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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

the whole trip

Was reading The Second Summer of the Sisterhood today, and came across this amazing quotation.

". . .you can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way. E. L. Doctorow"

It's been one of those headlights-only weeks. You know how it goes, everyone has one of those, oh, I'd say at least once a month, or maybe every other month. You start out going real great, and then you make some resolutions and decide you're going to improve your life and suddenly nothing is going right. Coming across that encouraging thought, though, made me smile.

Ever been driving down the freeway and noticed how far ahead your headlights lit the way? Perhaps you've been caught in cotton-wool-fog and you kept your lights low and wondered if you dimmed them how far ahead you would be able to see? Some nights even the moon decided it was too much effort to shine as your headlights pierced the blackness for what seemed like miles. Other nights you peered through sheets of rain as you made your way home and hoped the deer and other wildlife had decided to find a nice dry place and wouldn't t try to suddenly cross the freeway.

I am a worrier, and when I start to think about driving at night, I usually think about how I really can't see that far ahead and if I'm flying down the freeway at 70 miles an hour, how am I going to see a plank of plywood, a lone buck crossing, or someone's garbage scattered across three lanes in time to avoid an accident? It's times like these when I have to trust that God will protect me. . .and take my foot just a little off the gas!

Even with just a few feet of light, though, there is still enough illumination to make it home. Perhaps that is what the Christian's walk is like. We know God is leading us, but often we don't have a bright fog-light shining thousands of lumens onto the path ahead of us so we can see exactly where we are going. God does say He will provide a light for our feet, but He doesn't add "and it will be a light that will shine so brightly you can see the next 60 years of your light"! There's just enough light to know where to put our feet to take the next step or two. Enough light to make it home. . .

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Four-Eyed Blonde

I absolutely love Chonda Pierce. I know, you're wondering, who in the world is Chonda Pierce? I had never heard of her before either, until one Friday evening, bored and online, I decided to find clips from Christian comedians on YouTube. I listened to some really great ones, and had some great laughs, but when I found Chonda, I not only laughed but I cried, I listened, and I understood.

Chonda has the ability to take an everyday occurrence and find the humour in it, even after her older sister was killed in a car accident at 20, her younger sister died from leukemia at 15, her father left the ministry, and her parents got divorced. I can't imagine being able to find laughter after surviving two of those types of experiences, let alone all of those. Chonda also has the gift to speak words that go straight to your heart. It's as if God speaks through her when she shares about how much He loves us and as if she's sitting in His presence and she wants us to understand how amazing it is. I need that.

My hardest struggle in life is understanding who God really is and understanding that He loves me and His love for me is unconditional. I have been talking about this a lot lately, with good friends and family, and just this evening I sat down with my mom to watch a Chonda Pierce DVD called Four-Eyed Blonde. The first hour was filled with laughs, but it was the last part that really spoke to me. Chonda told a story about her daughter who had just entered that awkward age, where you get braces and glasses at the same time, and to encourage her, they went to a really fun medieval-themed restaurant where you ate with your hands and cheered on the knights that were fighting down a mud pit. The story goes that they were cheering for the blue knight, who eventually won the battle, and as he came out, he headed straight for their table, went to Chonda's daughter, knelt, took his blue scarf from around his neck, kissed it, and gave it to her. Then he took her by the hand and led her to his horse. Together they rode to a platform where a king stood, who placed a robe around her and a crown on her head. She stood there, beaming, as all her awkwardness fell away and the king pronounced her princess of the day.

Tears were rolling down my cheeks as Chonda quietly told the audience that as she saw her daughter standing up there, she realized that Jesus was like that knight and God was like that king and that we are princesses and princes of God. You see, it's hard for me to believe that God wants to love me. I'm not a horrible person, I haven't committed any major crimes, but I am not perfect either. The older I get, the more I realize how many things I have wrong with me, and the harder I try to do something about them, the more I feel like I can't ever win. Maybe it's because I'm fighting that battle on my own.

Someone said, at a baby's memorial yesterday, that Jesus wasn't afraid in Gethsemane because of the sin that would be placed on Him. He wasn't afraid of the physical pain, of the nails that would be pounded into His gentle hands. He was afraid of something much more. Before us, before Mary and Joseph, before Jeremiah and Isaiah and Ezekiel, before Joseph, before Abraham, before Moses, before Adam and Eve, before the angels, before the creation of this world, there was God, the Holy Spirit, and Jesus. Forever. And Jesus was faced with the thought that He could be separated from His Father forever. Yet that did not stop Him. Jesus made the decision because He knew there was no other hope for us.

