Not Just About Pig Puppets

"Ha!  I remember when you used to r100_0618ead to us from The Azusa Street Papers in LifeCore!"-Amber

"I did that?"-Me

"Yea.  You loved the stories!"-Amber

This past Friday I got to spend some time with a really good friend of mine from college, Amber.  She came into DC for some work and contacted me.  We hadn't seen each other in almost seven years, since her graduation from North Central.

Amber and I met in the fall of 1999, when she moved onto my floor as a college freshman.  I was a leader on my floor and she was one of the girls in my LifeCore group.  We hung out on Tuesday nights from 9-10pm (or if you know me…some stayed until about 12:)  She's from Pennsylvania, so we'd bonded over that immediately, and she just became one of my girls very quickly. The next year I had the opportunity to be Amber's RA (Resident Advisor) for the second half of the year and she was a leader on my floor.  

We were reminiscing with several stories from college the other night, including that one Saturday morning, the second week of school when I physically threatened a guy from our Brother Floor (Yea 4 East-Carlson!) for making her uncomfortable.  As a 20-year-old girl, much shorter than 18-year-old him, I looked up with fire in my eyes and firmly said, "You need help, dude.  And I will hurt you if youWil the pig ever do anything like that to her ever again!"  He didn't.  Amber confirmed it the other night.  He never made her uncomfortable again.  Ha!  I guess having two older brothers to practice fighting with helped, huh?

Amber and I also remembered awesome floor gatherings-like the floor meetings that I'd have where my  leaders and I would wear certain articles of clothing over other articles of clothing, and I'd break out my microphone and we'd do karoake…along with choreographed dances.  And some of you thought that you knew me.  Ha!  If you've never seen me in pig pajamas, wearing pig slippers, pigtails in my hair with pig scrunchies, dancing around with a pig puppet, well…you don't really know me all that well, do you?  I have no desire to go back in time and be in college again, but I will always remember those dance parties my college days fondly.

The thinking pig Don't get me wrong though.  Bible college isn't just all about dancing around with your underwear on your head, rewriting popular songs to sing to your brother floor (like going from "I Wanna Grow Old with You" to "I Wanna be a Sister to You"), dedicating songs to your brother floor on Delilah, playing with pig puppets, playing Four on a Couch and singing your heart out with your curling iron.  (Boy, this list could GO ON!  And wouldn't you love some pictures to go with it?  Dang film cameras!  Will have to scan some pictures in someday.)

**Meet my pig puppet, Wil.  This is him as "The Thinking Pig".  I bought him on my first trip out to NCU, my senior year of high school.  Yes, I still have him.  My grandchildren will giggle at that face someday.  Before you lose all respect for me, know that this little piggie has gone to town and brought many smiles to many faces…including anyone that realized that it made it into our Neshaminy High School's, Year of '97 Senior Class picture.  (Thank you, John Terrence!)

A thoughtful moment from my evening with Amber has been stuck on my opening conversation.  The Azusa Street Papers is an odd-sized book that we had to get for a class at North Central.  It's a collection of 13 issues of a paper that documented testimonies of what God was doing in a revival that happened in the early 1900's.  This paper was printed and passed all around the country to spread the word that God, indeed, did still move in miraculous ways!  People 0032_azusa_street-paperswould flock to be a part of this revival that was happening in this small part of Los Angeles (yes, LA!), and then go home with joy and hope that God can do the same things through their lives!  The stories that some think are so crazy and unbelievable about the Bible….many of the same things were happening among the people in this move of God!  I was so captivated by reading testimony after testimony of healings that took place, and my heart was so moved by the stories of what God had done in the lives of thousands of people.  I loved that odd-sized book…and I guess I would just sit and read the stories to people, including my LifeCore girls.  Ha!  I don't remember it, but it makes sense.  I really  did love that book.

Here I am, about eleven years later, and I am still captivated by how God moves…except a lot more in "real time".  I can't even begin to describe what He is doing in my heart right now, simply on this blog.  Over New Years I got to join 5 of my good friends in going to Kansas City for I-HOP's OneThing conference.  (I-HOP the House of Prayer, not of Pancakes:)  I-HOP is leading one of many prayer movements throughout the world.  It's pretty awesome.  They have a 24/7 prayer room, that is currently streamed online for free through their site.  My life has been blessed and my heart has been stirred.  And guess what…people have been healed and filled with joy, and they're taking joy and hope back to their homes, and around the world!  Ironically, that same year that I became captivated by what had happened through the Azusa Street Revival…that's the same year that I-HOP was founded.

These are merely two moves of God…He moves in miraculous ways all the time, in big and small ways…but these are two that have impacted my life. 

