Monday, April 27, 2009


I'm sitting at my desk wondering when I decided the way I was wired wasn't good.

I'm mildly OCD about my apartment's cleanliness. I daydream about everything. I make stories for everything. I'm very emotional. If my mind is not occupied by something else while I'm doing something mindless, I'll go absolutely nutty. For example, I like to listen to audio books or music while I'm cleaning, filing papers, making dinner, etc. Or sometimes I'll just let my mind wander, just depends on my mood. (If my mind wanders, I'm much less productive though...) But it's nearly impossible for me to stay 100% focused on something unless I am actively engaged. But then, I also need to stay still and quiet sometimes. I love being with people, but sometimes I need to be alone. I need for things to be a bit different day by day, to keep me intrigued, but I need some things to be consistent.

Why do I seem like such a dichotomy to even myself?

Why do I seem like both sides of a coin?

Why do I feel the need to change these enduring parts of me?

God made me with my personality, my quirks, my passions. But my sin nature is a curse (that ultimately, thank God, I'll be free from). I never feel good enough. I always doubt myself. I am prideful. I put unneeded guilt, stress and worry on myself.

So, when did I decide that all of me needed changing? When did I decide that God had surely not gotten it right when He made me? When did I decide that my daydreaming and creativity were always negative? Certainly, it needs to be reigned in. I can't very well be writing a story in my head while studying Scripture, listening to a sermon, answering telephones at work... This has happened though...

I feel like lately God has been telling me to give a bit of reign to my creativity. To not squelch it back completely. To laugh more openly, to enjoy more without trying to put limitations on what I should be and enjoy how He made me.

Zephaniah 3:17
For the Lord your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior.
He will take delight in you with gladness.
With his love, he will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.

Isaiah 43:7
Bring all who claim me as their God,
for I have made them for my glory.
It was I who created them.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Pondering Peter

I've always been encouraged by Peter. My friend Tiff nailed it on the head today for me, she said it's because he seems the clearest example of spiritual progress. He met Jesus, and he was changed. But over time, not instantaneously like Paul. I always thought if I'd had an experience like Paul's that I would be changed as deeply as he. But that's not what God had for my life. My life is more like a Peter experience. The refusal of the gifts of Jesus, the denying of our Savior, the big mouth, the petulance, the pride, the forgiveness...

And I'm learning to appreciate that journey.

The story of Peter's that has gripped my attention so thoroughly in the past couple of weeks was his seeing Jesus at the Sea of Galilee as recorded in John 21.

I could see the boat rocking as Peter jumped, taste the salt, hear Jesus laugh with joy and feel Peter's absolute desperation as he swam toward his Savior. Think about it. The last personal interaction recorded between Peter and Jesus was Jesus telling him about his three denials, and Peter vehemently denying it would happen. What would he have been feeling as he leapt from the boat? Would he be expecting Jesus to say, "I told you so," "I forgive you?" A rebuke, a scorning, or did it even matter?

I couldn't get the image out of my mind, so I decided to look for pictures of the Sea of Galilee and let my ever active imagination let the story roll around.

It's been a long night for the fishermen. It's almost dawn, they've been fishing all night. A bit of fog is obscuring the shoreline and the sky is slightly cloudy. From the looks of it, it probably will be a stormy day. Peter, Thomas, James, John and the rest stand in the boat stretching their backs.

They had leaned over the boat, cast the nets, pulled them in... 8 hours of it really puts a strain on the body. They kept hoping they'd have something to eat when they pulled up the nets... No luck. 8 grueling hours, and nothing to eat.

Thomas says, "Let's go back to shore. We'll try again later."

So, they begin the journey back. The sun is peaking over the mountains now, creating a glare off the water's surface, when the clouds don't obscure it.

About 150 yards from the shoreline a man calls out, "Have you caught anything?" The fishermen look toward the shore, shielding their eyes from the glare of the sun. They can't see if it's anyone they know, so they yell back, "Nothing" and continue toward shore.

