Thursday, December 30, 2010

Last of This Year...

Chai tea... cinnamon and spice...


Being somewhat obssessive-compulsive when it comes to reading, I actually started reading the box when I took it down for the 3rd or 4th time.

I don't know why it took me that long to read it... Usually, of course, they merely seem to have something about drinking tea or making the earth a greener place. But I loved the quote on this box.

We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.
~Jawaharlal Nehru

Guess what that made me think of? Not only do I agree with this quote the way it is - it's also what I've been trying to do for the past year.

We live in a wonderful world full of beauty, charm, and adventure - because that's how God made it. And if we seek Him with our eyes open, there is no end to what He can teach us or what we can see of Him in our life and the everyday things that surround us.

In January of this year I made it a goal to try posting one "simile," or analogy or whatever you want to call it, a week.
I tried... and it was good. I found myself watching to see Him... looking to see His work. Searching for new ways to understand His dealings with us... and finding them.

He is so incredibly faithful to teach when we ask, and it was amazing to see all that He showed me in such simple little things as spending time with my horse or getting lost while driving.

Anyway, even though my goal has been *relatively* accomplished (I ended up with one for every week, even though they weren't quite spaced that way during the year... Check out His Fingerprints in 2010 to see them all at once :), I still want to be watching for God - and seeing Him in new ways.

So, even though I might not try to post 52 of them this year, hopefully you'll still get a couple... when I see Him in the random things happening around me.

And just to make you think...

What are you watching for?

Pain and Suffering...

Or lack thereof.

I just got my wisdom teeth out. 

Ok, well... on Tuesday. I could have written this post yesterday, but I was too lazy. 
Eh, maybe I'll blame it on the Vicodin®
It doesn't take much to take me out... I remember only about 30 seconds after the injection of anesthetic, and I was gone... 
Nor do I remember anything after that until walking out to the car - though apparently I was able to walk into the recovery room and was answering questions just fine for like half an hour before going to the car. 

(Yikes! And they didn't even notice that I was still completely out of it... tells you how little I usually use my brain...)

I pretty much slept the rest of the day... and Tuesday was not a lot better. But I barely hurt at all. It felt weird, but there was only one ow moment, which is pretty nice for having oral surgery.

But it reminded me of something else. 

Because pain is good. 

No, I don't like it. At all. 
(To tell the truth, I had tears in my eyes after that one ow moment - good thing there weren't more!) :)

But if we didn't have it... obviously we'd be in big trouble. If we did not have a warning when we touched a hot stove - if we could not feel a sliver - if we did not know when we were hurting ourselves...
we would be in real danger. 

Painkillers might feel nice, but even when they mask the pain, they can't completely cover the fact that something is wrong with us, and if we take them too much, too long, or when we don't need them, they're dangerous.

The sensation of pain is vital to a normal life.

It's kind of like our conscience. 

We don't like to feel guilty, either. But can you imagine if we didn't know when we were sinning, how messed up our lives would be? 

Which made me think of the things we sometimes begin to fill our minds with - music, books, movies, anything exciting and distracting, that camouflages our sensation of "pain" - to silence the little warning that we're not doing what we should. They could be things normally harmless merely being used wrong, or things like alcohol, drugs, etc, that are never harmless. 
Like a pain-killer, whatever it is might feel good... but it can't cover the fact that something is wrong, and it's very dangerous. 

The Bible says, Quench not the Spirit - can you imagine how horrible it would be if that little voice were to become silent? 
I can hardly imagine anything more terrible than a seared conscience... and I know I want to be immediately responsive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. 

It's something I need to remember when the temptation to "listen later" overtakes me... because the phrase "Better to ask forgiveness than permission" is definitely not true when referring to our relationship with God. 
He is merciful to forgive... but if I truly love Him, I will try not to grieve Him.

He has given us the ability to feel of pain and a conscience that can be pricked - both are great blessings from Him.

Seeking Him, because He is indeed amazingly there,

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Coming Back

It's been... three months? since last time I saw my little filly. 
She's still a young horse - and has had very few days of training. 

All of which together left me hoping that maybe, perhaps, in the 3 days between finals at school and Christmas at my Grandparents, I might be able to spend enough time working with her that I could actually ride her a little bit. 

