Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Peace, Hope, Love, and Abundance

"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word." -Hebrews 1:3

If you're looking for hope, hope is with us
If you're searching for love, love is here
If you hunger for peace, peace is waiting
It is Heaven's gift and it is near.

You're ashamed of your past, yet He wants you
You've refused Him before, still He waits
You're afraid you will fail, but He'll help you
If you only take a step of faith.

Come to all you long for
Come to all you need
Come now and see,
Come receive God's only begotten Son -

My challenge to you is this: take a step of faith this year and go out on a limb with our Lord, into the life and purpose for which He created you. Ask Him. Listen for what He answers. And then go for it. Step into the center of His will for your life. Live for Him.

"I am come that they may have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." -Jesus, John 10:10

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Flight Risk

"Everything that's worth doing, you're going to want to quit at least once." -my dad

So tell me this: were you ever just going about your business, trusting God with things, hum-diddly-um-dum...and then suddenly something opens up in front of you like a huge gaping maw of potential and your knee-jerk response is "Holy crap!" and all you want to do is turn around and flee as if your life depended on it?

No? Just me?

Up until now, I can't say I've ever really been much of a flight risk to the people in my life. I don't really bail on things. God (seriously, God) has put a tenacity in me causes people to literally have to shove me out and slam the door in my face if they want me out of their lives. And then, usually, I stand outside on the doorstep expectantly until they open it again.

But then, it happened - I found myself smack in the middle of a situation where I was stuck been gleeful excitement and pure, utter terror. I couldn't explain it, but I literally wanted to just run. Run out, get in my car, drive away, and never look back. It was a very new feeling for me.

And why?

Because I just kept thinking, "There's no way I can live up to this. I am SO not good enough." Over and over and over again. "Holy crap, I am SO not good enough!!"

And so, rather than step up and try, I wanted to flee.

But I didn't. For the record, I could have. For what I think was the first time in my life, I wanted to. Oh my gosh, but I wanted to just totally flake out. Sorry, Charlie, but I can't do it. That sounded like a much better idea than having all my shortcomings inevitably thrust under a spotlight - which, if I didn't run, they surely would be sometime in the very near future.

I knew, though, that'd I'd have been in, shall we say, very big cosmic trouble if I ran. See, that would have been pretty much the opposite of Respecting the Blessing. Spitting in God's face. Sneering at His gift. Rolling my eyes at His love towards me.

So I didn't. I stayed. Sometimes I felt like the hand of God was literally pinning me to the chair, but by Heaven, I stayed.

As I thought about it over next few days, suddenly a lot more of my life started to make sense. Why people often push me away or flee. Why people flake out on me. I admit - I often expect a lot. I invest all of myself and, apparently, that makes people feel guilty, like they have to do the same. Well, dang, no wonder they run. That's a lot to ask. Mind you, that's just who I am; I'm not asking anything of anyone else consciously. But now, I got it - because it got real up in that place quick, let me tell you.

The thing is, I am not a confident person. In fact, I'm probably the most insecure person you'll ever meet. (I try to make up for it with enthusiasm and witty comments.) Now, what is insecurity, really, but fear that you're just not good enough? Yep, that's me. I suspect that a lot of other people feel that way as well - we just don't talk about it. It's too deep. It's too much. It's something we don't want to admit to ourselves. So instead, we run. It's easier that way.

If I'm being honest, insecurity is probably my deepest-seeded sin, and one that constantly comes between me and God - and then me and the people I love. It's a maddening, vicious cycle, and I'm my own worst enemy. All the time. God and I, well, we're working on it.

I really wanted to run that day, but I couldn't. I knew it would have been a huge act of disobedience. I knew I couldn't have lived with myself. I would have allowed my own sin to ruin an incredible blessing God had given me - one I've actually been wishing for pretty much my whole life, in fact.

Now, wouldn't that have been a terrible shame?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

28 Things*

*Like "27 Dresses", but with less tulle.**

**But probably the same amount of cheesiness....if not more, let's be honest.

So, I turned the big, gulp, 2-9 last week. Climbed into the ride and strapped myself in for the last year of my 20's. The Last Hurrah. The Final Farewell. This is it, people.

