Monday, March 30, 2009

tiny fingers and a priestly blessing.

this weekend i drove to portland, where i got to see my sister and her husband, the parents of three beautiful children. their youngest, beck, has captured all our hearts, just like his big sister and brother did, with his rosy cheeks and sweet personality. his big eyes are just beginning to 'follow' you when you walk around him, and his adorable smile is quick and heart-melting. what a sweetheart! i, being the resident photographer and very proud auntie, always love taking photos of his perfect, tiny fingers. they always amaze me in their miniature perfection.

he is just starting to hold onto things, and when you slip your hand into his tiny one, he holds on tight. he never lets go, even when we want to walk away, he just holds on tight. it struck me today when i found this photograph, that these little ones are so trusting.
how precious a picture of what we need to be to others.
never letting go, always holding tight to what they can be, who they are.

today at school, i ran into pastor luke on my way to class. i was a little stressed, having just been thrust back into the crazy world of nursing school (i had forgotten how much work it is). having to miss my weekly SOMA group didn't help, and without that boost of spiritual fellowship, i felt overwhelmed. pastor luke has always had the gift of encouragement. he never ceases to honestly, sometimes pointedly call us out on stuff we could be doing better, like reading the Word, and staying grounded in Christ, but he always, always encourages us to walk worthy of our calling and be ministry-seekers on our campus. today, we made small talk, and a simple "how areyou" from him prompted what im sure was a "deer in the headlights' look from me, as i juggled my notebooks and purse while running to my next class (five hours straight of lectures!). but it was what he said to me as he was walking away that stuck with me, all day long. it was simple, really. just

"God bless you, walk in grace".

oh, the power of a simple blessing. people say that alot. God bless you. we toss it around pretty flippantly, myself included. but never pastor luke, and not today. at least not for me.
i was thinking about the power of blessings today, as i was listening to john waller's new album, that has a song called "priestly blessing' on it. it says, "when the morning comes and the day begins, i will go out in perfect the sun goes down and darkness comes around, unafraid ill go to sleep. over the fathers and the daughters and the mothers and the sons, we pray, Lord bless us and keep us, make Your face to shine upon us, raise your countenence on us and give us peace...give us peace. over all our days and through all our paths, may we not forget this Truth, those who just believe You keep in perfect peace, those of age and those of youth."

beautiful, huh? it was beautiful in bible times, the concept of blessing others, of speaking words over them, out loud. its kind of a lost art now. rarely do people pray out loud, or speak things over others. my friend crys prayed out loud over me last week and i was really moved. its a really beautiful thing. i want to discover that kind of blessing. because in a way, its like beck reaching out and taking hold. its giving someone something to hang to. something tangible. speaking it out loud, speaking words of blessing. not letting go. offering a hand.

thanks, pastor luke. you blessed me today. im thankful.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

growing older but not quite growing up

i got my new, "grown-up" job a few weeks ago. working as a marketing assistant means suddenly i have to transform myself into Grown-up Grace every morning. suddenly i have to wear heels and black dresses every day. i drive to work, where i sit behind my very own desk in my very own office. i get to check my very own voicemail on my very own six-line phone. i even have to use my 'professional' voice. yet, in a weird way, i feel like im playing dress-up or something, that i cant possibly be an adult yet, that im still not 21. but i am. and it's kind of scary and nice at the same time. my new job is kind of a mixture of clerical work, writing, and public relations. its the kind of job i have dreamed about since i was little (yes, i was that much of a nerd. i asked for envelopes for my fifth birthday. i wanted to practice addressing them.
just ask my sisters.) this afternoon i was sorting through materials on our large bulletin boards. it was my job to sort through them, pick out the relevant things, and toss the insignificant ones. i weeded through hundreds of sheets of paper, each filled with information. i read about lost dogs and bicycles, found out there is an abundance of apartments for rent, and that i can apparently take bellydancing for 12 dollars a lesson on thursday nights. wow.
when i was done, i scooped up the trash and stood back to survey my work. it looked so much better, with just the relevant papers, well arranged to showcase campus events. yet as i looked i noticed...
there were still holes.
i had removed the clutter, but the holes were still there, and always they would speak of the pin that was there before i ripped it out. i thought about the clutter of the bulletin board before i cleared it. all those significant events drowned out by the ones clamoring for my attention. now it's clear. i can see again. but the holes will always be there. just like life.
i took a good look at my day planner today. its held together by a rubber band, since i long since gave up trying to corral my small avalanche of papers that i jam into it. its scrawled with notes to myself, notes to others, phone numbers of people whose name i forgot to write down and therefore never called back. but the events....its packed, cover to cover, with things i have committed to. some necessary...most not. i feel like i have been living in a whirlwind lately, running around here and there, meetings and deadlines, articles, emails, homework,and my job. it's been a hectic junior year in college. its a huge bulletin board, and everything wants my attention. i am that bulletin board you see with layers of events, because its so full.
i want to tear out all the insignificant. i feel God has been speaking into me....slow down. stop and listen. watch. be intentional. love people. slow. down. Grown-up Grace still hasn't quite learned how to just be still. i went out to worship this morning, at 6am (yes, really. i really got up at 6. i know.) and it was incredible. an hour and a half of worship, where you find a place to sit in the sanctuary and reflect and just be still. the sanctuary has huge picture windows that stretch from floor to ceiling. the sun was just rising, so i knelt there. the other hundred people spilled out over the sanctuary, some sitting, some standing. i hit the floor, suddenly overwhelmed with the urge to kneel. we sang "wholly yours' by david crowder, and it said "the truest sign of grace is this, from a broken earth, flowers come up, pushing through the dirt." that line stuck with me. i hope thats a sign i carry. that it can be my truest sign of Grace. that i can clear the weeds enough to watch God spring the flowers out of my dirt, redeeming the broken. He does it all the time. ive seen it. i loved that for a brief hour this bulletin board was empty, save for Jesus. all i had to do was worship. and all thats left were the holes. the same holes that brought me redemption when they marked the wrists of my Saviour. holes. always there, always visible, and when i clear my schedule, wipe the bulletin board off, all anyone can see are the holes.
clear it off, oh God.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

