Saturday, January 26, 2008

My "God-moments"

For awhile now, God has been giving me what I've heard called, "God-moments". I've been sick and had more time on my hands - so I've done some reading, some reflecting, and tried to remain more open to His voice in my life.

As I've reflected on past blogs - I notice that I'm not as graceful (?) and "open" as I once was. Something, I am actually pretty sad to see go. I'm seeing things in my black and white, rather than various shades of gray. I'm learning to accept who God is as He has revealed, not how I think He should be - no easy task for this (reformed) feminist liberal. (Never burned a bra so I was not yet to the point of no return. ) But I do feel that I've lost something - perhaps a gentle touch or more understanding mind and cannot help but wonder when this happened and why wasn't I paying attention? As I turned up my Sandisk a few nights ago with my elbows covered in dish bubbles, I felt such a striking, amazing fellowship with faded singing voices on an acostic live version of a favorite song - something I hadn't so strongly felt in awhile. Not to say that I don't connect at GP - but rather, I'm more comfortable truly opening myself to my own honest worship in the privacy of my own home or shockingly, while pushing a mop around a tiny store in the middle of a not so good neighborhood. I don't care that my once clear voice is breaking and cracking as I heartily sing out the verses or how I look while I raise my hands and perhaps even cry. I don't care about those things - I just am overwhelmed with God's love and very prescence and the message, whatever it may be, whispered to my heart.

And while I feel confused about where my (more) controlled tongue and gray lines went, I am served by homeless men around the store. Charles came in today and has such confidence in me, that's it really is touching. He brings his trials and shares them with me, shares his quiet moments with God, and what is transforming in his life - but he even shares his disbelief, his inability to understand, and his confusion with me. It's so humbling because here is a man who thinks about everything he is doing, the Spirit is so clearly speaking to him, and he just wants to serve God. He is surrounded by godly counsel and yet, still he returns to the store and shares with me, I share with him, and we quietly read the Bible together and have this moments where God is so there. His Word comes alive and it's like watching my kids on Christmas - his face lights up, his eyes widen, and excitedly he'll share what just "spoke" to him. And he cannot believe it. This amazing transformation is so humbling to watch and I'm so grateful that God is allowing me to witness this.

It comes at a time when everything seems to be crashing into one another. With the bad news on Mamau I feel so torn between the LDS church (comfort, security, a sense of longing and homesickness) and what I know to be true - God and what He has spoke to us, taught us, and guided us through and to. My favorite song right now is Lincoln Brewster's, "Let the Praises Ring" - a line from it says, "In You I find my peace... Let everything I say and do, be founded by my faith in You." It's an uplifting line, true, but also very direct. Is the homesickness I feel due to my faith founded in God or a temporal secure feeling and longing for simpler times? Do I look to God for peace or still, the world? Do I live in God, or do I visit Him from time to time? A friend from Relief Society came by and visited me a few days ago, and there was such a wave of nostalgia.

And yet what has been beautiful amidst this whole thing, is her peace with her Savior. At no other time, do I find more peace with Jesus than I do now - I worry like crazy that I'm being idle, not sharing the gospel with her - but have realized that ultimately, Christ loves her more than I ever could.

I receive daily devotionals from the Proverbs 31 ministry - and a recent one was on radical obediance. As I read through it, the same day I received our church's e-newsletter - speaking about an upcoming series on Christian maturity. I often wonder how many times I just keep pouring the knowledge in to put as much distance between my past and now, and how much I actually retain and am obedient to. I'm not a "hollow leg" - I shouldn't just be pouring over books and podcasts and not applying anything. Radical obediance is only radical if one is actually obedient. How many times do I sit and think to myself all the ways I could improve my walk with God and then not do them? How many times do I clearly recognize God's voice in my life, His direction, His revealed will for change and yet I continue to do what I want? I had my very first experience in receiving a "word of knowledge" (I believe that's what it's called) - a message from the Spirit to me from another person and yet, still, I disobey.


