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? 


Spiritual Spongebob

Today is an extremely intentional day of rest.  I've been experiencing quite a bit of conviction over my
Lgfp2215+i-deserve-a-hug-spongebob-squarepants-poster time and my heart lately.  And even though it's summertime, and I'm a teacher, I've still stayed quite busy.  Too busy.  It's about to get worse. 

Yesterday some things I'd been processing for a few weeks came to a head, when my friend, Katie, read my mail last night at a prayer meeting.  Yes.  I need to rest in Jesus.  I do too much sometimes.  And when I look around at so many of my friends who are doing more than me…I need to stop and realize that it's just not who God wired me to be.  Stop comparing yourself to others.  I hate feeling lazy.  I need my heart to get it that resting in Him and saying "no" is not laziness.  Becoming a sponge again…soaking in His presence.

So I'm sitting on my bed, down in my room (I've been here all day so far, doing this)…just worshiping.  Kim Walker is belting out "He Loves Us" and I am embracing every drop His presence.  My roommate just came down to do something and she stopped.  She said, "Hmm…are you okay?  You don't just sit here.  I never see you do that.  Actually, the last time I saw you do this, you were in pain."  I smiled.  "You're not in pain, are you?"  "No." :) 

I think that pretty much sums it up. 

"And tonight, without the love of God, we're just up here making noise…but the love of God changes us and we're never the same after we encounter the love of God….and if you want to encounter the love of God right now, you better brace yourself because He's about to blow in this place!"

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.

Shorelines

If you live anywhere near Philly, you go "down the shore" at least once every summer.  You might rent aDSC05105  house for a week and go with your family.  But it's close enough to head down for a weekend, or even just for a day!  Going "down the shore" is what we refer to when we talk about venturing down to a Jersey shore-Ocean City, Wildwood, etc.  

Growing up I loathed going down the shore.  It was not a pleasurable thing for me:  the sand, the waves, the sunburn.

First of all, the sand.  After spending a day at the beach I would find sand in very uncomfortable places, and it never seemed to go away-especially on those "day trips".  I probably still have sand in my life from that one time in 1985, but I'll never know for sure.  

Secondly, I never really learned how to swim, so the waves absolutely sucked…literally.  They sucked me under their toes 😉 and every time I was pretty sure that I was going to die, and that no one would ever know what happened to me.  It's not my parents' fault for the whole swimming thing.  They paid for me to get swimming lessons at the Y, but the blood-curdling screams that would be evicted from my mouth were no match for the instructor that was holding me, trying to get me used to putting my face under the water….I would get away from her, climb the ladder, and run to my parents.  I don't think they ever took me back.  So you can imagine my horror when taken out into the ocean with waves crashing around me.  I hated it.  I hated the experience and I hated the adults that put me through it.  To my future children…I will probably do the same to you, not because I hate you, but because I really want you to get over the fear of water earlier than me:).

Finally, the sun and redheads never truly become friends.  Redheads burn…easily and A LOT!  I recently discovered spf 50 sunblock, and I went through 4 bottles of it this past summer.  When redheads go to the beach with anything less than spf 30 or 50, well, they're just asking the sun to give them the hot new lobster look.  I always got super burned when I went to the beach growing up, and even when I did have the right sunblock around, I never used it properly.  Then I would lay on my stomach, which makes your bathing suit shift a little, and the next thing you know you can't walk straight or sit painfree for a few days.  Welcome to my world.

Why share about sand and the sun's effects in uncomfortable places?  And about the water that I was sure would become my fatality in life?  I think that it's all related to something that God is trying to teach me right now, and I'm hoping that writing about it will assist me in processing it all.

The irony is that now I love the shore!  I love to sit on the sand, and squish it between my toes.  I love the water, and the sound of the waves crashing.  And now that I've become friends with the Coppertone, spf 50 spray…the sun and I have actually become friends!  When I was still in Michigan I wrote my friend-for-many-years, Suzanne, to ask her to take me down the shore for a day this summer when I was in Philly.  So we went and I was exhilarated as we drove into Ocean City and rolled down the windows to the familiar scent of the salty ocean, and the sounds of seagulls flying around.  I got so giddy and excited because I hadn't been down there in 5 years!  It was so great to spend the day there.  It's not the nicest beach in the world, but I was at the ocean once again…and I had longed for it!

One connection that I have right now is that one of my great, great friends, Hannah just took an incredible leap of faith and moved to work at a place called Harvey Cedars, along the Jersey shoreline.  I stole some of these pictures from her Facebook account…because I am so jealous of her view;)

8432_547889019404_55300462_32443359_5171660_nAnd here's another shot that I love…and it actually looks a little like what I get to see of the Potomac River, down the street from me, with the rocks and all (sans the lady and the pelican;).

