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"No matter where I am, your teachings fill me with songs." - Psalm 119:54 (CEV)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sovereign in the Storm


The rains came Sunday, I think.

The winds blew and the sky was dark and cloudy.

I took a walk in the rain.

After church in the evening, I took a shower,

Brushed my teeth,

Prayed,

Read my Bible,

And was about to get into bed

When the power went out.


People were in the hall

Making all sorts of noise.

I waited for the power to come on.

It flickered a bit,

But didn't come back on.

My alarm clock was out of commission.

My cell phone alarm only works 10% of the time.

I called my friend and asked her to wake me up in the morning,

Then went to bed.


She called

And the power was back on

And I plugged everything back in,

Got dressed,

Read my Bible,

Listened to a sermon,

Went to class.


It was rainy

And cold.

The wind was blowing hard.

A short walk outside got the front of my jeans soaked.

My best friend and her roommate had planned a shopping trip to WalMart.

I, of course, decided to go along.


We got there safely,

In spite of the wind and rain,

Though we had a hard time fighting the wind to get the car doors open.

We shopped,

Paid for our purchases,

And walked toward the exit.

The doors slid open in front of us

And we stopped.

And stared.


The rain was falling sideways,

Pushed by great gusts of wind.

It did not look pretty.

We pushed the cart to the car as quickly as we could.

My friends put the bags in the back,

I drove the empty cart into the return.

As I rushed back to get into the nice, (comparatively) warm car,

A gust of wind pushed me three steps forward.

It was a mess outside.


We made it safely back,

Unloaded groceries,

Had dinner.

My friend's roommate drove me back to my dorm

So I wouldn't have to walk in the storm.

I did homework for a few hours,

Accomplished things,

Then got ready for bed again,

Set my alarm,

Snuggled up under the covers,

And went to sleep.


My alarm didn't wake me up the next morning.

My refrigerator was no longer running.

My microwave clock was black.

The ceiling light didn't work.

The power was out.

Tired as I was, I was thinking fondly of going back to bed,

So I turned on my laptop to find out if classes were cancelled.

The wi-fi was down.

My cable didn't work either.

I turned my laptop back off,

Trying to conserve as much of my 2-hour battery as possible.

I called my friend.

"Classes are cancelled, honey," she said when she answered.

That settled it.

I went back to bed.


A few minutes later, my phone rang.

My family didn't have power, either.

Mom wanted to bring me the food, dishes, and money I'd forgotten,

Go shopping somewhere that had power.

That sounded a lot more fun than sitting in my room with two hours of laptop battery and no wi-fi.

She picked me up

And we bought some things I needed,

Had lunch,

Walked around the mall.

It was nice.


I went back to my dorm,

Unpacked the things we'd just bought,

Took a walk,

And went to visit my friends.

We found out that the lounge had wi-fi,

So we went there and worked until my laptop battery was almost dead,

And then I left to meet another friend for dinner.


It was amazing how much they had running,

Options of made-to-order stir fry, hamburgers, sandwiches, and pasta.

A generator kept some power going.

Phone charging stations were available.

A few lights were on, but it was mostly dark.

The lighting went well with the halloween decorations everywhere.


I couldn't find my friend,

So I ran to my dorm to get something out of my room.

In my journey around campus,

I discovered that somewhere around four buildings had power,

Which isn't really that many,

Especially considering three of them were dorms I didn't have access to.

Most of the campus was totally dark.


I got back to where my friends were,

Followed one to the stairwell where groups of people were sitting on the floor

Around the only four outlets in the entire building that had power flowing through them.

She was charging her laptop there.

I told her the science buildings seemed to have power,

So the three of us decided to journey over there.

We discovered light and warmth and outlets that would charge our phones.

Two went back to retrieve our stuff.

I stayed behind to let them in.


We sat in a lounge,

Where we plugged in our laptops

And ordered pizza.

Morning classes were cancelled.

The decision for afternoon was to be announced by 10 AM the next day.

We had a very productive night,

Stayed there kind of late,

Then went back to our dark, cold dorms.


There was no light

No heat

And no hot water.

For probably the first time in my life,

I didn't take a shower before going to bed.

I brushed my teeth in the dark

And read my Bible by the light of my cell phone.

I went to bed around one,

Hoping desperately that the power would remain off -

Just for one more day,

Just one more day of cancelled classes,

Just one more day to catch up on homework -

Then come on in the afternoon.


I woke up at 11 o'clock the next morning to a ringing phone.

My friend had honored my request to call when she got the text message with the decision on classes.

"Mary, guess what?"

I looked at my still-black alarm clock.  "Classes are cancelled."

