Monday, July 26, 2010

Let God break your heart

After a Saturday of visiting the beauty of NC at Linville Caverns and Grandfather Mtn.  I was awed by God's creative powers.  He could create the beauty of the mountains and the caverns and still he cares about me.  I thought of Psalms 8:3-5  "When I consider your heavens, /the work of your fingers, /the moon and the stars, /which you have set in place, /4 what is man that you are mindful of him, /the son of man that you care for him? /5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings /and crowned him with glory and honor."  

As I was marveling at God's creativity, I was also thinking about church.  There are many things that one can say is wrong with the church today.  In my opinion one of the biggest is that we don't love like Jesus loved.  Now you're thinking, "How can we do that?  He was Jesus and I'm not."  I don't have all the answers, but something that has worked in my life is to let God break my heart.  If you do not let God break your heart, you will not be able to love as Jesus loved.  In John we see Jesus weeping with Mary and Martha.  He was weeping because of their pain and grief, not the death of their brother.  His heart broke for them and then he gave them a miracle.  I'll give you 3 personal examples to hopefully make my point a little clearer.

In high school, I went on a mission trip.  We went to this youth camp that was attended by inner city kids.  They were bussed from their house to this camp out in the country.  They heard about Jesus and got to play in a safe and fun environment.  A friend and I were the leaders of a cabin of 5 to 7 girls.  One night after the service one of the girls went forward for prayer and I as her counselor went with her.  She told me that sometimes her mom hit her with a tennis racket and asked me if that was normal because she didn't like it.  That's what she was praying about.  I don't think I said anything to her.  I think I just hugged her and cried a lot.  To this day it brings tears to my eyes.  I didn't go on the mission trip for the purpose of having my heart broken.  I just went to serve God.  I don't think we can prepare for those moments when he breaks our heart.

In college, I studied abroad in Mexico.  I taught English for a few weeks at a very small, very poor school.  It was graduation time and the students who graduated had parties.  One of my students also knew the family I was staying with, so we were all invited to her party.  When I arrived at her house, I experienced 2 unforgettable things.  I experienced a hospitality that was unlike anything before.  I was fed until I was stuffed and regaled with stories by her grandfather.  I was treated like a guest of honor.  I also experienced poverty unlike anything I had ever seen.  Their house had a dirt floor and wooden boards for walls.  There were places in where the board had been broken and in those places there was cardboard covering it.  There were 2 rooms separated by a curtain.  They had a stove top, but no oven.  There was no refrigerator or sink.  I didn't see a restroom of any kind either.  They had a tiny TV with the rabbit ear antennas.  There was no sofa or living room type furniture.  There was one large table with benches on either side.  Once again God broke my heart.  I was treated like a guest of honor by people of very humble means.

Another one was just yesterday in church.  One of our music leaders sang a beautiful rendition of the Nicole C. Mullen song "One Touch".  I thought of the uncertainty that so many of our graduates face.  There were 2 in particular from my personal experience that I thought of.  God broke my heart again for the agony that they are living in because they don't know how to trust in his plan.  They see a life time of dead end jobs instead of the passion and adventure that God wants for them.  They see classes that lead them to nowhere or at the very least to some place they may not enjoy instead of the career that will engage them and impassion them.  How do I communicate to them that God wants so much more?  I don't have the answers, but I know the one that does if they only trust, seek, and obey.  How do I let them know it is a hard and scary road at times, but he is there with them every step of the way?  Are my words enough?  I don't know.

So here I am back where I started marveling at the love that God has for me and wanting to share it.  I have to let God break my heart in order to do that.  If I don't let him do that, I'll never love as Jesus did.  And "If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing." (1 Corinthians 13:3)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Missing Summer?

This week I had no clue what to blog about and then in the last couple days I saw some photos on Facebook from different people enjoying their summer.  This really got me thinking and so I'll put those thoughts on here.  Several people on my friends list have taken short weekend trips and taken some wonderful photos of those trips.  While looking at some of them, I found myself being jealous.  Why?  I wasn't really sure.  It hasn't been the easiest summer with all the replacing  of car parts and computers.  My sprain didn't help things and whatever I did to my back a few weeks ago.  However, we have done plenty of things that qualify as short trips, so why weren't these relaxing, fun, and memorable?  At first I was rather unsure.I feel like I haven't had any great relaxing vacation time.  We went to a Cardinals game while visiting the IL family.  We had an awesome cookout while there as well and got to eat with some good friends.  We have also taken the youth swimming and tubing per invitation of some very generous church folks.  Ben and I have been swimming in our little backyard pool a few times this summer.  All of this should add up to some fun right?  So why don't I feel like it?

After much deep contemplation, I have decided that I feel like I have been missing summer fun because I am trying to be too responsible.  Having a 1 year old and watching after several teens certainly doesn't make for a carefree adventure, but it doesn't have to be a total drag either.  In case you didn't know, I'm a type A control freak type person, especially when I have to be looking after other people.  It certainly is a responsibility that is important, but I think sometimes I take it too far and worry too much.  That has been my problem this summer.  With that in mind, I got to work doing a few things around the house today and I started feeling better.

In the next couple weekends, we have a few things planned.  A friend of mine is coming into town this weekend.  Not sure what we'll be getting into, but I'm going to make an extra effort to enjoy it.  The weekend after that we are taking the day and going to visit Uncle Alex with Nana Diane.  Once again, not sure what we'll be doing, but I'm going to try extra hard to relax and have fun.  So whatever the rest of the summer may hold, I am going to relax and enjoy it.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

My civic duty

So after some thinking long and hard about the blog for this week, should I include the funny sayings and injuries from the tubing trip?  The cute Ben activities and quotes for the week? My accomplishements in housework and cooking?  While all of that might be mildly humorous and not very applicable to daily life.  I decided the best thing to discuss would be the one thing that I have a strong opinion about and is applicable to most lives.  Jury duty.

