August 27, 2010

Not So Graceful

Recently, I have been digging deep and thinking about people in my past who have disappointed me. It's like every 5 years I look back and evaluate my life 5 years earlier and pick it apart: the good, the bad, and the ugly (the ugly is usually how I was acting at the time).  Anyway, as I search into my fairly recent history, I am seeing some obvious disappointments. People I thought were solid and loved Jesus, who made decisions that sent them running in the opposite direction of everything Holy. Let me make it clear that I have intense trouble with this. Someone can slap me in the face and call me names, yet, I'm willing to work through it, but disregard Jesus? Oh, I just don't know what to say to that sometimes. I remember the heartbreak I felt during that time as so many friends I thought were strong stepped away from grace.  Some of those relationships, I sought to keep strong.  Some I never heard from again. Shamefully, some I judged and walked away from (*shameful*).

So here I am today, thinking about those friends. As I washed dishes this morning, I walked through some steps to relationship recovery with myself. Step 1: Forgive them. I have heard it said that true forgiveness means being able to wish the offender well. To bless them. Well this took a bit of work, but the 5 years that took place in between most of the drama sure helps. I started remembering the good times, and oh, those times were good. Fun and youthful.  Step 2:  Remember grace. As I worked through "How could they...", I remembered King David. God REALLY trusted this man and yet he shacked up with Bathsheba and had her husband killed. Bad news. And there's Noah- built a boat, survived annihilation by water, and then got drunk and naked. Boo. Oh my, thank you Lord for the reminder. My biggest beef with my friends came from the fact that they were a part of something awesome. God used them in their gifts. They saw people saved, changed. And then they left ministry to pursue...other things. Well, so did David, Noah, and so many others.  God is graceful. He forgives and he uses us in spite That brings me to Step 3: Who am I? Better than them? No. In many of these cases, I only made things worse.  God's kindness leads his children to repentence, and I was not a good example of this to many of my friends. I am so sorry. I have been focused on my hurt and my lack of understanding, that I failed to be loving, gentle, kind, peace-making, yada- yada. I realize that I am a different person than I once was. I occasionally remember how I handled situations in my past and I cringe. I definitely lacked gentleness and grace. I aspire to be better at those qualities now.

God, let me be graceful and humble in my relationships. Those qualities are much prettier than the ones I have previously exibited. Stay 5 years I'm gonna write another blog like this.

August 26, 2010

The Nomad's Anchor

Lately, I have been pondering where I fit in on earth. I was born in the small town of Neosho, Missouri. I grew up with white Christmas', Tornado Season, the smell of chicken houses, the safety of a small town, the world's largest flowerbox, bare feet in green grass, creeks and crawdads, family reunions, pork chops and fried okra, churches on every corner, Ticks & Chiggers, childhood friendships, Grandma's homemade chocolate chip cookies, hills, Thunderstorms, bike rides, aunts and uncles, and colorful autumns. I lived in Neosho for 19 wonderful years. I was very happy there, in fact, I was so happy that I seldom thought about life outside of my small, beautiful city. At 18, I began to feel a tug on my heart. It was dangerous to my contentment, but I began to see that God's plan was taking me places that I never envisioned. One crisp morning in October of 2002, I packed everything I could fit into my '94 Mazda and drove 7 hours to the big city of Dallas, Texas.

As I drove through the metroplex cities of Dallas/Fort Worth, hot wind sweeping through my hair, Audio Adrenaline blasting from my CD player, darting in and out of 5 lane traffic; I knew my life was different already. I spent the next 6 years in a place very unlike the one I grew up in. Dallas was hot, flat and full of life. I found that the city was exciting; concerts, restaurants that were open all night, shopping, celebrities, skylines, the only reason that I was ever bored was because my gas tank was empty and/or I was a poor college student. Texas was full of surprises for me like fire ants, traffic, HEAT, Tex-Mex, stolen CD Player(s) from my car, a sweetheart turned marriage, a whole new Texas family, 4-wheelers, jet-skis, poor inner-city children, Certificate of Ministry, and a bunch of beautiful friendships that I will cherish forever.  It was 2007 when my circumstances began changing and I prepared for new scenery. Adam and I opened our hearts to another adventure, telling the Lord that we were willing to go anywhere.

In the Spring of 2008, my husband and I drove across the southwest states of our great country to our new home in a quiet suburb of San Diego, CA.  Alpine was beautiful. The weather was perfect. I remember commenting that the Garden of Eden may have been located in this precious town. Over the course of the past 2 years, I have fallen in love with many elements. I love the harvest of fresh fruit that falls off of the trees at this time of year, 300 days of sunshine a year, the view of the rugged mountains, sunsets, Palm Trees, and of course the sandy beaches that line the Pacific are a glorious addition to my life. Out on the west coast, I often feel like the world is at my fingertips. Big Cities and beaches, what more could I ask for?

Here's my dilema. I know what more I could ask for. Dogwood trees in full bloom. Indian summers. Noisy holidays. 4-wheeling through arcres of undeveloped land.  Evenings spent watching deer run in pairs through open fields from the backporch of my uncle's farmhouse. Buttermilk pie. Family. BUT, if I went back to Missouri, I would long for the sound of the waves and the fair weather and the big cities with their cultural blends. Moving is not the answer. My problem is that I am now a compilation of all of these places. I am in love with San Diego. And Dallas, Texas. And Neosho, Missouri. These places and the people in them have shaped me into who I am, and yet I don't fit perfectly into any of them anymore. Who have I become? I am a nomad without a home, without a permanant residence.

1 Peter 2:11, "Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it." What a reminder!  I am often homesick, but where is my ultimate home? Not here. Not even on this planet. As much as I long for the changing seasons of my youth, how much more do I long to spend eternity with the creator of the rain, snow, and sunshine. I long for Heaven. 

Being a Christian means giving up the right to becoming comfortable here. As lonely as I often feel, I am anchored by my mission. I gave up my right to choose where to live a long time ago. My prayer is that God uses me as much as possible during my short stint on Earth. Because of that, I will be a nomad.

Along the way, I am thankful for the precious experiences held in each place He has given me to enjoy.