Tuesday, August 30, 2011

This Season

I may be a little more honest in this post than in most of my blog entries. I know that the only people who read my blog are the ones who care what I have to say. So I’m definitely not worried that I’m telling the whole world anything too personal because the whole world does not read my blog.

This season for me is a season of tearing down walls, building friendships, and pressing into God. It’s also been a season of seeing what I’m made of, seeing how much I want what God has for me. I was given a great word of advice a couple months ago…FIGHT LIKE HELL…for the things God wants to do in me. Fight against the lies of the enemy. Fight against the temptation to keep building walls, to not let anyone in. Fight for change, restoration, and healing.

During this time, I have been going through the Freedom in Christ study with a great friend and leader. I’ve learned so much, about God and about myself. Even before moving here, PERSPECTIVE was a huge theme in what God was trying to teach me. I have been blessed, through submitting to God and His process, with a new perspective on many things…my job, my relationships, my past. I am so thankful to begin seeing things through His eyes, as I trust in His bigger plan.

I am finding joy in being around others, rather than being filled with fear of rejection. I have peace at my job and I trust I am exactly where God wants me. I feel this incredible hope as I trust God for my future. I’m thankful that He has a plan and a purpose just for me. He has a special adventure waiting for me. But I’m also trusting Him in the everyday things, that He can bring joy and excitement through the smallest, most routine parts of my day.

As I got home tonight, I was still smiling from ear to ear from the joy that I am overwhelmed with today. (Here’s the more personal bit…) I’ve written today’s date many times throughout the day and each time it was just another day. For that I am thankful…not only is it just another day…it’s a new day. Today is August 30th. Today could have been my 3 year anniversary. As I realized this at 9:00 pm, when the day is almost over…I am still smiling from ear to ear. Today I walk in complete healing, in overwhelming joy, in unfailing love, in supernatural peace. I am so thankful for the plans God has for me! I’m thankful that He doesn’t let my plans get in the way of His plans! I’m thankful that He gently draws us to Himself and yet He passionately pursues us!

The Lord will work out His plans for my life - for Your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever. Psalm 138:8

My future is in Your hands! Psalm 31:15

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, June 9, 2011

I Had Forgotten How Long the Road Was

20 years…that’s how long I’ve known Camp Hickory Hills as a second home, as a place of peace, a place of retreat. Friends are not only made there…they come back year after year and pick right up where they left off. I am so thankful for that being such a huge part of my life and for all the people there who have loved me, prayed for me, and even disciplined me!

I was a camper from age 8 to 21 and part of the staff starting at age 17. Some years, I attended as a camper, then worked 2 camps. Other years, I worked 3 different camps…I was pretty much running on Slushies and square pizza. I’m so thankful for the directors who always saw my heart and were willing to give me a chance to serve.

When I was a kid, the drive to camp was about 4 hours. But if you’ve ever been there, you know what the longest part of that drive is…the last road. Even now, it seems like a lifetime could pass before you get there. Then, finally, you see Skeeter’s…you’re only half-way there. Great…will we ever get there?

I can’t even count the times we got lost. The other day I heard a mom say that her husband was giving her directions and said, “Count 7 bridges…” 20 years and I’ve never even thought to count the bridges. Hmmm…

Last year was the first year I didn’t get to work at camp. I had a good excuse…I was out of the country. This year I knew I wouldn’t get to work but I was so thankful that I got to spend 2 days there. Several times I’ve hinted around about wanting to work in the kitchen. Every time, I get this strange look. For years, I’ve wanted to wash dishes at camp…but when you’re a cabin leader there’s just no time to wash the dishes…but I can scrub all the toilets I want to…I do always enjoy that. If you think I’m joking, you’ve never seen me scrubbing toilets at camp…I really do enjoy it! This year I got to help out some with the staff meal on Saturday. I mostly felt like I was in the way…but I really love chopping vegetables…so it was a blessing to get to be in the kitchen there. Then…guess what I did…da…dada……I WASHED DISHES! It was just as fun as I always imagined it being. Seriously!

Later that day, I got to help with registration…a part of camp I’ve never experienced because at that time I’m always sitting on my bed waiting for the campers to arrive and make their beds. I actually found myself genuinely surprised that someone had NEVER been there before. What? Really? It suddenly occurred to me that as these people arrive and walk into the chapel I’m the first face they see…dear Lord, no one thought this through!

This blog was not supposed to be about my camp experience but rather about my camp journey. But as I began typing, I just couldn’t help myself. So…this year, I was coming from an entirely different place. I knew a way to get to camp from here (without getting on the interstate…because I just don’t do that) but my dad was insistent that I not go that way because it was the long way. Isn’t that how it usually is…we think we know what we’re doing, where we’re going, how to get there…let’s face it, we know it all. The way we go about things may get us there eventually…but it’s just not the BEST way to go.