I'm now the age of Jane Austen's oldest heroine...which, I suppose, means I have one more year during which to somehow Get It Right. Heaven only knows if that'll happen. Seriously - Heaven. Only. Knows.

But I figure, I must have learned something throughout this past year, right? Goodness, here's hoping. To that end, I decided to make a list. I admit that some of these span slightly further back than a year ago, but not too much - this past year was pretty darn eventful.

And so, in pretty close to chronological order, here are 28 Things I Learned During Year 28.

1. Real smiles are the best ever.

2. Apparently, I act blond sometimes. But shhh - when it makes someone laugh, it's intentional.

3. When God points out someone for me to minister to with a cosmic neon sign, pretending I don't see it is just prolonging the inevitable.

4. My emotions display themselves unashamedly spread-eagled on my face no matter how hard I try to hide them. Every time.

5. It's possibly not a coincidence that it rains every. single. time I step foot onto the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. I'm just saying - my hair NEVER looks right at that place!

6. What I dislike in other people often directly correlates with what I dislike about myself.

7. God actually really does know what He's doing. I know, shocker.

8. I sang "It Is Well With My Soul" as a duet with my best friend on Good Friday and it was possibly the purest, most raw form of emotion in art I've ever expressed.

9. Just being me produces far better results than huffing and puffing and striving to be someone else.

10. I got my first paid writing gig this year, writing ad copy for websites. While it was great to be paid to write, and I wouldn't sneeze at doing it again...it kind of felt a little bit what I'd imagine prostitution would feel like. Not that I know. Because I don't. Really! Wait, what was I talking about again?

11. What Any Sane Woman Would Do is never what I do.

12. When God closes a door, He opens...oh, wait, you know that one already? Well, it's totally true.

13. God is not, in fact, turning men celibate to keep me single...although for a brief period this summer, it really felt that way. More on that later. Good story, actually.

14. To get anywhere, I have to give 100%. Not 70%. Not 80%. Not even 90%. Even though I've gotten away with it in the past...no more. Everything God gives me deserves 100% of my effort and commitment.

15. The jackpot is totally, incredibly, fantastically awesome. Every single time, in fact.

16. Every person you really love will make you cry. I often think about how many times I've made God cry. It knocks the wind out of me.

17, When God blesses you, humility and maturity are the best resources. Otherwise, people get bitter. People get bitter anyway, but it's harder to be jealous when the person you're jealous of is gracious. Hopefully.

18. During an agent/customer role-playing game at my corporate call center job training, after hearing me be the "agent," all the men in the training class exclaimed, "Whew! I'm buying whatever you're selling!" That pretty much made my...well, up until now, really. And that was two months ago.

19. Shhh - I'm not a hardcore salesperson. But I am an actress.

20. My favorite thing ever (which I knew before this year, but still) is, once I get to know someone, letting them see a little more who I really am by saying things that shock them. That shocked, incredulous laughter is the best thing ever.

21. Three words: Respect. The. Blessing.

22. I am no longer a Renaissance Faire virgin. But, unsurprisingly, I'll be better prepared and even more, ahem, in character next year.

23. When your pastor calls you Bridget Jones, well, that's pretty much your sign.

24. The fact that so many people I've met over the last few years have opened up to me, confided in me, shared with me, let me pray with them, and have come to me as their spiritual point of contact is at once overwhelmingly humbling and incredibly gratifying. My Lord is so good. All the spiritual bottom-kicking I've taken this last decade is starting to bear some amazing fruit. It's all Him.

25. However, I am not a spiritual Yoda, not by a long shot. I need just as much Godly succor as anyone else. And someone to keep my head on straight...pretty much all the time, in fact.

26. Christian Scientists are all really, really nice people.

27. There is a huge difference between someone for whom you feel like you have to be better and someone because of whom you want to be a better version of yourself.

28. Five words from a fake nun were the biggest cosmic cream-pie I've experienced yet.

That's my wisdom from this year, folks. I hope it spoke to you in the way you needed it to most. Tune in next year as I begin a new decade - and hopefully, I will have learned even more from the incredible things my Lord is about to do in the next 350-odd days left of this one!