8432_547889094254_55300462_32443372_2512450_n 

But here's where I'm going on the topic for now…this is where I need to process a little.  Join me in my ramblings for a moment.  (or not…now would be a good time to click on another blog or websearch, or go watch your favorite episode of The Office, if you'd like)

Here's a peek @ my journal this evening, as I sipped my zebra mocha at Buzz.  

…go deeper.  Be deeper.  Love more deeply.  Be lavished on Him.  Step onto the shoreline-the line where the land meets water.  Where waves crash.   Where land can disappear for while, to be seem again when the water decides to concede its demand of sight.  I long for my life to be epic…to have meaning…to have presence & purpose.  This is bigger than just "being a teacher".  It has to do with BEING who God has created me to be.  Processing the adventure.  Psalms 42.7 "Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me."

To
be honest, I'm really glad that wasn't one of my Sunday School memory verses
when I was little.  "God wants waves to sweep over me?"
 It's a frightening thought when you can't swim.  And yet, it's what
I want right now.  What a shift in thought.  The thing that caused me
to fear as a child has become the thing that I actually enjoy in this moment in
life.  Tonight I went for the first walk I'd been on in two months.
 I chose to go walk by the Potomac River,
because I really love the water.  Hearing the ripples of water crash ever
so gently along the rocks put me in my happy place.  And for this simple
enjoyment, I thanked Jesus.  It's all connected…God, water, waves,
rocks, shores, depth, life.  And in some way it's stirring my heart…but
again, I'm processing this part of my journey.  Not really sure what I'm
sensing.  Not really sure what is about to happen.  But I do know
that His waves and breakers are sweeping over me…and it is truly deep.  

Yes.
 The initial topic was the shoreline, and the water is not deep at the
shoreline.  But the waves call us out into the depths of the vast ocean
(and I chuckle as the old song, Beyond the Sea, is playing on my Pandora
station;).  So, again, I'm not completely sure how all of my thoughts and
developments are connected, but they are.  I will journey along this shoreline for now.

Craving Community

In my decision to move here months ago, I knew that I would want to quickly find a church that I could call home.  Three days after I found such a church, I ended up having my hurt-back-syndrome and have been out of commission for last 5 weeks.  This left me in such a strange place-a place that I'd never been in before…a very frustrating place.  

You see, I am fully aware that we are created for relationships.  We are created for community.  But here I've been, not able to physically handle going to church, or most places (like work), to meet people!  I haven't been able to go a stranger's house to join their small group, or anything like that.  I've had great roommates to talk with every now and then, and wonderful far-away-friends who I've been able to chat with online, or talk with on the phone.  But, get this…I haven't "had coffee" with anyone in a REALLY LONG TIME.  I know, I know…this is crazy.  I haven't had dinner or lunch with anyone in my home (outside of my roommates), anyone else's home, or a restaurant.  I haven't been to a movie, or gone shopping, or gone for a walk, or…anything with anyone else in a REALLY LONG TIME.  

If you know me, you're sitting there thinking, "wow, that's so not Kim!".  I mean, even if I've been in busy seasons (like fall usually is) I've been able to do a walk, or coffee, or something with a couple of people.  So this has been my life!  And I've been, more than ever before in my entire life, CRAVING COMMUNITY.  I miss praying with friends, and having dinner with my neighbors (miss you Gocke's and Myers:), and small group every Thursday, and worship practice on Sunday morning, and meeting with the leadership team once a month, and watching shows with Jen/making brownies with Jen/napping on Sunday afternoons on the living room couch with a friend on the other couch…I miss all of these things and more.  And while the people that I have valued can never, ever be replaced, I have been dying for that type of community once again!

So, yes, this has been quite a strange transition for me, because if I were hurting and still in Michigan, all of those things would still be in my life.  But for some reason, and I think God's always in favor of helping us to develop other perspectives to have empathy for others, I am here to experience all of this.  

Let in my next post, allow me to share today's experience with you…it just deserves its own post:)

The BEST

My friend, Andrea, just Twittered this verse:  Ps. 32:8 "the Lord says, i will guide u in the BEST pathway for your life. I will advise you & watch over u."

Needed that today!…and yesterday, and tomorrow...

1 mph

1.  I am still alive

2.  Apparently I have changed my mind and would like to really start Twittering

3.  My back is getting much better (to anyone that doesn't know, I've been almost out of commission for 4 weeks now with 2 herniated discs).  I finally was able to start physical therapy last week, and I think it's helping.