The man then makes a strange request. "Try throwing your nets off the other side of the boat." And peculiarly, they decide to try it again. None of them can quite decide why. Despite the fact that their backs are screaming for a break, their stomachs are growling in hunger, their eyes are dry from lack of sleep, and lets face it- it doesn't matter whether they cast from the port or starboard side, there are no fish!

They throw off the nets again.

This time, it's different. They can tell from the first tug of the net. It's full! And overloaded! Teeming with fish! They all look at each other, and John says what they're all thinking, "It's the Lord!"

Peter wastes no time, he grabs his shirt and dives into the water. He can't swim fast enough. Jesus lets out a shout of laughter Peter's impetuousness.

The rest of the disciples wrestle the nets replete with fish as Peter swims. Then he reaches the shore... drenched shirt still in hand, eyes brimming, heart bursting with a myriad of emotions. Peter hears nothing of the sea, nothing of the crackling fire on the sandy beach, nothing of his struggling friends gleeful whooping. Peter and Jesus are alone on that shore.

Peter drops to the ground in a heap, sobbing with remorse and repentance, joy at the sight of his Savior, and marveling that it's real. He crawls toward Jesus, because his legs are shaking so much that he can't stand. He kisses the feet of his Lord, his many tears wash away the sand on Jesus' toes, and when Peter looks up, Jesus is smiling. Peter begs forgiveness, and forgiveness is extended. And in those moments, Peter understands the love of Christ. The sun bursts through the clouds in those precious moments of forgiveness.

The cross begins to make sense. Jesus knew. He knew that without Him, we would be lost. And He couldn't bear it. He could bear the mockery, the marathon beatings, the feeling of complete and utter rejection, the most painful death... but He couldn't bear to be separated from us forever.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Matthew 7:7-8

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Spring after a long Winter

I've been pondering a lot lately. The Spring always does that to me. We have swung from 6 inches of snow on March 1st to 70 degree days and sunny to wet, cold and rainy today. But the earth knows...

Somehow the earth knows Spring is on the way...

I love God's design. My mother and I were talking just this morning about the first time newborn babies take a breath. Everything that has to work to change that new tiny little human's body to obtaining and placing its own oxygen rather than its mother's is phenomenal. And everything that has to go right to make it work correctly is mind boggling. Someone designed it. Had to. No way it was a mistake.

This Winter has seemed very long to me. Perhaps it's the season in life I find myself in. I feel like I'm so easily discouraged right now, and bad news comes in all the time. I'm not just talking about the news, though that in itself is enough to make me swear off media. So many people I love dearly are ill or are going through serious 'desert' times. And I'm intensely loyal... if something is happening to a friend, it's almost as bad, emotionally, as happening to me.

And yet, Spring is on the way. I can sense it as clearly as the earth senses it's time for the daffodils to begin pushing through the earth in their quest for sunlight.

The subject I've been pondering is Heaven. My eternal home, my dwelling with God. I read a short devotional on I Corinthians 2:9 recently, and thus began my thoughts. "However, as it is written: No eye has seen, nor ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him." I don't know about everyone, but I have always had a very active imagination. Always. I can't tell you the number of times I got in trouble in 2nd grade alone for daydreaming. Anyway, point is I can imagine some wonderful things that God has prepared. But 'no mind has conceived'... So, it's better than the endless hikes through green meadows and rugged mountains searching for waterfalls and never getting tired or meeting an animal that would frighten me. (especially snakes or spiders) It's better than a neverending bowl of vanilla bean creme brulee with raspberrie coulis. It's better than hugging my Mom and Dad after a long absence. It's better than the day Daniel asked me to marry him. Better than all these and millions more combined.

I was driving a couple of weeks ago with my window down, the day I read the devotional on I Corinthians 2:9, and was singing at the top of my lungs with a Vanilla Mocha Frappaccino from Starbucks. It was glorious. Divine. I saw birds singing, the flowers were beginning to bloom on the Bradford Pear trees, and they looked beautiful. And I thought, There can be nothing more wonderful on earth than this.

That's when I got that little whisper; this is the inkling we get here on earth. Heaven is like the Spring after a long Winter. Only so much more... Come, Lord Jesus.