the road by a choice I make now.

What if something better comes along?
Or if not better, at least different?

What if I choose something and its permanence becomes a chain on my ankle?

I read this article today on Image.org, and despite the differences in our circumstances, the woman sounds scarily like myself at times. She’s scared of making decisions, too, and actually has put-off longterm decisions for 22 years.

It seems even people nearly twice my age have the same thoughts.

Different Adventures

It’s been a slow letting-go of my ideas for the next phase. Slow, but amazingly blessed. I was shocked to hear myself say to God, “Okay, fine. If You really don’t want me to do this, to go there, to change in this way, bless me in other ways. Give me more, here, so I know.”

The audacity.

I did feel audacious and I did feel far outside the bounds of prayer and worship. But now I’m wondering if there really is such a thing.

I may not be going far away, but now I have a box filled with chicks in my bedroom (yes, my bedroom!). I fall asleep to their cheeping, and I hold their small, soft bodies in my hands and marvel that in a few weeks they will be completely different. Smell, look, sound, almost nothing will be recognizable as these tiny chicks I now hold.

I may not be working with inner-city high school students, but last night I presented a new music program for local children. Name after name on the sheet until it was full. My throat hoarse from explaining my vision, my goal, my ideas. So many different ages, I’ll have to split it into at least two classes, and I say to the Lord, Thank you.

I may not be moving half-way across the country, getting my own place (who decided that was the mark of adulthood, anyway?), but I am getting certified to teach English as a foreign language in a month. Four glorious weeks where I get to be the instructed instead of the instructor. Train rides and strolling my old haunts, Berkeley and Boylston, Newbury and Arlington. Maybe even a beautiful evening picnic at the Gardens, during which time I will people watch to my heart’s content.

It’s rare for me to be able to move on from things quickly. I hold on to people and things and ideas far too tightly. Maybe it’s out of fear. I’d like to think it’s out of love. Passion. Excitement. And I am not going to say that none of these things matter, because they do. Yes, we are to get fulfillment in Christ. But He enjoyed friendship, good wine, and a vocation that filled Him. We should enjoy these things too.

It’s realizing that they are only good in the Lord. We enjoy them because of Him. Can you imagine creating such beauty and it not being enjoyed? Maybe that is part of our purpose after all.