And with the cold, and the fact that I have to get dressed in barn clothes and drive over to the barn (despite all the different winter activities I participate in, I still find myself wishing I could simply curl up by the fire with a book every time I have to go anywhere ;), and with only a slight chance that I'd get to ride at all this month, I was not especially excited when I headed over.

But once I got there...

and brought her in and started working with her... 
and discovered that she was still her usual perfect self... 
I began to enjoy it, as always.

And she was so good... I actually got on her before I left!
First time I'd seen her in months - and she did everything right, even when I was riding her.
Maybe not quite so smoothly as last time... but so good I couldn't believe it.

All of which reminded me of something a Bible study leader once told me.

So often when we miss our quiet time with God, or slack off on what we're supposed to be doing, we somehow get this picture in our mind that He's waiting for us with folded arms, saying "Where have you been?" 
But He's not. 
He's waiting for us with open arms, saying, "My child, I miss you. Come back."

I know that whenever I'm doing something I should not be doing, I don't want to come and spend time with God - but that is exactly what I need to do, and the only thing I need to do.

When stuff happens and I have not spent as much time reading my Bible, etc, as I should... it somehow gets harder and harder to get back to where I was. 

But if I would only drop everything else and go to Him, I will find myself right back in His perfect presence, being renewed and refreshed by His love for me. 

Obviously the time missed is going to affect me - I will not be growing, and things might not go as "smoothly" right away... 
but God does not put us on a waiting list and say, "Oh, once you start coming to Me regularly and show up on time and act like you should, maybe after a while I'll meet with you, and eventually you might get back to where we were."

No, He is right there... I only need to go to Him.

Isn't He good to us?

Seeking Him because He may be found,

Monday, December 27, 2010

This is, perhaps, the strangest Christmas I have ever had... 

With school right up until the last minute,  I have not done any Christmas baking like I usually do...  

With living between two different houses, we have done barely any decorating - we got a tiny tree at our house by school, which I didn't get to help decorate since I was studying for finals. And of course, now we're at our other house where we have no tree at all.

I have been listening to Christmas music... but listening perhaps more for the beauty of the music than the meaning of the words.

Even when my family went to a Christmas Eve service, I was so tired from all our late nights (several people in my family are sick - I think I was just starting to get sick then), it was all I could do just to stay awake.

Besides all this, we aren't really doing presents this year. We were going to go down-hill skiing together... but considering how we're all feeling, we decided not to.

Though I have been waiting for it with probably more longing than ever before - since I could not wait to be done with school - now that at last it is here, I find myself not believing that it truly is Christmas Day.

Why not?

Because I don't feel "Christmas-y."

When my younger brother came and woke me up this morning, I just kind of rolled over and reminded him he wasn't getting any presents, thought about how sore my throat was, and went back to sleep. 

But what is Christmas?

A feeling we get once a year?

The presents we give and receive? 

A certain type of music?

The smell of baking cookies and the feel of a hot oven?

A tree and lights?

Or is Christmas a celebration of the moment when the Almighty Creator of the Universe became as a created being, was born of woman, and came to live on this earth among those He loved enough to live and die for, even though they had rejected Him and were utterly unworthy of His love? 

Is not Christmas about the moment where He became like us that we might become like Him?

One of the greatest moments in this story He is writing - one that every previous moment had been leading up to since that promise in the garden, and one that every following moment depends upon...

It is a moment so beautiful, that we find ourselves lighting up our houses  in remembrance of that time when glory shone around.

A moment so wonderful, that we take time off from other things to prepare special foods and feast together in celebration.

A moment so inspirational, that some of the most amazing music in the world was written about the song of the angels and the reason for it.

A moment so precious that our joy overflows in giving each other presents, imitating the greatest gift that we were ever given - salvation and everlasting life in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ.

A moment that... if we take the time to think about it, will fill us on any day with a feeling of overwhelming gratitude, awe, and adoration for the One who in that moment began again to show how incredibly much He loves us. 

That is Christmas... and if I can't quite believe that Christmas is already over... perhaps I don't need to. 

Because it isn't.