God's hand is so apparent in my life and yet I don't take refuge in Him right now - I take it in myself. Coming to terms with that and knowing that it'll be a "painful" or at the very least uncomfortable walk as I start letting go and really be obedient in the small as well as the large, is something I'm hoping He will transform and enable me to do. I realize the first step is to stop thinking of how I am going to change, be more obedient, and transform myself and start thinking of God's Holy Spirit enabling me to overcome and to truly let go of myself for Him, and Him alone.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Two months later....

Steve and I sent in our resignation letters to the LDS church over two months ago. Prior to sending them in, I had a discussion with our ward bishop via email on what we needed, how long the whole thing would take, etc. I don't know why now I am suddenly frustrated that it's been two months and no updates - except an invitation to return to the church and repent and so on and so forth....

Each Sunday night/Monday morning, I still receive the ward RS newsletters (via email). I don't want to get deleted from the mailing list because it gives me better knowledge of the ward around me and how to practically serve each of them and I know when new sisters move in so I can take something over to them, and so forth. However, while I've been removed from the neighborhood list, no membership removal yet - after told it would only take 30 days.

Edited to remove my own personal rant on the topic. :P Be on the look out, I'm trying to write a short story on a day in a c-store - hoping it'll make me laugh every time someone dumps their piggy banks of the counter and walk out.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I've been brainwashed . . .

This past week has been crazy! I'm so exhausted but life moves on. More than ever, I'm realizing the importance of staying grounded in the Word. At work, I've been truly blessed that while I still struggle not to chuck large objects at rude customers who mouth off because they are "inconvenienced" by coming inside the store and having their ID checked when they use a credit card, I've had some truly amazing experiences.

Side note: If you go inside a gas station and use a credit card - you still have to place an amount, no we cannot just "open" the pump and no amount of swearing, yelling, screaming, spitting, or other vulgarities can change that. So please, if you go inside and the attendant tells you something, please believe them - after all, they are the ones working there. ;)

Back on track - I realized a long time ago how important it was that I focus on God throughout my days at the counter otherwise I'd go insane. Now with my awesome Sandisk and the increased storage, I can store tons of worship music (along with a little Lincoln Park...) and all my daily podcasts and sermons that I download. Which really puzzles the customers at our store, "Is today Sunday?" I smile and say, "Everyday is a day of worship for the Lord".

To the guys in the back - who had NO interest whatsoever in doing Bible studies with me, I've become the "different girl" and also, who they are bringing their spiritual questions. Who would have thought it? Six months after totally rejecting my bible studies, they are now bringing me their questions and Bibles and asking for my help. What a huge blessing.

One customer inquired, "Are there new owners?"

"No, why?"

She explained she had never heard any Christian stuff in the store before and something was just different. That's how the guys now describe me as well - different, nice, that Jesus girl.

On the other hand, discussions about the cross are heating up dramatically within the online community, so it was a bit shocking to hear Papau repeating almost word for word the same lines of thought on Saturday. In his office (as well as the one I work in) is a computer system that hooks up to all the cameras throughout the store - including sound for the counter. So, unless he muted his monitor, he was listening to all the same sermons I was. Finally, in the middle of a sermon about the importance of the daily application of the cross, Papau comes out and says, "Why are letting yourself get so brainwashed over this cross business?"

What does the Bible say?

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Cor 1:18

Brothers, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished.
Gal 5:11


So I'll hold my tongue, take a step back, and meditate on the Word - and simply pray for the wisdom to speak to Papau about the cross.


Scary -- "the land of the free"

Today, my best friend opened her front door to a social worker - investigating her because of a complaint of child abuse. My friend openly blogs about parenting and family, she counsels others in parenting, and is one of the most excellent, consistent, and loving mothers I know. In short, I wish I had even a percentage of her dedication and ability to sacrifice as she does.

