Archive | October, 2010

Home for the weekend

30 Oct

Enjoying time in the Word

I realized this morning, as I was enjoying a cup of coffee and reading the Bible, that I haven’t been home on a weekend in over 6 weeks. Holy cow! No wonder I’m exhausted.

While I wish Travis and I could just go do something fun, we’ve both been so busy lately that we have to use at least part of this weekend to catch up on housework, chores, and unfortunately, do some work.

I have had time, though, to figure out who and what I’m voting for (which was a long process, since I knew practically nothing about any candidates or amendments). Travis and I are also talking about checking out Costco (for fun and to see if we want to join) and going out for sushi.

Katy wanting attention... is she not SERIOUSLY the cutest dog EVER?

Tomorrow, we are finally resuming our Panera-before-church tradition. Travis and I had been doing that for 2-3 months but once I got this job, that was pretty much out the window. We’ve started reading Counterfeit Gods by Timothy Keller together but we’ve only actually discussed a chapter once because of our crazy schedules. SO needless to say, I am VERY ready for some routine! And who doesn’t love Panera? Mmmm…

I have to admit, though, that remembering how much I enjoy weekends – and how much I don’t have them anymore – just reinforces my feeling that I don’t want to do this job next year. In fact, there is a position opening up in the church office that I’m going to apply for. I’ve already told the current administrator that I’m interested and I’m going to bring my resume when I go to volunteer on Monday. I’m really trying to trust the Lord with the outcome and timing but I can’t help getting excited about the idea of a real office, a regular schedule and no more volunteer coordination or timing.

I’ll let you know how that goes. In the meantime, have a great, relaxing weekend!

Still recovering.

27 Oct

Last week was quite possibly the longest week of my life. From Sunday to Sunday, I worked 115 hours. Isn’t that ridiculous? I did nothing except eat, sleep and work. And as my last blog post described, I was really looking forward to a break this week.

No such luck.

We are announcing our 2011 race calendar on November 1st and I am supposed to have all of the race logos designed and ready for posting by then – in addition to answering all of the post-race emails from athletes and vendors, creating the 2011 marketing strategy, designing all of the t-shirts and medals, and contracting new timing clients. And that’s just work. I was also greeted by a kitchen piled high with dishes, a laundry basket overflowing with 5 loads of laundry, an empty fridge and a dog needing a trip to the vet.

After getting a good 12 hours of sleep Sunday night, I got up on Monday at 9:30. I spent some time trying to pray but just found myself getting frustrated at the full day I had ahead, instead of the relaxing day I had hoped for. Then I worked for a bit, took Katy to the vet, worked a bit more, and volunteered at the church. Travis called me and said he was coming home from hunting a day early so we ate dinner together and watched a movie.

Tuesday, I jumped out of bed with the ambition to get the house in order. I can only take messiness for so long (and it’s not even really that long). So I gathered all of the laundry and started a load, put away all the other stuff from my suitcase, did the dishes, ate breakfast, cleaned up my office, and answered some emails. Around 12:00 noon, I called it quits and went on my first run in 2 1/2 weeks. I was pleasantly surprised to see that I can indeed still run 5 miles. I’m hoping I can run quite a bit more, considering the half marathon in Malibu is just 2 1/2 weeks away. After my run, I showered and went to the church to volunteer. When I got home, I had a phone date with my friend Brittany, then Travis made dinner, we watched a couple episodes of The Office, and he went to a hockey game while I talked to my mom on the phone. Finally, it was time for bed.

This morning, I spent some time in the Word and then edited the New Members class content I have been working on for the church. I answered some more emails (they just keep coming!), then went to my last physical therapy appointment. In the car on the way there, after feeling frazzled, rushed and stressed ever since getting home, I realized that I just needed a break. I just need to catch up on all the housework and take a breather. Then I can dive in tomorrow.

So I did. I took the afternoon off. After my appointment, I went grocery shopping, finished the laundry, and then read a magazine and watched some Desperate Housewives. I would be taking a nap right now except I am not really physically tired – just emotionally tired. And I wanted to read the blogs I follow, as well as post on mine. In 10 minutes, I’m going to go on a nice little 3-mile run, then shower and go to Care Group for dinner and discussion. I can’t say that I feel quite recharged yet – that will probably take a few weeks. But this afternoon definitely helped.

Time for a break.

20 Oct

I am in serious need of a break. So far this week, I have worked over 45 hours – and it’s only Wednesday!