Christmas is about Christ, and He is always present and waiting for me to spend time with Him, always listening to my prayers, always loving me, always working in my life and in the lives of those around me, always present with me

What could be more Christmas-y than that?

Sorry if this is rambling - I sat down to write this... because I knew I needed to. I needed to take that moment to remind myself, and to see again the glory of Christmas. I did, and I am so glad!

The bonfire we ended up building outside to roast hot dogs over while we discussed Christmases past, present, and future (decorating a Christmas tree on the moon?)... the trip to my grandparents where we got to see several relatives and managed to fit together a few presents - and I got an old Sir Walter Scott book that I really wanted, among other things! - and the pretty tree and delicious food and fun games we did later... all that was extra. 

Such things are merely a shadow of the real meaning of Christmas... and that real meaning is so incredible we cannot afford to merely look at the shadow, to miss what it is that lies above.
Did you take the time again this year to look through the shadow?

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Walking down the hallway in college, between short people, tall people, light people, dark people, fast people, slow people, and everyone in between, you will notice one thing in common.                                                                 
Almost every person is wearing headphones. Half the time you can hear their music anyway, :P but headphones seem to be the most similar thing about students. (Besides backpacks, of course.  :) 
Headphones, connected to some sort of music machine - usually... iPods.  

It's funny...  but have you ever thought about how similar we are to iPods? 

These things are empty, on their own. But whatever they plug into, that is what they are filled with. 

Plug it into your computer, and it will be filled with whatever music (or photos or apps...) are on your computer. It has no magical musical abilities of its own; everything it has - including the very power it needs to run - comes from the computer. The computer, though, can't fit into a pocket. 

Random... but it got me thinking.
What am I plugged into? 

When I am plugged into Christ, when I get my battery charged every day, when I am filled with Him - then I will be able to go anywhere, allowing His love to flow through me and bless those around me. 

When I am plugged into myself... I am nothing. My battery quickly dies and I can be seen for what I truly am without Him - a worthless plastic object that has absolutely no purpose by myself. 

Yet with Him... so much can happen! 
He is everything... and He is willing to fill me with Himself and use me to reach those about me. 

Is that amazing or not?

Seeking Him, that I may be filled with Him,  

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Day Of Judgement

You know I like to dramatize things... so it should come as no surprise that as I found myself preparing for my last three tests, realizing the ridiculousness of a finals week where you could go from an A to a C or worse by one test grade, I found myself thinking...

This is like Judgement Day.

This is where your semester is judged... where your study habits, your use of time, the people you found to tutor you, everything you have done in the past 16 weeks - is weighed in the balance. 

I was found wanting...
and saw the mercy of God so clearly I was dumbstruck. 

I missed the grade I had to have by less than 1%... and I went to the professor in fear and trembling. 

I had nothing to say, nothing to plead with. My grade in Organic Chemistry stunk. I had missed what I needed by so little... but by no matter how much, I had missed it - and there was no way I could make it up now.

He very kindly went over my final with me, twice, and found perhaps two points he could maybe allow me as grading errors... but that was not at all enough to change my grade. 

So he looks at it, looks at me, then scrawls a new grade across my test and hands it back. 
"Have a good break."

And that was it.

Y'know? We completely missed the mark in life. That's what the word sin means. But when we come to the Father and acknowledge that we have not made the grade, though we are without excuse - He simply gives it to us. He has already done the work, already completed the course. And in His merciful lovingkindness He simply writes a new grade on our paper and gives it back to us. 

Is not our God marvelous and wonderful and altogether perfect and lovely and beautiful and so incredibly amazing that we cannot comprehend it? 

In Awe of my Savior,

Monday, December 13, 2010

Yes, Finals Begin This Week.

Now I Lay Me
Down to Study,
I Pray the Lord I
Won't Go Nutty.

If I Should Fail to
Learn this Junk,
I Pray the Lord
I Will Not Flunk.

But If I Do,
Don't Pity Me at All,
Just Lay My Bones
In the Study Hall.

Tell My Prof
I Did My Best,
Then Pile My
Books upon My Chest.

Now I Lay Me
Down to Rest,
And Pray I'll Pass
Tomorrow's Test.

If I Should Die Before I Wake,
That's One less Test I'll Have to Take.



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