Wednesday, September 29, 2010

vroom vroom! a prayer of desperation!

if something doesn't change, i'm going to be tempted to run them over with my truck!

now how's that for a prayer of desperation!?!?!

GOD, here's the thing. i know that i can't change the ones who appear to have it out for me. i realize that the only thing i have control over is myself and my and even that's questionable most of the time.

it seems that right about the time things should be settling down, i have a moment where i just want to explode. by now, nothing that is said or done should surprise me. they've done about everything. yet i get to the end of my rope, i've had it, and i can't seem to stop myself from finally taking action.

but i don't want to do that this time. i just know in my heart that you're dealing with this junk, and that i don't have to take care of it myself. i know you will handle it. but that doesn't stop me from really getting angry.

i don't want to be angry. i have a feeling that those who have it out for me got angry and got stuck and that's why they do the things they do. i do not want to be like them. life's too short to be that miserable!

i just don't feel like i have it in my power to forgive right now. you know i can't forget. yeah, i know that forgiveness doesn't make what happened all makes me all right. i should be an expert by now, but i'm not. i have no desire to be nice to them. that's what got me into trouble to begin with...on each account going on right now. i still don't get it. i still don't understand. but i'm tired of always asking why. i'm thinking ignorance just might be...bliss.

i'm pretty agitated. i could really use some peace right now, the confidence that comes with knowing you have it all under control and that you've got my back.

so, help me with changing my heart and attitude. keep all this junk minimized. i do see it spreading, and it pains me to know there's no good way for me to stop it. people just don't fight fair. i don't like how it has affected other areas of my life or other relationships. i don't know why they have it out for me. maybe you can work out a change of heart for them, too. help me learn to love and forgive them. help me learn to pray for them. help me learn to let go. help me learn to move on. and i'll be demolition derby for me!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

keeping my eyes on the goal

i have truly been loving school, but i have to admit these last 2 days of classes have been kicking my butt. add to that, my financial aid woes are starting to get me down. still praying about that.

one of my professors calls this "fall fever." i call it my "what was i thinking" phase. i know this, too, shall pass. i'm just feeling a little overwhelmed right now as i am studying for tests and starting to write papers.

i knew there would come a time when the new-ness of school would wear off. i knew it would get tough.

and since i knew these times would come, i tried to prepare...

i see myself walking across the stage to receive that paper for which i've long labored. i see myself depositing that first paycheck and taking my family shopping and buying them everything i haven't been able to afford these last few years. i look forward to the day when i can say "yes, you can have that. we have the money for it now." and i can't wait to save a little of each check to give to those in need, especially those in ministry. and so far, those thoughts are getting me through.

it's easy to think that i'm behind the game since i've been out of school for so long. and it's easy to get overwhelmed by those thoughts. but then i look around and see that i'm not the only one not getting a concept. i'm not the only one that looks lost or confused. there are others. and i take comfort in knowing i'm not alone. not to mention, i know i'm smart enough and determined enough to get through this.

so i'm trying to keep focused on the big picture, on the future that awaits me, and not get bogged down in the details.

the way i figure's kind of like the story of peter walking on the water to JESUS. like peter, i got out of the boat. i know there's a storm. and i have a choice: i can keep my eyes on JESUS, where my destination lies or i can get overwhelmed by the storm. i'm trying to keep my eyes focused on my goal, but i do know that if i start to sink, i can count on JESUS to rescue me.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

throwing christians to the lions?

"if you send your kids to a secular college, you are throwing them to the lions." -anonymous

i cringed when i heard this.

i fully intend to research the topic of college students losing their faith and dropping out of church due to attending non-christian colleges. my initial research is quite interesting and contradictory at times. i can't wait to really delve into this. ...should be interesting.

in the meantime, however...

what bothers me at first glance is the assumption that the world is a horrible and hostile place. i've been praying for some time that GOD would help me get out of my christian bubble, and that i could see the world through his eyes. going back to a large urban school, i am definitely outside the bubble...and i love it! yes, there are at times anti-christian sentiments and ideas presented, i hear cursing a little more than i do in christian circles, i sit in classes with people who live alternative lifestyles. once again...i have to say...i love it! i'm not afraid of that world. it's not a horrible and hostile environment. it's a rich environment in which to share GOD's love and light. i'm not preachy. in fact, i've yet to share that i'm a christian with anyone. i smile, i talk to people, i listen, i walk to class with them, i encourage them, i thank them when they help me with something, i ask them about their plans and families, etc. just recently, i met up with someone that appeared to be involved in some alternative lifestyle. she immediately lashed out as if to hurt me before i could hurt her. i didn't let it phase me. instead, i treated her with respect, and by the end of our conversation, i think i opened the door for friendship. you see, i think she expected to be mistreated. but i know something that she may not...GOD loves her. and if i want to share GOD with her, i need to be a safe place for her just as GOD is a safe place for me. we're all afraid of the world being a hostile place. but i don't need to fear. GOD is with me. and i can share his light and peace with others.

i think a lot of our judgments about public schools being bad is rooted in a lack of faith. this has nothing to do with my research, just some observations. when we say things like "our kids will drop out of church if they go somewhere other than a christian college," i think we downplay the power of GOD. if we really believe in GOD, i think we have to believe in his power to overcome the world. i guess when i hear that we're throwing our kids to the lions, i hear "the faith that my kids have is weak. they won't make it." that's fear. that's lack of faith. but maybe we have a point there.

let me explain...