I guess I just found it humorous that so much has been happening in my heart, to the overflow of joy and hope, and that it's been quite an awakening in my spirit…and then that Amber reminded me of this crazy obsession that I had with something similar back in college.  I don't think the obsession ever went away, but I do think it has been dormant for some time, peeking up but not truly coming to the surface until now.

One of my prayers for today…Acts 2.42-47

And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles.44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common.45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts,47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

Enlisted

"I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot the artillary, Ist2_11885634-wounded-soldier-holding-bible

I may never fly o'er the enemies, but I'm in the Lord's army!  Yes Sir!"

I had no clue what I was singing about as a child.  NO CLUE.

The past week has been a battle.  Lots of victory and insight…but boy have I felt beat up.  This weekend has been unreal.  Lies.  Tears.  Thoughts.  Frustration.  Selfishness.  I know that every battle worth fighting will end with things that God is preparing me for.  Tonight my head hurts, as the battle continues.

 There's this old Twila Paris song, from the late 80's, that I think of in moments like these.

 "The Warrior is a Child"

Lately I've been winning battles left and right

But even winners can get wounded in the fight

People say that I'm amazing (well, that's debatable lol)

Strong beyond my years

But they don't see inside of me

I'm hiding all the tears (also debatable;)

 They don't know that I go running home when I fall down

They don't know who picks me up when no one is around

I drop my sword and cry for just awhile

'Cause deep inside this armor

The warrior is a child

 …and the song goes on…

 And some words from Paul (Ephesians 6.10-18)

 10-12And that about wraps it up. God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.

  13-18Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.

The Bruised Reed

Came across this title in a funny way today.  A guy that I was matched up with on EHarmony wrote that this was the last book that he'd read, and he noted that it was written by a Puritan author (Richard Sibbes).  Intrigued mostly by the Puritan thing, I Googled it and landed on this website

I'm not sure if the contents of the web page is the entire contents of the book, as if I'd bought it, but nonetheless it was a powerful read.  I only read pieces of it, and although it's filled with run-on sentences (what is with the run-on sentences?), I am able to see some truths that have captured my thoughts today.  Certainly, I haven't taken the time to truly sift through all that was written, to see what thoughts I do or do not agree with…but here are some points to ponder.

The bruised reed is a man that for the most part is in some misery, as those were that came to Christ for help, and by misery he is brought to see sin as the cause of it, for, whatever pretences sin makes, they come to an end when we are bruised and broken. He is sensible of sin and misery, even unto bruising; and, seeing no help in himself, is carried with restless desire to have supply from another, with some hope, which a little raises him out of himself to Christ, though he dare not claim any present interest of mercy.

After conversion we need bruising so that reeds may know themselves to be reeds, and not oaks. Even reeds need bruising, by reason of the remainder of pride in our nature, and to let us see that we live by mercy. Such bruising may help weaker Christians not to be too much discouraged, when they see stronger ones shaken and bruised. Thus Peter was bruised when he wept bitterly (Matt. 26:75). This reed, till he met with this bruise, had more wind in him than pith when he said, `Though all forsake thee, I will not' (Matt. 26:33). The people of God cannot be without these examples. The heroic deeds of those great worthies do not comfort the church so much as their falls and bruises do.

Are you bruised? Be of good comfort, he calls you. Conceal not your wounds, open all before him and take not Satan's counsel. Go to Christ, although trembling, as the poor woman who said, `If I may but touch his garment' (Matt. 9:21). We shall be healed and have a gracious answer.

We all live with wounds and bruises at different points in our lives.  What do we do with our wounds?  What's God's heart for these bruises? 


RE-renewed

Insecurity has been haunting me lately.  For the past couple of years I haven't been so awesome at blogging, but lately I think it has a lot to do with my insecurities.  It isn't because I've been too busy, that's for sure.  In some of my busiest moments I've often found time to blog about my thoughts and experiences…but not lately.

I keep thinking, "I'd like to blog about something…" but then don't feel like I have anything to say.  How can I not have anything to say?  If you know me, you know that I always have something to say, but for some reason I don't think that what has come to mind lately will have any worth to anyone else…like this post right now.  So what's the point? 

Eh.

Today I did something I didn't think I'd ever do again.  I joined Curves.  I waste money on things to get me healthy all too often.  It's sad.  Pitiful.  Yep, keep shaking your head…I am.  But today is a new day.  I've blogged about wanting to be healthy so often, that it's almost funny to talk about this as if it's some new journey I'm on.  It's not new.  It'll never be new…again.  But it is renewed.  This past year has been awful for me, health-wise.  Simply awful.  I take responsibility though.  And so today I renew…I am renewed. 