im a b-list actor in a four star film.

i think i need to get much better at math.
i took anne jackson's challenge for fourty days of water for Africa (for the record, i am now six days in and have more energy than i have had in months, however being at starbucks drinking ethos water while smelling caramel machiattos is very tempting. i wouldn't recommend it). yesterday i took pastor pete wilson's challenge to go through the book of matthew in 28 days. thats alot of days to keep track of, and with my counting skills, i will no doubt read matthew in 40 days and drink water for 28. anyways, i am excited about the book of matthew. it has long been one of my FAVORITE books of the bible, right up there with job and esther. matthew is just packed full of so many truths and lessons. seeing as i forgot to read matthew last night, i started tonight (apparently i am not very good at doing these challenge things), and read two chapters. now, matthew appears to start a little nondescript. it lays out the lineage of Jesus, a lineage filled with ordinary, messed-up people who made an un-ordinary choice to believe what they had not yet seen.
i love that tamar and rahab are in that list.
a harlot and a rape victim.
david's also in there, a man who committed adultery.
along with abraham, a man who lied about his wife.
and let's not forget jacob, who wrestled with an angel, and came away with a limp.
what a cast of characters. and what a lineage of faith.

i find it so incredible that while casting the great motion picture of His story,
God chose all the b-list actors. i don't know about you, but if i were God, i might have wanted to choose, well...people with shinier reputations, perhaps.

i'm thankful God picks His people from a B-list and moves us into a sweeping picture of His mercy and redemption. sometimes, we don't see our parts. my part has felt pretty small lately. tonight i made the decision to postpone my trip to nashville, a trip i had waited and planned for for nearly a year. i was devastated, but financially, it wasn't a wise decision. i had prayed over it, and though sorely disappointed, knew now was just not the time. but tonight, the doors opened for me to travel to mexico in june, on a missions trip to build homes.

last week i was driving to school VERY early, anxious about the impending finals week, and very much sleep deprived and exhausted. to top it all off it was dark and it was raining. my university has what i believe are the world's deepest puddles. they might look small and shallow, my friends, but oh no, just step in one like i did, and i promise it went nearly to my knee. well okay, it was my ankle. but still...just wet enough to soak through my tights and my tan color heels. i ran back to my car to grab my jacket and umbrella and happened to glance up. there it was. a perfect sunrise. fiery red and blazing, splitting the storm clouds with its brilliance. i just stood there for a moment.

sometimes God writes the wet, dark, difficult parts of our story, and He gives us limited lines. but as we get more and more frustrated, it becomes clear that we have less lines and feel quite small...because He is readying the blazing sunrise. and it tears through our script like fire, reminding us who truly is Directing our moments.

i kinda like being a B-lister.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

water water everywhere

my friend anne jackson ( inspired me to join up with a number of other bloggers to do the blood:water mission water challenge.
 40 days, no coffee, no juice, no soda.

 just water. 

and after the forty days, you donate everything you would have spent at starbucks to the clean water initiative in africa. its a pretty neat program. i am already feeling the discomfort of not being able to drink coffee. i am pretty much addicted to starbucks caramel frappachinos, and during finals week, i generally drink so many that it probably starts running through my veins. 
this is my first finals week with no coffee. and i confess..its not going so well. 

i woke up all frantic, trying to make deadlines and do an interview and cram in studying for my final exam ( a 69 question, short essay exam), all the while choosing music to choreograph my final ballet dance to. all i could think was "caffeine, caffeine, caffeine!" and i got....water.




i will be blogging over the fourty days about what God is showing me in this time, where i truly want to wait and watch to see what He is doing. 

alot of people have asked why im doing this.

because i want to let me actions speak louder than my words for once.

i want to be genuinely in tune to what God is teaching me, and i want to appreciate how blessed i am, in my easy, comfy life. i dont walk five miles for water. i dont wake up every morning wondering how i will eat today. 
i dont ever not have water. 
i can drink it, totally easily for 40 days. i hope i am moved to a greater level of compassion.
you can