What the social worker revealed, was someone who posted on a site, Ravarly, where Barbie posts, had complained about her spanking her children with a rod. For those not familiar, no my friend does not beat her children, she never hits in anger, she simply follows the sound Biblical doctrine of spanking her child. She uses a "rod" - an instrument for correction, in her case a wooden spoon. She has a set way she does this - which combines communication and consistency, love and always always the Spirit of God.

America, this is supposed to be the land of the free - not like China or Sudan or other places where Christians literally can and are killed for being Christians. Here, everyone has the freedom to worship how they see fit. Except, and I hate sounding cliche, Christians. As a liberal myself, I've never noticed how things creep in that really limit Christians in the name of good for all.

Recently, I heard a reporter on SOS Radio here in Grace City, talk about how in CA they are passing laws that prohibit "anti" gay speech - or something to that accord. I have friends who are openly gay, not only do I accept them, but I love them. Regardless of choices they make in life - regardless if I agree with them or not, that doesn't affect the friendship we have together. So I chuckled a little and didn't understand why Christians were so opposed to this - then I began to think about it more - homosexuality is a sin in the Bible, so the Bible is now an anti-gay book. I've never thought of it this way - will this limit what pastors can and cannot say from the pulpit? Will it limit what Christians can and cannot say in public (and no I am absolutely NOT talking about groups like "God Hates ....")? Will it not just protect homosexuals in schools, but even lift them up? I began thinking of all the ripples from this seemingly innocent law and it scared me.

Now, what about my friend? She worries about blogging - stop blogging and Satan wins - one less Christian out there to help those who need and/or want help, continue and put your family at risk. So what about the rest of us? I've openly admitted that motherhood is a challenge for me, that because of my own childhood I don't always know how to relate, be consistent, or just understand my kids. And I blog in a very open manner - how long before women like me, who aren't great mothers and wives and are open about it, how long before we get that knock on the door? Who is drawing these lines?

I began thinking about how all this creeps in - first, the Christian lifestyle element that is setting someone apart becomes almost taboo, then it becomes socially unacceptable, finally - it becomes illegal. Like spanking. I remember when I was a kid and they made paddling illegal in public schools how happy I was, I wanted to rub it the faces of the principal and teachers who ever paddled anyone - I didn't realize how spanking corrected me because my own mother was beating me. I couldn't see how this discipline could ever benefit my life.

Now, as I face this walk as a Christian, mother, and wife - I wonder, on the road ahead, how much more is society going to try to limit me in worshiping and obeying God? I often hear about the irrational or radical lifestyle of a Christian, but until today, I never thought of it as somewhere even remotely close to home.

I've heard stories of harassment for being a vocal Christian. A Christian friend of mine was threatened by a LDS poster with his job! Another (ex-Mormon) had their family harrased because of a website they ran on how to bypass all that sticky red tape when resigning from the LDS church. Today it's not just about having different opinions, it's about shutting people up that don't agree with you.

Here in America, we are so blinded by the "comforts" around us, by the "freedom" that we don't even notice that we're in that boiling water until we're fully cooked frog legs. Although, I've heard pastors say that we won't have a revival until we're persecuted, so perhaps, in reality, this is a good thing after all.

Gal 5:11
11 And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Better late than never . . .

Inspired by another blog wrapping up 2007 - although her blog was timely where as mine is just late - I decided to do my own roundup of the year.

2007 at a glance . . . .

In January I went to Santa Barabara for the first time with one of my closest friends to serve another super close friend.











Driving to Santa Barabara with Pamela Michelle was an awesome experience - I learned so much in just a day. I got to meet Austin and Darla who were super nice to us and who we recently learned are now expecting their first baby. California was just beautiful - the whole experience was amazing. The only downside was that I didn't get to meet Barbie, who I felt like I'd known forever but never met in real life.

Of course, this day also was when Steve was really overwhelmed with the kids and they decorated most of our new home in permanent blue marker. :P

I also began babysitting for a new family in our ward and learning about Food Allergies.

