Friday, October 19, 2007

Good Apples

My friend (one of my "single digits") and I are planning on getting our wigs busted (aka a hair cut). I'll have to admit that I'll miss my long hair, but Jeffrey is constantly grabbing and pulling at it anyway. I don't think I'll really mourn the loss, but it will be a change that will take some getting used to.

My dome will be pruned. Just as my life is being pruned.

When I was living in Billings, Montana, I attended Faith Chapel. There was a pastor (Rich Trees) who had served there for many years, and who had been led to leave that church to pastor a super tiny church in Absarokee where he grew up... Kind of a coming home for him, but a loss for our church at the time. I remember as he was getting up to deliver his last sermon to the congregation, everyone spontaneously stood in uproarious applause. He was humbled... But then again he was a humble man. He spoke about pruning. He used his family's apple trees as an illustration. In order to bear good fruit, a tree must be pruned. If it is left to grow on its own, its limbs become overgrown, and in turn, the fruit becomes small, if it's even able to bear fruit at all. He said that if we were the tree, being pruned would probably hurt, but in the end it was for our benefit. He showed us a "good apple" and a "bad apple". The difference was obvious. One was large and lucious. The other was small, off-colored and riddled with dark spots. He paused to gain his composure and said, "You are good apples."

That stuck with me for some reason. I have contemplated often on being pruned. We're pruned through our circumstances, through the choices we make, through the submission to our Lord, particularly when He leads us outside of our comfort zone or gives us answers we don't want to hear.

I'm grateful for being pruned. It hurts. It sucks. But in the end, the fruit is large and lucious.

Thank you, Jesus, for teaching me to submit to Your authority and for helping me to produce good apples.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Perhaps the Answer...

It's hard to be vulnerable. For some, it's easier to build a wall around yourself for protection. In my experience, that only led to shallow relationships and loneliness. To put yourself out there allows others the opportunity to stomp on you... but the honesty is worth the risk.
The number of people who are truly close to me are in the single digits. I have a lot of friends, but they're really more like buddies - people I can hang out with and share a few good laughs. We may even share a few tears together, but the silence with them is still uncomfortable. I don't wear my heart on my sleeve. I've been hardened to some extent by life and loss, hurt and disappointment. I desire to know people on a deeper level and it takes time for me to get to the point of spiritual nakedness. I can stand before my Lord that way, honored to be broken and bruised for the One who was broken for me. But to be that naked (spiritually and emotionally) in front of others like me (that is, broken, hardened, sinful... human) takes time and commitment.

I shed my layers recently, showing my under belly. A couple of entries ago I made mention of having to ask a friend for forgiveness and being ok with having my plea rejected. We talked. We hugged (and it was a good hug, not a back-pat, stick your butt out kind of hug). And then the Deceiver got a foothold. Through a bizarre series of misunderstandings and misperceptions, what I originally thought was progress, actually became a serious setback. I can't say that my apology was rejected, but I think I lost a friend tonight. I feel responsible, but I honestly don't know why.

It's tragic and sad. Disappointing and confusing. I'm still hoping for a clear answer of some sort, but I don't know what that would look like.

God has a funny way of teaching us humility and patience. Patience has never been a a great strength. (I do, however, have the strenghts of Achiever and Activator, among others, just in case you wanted to know.) I do try to practice that discipline (and it is a discipline). Waiting... waiting...

The positive to all of this is that the answer I was waiting for may have come tonight. It's not the clear answer I wanted, but it's an answer nonetheless. I'm still hoping for reconciliation. We'll see.

I got honest. I got stomped. Still single digits. It's been worth the risk.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Laughter and Misfortunes

Fall is beautiful - romantic and peaceful. It feels good to be snuggled into my family at home (sore throats and all).
We helped my sister move today. She took a nose dive moving a coffee table down the front steps before we got there. We were sorry to have missed that... Would have given us something to laugh about. (She was fine, so it isn't like I'm completely heartless.)

But it made me think... Why do we laugh at others' misfortunes? Or, in my case, at our own?

I have this knack for trying to cut off my fingers. One Thanksgiving about 8 years ago, I was dicing an onion when the knife slipped and cut my ring and middle fingers. I got 6 stitches in my ring finger. We joked to everyone that if they happened to find a finger in the stuffing, it was mine. Three years ago when my husband and I moved into our first home (our 1st anniversary gift to each other), I was preparing lunch for everyone who helped us move (or at least those who were left). I was trying to open a jar of saurkraut, which by the way are the hardest jars to open in the world. They are so sealed that I usually lift an edge with a can opener to let some air in and release the seal. Of course, all my kitchen gadgets were packed, so I found a knife... (Yes, this is when the little voice in my head said, "Don't do that" but true to form, I ignored it.) I began to lift the edge when the knife slipped and stabbed me in the thumb of the hand holding down the jar, kind of up through the webbing of my thumb and index finger. I remember watching the blood and I thought, well that sucks. So I wrapped it in a papertowel and continued preparing lunch. Greg, one of my coworkers and friends who was helping us move, took a look at said, "Um... I'm pretty sure you should see a doctor. That's a pretty deep cut." I'm so tough, you know, so doctors were out of the question. That is, until about 3 hours later when the cut began to tear and spread open... That was gross. Oh, and it started to throb. That's an interesting feeling. You know, when a body part has it's own heartbeat. So, we decided to swing by the emergency room on the way back to our apartment for our last load of stuff. (This was when I learned the difference between a puncture wound and a laceration.) I got 5 stitches in my thumb, one of which tore out the next day.
I didn't have Aflac's accident plan then. But I do now for just such an occasion.