4.  Still not back to work:(  And I found out (in an odd way) that I was no longer going to be teaching 4th grade reading(I completely agree with the decision, because the kids desperately need a consistent reading teacher.  With us being unsure of when I'll actually be able to go back, we don't know what I'll be doing exactly.  Maybe this is a blessing in disguise?  More on this another time.

5.  Dad is doing better with the knee surgery.  He's at home now, getting physical therapy there.

6.  I've developed some insomnia that is beginning to drive me crazy.  A few days ago I didn't fall asleep until around 6:15am.

7.  Both of my roommates are originally from Miami.  One of them is living out of Florida for the first time this year, and thinks that the temperature here is "bitter cold".  Yea, it barely gets "bitter cold" in Virginia…and really, not-so-much in September. (Sorry Vanessa:)

8.  My other roommate, Kristy, has mango and avocado trees in her dad's backyard down in Miami.  He regularly sends her picked fruit.  YUM!  I tore into a ginormous avocado today.  I will need to share a picture, just to cause you to salivate.  :0P

9.  (Back to my back for a second…)  I am now going to the YMCA, not to run as I would like, but to walk…1mph for 30 minutes a day.  It's quite a site!  One lady thought she was being encouraging when she basically told me to "keep at it" and "the exercise will get easier".  It certainly doesn't help that I don't look like I've exercised in about 2 years (which I have, just inconsistently), so onlookers think I'm just a poor schlubb who is finally doing something.  I want to design a t-shirt to wear that says, "Listen, don't judge me and my 1mph!  Before I got hurt I was doing a lot more than this…A LOT, actually!  And I was beginning to train for a 5K that I will not be attending to in a couple of weeks here.  So BACK OFF!  And stop looking at me like that."  Do you think that would look good in maybe a nice brown T, or perhaps navy, with white writing?  I could have a picture of my spine with two red, radiating discs down at the bottom, with arrows saying, "See this?  IT HURTS!"

10.  I need to get over the whole thing at the Y.  I think writing it out was theraputic.  Thanks for listening.

11.  The Sunday before "the back crisis" truly began, I visited a church that I think I'll stick with.  The pastor says many things that remind me of an old favorite, and strangely is even cornier than the former.  It's actually kind of amazing.  But I really connect with the vision of the church…it's actually very familiar.  www.dcmetrochurch.org  Check it out!  I can't wait to feel a bit more normal, physically-enough to really try to connect with people in a small group setting.  Maybe next week?

12.  One of my new favorite shows is a BBC show, based in Scotland.  It's called Monarch of the Glen, and is actually no longer on the air.  Kristy, the roommate with the avocados, absolutely loves this show and shared it with me during my first week of being almost completely bed-ridden.  Watched all 7 seasons in 1 week.  It's unlike any show that I've ever actually liked…drama, humor, culture (I never knew anything about Scotland, other than what I learned through Braveheart:)

13.  I wish I could visit my family…so close, yet so far away right now.

14.  I wish I could see some friends-other than my roommates, who have been amazing to me!!!

15.  Turned 30 a week and a half ago.  Had a great day…although it felt very strange to not spend it with my usual set of friends in Michigan.  Vanessa-roommate decorated my room with balloons and streamers while I was at the chiropractor, and bought me Q'doba for dinner (with a birthday brownie).  

16.  Truly learning more about patience right now…and that I have VERY little of it.  So many "why" questions run through my head on a fairly regular basis.  The root of them has at least changed from being full of pity, and they've become a bit more inquisitive.  Why did I move here again?  Why am I out of work?  Why did this happen NOW?  Why can't I fully recover more quickly?  Why did…the list goes on. I'll tell you what though, I have developed more compassion for people in various situations dealing with pain, back problems, healthcare/insurance, joblessness, financial issues, loneliness/isolation….

17.  Overall, I'm doing well.  Honestly, I am.  I have learned that things could be a lot worse.  They actually have potential to get a lot worse.  What can I do?  I need to trust Jesus, and that God will give me wisdom as I make decisions everyday.  Sure, it's 3:20am, and I don't feel tired enough to sleep…but I'm okay.  I really am.

18.  Taking the GRE on October 17.  As I study, I'm actually getting nervous about it.  Apparently I'm really not so great with analogies!…and some of the reading comprehension questions (what do I teach again?)

19.  Trying to get into George Washington University for their spring semester to start taking classes.  I'll be shooting for a Masters in Educational Leadership and Administration.  

20.  Allow me to leave you with one last thought.  Even in your most isolated moments, how can God use you to invest into others?  This has been a thought running through my head, and I'm not sure that I have the best answer to that.  Something needs to change though…and soon.  Chew on it.

And…good morning!  "His mercies are new every morning."