In March Steve's twin brother Dan and his family moved away to Iowa. It was really sad for us, because after such a strained relationship for almost four years, we were finally starting to really get along and develop a relationship together.











In April we visited Grace Point for the first time ever - as I've said before, it wasn't our taste or style and of course, when we visited we weren't even considering ever returning. Isn't God funny? :P The kids went to the zoo for the first ever time and ♥ LOVED ♥ it. Of course, I've yet to see anything that Grandma has done that they haven't loved.



In May, God clearly told us to leave the LDS church and attend GP - was very weird for us - but also a bit of a relief since we were attending GP in the morning, block services in the afternoon, and a small group in the evenings.

We also had Paul and Anya's joint birthday party and guess who came? Barbie. I finally got to meet her and little Annika. It was awesome.








We also met some other R&P posters.




Actually, we had a lot of firsts in May. . .

Anya's first time making brownies.




Anya's first braids . . . and the first totally meltable moment between Paul and Anya.




Our first family Red Power Ranger night. . .




Really getting into the cooler worship with God was so awesome. Of course, in just a few months I'd get really sick and loose my time totally and completely alone with God.

In June I had a ton of time off from babysitting and was able to bond with the kids so much more. We were all adjusting to GP - from Paul loving it to Anya's death grip on me.

July brought my 25th birthday (egh!) and our five year anniversary. Wow. I couldn't believe we had been married for so long. I thought about our honeymoon and first anniversary a lot - wishing we could have returned to Disneyland for our 5 yr celebration. Maybe we can return to our honeymoon destination for our 10 yr anniversary and take the kids.

With my birthday came the most awesome gift - a huge inflatable pool for the kids. Which they spent almost the whole summer in - sans cloths and suits of course. ;)




At the end of the month, after sorting so much of our beliefs and understanding of not only the Bible but WHO God is in a "Christianity 101" like small group, Steve and I were baptized.



August brought the first time Paul ever wore and danced in my boots. . .



In September Grace Point volunteered for Balloon-a-palooza (sp?) and Steve and I saw for the first time, GP in action (in such a large scale as "missionaries" from churches that support the plant came out to help) in the community. It was awesome.



October brought all month Halloween. This was the first year the kids really understood it - so even Daddy's birthday paled in comparison. Except for the birthday cake at Grandma's . . they loved that birthday cake. And of course, Steve's 10 year highschool reunion - we were so thrilled to finally have that behind us as Steve was the one planning it all.







We also visited our first mega-church when we went to King's Faire.


Photo Sharing - Video Sharing - Photo Printing - Photo Books








Of course, October also brought some of the worst moments of the year for us as well. While coming out of the LDS church and all that that entailed has pretty much consumed our whole year, telling my parents that we had left was by far the worst part of it all. We also learned in October that Mamau was now heading towards liver failure in her Stage 5 of Hept. C.

November was a month of craziness. Five toddlers running around the house, holiday plans and outings starting, and more hours at the store. It was a hard and frustrating month.

Thanksgiving was for sure a time very much needed for rest.




December has been both a hard and great month for us. It was by far the best Christmas we've had since Steve proposed to me six Christmas Eve's ago. The kids totally understood the whole present and Santa thing this year - so we spent the month of December trying to remind them of Jesus. We even picked up this adorable Veggie Tales Nativity scene.

We went to the Live Nativity - in which Anya tried to play the star not once, but twice. It was awesome to see some people from Grace Point there.



I was blessed to be able to go out and serve the homeless with other Grace Point people during December. It was really widened my eyes even more to the homeless and their very real need for the gospel.

Outside the Timeline:

This year was a year of several radical changes for us. We went from temple attending Mormons, to attending a church plant with a rock-n-roll band - from accepting God as a created, exalted man to an eternal God. By far, this change has been this biggest and most impacting the whole year.

