Thursday, January 24, 2008

Around In Circles

I feel stuck sometimes...emotionally, spiritually, physically...MENTALLY! Marching in place...left, left, left, right, left. I am coming to realize, however, that sometimes God intends for me to be in somewhat of a holding pattern. I tend to take things and run with them on my own, leaving behind the very Holy Spirit who put "those things" on my heart to begin with.

I have felt this strong calling on my life, and I have been nothing but excited about it. (Well, I've also been a little scared, apprehensive...oh and impatient). I don't know what exactly God is calling me to do and it has honestly been a little frustrating for me. I see so many possibilities, but no clarity. Aha! I think that is the lesson God is having me learn now. He wants me to focus on HIM and not the "down the road", so to speak. He is showing me all these possibilities because He IS a God of many endless possibilities!

I was reading this week in Genesis about Abraham and Sarah, a story I thought I knew pretty well. God definitely opened my eyes to some new things. Hey! When He makes a out! My faith is a lot like Sarah's was when God promised a child. "Yeah...OK...Right!" Sarah actually laughed. LAUGHED! That's how ridiculous the promise sounded to her.

That's me sometimes. "You are actually choosing to use ME?" "Do You really think that's such a good idea, God?"

My job is to trust what God is doing even when I don't understand it...ESPECIALLY when I don't understand! I just need to keep doing what He told me to do the last time I heard Him. I imagine He'll fill me in as needed.

There's a quote I love: "All who wander are not lost." I don't know who said it, but I remember it from a movie, which is amazing since I don't see a lot of movies. So, it's OK if I sometimes feel as if I'm wandering. I don't want any 40 years in the wilderness kind of wandering, but I'll take it if it helps me to focus on the ONE who called and not just on the calling.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

"They Say It's Your Birthday!"

Happy Birthday, Deano! This is a picture from Halloween. Dean and Mary Ann know how much Beth and I loved Halloween, so what did they do this past year? Yep...they came over, helped me decorate the joint (complete w/ fog machines, scary music, spider webs, and "Marcus The Carcass" (sp.?)

Those are tattoo sleeves on Dean's arms! Costumes were secretive up until the bewitching hour. We had so much fun.

That's Dean. Always ready to jump in...always thinking of others. Today is Dean's birthday...I think he's 35. Dean Sibley is one of the greatest friends I have ever had, and I celebrate him today. He has the BEST sense of humor, comedic timing, and a flair for the flamboyant! He also has a wonderful heart for God and he serves, serves, serves!

Thank you, God, for Dean Sibley! Hey, ask Dean to show you his pictures from his senior banquet. Look at the pictures, and then I'll fill you in on the real story! You go, Wanda!

Love ya, Buddy!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Coming Through

OK. The pasta from last night is off of the wall. Marley took care of the majority of it, and there should be no lasting mark. I thank God for the friends who reached out to me last night after reading my post and who called to check on me today. Mary Ann and Dean...thank you for your prayers, your phone calls, and your undying, ever-increasing love for me. I cannot imagine my life without the two of you. Mary Ann - thanks for the blog post last night.

I'm listening to Rachel Lampa as I write. Her song, "I Am Blessed" ...Holy Smokes!!! "Lord, for all the worst and all the best, I am blessed." YO!

Raymond...thanks for calling me, praying for me, and being my brother. Rachel(Ritsema - not Lampa!)...thanks for the text message and for being able to find the beauty in nature...God's nature last night. I value your friendship. Jackson...u da man! Thanks for your prayers, and I am so proud of you.

Thanks to all who prayed me through all of that mess. I also heard from a few who thought I needed to "rely" and "trust" on Jesus more. Believe me, I rely and trust on My Father more than you can fathom. Sometimes, you just cannot "pray your way out of" something. God takes you through it for a reason. It's that whole "letting the storm rage and quieting the child" thing all over again. It's in the valley that I grow. I am well aware of this, but we do a huge disservice as followers of Christ when we strive to hide any authenticity whatsoever from this world God has called us to be His light to.

Life, sometimes, just bites. My testimomy is that I am still here. God will waste NONE of the pain. Let's be real.

So...I'm a little better today. I am very blessed, for sure.

My heart has been heavy lately with some other things going on, and I really cannot get into any of it here. I have so far to come myself, but I just feel that God is calling His people to GROW UP! So many people with so little investment with so many opinions. Let's be who God called us to be. Please.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Oh, The Pain Of Losing You

"Oh, the pain of losing you. Never knowing what to do. Oh, the misery I go through. Oh, the pain of losing you."

This is an old song recorded by The Trio - Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt. It's pretty sad. Very sad, actually...and it's where I am this moment. Out of the blue while eating dinner, an overwhelming wave of grief washed over me. I've written here before about these "waves" and their utter unpredictability. This one most definitely threw me off.

February 22 will be the third-year anniversary since Beth's death. Three years. In a way, it seems like 8-10 years, and in most seems like 2 weeks ago. I've "adjusted" to this different life without her, and I do enjoy my life as best as I can. There is just no accounting for that void sometimes. Yes, I have God. Yes, I can pray through it. Yes, I have so many wonderful friends who surround me with love. I just miss Beth. Not just our life. Not just having "someone" to love. I miss HER. Beth. I miss everything about her, even the stuff that irked me. Our Lord knows that my "stuff" irked her far more often, though!