"Classes are cancelled for the rest of the week!"


We were all encouraged to go home

To power

And hot water

And heat.

Our plans had all changed.

Some people were upset.

Most were thrilled.

All were shocked

That we got a whole four days off

Because of a hurricane.

Not something that happens very often where we live.


This is the second natural disaster I've survived this year,

And it continues to amaze me

How hard these things are to wrap my head around.

I love the rain

And the wind,

All they tell me about the beauty and power of God,

But something about these huge storms makes me feel a little differently.

Maybe it's because I'm not in control.

Even though I haven't been affected nearly as much as others have,

I have a hard time rejoicing in the fact that God is Sovereign over these storms.


When roller coasters are washed out into the ocean,

Trampolines end up on power lines,

So many have to evacuate,

Millions are without power,

And some have even been killed . . .

It just doesn't seem right.

And yet it is.


It makes me think of a verse out of the book we're memorizing,

"God cannot be tempted with evil."

He is Good and can do no wrong.

So why does this feel so wrong?



I think -

I think -

That it's because I expect things.

I feel like I deserve them.

I feel like I'm entitled to electricity and wi-fi and a hot shower every night.

When I think I'm entitled,

I forget that I'm blessed.



Truth is, I don't deserve any of those things.

They're all gifts.

Really, what percentage of the world doesn't have electricity?

Hot water?

Any running water at all?

How many people on this planet don't even own a computer,

Much less have wi-fi?

Aren't I blessed to be able to brush my teeth,

Even if I can't see what I'm doing?

Why do I so easily forget that everything I could lose

I don't deserve in the first place?



And all these power outages?

They made me appreciate all the things I take for granted,

Made me grateful.

And when I wrap my head around all that,

I realize that this is the way it's supposed to be,

And the fact that He's Sovereign in this storm isn't something I fear,

But something I rest in,

Trust.

He is Good.

So, so Good.




Sorry, no reasons from me again.  Yes, I know.  This is the third week.  It's been busy.  On the bright side, I will have plenty of time this weekend to count!

(Sylvia's already made it to - past - 10,000!  I've been meditating on the beauty of this all week!)

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Counting in community:




Wednesday, October 24, 2012

What it's Not . . . And What it IS

Because of a conversation yesterday,

And because I fail every moment to live like I believe this.


It isn't something you do on Sunday mornings,

It's something that defines what you do every moment.

It isn't something you do because you think it's a good idea,

It's something you do because you have to,

Because you desperately want to.


It isn't about being in control,

It's about realizing who is in control

It isn't about following a set of rules,

It's about realizing that you can't follow the rules.

It isn't about trying to be a good person,

It's about realizing that you are a horrible person.

It isn't about trying to fix yourself,

It's about realizing that you are utterly incapable of fixing yourself

And your only hope is undeserved, irresistible grace.


It isn't something you can be perfectly content without

Any more than you can be content with a lawnmower as a window fan,

And children getting their hands chopped off.

It's not an insignificant question,

It's the question of the meaning of life itself,

The answer to which defines who you are,

Whether you have an answer or not.

It's not something that you can get out of

Saying, "We don't know",

Or, "There are so many ideas, and we can't tell which one is right."

Either I wrote this blog post or I didn't.

Both options can't be true.

There is no middle ground,

No "highway option".

You have to decide what is true,

And what isn't.





It's not founded on human logic,

It doesn't make sense to the world.

Really, it's a tad bit crazy,

Almost insane.

If you don't believe it, it seems like foolishness.

If you do, you find its source is a Wisdom deeper than you will ever understand,

And you will find that,

Despite many unanswered questions,

It makes more sense than anything you've ever known or believed.

Ever.


It's not a happy, painless following of some "great moral teacher",

It's following One who was so Great and Perfect,

So in conflict with our natural desires,

That we put Him to death,

And so it makes sense that we, too should expect this treatment.

Indeed, to follow Him is to die.

It's not a nice little add-on to an already-good life,

The one thing you need to have it all,

It's something that changes everything -

Your worldview,

What you believe,

And, slowly, what you live for,

Who you are -

Changes you until you consider everything as worthless

Compared to Him.

Money,

Family,

Friends,

Life itself.

Everything.


It isn't something that,

If you die and find out it isn't true,

You'll still be able to look back on your life and say it was worth it,

That the things you did were good in and of themselves,

That you had a good life.

Rather,

It's something you stake your life on,

Something that changes you until you're so radical

That you give up everything to follow Him,

And, if it's not true,

Your entire life was a waste . . .

But you don't worry about it not being true,

Because, once the Truth has taken hold of you,

Every fiber in your being testifies to it.