Oh, and I tend to listen to that little voice more now. Not all the time.

All this to say, I laughed at myself both times. I'm such an ass.

Scott and I were out looking for a new house about 5 months ago. We ended up in a new subdivision in a really nice area of town. I got out of the car to walk up the street a bit to grab a couple of those flyers realtors keep in the little boxes by the For Sale signs. This is when I discovered that the curb on the road wasn't done yet. How did I learn this? I fell off. And down I went. 7 months pregnant. I twisted my ankle on the way down. A car was driving towards us and slowed down to stare (those damn looky-loos). I laughed. Actually WE laughed.

That's actually how I found out I was pregnant. In October last year, I was serving on the Tech-team for my church when I was "walking" off stage to set up cameras (or something). I thought I was more towards the center of the stage where the stairs are, but... I wasn't. I took a step down when there wasn't a step (just a cliff, really) and fell off the stage, twisting my ankle and knee, and landing on my middle finger... face first. Scott saw the whole thing. We both cracked up over that. My knee hurt so bad that I didn't realize I had cracked my middle finger until the next day when it hurt really bad. And then later that evening Scott and I were wrestling around when I felt a SNAP and a pain shot into my hand, basically putting an end to all that ballyhoo. We left for vacation in November, which is when I realized that my finger was probably broken. When we returned from vacation, I went to see the doctor for an xray (cuz my finger still hurt REALLY bad), and that's when I saw the sign. "If you are pregnant or think you might be pregnant, please speak with the technician." Well... I didn't think I was pregnant (and I certainly didn't know I was pregnant), but I told the technician that we were trying (or, rather, had just tried like a week ago). So my doctor said, "Let's find out!" I peed in the cup.... That was the longest 5 minutes ever. My doctor says, "You knew it's positive, right?" Uh... NO, I didn't know that. I was about 8 days pregnant.

I never did get my finger xrayed.

Anyway... we laughed at that a lot.

I'm not even sure what my point is anymore.

Thank you and good night.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Who Can Ya Trust? The Little Voices....

I don't know why I find myself in these situations... Curiosity always gets the better of me, but I get this hunch, this feeling in the back of mind that things aren't what the seem. (And why do these things come to light at the end of the day?)

I ignore that little voice in my head (the one that my husband says I should always listen to because it is almost always right... kind of uncanny that way) that tells me to hold my tongue and not say too much. (Usually, that voice is telling me not to stand on that chair, or hold the knife that way, or handle sharp objects... which is why I have Aflac's accident plan.)

I've always been the kind of person that assumes I can trust everyone (well, maybe not everyone) until they give me a reason not to... It's a risky game to play. What's most crushing is when you want to trust someone so badly that you actually argue with yourself over it only to find out that you've lost that argument.

It sucks when a friend betrays your trust. I wish Aflac had a plan that covers that.

That's a bummer.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Letting Go

Looking back at how the events of the last 15 months came together in perfect orchestration, I'm just in awe. In the midst of trials, I knew I was being stretched, and of course it's so far beyond me to open my hands and let God work. It always takes a beating for me to say, "Ok... fine. Have it your way."
I've learned that it's so easy to get sucked into trivial things: money... work... unhealthy relationships… unhealthy places… chaos... But in the end they are so meaningless. I've learned that finding a quiet place away from media and noise and letting go of the innate desire to achieve gives way for the real Plan to work. I've learned that by opening my hands and giving it all back to The One who provided for me in the first place has given me freedom to live.
A new job... a new place... new relationships... a new motivation...
It has done something to me. I'm changed. I think for the better. Weeding out what now seems so unimportant. Everything is so simple now. Getting caught up in the busyness of life crowded out what my soul had longed for. God had answered a prayer almost a year ago, and nothing could have prepared me for the ways in which He would lead me. July 4th came and I found new meaning to love and laughter, joy... simplicity... perfection...
I have to confess that much of what I held onto was out of pride; a need to leave a legacy behind me, and a need to control what isn't rightfully mine to control. I couldn't sleep last night and I think it was God's way of meeting me when I had nothing else to grab my attention so that he could tell me it was time to let go. So I listened as God spoke.

I have to ask a friend for forgiveness. This means being vulnerable and accepting that my request is rejected. And that's ok.

I have to let go of what was an unhealthy place for me. There are still aspects that I want to hold dear – a friend… lessons learned… wisdom earned… But I think I'm ready to say goodbye to all the rest. And now I can be fully present for what really matters – my husband, my baby, my ministry, my Savior.

Thank you, Jesus, for helping me to let go.