So after much searching for the BEST way to go, I started off on my little journey to camp. The roads I took were AMAZING…beautiful trees and scenery, great houses…my kind of houses (old). At one point, I was on this beautiful, winding road and I had this great joy come over me. I thought about how I used to love this…driving by myself, finding great new ways to get to places, just the peacefulness of the drive. Then I thought how long it had been since I’ve had that feeling…2 years. I used to love that…then I got so used to enjoying those things and always having someone else with me that I completely forgot how to have that joy on my own. I couldn’t believe that for 2 years I had not allowed myself this joy. I couldn’t be too hard on myself about it because I honestly didn’t even realize I had missed it.

As I’m really enjoying my drive, guess what…I got lost. I ended up turning down OLD Hwy 7...not the Hwy 7 I was supposed to be on. After a little freaking out and a phone call to Matt (who was in Gatlinburg but I wanted him to prove to me that his phone really can do everything and get me “unlost”), I was finally on the right road again……then……I couldn’t go any further. The road was closed. Of course I called Matt again. He took me on a little detour and got me back to that road several miles down. If that side of the road had been closed, I would have turned around and came back home. So again I got on the correct Hwy 7...and I got right behind 3 big trucks going 35mph on a road where there was really no way to pass them. I was already thinking, “Am I ever going to get to camp?”

Finally…I got to Dickson…after a quick stop at O’Charley’s and a trip to Walmart with Ana, I was ALMOST there. On that last road…finally. I’m thinking, “How long is this road? I just want to be there already!” Just when I’m thinking I’m almost there, I get to Skeeter’s…man, this is like half-way.

Two years ago, the road closed…if I’m really honest, there were signs…DETOUR AHEAD - ROAD CLOSED…but what can you do until you get to that point? God had a different road, a better road. And there are so many times when I just cry out…HOW LONG IS THIS ROAD? I JUST WANT TO BE THERE ALREADY! That’s when I hear it…the whisper…DO YOU TRUST ME? Then there are times when I think I’m almost there…and I see it…it’s just a landmark…still not there. But that doesn’t mean I stop and park there, no, I keep going because I trust Him! He has a place of peace for me, a place a retreat…I LIFT MY EYES UP TO THE HILLS - WHERE DOES MY HELP COME FROM? MY HELP COMES FROM THE LORD, THE MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH (Psalm 121:1,2).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A New Season

When I left for Paraguay, it was Winter here. I arrived there and it was Summer and about 120 degrees. We had hot temperatures about half the time I was there. Then came Fall and Winter. When I arrived home in July, Summer again. I missed Spring. My body had to adjust to the change in weather and also to the missing of Spring. I believe each season affects our body differently. Seasons are a great design of God and there is reason for each one. My body was so ready for Spring this year! Everything feels newer, fresher, healthier.

This last season I walked through was not my best. But I have to believe there is purpose in everything. It was a season of what seemed like purposeless living, much sickness, and no writing at all.

Not only was my body ready for a new season, my spirit was as well. I'm sure God is always working things together that we have no idea of. These past several weeks I've actually been able to watch as doors have been opened and others have been closed. The closing of doors hurts. Not that we believe it's the best place for us but sometimes it's the comfortable or easy place for us. All things are becoming new. Even things that may not seem significant to others. A new haircut, new glasses, a new perspective, a new church, a new job, and soon to be a new residence.

That last one, a new residence, is currently in the process stage. It's something I know is a necessity for growth. I don't do well with change, even good changes. But I'm learning. Learning how to trust. Learning that my plans are not always best. Learning that new and different should not equal fear and worry.

The other night, while talking with my soon-to-be new roommate, we discussed how surreal it all seems. This is really happening. And we have to take the necessary steps. It's one thing to suddenly find yourself in a new season of life. It sometimes happens gradually and unconsciously. But when you have to actually take physical steps to move yourself from one season into the next, it's very overwhelming. That's when your trust in God is not only tested but it also grows.

I read something the other night that really speaks to me about this last season: "He is the door. This was not about me checking off my to-do list of accomplishments, but about me drawing closer to Him. As that happened, He would open a door that no one could shut. The time in which I thought He was not moving was actually the time He was moving in my heart. As I kept His Word and proclaimed His name, He was preparing me to walk through the door." (from What Happens When Women Walk In Faith by Lysa TerKeurst)

Something else I wanted to share from the same book: "We need to learn that God has a plan and to trust His plan. In so doing, we'll find that we must leave our old identity behind...God has given us a new name, but sometimes we try to put our new name on our old identity. I had to learn to leave my wrong perceptions of myself and my bitterness from my past...He wanted to shine His grace, mercy, love, and redemption through my faults, failures, and frailties. He wanted to make me strong in His strength."

For any of you who are wondering where I'm moving to, I plan to move to Spring Hill. My church is there, my job is there. I feel strongly that is also where God wants my home to be.