My blogs have become much more deeply personal and even raw as has my relationship with God. Some days I feel so intimate and connected with Him, and others I don't even feel like I know what I'm doing. Each new season with God seems to bring both new joys and new challenges - I feel like I'm forever on this dissecting table where God is the surgeon bringing so many things to light. I feel uncomfortable, squeamish, and like I'm strapped down with my little book of comforting rules are just out of reach.

Time at the store has for sure brought me to a new level of service and opened my eyes to the homeless. I've loved working with them - even now knowing that Ron has been using this whole time (acid and mushrooms). I look forward to serving the homeless in 2008 and getting over myself and my own heart illusions of what all this is supposed to look like or hot it's supposed to go. I should have learned this in 2007 - but I cannot put God in a box.

I'm almost nervous about what God brings in 2008 - if 2007 was one of such radical change, what will He be doing in 2008? The Word says that it's through trials and such that we grow and mature.

What I want for 2008 is to go from frazzled, ignorant stay-at-home Mom treading water, to passionate wife and mother serving my family. I've felt the Lord really lay on my heart that my family is my first and most important "ministry". I also want to get back into school somehow this year - still shooting for the local Bible college. Finally, I want to get more organized and prioritize my time better - I have a wealth of reading sitting on my shelves and I'm not making the proper time for them and God and family and and and . . . you get the point.

So here comes 2008 - embrace it because it's here.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Pollution - Mind, Body, and Soul


There was some drama at my parents' store and I unexpectedly I went from the office to covering two shifts with only five hours to go home, sleep, and return.

I have to say - that as much as I have loved working for them over the past several months, I am really coming to hate people and hate their store. On the one hand, I love that I get to spend time with God and the chance to serve the employees, Papau, and the homeless. On the other hand - the way people treat the person behind the counter is absolutely horrible. However, yesterday as I was driving home, exhausted, with smeared makeup and bird feces on me - I realize that God was truly using this place to refine me, I just have to embrace it instead of complaining and crying out.

I am heartbroken over Ron's downward spiral - from clean shaven, well behaved, yet prideful man who didn't drink, smoke, or do drugs - he has now become dirty, bearded, angry, and as of Thursday drunk and apparently now a user. Yet, as depraved and depressed as he obviously was all I could think of was myself - how foolish I was to believe him, how naive I was to think he wasn't addicted to something, and the worst - how stupid and useless I was to ever try to work with the homeless. In one movement, I allowed him to shake my faith in the gospel and it's ability to transform, myself in what I know God has placed upon my heart, and even God for not changing Ron already. And yet, what I've really seen is that Ron is still hitting bottom, and I have no idea how to react. But God also took this time to really dig up embarrassing heart issues that I didn't know I still struggled with. I harp on my Papau (in blogs not face to face, I'm much gentler there) for not believing that Jesus, the cross, the gospel can radically transform lives, that Jesus reaches us just where we are - as Devin pointed out today, He didn't have life come up to the mount, he want down to the valley, yet here I was in the valley and for the whole night, I didn't believe Jesus would or could meet Ron just where He was. When I realized what was stewing in my heart, in my thoughts - I was so horrified, yet I couldn't stop myself. Even now, while I know the correct answer, I just don't quite believe it. So how to serve Ron? How to best react to him? Every interaction over the last few days has been awkward, and I don't want to do that to him, yet, here I am, unable to unfreeze myself.

The other heart issues God has been bringing out into the light for me, is my ego. I've mentioned before that I heard someone say (it was Rick Warren on an interview Family Life Today recently played), that all conflicts were the result of egos - which actually from a Proverbs verse. I realized, that my issues with people at the c-store were my own. I choose to be offended because I believed self esteem and respect were my "God given right" - when they're not.

As I've spent almost sixteen hours at the store in a less than 24 hour time period, I listened to several sermons - and I have to say, I wonder when I'll stop being amazed at Manna's sermons. Two of them that I listened to really convicted me of my ego. I know I always "highly recommend" sermons - but I really do try to only recommend the best of the best.