in our christian bubble, we tend to tell people what to think. this is right. this is wrong. do this. christians don't do that. but we forget something really important...WHY! why do we believe this? why do we do that? and if our response is...because the bible says so...that's a copout. we need to know what the bible says, but even deeper...why does the bible say that? does it really even say it? my philosophy...question everything. know what you believe and why you believe it. if you search for truth, you will find it. i believe in GOD, but i didn't take someone else's word for it. i questioned his existence as well. i searched and i found. and GOD seemed fine with that. i don't believe GOD is afraid of our questions. i think he relishes them.

i think we are not to fear the world. i think we should see the beauty and opportunity. the beauty is that GOD created each person and loves each and every one, and we have the opportunity to share love and light where there is little or none. i think we need to search for truth. i think we need to ask the hard questions. i think we need to hear what others believe. i think we need to spend time with people who are different from us. i think we need to learn to respect diversity. i think we need to say with our actions and attitudes more than our words that we love and follow after CHRIST. i think that when we do, we will be given the opportunity to speak the words that can bring salvation and hope to the world in which we live.

now, these are just my opinions, but i think they're pretty darn good ones. i know from experience that not everyone who goes to a christian college is a christian. i also know that not everyone who goes to a secular college is going to fall away from the faith. i'm saying let's think about this and have a little perspective.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the next psalm

a psalm (of hope)...

GOD, i know you know all things
you know people inside out
you know their motives
you know what makes them do what they do

why is it that some people don't have to play by the rules?
why is it that they can say and do whatever they want?
where is your justice?
where are you when the brokenhearted needs you?

don't let those who cause me harm win
don't let them get away with this
call them out
expose their evil deeds

they smile to my face
yet they set a trap for me
they lie about me behind my back
and pretend to be innocent

i wish you'd fix this
make what was broken whole again
make what is wrong right again
restore what's been lost and taken

you have the power to heal
you have the power to restore
you can set all things right again
you can make things better than before

GOD, hear my cry
listen to my plea
restore my place
restore my reputation

you are a just GOD
merciful and understanding
you value integrity
you honor what is right

so do your thing, GOD
do what is right in your eyes
bring honor to your name
bring glory to this situation

Sunday, September 5, 2010

prayer is an ongoing relationship

we started a new series at avalon church this morning called unspoken. pastor ritchie did an incredible job spelling out what prayer is and what it is not. it was a great service. i am so glad i was there.

we tend to treat prayer like it's a christmas list for GOD to fill, but there's so much more to prayer than that. prayer is not just a time for asking for stuff. and it's not just to be done when there's an emergency. prayer is about an ongoing relationship with GOD.

pastor ritchie said something today that stuck with me. he said that we talk to those we love, those we want to have a relationship with. we don't talk to those we don't love.

for me, that's true. i love my husband. i talk to him a lot throughout the day. when we can't talk, i text him. when i can do neither, i still think about him and when i'll get to see him next. those i don't like, those that i don't want to have a relationship with, i don't talk to. and honestly, i don't want them talking to me either. i prefer to be left alone.

i guess if you talk to those you love, then i must love GOD a whole lot. i talk to him almost constantly. we have little conversations throughout the day. i never feel alone...honest. i know that at any time during the day or night, i can continue my talk with GOD. and it's not just me doing all the talking. he speaks to me, too. sometimes he uses people. sometimes he uses objects. sometimes he uses that still, small voice and guides my conscience. i love the way he speaks to me, and i do feel loved...even when he's telling me something i don't want to hear. he's my safe place, and i know that he cares deeply for me and wants what's best for me.

oh yeah...

one thing i always try to do is remember to tell GOD, "thank you." just thought i'd throw that in since we so often forget to do that. i know i used to. i just assumed he knew, but even GOD desires to hear that from time to time.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

keep away from the small people

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great ones make you feel that you, too, can become great. -- Mark Twain

with my long commute to atlanta 3 times a week for school, i have a lot of time to think, reflect and process. i have really enjoyed my time singing and listening to music, chatting it up with GOD, working through issues, translating everything i think and hear on the radio into spanish, and basking in the silence when i'm finally tired of hearing traffic updates that tell me my commute will last just a little bit longer than i would like.

i catch myself smiling a lot and dreaming about my future, too. these past few weeks have been great. and i'm grateful for how good GOD has been to me.

but these last few weeks haven't come without some challenges. isn't it "funny" how right as you embark on a great journey, something happens and someone attempts to bring you down? well, funny is not the right word. i could offer a few alternatives, but i'll be nice and refrain. =)

there are people who don't want to do what it takes to be successful. that's their prerogative. but what does that have to do with me? why is it so important that they drag me down with them? what's worse is when they make it their goal to destroy you. misery loves company, i guess. i feel sorry for them on some level because i believe that hurting people hurt people. i wonder what causes them to be so spiteful and vengeful. but then, i think we all have choices. they don't have to wallow in the muck of life. they can choose to get help, to work on themselves, to strive for wholeness, to learn to forgive. that's what i've spent years doing. i chose to have a better life. it hasn't been easy, but i'm doing it.

life's too short to be this dang miserable!

i confess that i haven't always been encouraging to others. i haven't always given lift to their dreams and aspirations. i regret that.

these last few years, though, i have tried really hard to change that. and it is my desire that people live their dreams. it is my desire that i live my dreams. i want others to feel like they can be great. the success of others has no bearing on whether or not i'm a successful or good person. and my success doesn't mean someone else is inferior in some way. we all have our own paths to follow.

so i pray for the favor of GOD, not just for me but also for others who aspire to be more. i pray for focus, that we will stay on the right path and not be distracted. and i pray for selective hearing, so we can listen to what is encouraging and block out the negativity from the nay-sayers.