So now you're thinking, you have a strong opinion about jury duty?!  Not just jury duty, but the general activities that are required of all good citizens.  Things like voting, military service, jury duty, etc.  I could start with the importance of all of these things, but I think it best to start with my experience and then I'll throw my opinions in as necessary.

I was called for Jury Duty in May I think, but I was still in school, so I had it deferred until this Monday.  Other than showing up at 9 am, I had no clue what I was in for.  That was the part that bothered me the most, the not knowing.  Do I have to be there all week?  Is it all day?  Am I going to be listening to a trial?  What is the dress code?  What about lunch?  And countless other questions.  Without answers to any of these questions, I woke up on Monday and decided to wear what I would to work.  I figured I would rather be over dressed than under dressed.  I went to Bojangles for breakfast because it makes me happier to eat that for breakfast when I don't know what's coming next.  I arrived early and ate it in my car.

After eating I went in and they searched my purse.  While waiting I asked one of the guards where to go for jury service.  He thanked me for serving and then told me where to go.  It was nice to be thanked.  Not that it was necessary because it something we should all do, but it was nice anyway.  I found the room to go to and was surprised at the number of people there.  I didn't have a particular number in mind, but there were more than I expected in there.  I sat down and filled out a slip of paper, so I could get paid.  I didn't know I was going to get paid either.  It'll probably be like $10, but it was more than I had before.

A couple gentlemen in the center of the room were rather loudly discussing their opinions about the whole thing.  Once they complained they wouldn't be getting paid much.  What do they expect?  Every state in the Union and the Union itself for that matter is broke.  If they paid everyone like $50 a day for service then we would really have a problem.  They went on to brag about knowing who to call next time to get out of it.  That  just doesn't seem right to me.  If your reason isn't important enough for a judge to let you out of it, then it probably isn't a good reason.  Yes it is a bit inconvenient, but so is crime.  I think we all agree we would like our criminals to be behind bars and not roaming the streets.  We have to do our part in getting them there.  Drew has jury service next week and that will be pretty inconvenient for him because he'll have to be there all day I suppose and then come home and work after that.  It won't be fun, but it is important as Americans.  But not only is it our duty as Americans,. it is also our duty as Christians.  These are people's lives in your hands.  That is a pretty big deal and I for one am glad to know I have God with me to help make any decisions necessary.

Well my jury service didn't really involve people's lives as it turns out.  Attendance was taken and those not in attendance had to appear before a judge to explain their reasons, as we were told.  We watched a video that gave us some more information, but I still wasn't sure what I was there for except that it was for criminal, not civil, and it was a special session.  I still didn't know what I was doing there.  We had to wait like 30 to 45 minutes until the judge was ready for us.  We were all called in and finally we were told what was going on.  They were selecting a grand jury.  The clerk of court drew 9 of our names out of a hat and they went forward.  The judge asked if there was any reason that those people could not serve 1 full Monday and 1 half Monday out of the month for the next year.  Two women explained they had some problem with teaching (one at a community college and one at a university) because I think they were the only ones qualified to teach it.  The judge wasn't impressed.  He said someone would talk to the provost of the university and work it out for them.  He then explained that they were joining 9 others to decide if something should be taken to trial.  I got a little lost in the explanation of how to do that.  Then we were sent back to the Jury Assembly Room to wait to be released.  Another 30 to 45 minutes and we were released.

And so ended my jury service for 2 years.  I think I would have liked to do something a little more than just sit around, but maybe next time I'll be more involved.  Not everyone will have this experience.  Some will be better and some will be worse.  It will probably always be inconvenient, but it is our duty to help see justice done.  After all what would America be without trial by jury?  Not someplace I would be proud to call home.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Great long weekend!

We finally got to go back and visit my family in IL for a long weekend.  While I could write a long blog detailing everything we did I think I'll just list some highlights.

In no particular order...
1.  I learned Ben loves baked beans.  He ate them when we went out to eat with a friend, Teressa, and at the 4th celebration.
2.  Ben got a Fredbird stuffed animal and a new Cardinals shirt.
3.  Drew got ice cream in helmet.
4.  We got have a cook out at my brother's house before the game.
5.  Ben also loves meatballs, at least the ones Grandpa made.
6   Ben played with Asia, my grandparent's dog, and Kodiak, my brother's dog.
7.  We heard a great sermon and a great celebration of the military at First UMC in Fairfield.  We even got to visit a little bit.
8.  Ben got to feed some ducks and himself.  He didn't quite get the concept of throwing the bread.  : )
9.  Ben got to meet some cousins for the first time and he got to play with lots of kids.  He even kinda played with a couple of them instead of by himself.
10. I got to visit with LOTS of family and friends that I hadn't seen in a while.
11. I got to have some great conversations with my parents just about random stuff, but it was a good time.
12. I learned how to play a new game, Cornhole.  It's a bean bag toss game.  Drew is up like 4 games to 0 on my dad.
13.  I got to meet the new man in a friend's life and hang out some without children.  That was awesome.
14.  I rode in a Beamer for the first time.  Pretty impressive little car.
15.  I got to see my aunt's new house.

And some low lights....

1.  The car needed a new starter.
2.  The car needed new front tires.
3.  The car needed a new battery.
4.  The Cardinals played some of the worst baseball I have ever seen.  Thank goodness Ben won't remember that.
5.  The drive home was VERY long with several stops.  10 hours with a 1 year old on the road is a rough day!

And finally some pictures...