I knew that this week would be this way so at least I wasn’t surprised. I had planned that I would do nothing except work and sleep. No exercise. No reading. No fun. (Well, I at least had to squeeze in a blog post).

That’s the way my job is – race week is completely nuts. This one even more so, since I took Friday and Saturday off last weekend to go up to elk camp with Travis and his family, days I would normally be working in preparation for this week.

Instead of getting into how much these weeks make me question why I have the job I do, I’m going to talk about all the things I excited to do next week – when I have pretty much the whole week off.

First, I’m going to sleep in as long as I can, linger over the Word with a cup of coffee, read a book as long as it takes me to fall asleep into a nap, cuddle with Katy my dog, and watch movies.

Second, I’m going to get a massage, manicure, and pedicure to rescue my body, feet and hands from all of this crazy manual labor! I’m sure my back is just one big giant ball of tension. I know my right leg has been demanding I quit using it so much since the beginning of August (my IT band and hamstring are ridiculously tight).

Then, I’m going to update my resume, volunteer at the church, write and mail a letter to my Compassion child, roll over my 401(k), finish sewing a coat and swimsuit coverup (not making, just mending!), run at least 4 times (the half marathon is in less than a month!) including an 8-miler, and paint and decorate wooden letters for my office (haven’t decided what word they’ll spell yet). I’m sure there’s more – I’ve been making a list of all the things that pop into my head followed by, “I need to remember to do that.”

It’s amazing how busy I’ve been this summer. I don’t really realize it until I think about all the things I haven’t had time or energy to do. When I read about my friends’ weekend adventures online, I am reminded of how long it’s been since Travis and I just hung out for the heck of it. Heck, how long it’s been since Travis and I hung out period. And then I see the long list of things I need and want to do and I just know – it’s time for a break.

What I’m trying to figure out is how long of a break I need from this job. But that’s better left for another blog post.

Happiness is from God.

18 Oct

Yesterday, I would have had reason for being frustrated. Travis’ mom, dad and brother are out here for elk hunting and I, for the 3rd year in a row, have to miss the majority of their stay because of work. This year, I had to leave on Sunday morning in order to leave for Vegas – we’re putting on our last race of the season, Pumpkinman, this coming Saturday. I am SO ready for this season to be over and to have some time to relax and not feel the temptation to be stressed out.

But yesterday, as we were driving through the mountains on I-70, I couldn’t help but feel joy at the beauty and freshness of the fall day. Granted, it’s still in the 60s, even in the mountains, but it’s about as near fall as Colorado gets at this time of year.

As I felt that joy, that lightness of spirit, that hope in the future and rest in the present, I realized that I had not had that feeling in a VERY long time. And it dawned on me: joy is from the Lord. I do not have joy in this life, I do not have rest, peace, or hope, without Jesus working it in me. I can finally thank the Lord for all the trials and dark nights I have gone through in the past year because I see now that I do not have hope or joy in this life if it isn’t in the Lord.

A similar thing happened to me in my marriage. During our first year, I grew very bitter toward Travis due to a long stretch of misunderstandings and different affection styles. I was often dismayed and broken over my lack of love for Travis. What I had though would be an exciting time of life was really just… HARD. And while I remained committed to Travis and our marriage, I didn’t feel love for him.

Thanks to God and His work in my life, that has changed immensely. I am more in love with Travis now than I was when we got married and I now recognize that the love I feel for him is totally a gift from God. I do not have love in my heart naturally, not in the face of trials, struggles, frustrations and annoyances. Like in the song, Jesus My Only Hope: “Though I am dry and barren, By grace this love springs forth.” But it took me going through that period of dryness, of lovelessness, to recognize that my love for my husband is totally from God.

It’s good for God to redirect my focus like this – from looking into my own heart and wondering why it’s so barren, from looking at my circumstances and wondering why they don’t make me feel blessed, from looking at others who seem so happy and wondering why I can’t be more like them – to HIM. God is my joy. God is my meaning and reason for living. God is my strength. God is my help. God is my planner. God is my life.

I can finally notice the changing colors on the trees and bask in the sunshine and crisp fall air while finding joy in the little things of life because I am trusting God with the bigger things. Like my friend Katie Stromwall said, “He gets glory through our trust.” If I am truly desiring to glorify God with my life, I will trust Him.