The first sermon, "People, Landscape, or Machines" (4/22/07) was just what I needed to hear. I only had a few hours left in my last shift for the day, and I was exhausted, people were horrible, and I just wanted to go home. As the sermon went on, I was nodding, and wishing that the people coming in and out would take a minute and listen to what I was hearing - and perhaps be a little more mindful of the "landscape" behind the counter. I was just so fed up with everyone around me, but as I listened to the sermon a second and third time later that night, I realized that there was a different message for me - it was about my ego. Which then reminded me of the New Year's service for 2006 that Manna had done - called, "Is He less than God?" - a sermon directly for believers and reminding us, that God isn't out little genie in a bottle that we can rub anytime we need something - He's GOD, not our toy, not our holy buddy, and so forth. And while yes He loves us, yes He died for us - He's GOD and we need to remember that. It was an amazing sermon in which it reminded us, that we aren't here for our self esteem or to pursue worldly things (which incredibly Wrecked addressed as well . . . God never ceases to surprise me in the messages He sends my way). When I realized I was almost making an idol out of my self esteem, my rights, how I should be treated - I was in no way behaving as a Christ follower. I was behaving as an "Amanda follower".

At the store, I've been allowing myself to become emotionally, physically (egh, bird poop), and spiritually polluted. I wondered as I drove home Saturday if the LDS church had a copyright on the term, "spiritual pornography" - because I felt like I had been exposed to it non-stop over the last 24 hours. I felt so dark, so horrible - I didn't want to have anything to do with God, Grace Point, non-believers, believers - ANYONE. In fact, I just wanted to go home, shut myself into a room, and not come out. And I've been on this walk long enough (which hasn't been all that long really) to know that when I feel that dark - I must turn to God, or I'll keep walking further and further away. I knew that the pollution hadn't retreated yet when I woke up this morning and didn't want to go to church, didn't want to serve, didn't want to do anything with anyone - except maybe go outside and scream until I didn't a voice. Yes, working at a gas station itself is not hard, it's the people that make it at times, unbearable.

I feel like my world has been crashing around me - which I know is simply because I haven't been keeping the pollution OUT. I go through the motions, without too much faith - which God exposed with Ron. I have a huge ego that is sizzling and boiling inside me ready to scream and demand to be let loosed. And I have this desire to run away from God and everyone and never look back. And I know, it's because I'm a sinner. I know it's because, when I work at that store and person after person chips at me, I am not only allowing them, but I am trying to stay calm and centered and kind based on my own will power. Honestly, I don't know how anyone gets through a day without screaming at least one customer - however, because I'm trying to drive by own strength and will, I'm not lettting God do it. So I become polluted, angry, and withdrawn.

And that trickles over into all other areas of my life. Like worship during singing - something I've struggled off and on with since coming to GP. Steve served on the Crew and was encouraged to sit towards the front so back seats are open for visitors and guests, this change from back of the house to front has made me very uncomfortable. Mostly just during worship because I feel my face turn beet red and heat up as I raise my hands.

My ego, my pride - they're hurting my walk with God because I am allowing them. Then I find an excuse in the store. When really, the store is the resource that God is using to bring so many things to light and in a sense, forcing me to deal with them. Make choices. Will I simply complain about my inability to worship without being embarrassed? Will I continue to judge Papau for not believing the ability of the gospel to change lives? Will I intentionally turn to God and let go of the dirty weight I feel after just a full day at the store? Will I continue to allow myself to be drug back to legalism time after time?

Will I fight for my walk in God? Will I continue to share my faith with Papau even though he has made it clear how little he respects or cares about Evangelical Christianity? Finally, do I have the faith to really understand and accept how God moves in my parents lives? On the 11th, the results are supposed to be in about Mamau's bloodwork - whether these treatments are working or not. I can't help but wonder, am I allowing myself to back slide and become so angry over such simple things because I feel so completely helpless and out of control with Mamau's health? If the treatment isn't working, the doctors have given her a year tops to live - I feel so numb and angry about it. I don't want to confront it and I can't stop thinking about it. And I for sure don't want to believe it.