I know God's love is unconditional, at least, I know that with my head. But I am still learning it with my heart. I know my family and friends love me unconditionally, as far as they are humanly able to, and that they support me in whatever I do. And yet we live in a world where love is conditional and acceptance is based on meeting other people's expectations. Perfection as seen in others' eyes is what we continually strive for and we waste our time, money, and effort just to reach that elusive pinnacle so we can shine. Strangely enough, man's acceptance is not what we should be working for. All we ever do will not be enough to love God because He loves us already. If we can stop battling in our minds to reach a state of perfection where we feel that we can now enter His presence, maybe we'll finally realize He's been with us all along. And maybe then we can begin to grow. When we are confident in God's love and acceptance, we can move forward and do amazing things because we know. . .we are loved.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Going Home. . .

While pulling up yahoo's homepage to find an article this afternoon, I saw a story about a hero pilot. My brother is a pilot, so I'm always interested to read stories that have anything to do with planes, so I clicked on the link. Several minutes later, I broke down while trying to read the story to my mom and brother.

The brief version goes like this: there was a couple, Nancy and Mark, whose grandson had been tragically murdered by their daughter's live-in boyfriend. He was being taken off life support at 9 pm that evening. Mark was able to get a flight from LA to Tucson, where he was going to step off one plane and on to another, headed for Denver to see his grandson in his last moments. Mark arrived at LAX 2 hours before departure time, but because of security and delays at baggage check, he realized he was not going to make his flight. He pleaded with TSA staff and Southwest Airlines staff to fast-track him, but nobody seemed to care. When he cleared security minutes after the scheduled departure, he grabbed his belongings and ran in his socks down to his terminal. "The pilot and the gate agent were waiting for him. "Are you Mark? We held the plane for you and we're so sorry about the loss of your grandson," the pilot reportedly said. "They can't go anywhere without me and I wasn't going anywhere without you. Now relax. We'll get you there. And again, I'm so sorry.""

Adams writes that many passengers that day were probably frustrated at the 12-minute delay. And yet Southwest Airlines said they were "proud" of their pilot, a man who clearly understands that taking a child off life support has consequences that run deeper than a flight taking off late. You can read the whole story by clicking here.

This has been a very sad week. An innocent not-quite-4-month-old baby girl was taken off life support Sunday evening and her family and friends are hurting. There are no answers to the questions. There are no reasons and no one should even try to explain such a tragedy. All we can do is cry with those who cry and remember that one day. . .all of these horrible things will be over and we'll be going home.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Back OnLine Again

Uhoh, it's been over a month since I've been blogging! I seriously have to get back in the mode. Tonight I decided to take a few minutes and do a bit of writing and catch up.

The past month has been a whirlwind of activity. LaVonne came to visit, Laura & Jaime, and Rachel came home for Christmas break. We were shopping and eating out and just having a lovely time. Then everyone left and I felt rather alone but thankfully school has started so there are a lot of people around again. I think the past few weeks have been my time for getting back in touch with old friends. Having my good friends around again has reminded me of how much I am blessed, and how much they blessed my life when we were able to share so many amazing memories. 

I have had yet another responsibility added to my list of growing duties! I am now the library administrator, which is a fancy word for someone who coordinates schedules, organizes people, makes sure the library is open when it needs to be, and other miscellaneous things. Being the first week of the semester, life is a bit hectic right now, and I feel like I spend my day just trying to put out the fires as they pop up. I don't mind, because I enjoy being busy and thrive on multi-tasking, and I love helping people figure out problems. But I do worry that I won't be able to do everything. I think I'm slowly learning that I can't do everything. . .

This evening I watched the 2009 version of Ice Castles. I watched the old version years ago and absolutely loved the music, the ice skating, and the whole movie, but it had a few too many swear words in it, so my mom decided we shouldn't watch it anymore. When I popped the remake into my laptop this evening, I wasn't sure I would like it. After all, there were new actors, a new plot, and it was probably really boring. About 20 Kleenex later, I decided I liked this version even better! The movie is amazing, it isn't peppered with swear words, and the best part of all is that they use the theme song from the old movie in this version. Oh yes, and Morgan Kelly and Taylor Firth are my new favourite actors!!!

Several posts ago, I wanted to start remembering blessings at the end of the day. I had several blessings today. One of them was having an old friend, Shahin, drop by to say hi and catching up on old times. He could always make me laugh and today was no different! I do miss having everyone around though. I think it's hardest because there isn't anyone left anymore. But I am thankful God gave me the amazing friends I have!