So...I ask for prayers. Right now, please. If you are reading this, stop right now and please pray for me. I'll be better, I know. I love God and how He has brought me along so far. The pain is still there, and I imagine it will always be. I cannot put into words what Beth meant to me. I sometimes...when I'm honest..have to say that I am NOT so appreciative of the short time we did have together. I wanted more.

I want to see her come down those stairs. I want to feel her in my arms again. I do miss her so much, and the pain of losing her is far worse than I ever could have imagined. I'll go clean the pasta off of the wall now.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Everything I Needed To Know About Spiritual Transformation I Learned from TLC's "What Not To Wear"

Well...not EVERYTHING. A lot, though. Have you seen "What Not To Wear"? The premise goes like this: some loving, well-meaning friends nominate a fashion casualty to be "re-made". They go to New York with all of their old clothes. Two stylists, Stacey London and Clinton Kelly (who truly is the best-dressed man on TV), go through the clothes, ask them "What were you thinking?", and then throw most of the person's existing wardrobe in trash cans. Ouch.

Then they coach the target on things like how to put colors together, shapes/cuts/fabrics that would work best for their body type, things to avoid, etc. Then off they go with a credit card shopping...on their get the new wardrobe. They get a hair makeover and a cosmetic makeover. After one last onceover from Stacey and Clinton, it is back home for the big reveal in front of all of these "friends" who put you through all of this grief.

I think that spiritual transformation is a lot like the show. For example:

  1. You have to recognize that it's time for a change. The Holy Spirit will convict you in a variety of ways, but the first step is the recognition that it may just be time for a new thing. Sometimes, it's not necessarily a "bad" habit that God wants us to move away from. It may be a "good thing"...for a season. Maybe it's now time to recognize that it's best to leave it behind and move on to a better thing.
  2. You have to SUBMIT to the process. This is really when it starts to hurt. You have to let God toss all of your old stuff in the trash and teach you a new way to do things, a new way to think, and a new way to live. You must submit to the lessons, even if you have to learn them again and again.
  3. You have to do your part. In the show, Stacey and Clinton do NOT go shopping with the person. They make him/her do it alone using the lessons that hopefully have been learned. The first few stores are almost always a struggle, but you can see confidence build as day 2 arrives. If a meltdown occurs, Stacey and Clinton may swoop in and -re-focus the poor soul; but that's it. We still have to do our part. We cannot do God's part; nor can He do ours for us.
  4. You have to take the limits off of God and yourself. Clothes really do make a difference, but what a change takes place when he/she gets in the chair for Nick to do the hair and Carmondy to work with the cosmetics. On one episode, this is what Nick said to a young lady as he was about to begin her hair: "When is the last time you've done something with this?" "Are you at all happy with this?" "I'm looking to do something radical here!"Do you trust me completely to do what I think is best?" WoW! I am not trying to put God's words in Nick's mouth, but do you see the relation between those questions and the ones that God may be asking you?
  5. You have to do a spin and look at the good thing God has done. The process may have been brutal, but look at the result. Find confidence in God's ability to do what needs to be done in your life.

John 15:1-3 (Message): "I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more."

As Joyce Meyer always says, "You're pruned if you do and pruned if you don't."

Tuesday, January 1, 2008


Transformers. No...not the movie. If you know me, you know I don't see a lot of movies. I like going to movies, but I think my expectations are always too high and I end up disappointed. I see usually about two "films" a year, but I plan to see more in 2008. One of my best buds, Jake Carpenter, loves movies...sees just about everything that comes out. Seriously. I get to go with him sometimes to the theater, and we've seen some bad ones ("I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry") and some good ones. ("I Am Legend" - although it totally freaked me out). I enjoy going with Jake, though; and that's what makes it worth it.

OK. I said this was not about movies. I have been doing what we probably all do to some extent this time of each year. I have been reflecting on the past year, and looking to the new one. I am excited about what God has in store for me in 2008. I'm committed to making some changes and pursuing some things God has called me to do. Not resolutions, per se. Transformations that come about through revelations. Revelation is progressive. Transformation is, too. From glory to glory to glory.

I think growth happened for me in 2007, and all that the Holy Spirit has taught me will act as building blocks for the 2008 growth. Transformation. I see some awesome transformation in the people around me, and am excited to see what God will be doing through them in 2008.

  • Our small group is growing ever closer together and closer in our individual walks with J.C. It's so cool to learn together, pray together, and have fun together. Transformation.
  • My bud, Raymond, had a tough year. He has an awesome heart and has remained connected to God, his family, and his friends through it all. He has also lost so much weight (although it wasn't really needed). He feels good about himself, and I am excited to see what God has in store for him this year. Transformation.
  • My friend, Steph, is growing in Christ more and more. There are struggles, for sure, but there is a thirst for the Holy Spirit. Transformation.
  • The church (not just Hope, but God's church...all of us...together) is doing some awesome things for God and for His children. I can't wait to see how lives will be transformed in 2008 through Hope Community Church, Elevation Church, Brunswick Bible Fellowship, Lakewood Church, Willow Creek, Northpoint, Ft. Mill Community, Raleigh Christian get the point. Transformation.

I know a lot of people are glad to get out of 2007. I know a lot of friends are beginning 2008 with some deep struggles. Transformation happens and we go through it together. From glory to glory to glory and on. Happy New Year!