At the end of the day, I have to either have my palms up or down as they say at GP - I have to give it to him, or continue stewing in my own building rage.


"In with the good, out with the bad." - The Other Side of Heaven. I've gotta drive this bad out.

Friday, January 4, 2008

A few randdom thoughts...

♥ I just ordered a book from the library about the Jewish Shabbot - I am super excited. It has a whole chapter on proper head covering! I also have a book on Sabbath resting on hold as well, I'm hoping to find a balance between Jewish customs which were the very beginnings of honoring God's Holy Day while staying outside the legalism my heart so loves. ;) I don't want my Sundays to be a day of dread, but a day totally dedicated to God, family, and obediance - whatever that might end being in our family.

♥ Last night, we watched (foolishly because we stayed up way too late) License to Wed - a must see! If Catholic catchesim was like that with Father Frank, I'd say we might be tempted... (j/k)

♥ For Christmas, I got Heroes season 1 - of course, I LOST a disc already and I'm going nuts about it!. :P

LOST will finally be returning! There is a light at the end of the tunnel. Whew.

♥ Oddly, this time around while being sick, my house isn't wrecked! It's actually very clean. Maybe it's because I don't have five toddlers running around here, just two. Ah, the peace.

♥ I'm going to be starting an online Bible study (using Beth Moore's study) in the next week or so with some friends. Very exciting. :)

♥ I feel pretty bad that I haven't blogged about my conversations about the gospel with my family or returned emails to people lately. I just haven't been in a communicating mood. :P

♥ GP Kidz is awesome.

♥ GP Kidz is totally terrifying. Could they just stare at you even more like you're a total freak dancing on the stage? Yikes!

♥ Steve is rocking out the Greek. At night when he practices, he reads it out loud. And I thought simply learning my Greek alphabet was hard in a sorority (only burned myself once with the match!).

The Lord speaks not spoke....

In the St. George temple visitors' center, they show the new Joseph Smith movie (Prophet of a Restoration I believe is the title). At either the beginning or the end (it's been two summers now since we saw it...) they include a quote from Emerson that says, "
It is the office of a true teacher to show us that God is, not was; that He speaketh, not spake." I remember with such conviction nodding my head (and if it was after the movie, while I clutched a wad of tissue :P ).

One huge problem I had with non-LDS "Christians" were that I believed - from my own bias and what the LDS church taught me, that Protestants didn't believe God spoke to anyone anymore, the modern revelation was heresy. Even though my best friend was always talking about "revelations" and how God was speaking into her life, I just couldn't get past my own ideas of what Protestants believes and it didn't help that the larger church her church belonged to was included in Rick Ross' list of cultists (but hey, who don't Christians believe are cultists these days?).

And so, during times when I wonder just how much of a Christian I am right this moment, God speaks. Not spoke. Not silent. He speaks into my life. It's always the little things that make me wonder and awe.

Recently, I've been listening to another GP series called, Wrecked. It's another one I'll have to upload and link to - another must listen. I hear legalism jumping out at me again a ton in this sermon, but I also feel convicted of so many other areas of my life as well. Like my pursuits. I've wondered over the past fall and winter, why I don't seem to be transforming in such a radical way that I did in the beginning, why God isn't moving and aweing me in such amazing ways again. And while I listened to Wrecked - I realized He was, I just wasn't appreciating what He has been doing, because my pursuit hasn't been the kingdom of heaven, but rather other things. From a video iPod, to tv programming, to me time to read, sleep in, or shake this bug I've had for two weeks. I've been pursing myself, not God or His Kingdom. No wonder I'm not noticing when He blesses us, safe guards us, speaks to me, or wows me. At the bottom of this blog is a video using Lifehouse's song, "Everything". It always moves me to tears because of the enduring love of Christ put into a beautiful dance, however as I've thought more about it, I recalled how in the beginning the girl is so in love with God, she is walking with Him closely, He is aweing her and wowing her, and almost in a way romancing her. Then, she begins to take her gaze off Him and she doesn't notice His actions in her life.