It's nothing or it's everything,

And you either follow it with all you are

Or turn your back and walk away.

No middle ground.

No highway option.




I know.

You want the "easy way".

The "follow these five steps"

Or "give an hour of your Sunday morning and a few hundred dollars a year".

Believe me,

I want the easy way, too.

That's why I'm writing this.

I'm not called to be comfortable,

I'm called to be radical,

Because it's not a religion.

It's relationship,

Life,

Breath,

Everything.

Now I need to live like it's everything.

 

Sorry, no reasons from me again.  So busy and so tired I was up 'til 3 this morning.  Feel free to share yours, though!  I would love to read them . . . someday :) .
(Sylvia's already made it to 10,000!  I only wish I had that kind of time!  If only I didn't have to do homework . . .)

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Counting in community:





Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Slipping Away


I struggle to extract myself from the pile of homework I'm buried under

As various professors do their utmost to add to the heap.

I wonder when I'm ever going to get a full eight hours of sleep again,

Think I'd settle for six.

I'm crazy-busy,

Completely exhausted,

And neither of those states of being look like they'll be ending any time soon.

And my alarm still goes off an hour and a half before my first class,

I still get to bed two hours after I start getting ready,

I still take a break in the middle of my day.

I make time to slip away.


He said it last Friday morning,

(After a good discussion we had on the theological leanings of a church we'd gone to two weeks before,

A discussion which followed our 5:45 A.M. two-hour prayer meeting).

He said that the average college student gets up in the morning,

Gets ready,

And goes to class.

The Christian?

Gets up hours before class,

Prays,

Reads the Bible,

Listens to a sermon,

Gets ready,

Goes to class.

Most college students, too, get back to their rooms at night,

Get ready,

Go to bed.

The Christian?

Will not go to bed until he or she has spent time in prayer and in the Word.

No wonder I don't get any sleep.


I've been fighting to make time during the day, too,

To say, "I'll meet up with you after dinner and we can do homework together.

Right now, I need to go listen to a sermon and pray."

It hasn't been easy.

I want to go spend time with people.

I don't want to say "no" to my friends

(And "later" feels a whole lot like "no"),

But I have to remind myself

That I can't love them well

Unless I love God more.

It's not an easy lesson to learn.


It's even harder when I'm buried like this,

When I hardly have time with my friends as it is,

When I'm not getting enough rest,

But it's even worse when I'm not getting my time alone with God.

If I don't have time to be with friends, I feel bad.

I can live with that.

If I'm tired, I have a hard time staying awake.

I can live with that, too.

If I haven't spent some serious alone time with God, my soul suffocates.

I can't live like that.


I meet up with her for dinner.

She asks how the sermon was,

How my walk was,

And I remember not having time to listen to a full sermon,

But listening to two clips,

And only having time to walk my usual ten-minute path three times,

But walking to her dorm

Seeing the setting sun

And all I could think of was,

Revelation 21:22-24

King James Version (KJV)
22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.
23 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.
24 And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it.
"No need of the sun"!

And that bounce in my step

That I always seem to catch

Just in time to lose it again

Suddenly returned

And I literally jumped for joy

To know who God is,

And that He is my God,

That I can only claim Him because He first claimed me,

And that is such Grace.

"It was good," I answer.

"Short, but good."


There is never enough time,

There never will be enough time,

But I have to make time.

No matter what.

Even if it means five hours of sleep as opposed to seven,

Even if it means doing homework with my friend for six hours instead of nine,

Even if it means my alarm goes off at 5:15 A.M. once a week

And I drag my half-asleep self out of bed,

Get dressed,

And meet my friends to just pray for two hours.

To be with God?

It's a better use of my time anyway.

Too bad the homework still has to get done at some point . . .


Sorry, no reasons from me today.  So busy and so tired.  Feel free to share yours, though!  I would love to read them . . . someday :) .

(Sylvia's already made it to 10,000!  I only wish I had that kind of time!  If only I didn't have to do homework . . .)
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Counting in community:




Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why a Woman Needs a Best Friend


She wraps her arm around my shoulder and holds me close

As tears fill my eyes.

Tears of nervousness,

Tears of helplessness,

Tears of fear.

She rubs my back and tells me it's going to be alright.


She lets me rush her through lunch,

Stand impatiently,

Then walks out of her way to go back to my room with me

When I'm not feeling well

And I just need that one thing in my drawer.

She lets me abandon her for a few minutes,

Waits quietly in the hard wood chair by my desk

Until I return and complain some more.


She's there to poke me awake

When I stayed up with her until 5:30 in the morning,

Both of us doing homework,

And the class we're in is just not interesting enough for me to stay awake

With only four hours of sleep.