Curves isn't my favorite type of exercise…I like to run (jog, actually, but it's running to me;).  But I can't really do that right now.  Not on the pavement.  It's really bad for my back in its current state, and I'm pretty nervous about hurting my back again.  Definitely not interested in reliving last Fall. 
What I know that Curves does though, is that it gives me the structure I need right now.  I will not likely stick with Curves after my 1 year commitment, but I need it to get me over this mountain-sized hump right now.  

Believe it or not, I lost about 20 pounds in a couple of months without exercise…but then gained a few back…because I wasn't exercising.  Gotta tame the beast.  

I don't even think I've mentioned on this blog that I get to take part in leading an incredible group of leaders and students called Elevate.  It pretty much rocks. ;)  I love it.  We're in a foundational series called  MADE.  We are MADE…in His image…created to love our God…to be attentive to Him, and be changed by Him.  Got to speak in Elevate a few months ago, and the motto of the night was, "He made me.  He loves me."  Good stuff.

Love this Message paraphrase of Romans 12.1-2:

So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday,
ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around
life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for
you is the best thing you can do for him. Don't become so well-adjusted
to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead,
fix your attention on God. You'll be changed from the inside out.
Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it.
Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of
immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed
maturity in you.


Head the Warning Signs

We all have our stories.  And this blog is all about mine. 🙂  First I'd like to share some warning signs…Click on them to read them…

Helpdesk Warningsign  Moose warning sign 300Warning_Sign_by_SouthernDesigner

 So I had a number of occasions over the last 6 months where I had this immense pain in my upper abdominal area, into my pain, that almost sent me to the hospital a few times.  I had my suspicions as to what it might be and made an appointment with a gastro-doctor-guy.  He told me this past Monday that I was most likely right-gallstones.  Yippee!  I needed one more thing wrong with me!  He set me up to have some tests done to check whether it's for sure, and also to check for some other possibilities.  The other possibilities did come true, and I'll find out about the gallstone thing next week.  It's official-Ihave some lovely stomach issues that I hadn't even anticipated!

As I've been contemplating these little issues that are killing my old diet (literally everything that I truly enjoy eating more than anything is on the "avoid these foods" list), I've been wondering how long I would've dealt with them had I not had the severe pain of the probable gallstones.  I hadn't been feeling anything but minor heartburn…but really, what's a little heartburn every now and then?  Octopus-warning-sign  

Everything that I read about online to see how to treat and deal with these issues tells me that others always know when they're flaring up, or whatnot, but I hardly ever notice anything wrong!  That is, until yesterday.

Both yesterday and today I have actually noticed some stomachaches!  Once I thought about them I realized that I have felt this sickness for months, but literallyTurnDrownWarningSign   never really noticed it much!  I just must've gotten used to that awful feeling…and now it's gotten a lot worse than if I'd noticed it right away!

So I can't help but compare this to sin.  This is not a new message and I don't know that it will wreck someone's life in a good way, but at the same time, I can't help but think of the correlation!  What happens when I ignore the little signs that something is wrong with my thought life, or my actions, or my words?  What happens when I ignore the my gut that the Holy Spirit wants to use me in a situation?  What happens when I ignore what Scripture is screaming out to me to change?  The same thing that happens when I ignore the little signs that something is wrong with my stomach…ulcers and acid reflux of my spiritual heart. 

Warning_sign  And what do I have to do now?  Change my diet.  All the things that I enjoy-cheese, chocolate, tomatoes, mochas, ah, the list goes on…they all have to be eliminated for some time, and then only enjoyed every now and then once my insides have healed significantly.  If only I hadn't ignored the warning signs…If only I hadn't become so numb to this crappy feeling in my stomach that was trying to tell me I've been sick.  Then maybe I wouldn't have to spend an arm and a leg on all this medical treatment.  If only…

I cannot live with regret, but I can live with a better, more disciplined plan for the present and future.  And so it is with life.  Look to the past to change the future.  Here's to paying attention to the warning signs, both in my tummy and in my life.  We need to choose the things that will makeWarning-sign us healthy, inside and out.

James 5.13-15  Are you hurting? Pray. Do you feel great? Sing. Are you sick? Call the church leaders together to pray and anoint you with oil in the name of the Master. Believing-prayer will heal you, and Jesus will put you on your feet. And if you've sinned, you'll be forgiven—healed inside and out.

My New Normal

My friend, Leah, has written numerous times about what a "new normal" has looked like in her life.  She transitioned a few times in the past 2 years, from getting married and moving states, to having a baby, to moving states again recently, and very soon here she'll be moving again to plant a church in my hometown of Philly with her husband, Brad.  Leah has talked about how her life was normal, but when big change and transition happens, she's had to find a new normal.  (She talks about it much more eloquently than I am right now:)  But nonetheless, I'm going to steal her term for this post and apply it to my own life these past 6 months.