How much am I like that? We don't live in the worst neighborhood, but we don't live in the best one either, for sure not a neighborhood I could ever trust my doors unlocked even when I'm home (of course I am a bit paranoid at times :P ). Christmas time is always a time of heightened break ins, and we went away to Pahrump for the day last weekend to come home and discover our front door had been unlocked the whole day. I didn't even acknowledge God's hand in safe guarding our home, I just locked it and made a mental note to remember to check all the locks before leaving again. Which I've done faithfully, but it was only today - almost a full week later, that as I was locking our front door, did I realize how God had been so present in our lives.

Today, I bundled up (not that cold here right now, but I've got the shivers a bit) and walked the kids to their favorite park that's only 2-3 blocks away. I didn't plan on being gone long but always pack drinks and snacks for the kids. While packing my little backpack today, I felt this prompting to add two more drinks and another pack of crackers to the bag. I didn't understand, my kids would be lucky to finish one pack of crackers and each their own drinks, why pack extra? But then I thought about recent sermons I'd listened to on obediance so I went ahead and added them to my little pack. We walked to the park and it was empty - just how we like it. I hate how shy I've become. After we'd been there awhile, another mom and her two children showed up. A little while later, Paul and Anya came up to me and asked me for their snacks and juice. As my kids were chowing down, Conner and Braden (the two little boys who had come) were asking their mom for juice and crackers too. I realized that this was a chance to perhaps talk more with this mom - I began thinking about how we are to live the gospel, not just read it. So I took my extra food and drinks and offered them to her. It was awesome to be able to step up and know that the Lord had known about this moment before I even knew which park I would make it to.

This is so tiny to me and so huge at the same time. As a mom of two toddlers, I know how badly I feel when I take the kids somewhere and they see a snack or juice and I haven't planned for their snacks and drinks. To be able to serve someone practically is something I very much enjoy, and it helps me take a step outside of myself and my shyness.

I realize that God has radically transformed me, I just have to be willing to examine myself a little bit better. I suppose I have this tendency to hear about how God has transformed others and think to myself, "Why doesn't He change me so dramatically as well?" - but He does, and it's a little bit everyday.

He speaks to me everyday, I just have to realize that He is speaking. He convicts me everyday of what His will is in my life, I just have to be willing to obey Him.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Opinions


This past spring/summer (2007) my friend Barbie was living in Santa Barbara. One of her pastors made the comment that what he enjoyed most about his wife was that "she didn't have a lot of opinions about a lot of things she didn't need to have opinions about," and that when she did have opinions she didn't dwell on them or allow them to "cloud her purpose". I remember being really inspired by these comments - after the initial shock wore off of course.

Ever since then, when my wagging tongue is out of control (James 1:26) and I feel convicted even as I'm mouthing off, I think back to those comments. I feel bright red and guilty, but then slowly push those thoughts aside as I continue to unleash my tongue.

But last night, I was strongly reminded and convicted of the importance of controlling our tongues, our thoughts, and our opinions. Recently I heard - although I forget where at this moment - that all conflicts are the results of egos. It's true. I conflict with people when I think my way is the best way, or my thoughts are the best thoughts, etc. Which is the exact opposite of humility. And God hates pride. . .

Last night, some longtime friends came over and we were discussing parenting. My friend shared an example that to me was just shocking and absolutely not acceptable. I neither controlled my face or my tongue as I spouted off my opinions on the matter. Then she - very humbly - stated that while this manner of parenting we were discussing were not okay for her, it wasn't her kids and the kids seemed happy so she was trying to let it go. All at once, I was reminded about the pastor's comments about having opinions.

As I thought more about it after they left I began to realize that God had shown me someone in action who adheres to controlling their thoughts and not allowing their opinions to cloud their purpose. What a humbling experience.