She's there to buy me cookies,

Or smile when I buy them for myself because I'm craving chocolate.

She's there to give me chocolate

When I have to draw a 32-argument circuit,

And I'm quite sure I'm going to die.


She's there to count down the days to the end of the semester with me,

There to listen to my struggles,

There to smile at my joys.

She puts up with my awkward pictures,

Puts up with my talking incessantly about the same topics all the time,

Puts up with my loud laugh and loud voice.


I can talk with her about anything -

Parents,

Church,

Homework,

That Bible verse I read yesterday.

I can tell her how God answered my prayer

And hit me on the head -

Literally, right on the bridge of my nose -

With a falling berry,

And she laughs out loud

Just like I did when it happened.


I asked her this summer if she would,

And she said yes without hesitation,

Even though I know she had a lot of other things to do,

A lot of other things to work on.

So she and her flute came home with me

And we spent a late night in my room

As I introduced her to my world.


She put the giant headphones on her head.

I watched her hand keep time to the music,

Foot tapping to the beat.

She practiced and practiced

And I ended up beside her,

The two of us each with one earbud,

Me moving my hand down, left, right, up,

Her playing beautifully along with my erratic recording,

The incredibly slow tempo.


A few recordings later, we called it quits for the night,

One of two done,

One step closer to wrapping up my album.

We got ready for bed

And laid down on the air mattress in my basement

In an attempt to get a few hours of sleep before morning,

And all I could do was thank God

For blessing me so abundantly

And giving me such a wonderful friend.

I couldn't have asked for more.


Reasons 2162-2200 today,

Struggling to discern the truth

And to seek after it in spite of fear and doubt:

  1. He watches over the way of the righteous (Psalm 1:6)
  2. He laughs at those who band together against Him and His anointed (Psalm 2:2-4)
  3. He scoffs at those who band together against Him and His anointed (Psalm 2:2-4)
  4. In His anger, He rebukes those who band together against Him and His anointed (Psalm 2:2-4)
  5. With His wrath, He terrifies those who band together against Him and His anointed (Psalm 2:2-4)
  6. He is enthroned in heaven (Psalm 2:4)
  7. He has installed His king (Psalm 2:6)
  8. He has installed His king on Zion, His holy mountain (Psalm 2:6)
  9. He calls people “son” (Psalm 2:7)
  10. He becomes His people's Father (Psalm 2:7)
  11. He makes nations His people's inheritance (Psalm 2:8)
  12. He makes the ends of the earth His people's possession (Psalm 2:8)
  13. He is angry with those who do not kiss His son (Psalm 2:12)
  14. He causes the way of those who do not kiss His son to lead to destruction (Psalm 2:12)
  15. His wrath can flare up in a moment (Psalm 2:12)
  16. He blesses those who take refuge in Him (Psalm 2:12)
  17. He is a shield around His people (Psalm 3:3)
  18. He is the glory of His people (Psalm 3:3)
  19. He lifts high the head of His people (Psalm 3:3)
  20. From His holy mountain, He answers those who call out to Him (Psalm 3:4)
  21. He is the reason people wake again after lying down and sleeping (Psalm 3:5)
  22. He sustains His people (Psalm 3:5)
  23. He arises (Psalm 3:7)
  24. He delivers (Psalm 3:7)
  25. He strikes the enemies of His people on the jaw (Psalm 3:7)
  26. He breaks the teeth of the wicked (Psalm 3:7)
  27. From Him comes deliverance (Psalm 3:7)
  28. He answers His people when His people call to Him (Psalm 4:1)
  29. He gives relief from distress (Psalm 4:1)
  30. He has mercy (Psalm 4:1)
  31. He has mercy on His people (Psalm 4:1)
  32. He hears prayer (Psalm 4:1)
  33. He hears the prayers of His people (Psalm 4:1)
  34. He sets apart His faithful servant for Himself (Psalm 4:3)
  35. He hears those who call to Him (Psalm 4:3)
  36. He lets the light of His face shine on His people (Psalm 4:6)
  37. He fills people's hearts with joy (Psalm 4:7)
  38. He fills people's hearts with joy when their grain and new wine abound (Psalm 4:7)
  39. He alone makes people dwell in safety (Psalm 4:8)


Music update:

1 more flute part to record,
A bunch more songs to mix,
Most of the cover art still to do.

It's amazing how little gets done once summer's over,

And even more amazing that summer is never enough time to get everything put together,

But we're still working,

Slowly getting there.

Hopefully sometime soon.



(Sylvia's already made it to 10,000!  I only wish I had that kind of time!  If only I didn't have to do homework . . .)

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Counting in community:




 
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