Life in Michigan had its normalcy to it…friends, church, work, apartment/roommate, city, etc.  No type of normal existed for a few months of transition between last spring and summer.  Then I moved down here to DC, knowing a new normal would take some time to ease into.  

For a couple of months I couldn't work, make friends, jump into a church, or get to know my city…this was not the normal I was looking for.  I did not want this to become normal for me for any amount of time.

After those first couple of months, a few of those things changed and I began to see small specks of normalcy, but of course this would still take time.

More and more, as time has gone on, I have been able to experience moments of my new normal.  It hasn't spread to every area of my life yet-that's for another post, down the road…later in the year, hopefully.  It has been really fun to watch this unfold though.

I've been elated to become a part of the lives of several students in Alexandria, and to have developed friendships with some of the most incredible people I've ever met.  Let's just say that I'm really impressed with how God has been working my life out.  That's not to say that there haven't been so really dark challenges to face, that I'm still walking through even now, but He has placed people in my everyday life that walk in an abundance of joy…that are overflowing with Jesus' love…that enjoy soaking in His presence (and this is evident)…that are authentic…that keep positive attitudes (even when that's hard)…and that are deep-belly-laughing fun people to spend time with.  

For example, I recall a few weeks ago when the Blizzard of 2010 was first hittin' us hard and I had the opportunity to spend some quality time with some of these folks.  Sometime around the 2nd or 3rd day I realized that my jaw was hurting me really bad…but it was because I had been laughing so much.  Now that's a great reason for pain.

Last night I had the opportunity to spend some quality time praying with some friends-a couple of whom I just met last week.  I was overwhelmed at this realization, once again, that God has done an excellent job of surrounding me with people that have helped to create a new normal for me.  It's been a very busy week…which has certainly become normal.  But amongst the normal busyness, He's given me direction with people to be centered around Him.  That's a new normal that will impact me for years to come, and hopefully it will also impact others in some way as well.  So grateful to Jesus.

A Better Story in ’10

This year I would like to begin naming chapters, instead of setting resolutions.  Truth be told…I haven't been so awesome with resolutions anyway, like most people.

I couldn't put things so eloquently as one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, but I'll give it a shot in the wee hours of the morning, as I sit with these thoughts running through my head.

Resolutions are okay, and they have their place in our lives, I suppose.  Setting out to create stories makes life so much more interesting, not to mention a bit more attainable.

I am a verbal person.  (insert snickering remarks from friends and close co-workers;)  I love to talk/write/email, and I love stories.  According to the Strengths Finder 2.0 test, Communication is one of my top 5…go figure:)  It would make sense that I would do better with wanting to write a new chapter in my story than just wanting to accomplish a resolution.  I'm going to steal Donald Miller's example, and change it to look more like me for a moment…

It's no secret to anyone that's known me for years that I like to think I'm a runner.  Every now and then I kind of become one, and then I tend to slowly drop off, for one reason or another.  But believe it or not, it's still in my head that I'm a runner.  And even though I have my back issues now, I still want to run a marathon (or several) some day.  I still want to run my 10k's and my 5k's.  The desire is still there.  Unfortunately I do have my back issues and the possibility of surgery in my future.  

So right now, the chapter in my story that I'd like to see happen is going to be called, "Becoming Physically Fit Meant No Surgery".  Honestly, right now I am loving the thought of surgery to get rid of the back pain that I experience.  6 weeks-months of recovery?  No problem.  The thing is, even if I have the surgery, I need to become more physically fit to continue to not be in pain.  Sure I could set out to "exercise 5x/week", and that would be a valiant goal for me and my schedule right now.  But it's so much bigger than exercising just to do it.  Now there's other stuff involved.  I'd like to see how this could impact my need for surgery over the next 6 months…we shall see!  Sure it'd be great to be able to say that I exercised "x" amount of times a week for 6 months straight (we'd all see a difference!), but it would be a better story to say that I was able to work my way out of needing surgery…and that I was then able to run a 5K with some friends this summer. It's just a better story.

These next couple of weeks I'll be thinking more about the chapters I'd like to write this year.  I loved 2009, as crazy as it was, for the simple realization that I got to see an overflow of joy in my life through some tough transitions and challenges.  

It's so cliche to talk of 2010 as if it will be the best year of my life, but if I walk intentionally to write a better story, breathed on by the Holy Spirit, it will be!  I saw throughout this past year that that doesn't always come through the most comfortable experiences, but every great story has great conflict to overcome.  

For now, check out the blogspiration for my thoughts.