At the foot of the Cross

12 Oct

The past few days have been hard. I’ve been frustrated with/depressed about my job again and let it throw a gloomy cloud over everything. It becomes all I can think about and I just dwell in that place, wondering why I struggle so much with things other people seem to be fine with and how God and the gospel just don’t seem to be revelant in my situation.

Praise the Lord that He never lets me stay in that place! I re-read We Would See Jesus last night and this morning – took me about 6 hours. What an amazing book – definitely one of the best books ever written! It was exactly what I needed to hear and be reminded of. When I had felt stressed out about my job, and in turn life in general, I knew I wasn’t trusting God. I knew that my distrust was sin. But instead of just confessing it at the Cross and resting there in Jesus’ perfect atonement, I skipped ahead to trying to trust God and His plan for my life. The Hessions say it perfectly:

“A mere attempt to trust Him more completely and to rest in Him, without an acknowledgment of the sin there is, never brings victory, His victory. He is only the Vine to me as I repent of trying to be the vine myself. It is only as I repent of my unlove that I have His love; only as I confess my worry and lack of peace that I have His peace; only as I confess my impatience that I have His long-suffering; only as I confess my resentment that I have His meekness, and so on.”

Earlier, they wrote, “So it is that victory ever comes by repentance — coupled with a simple trusting Him to be to us what He promises.”

Repentance. That’s what I have been missing. I have known that I was a sinner, void of anything good in myself, and incapable of living the Christian life on my own. But I never came to the foot of the Cross and said that. Instead, that acknowledgment turned me to striving. When I felt anxious, I knew that I was sinning by not trusting in God but instead of confessing my sin, I just tried to trust God. I even prayed about it, a lot! But I constantly felt defeated. And no wonder why – I was trying to be the vine, to produce trust in God by myself.

“This, then, is the reason for our failure, too. It is simply that we have been trying to be the vine; we have been trying to find a holiness and a love for others in ourselves and from ourselves which Scripture never encourages us to expect to find there… God no longer expects us to be the vine. We need not even try. The responsibility for producing fruit is no longer ours. God has His own true Vine, the risen Lord Jesus, who is well able to produce all the fruit that God requires for others, and to fulfill all the purposes of His grace for men… We do not produce the fruit, but simply bear what He produces, as we permit Him to live in us.”

It is amazing to know that in response to my sin, all I have to do is bring it to the foot of the Cross, where Christ has paid for it once for all, and to rest there – in full acknowledgment of my failure, need, and insufficiency. And I don’t have to leave the foot of the Cross. I don’t have to go out and try better. I don’t have to draw strength from Christ to set out on my own until I fail again. I can stay there. I can rest there, knowing the reality of my condition but trusting the completion of Christ’s work on the cross. What’s more, that’s exactly where Christ works in me to produce all the things I lack.

I had been feeling hopeless and depressed. I had believed the lie that life would never get better, I would always feel this way, and I was beyond help, even God’s. But coming to the foot of the Cross, I find hope again and all the lies I had believed are destroyed – and while I still am the wretched, pathetic soul I ever was, I don’t have to grieve that fact eternally.

Because I have a Savior.

Contentment in being a sinner

6 Oct

From my last post, it’s obvious that I’ve been thinking about contentment lately. I’ve also been thinking a lot about my sin and struggles, which seem to be everywhere and never-ending. Yesterday, I felt discouraged and depressed at the thought that I will always struggle with sin and selfishness in this life. My whole life will be like this?!?!?!? I’m not sure I can handle that, I was thinking.

But in the midst of that, I had some other thoughts. One, I’ve heard it said that the more mature Christians are the ones who recognize their sin more. So seeing my sin everywhere is actually a sign of God working in me, not me backsliding (after all, those sins have always been present, I’m just now seeing them). This is evident in the apostle Paul’s life, who describes himself in ever-increasing degrees of sinfulness. He is the “chief of sinners” in one of his very last letters.

Two, despite Paul’s awareness of his depravity, he doesn’t focus on it much. His letters are overwhelmingly about the victory we have in Christ and the new life we can now live. So perhaps I focus too much on my own sin and not enough on Christ. It’s the reverse form of pride – it’s still all about me but now, I’m just dwelling on how much I suck.

Then I read in 2 Corinthians that Paul had learned to be content with his weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest on him. Roy and Revel Hession in We Would See Jesus echo that when they write:

“Grace permits us to come (nay, demands that we come) as empty sinners to be blessed, empty of right feelings, good character, and satisfactory record, with nothing to commend ourselves but our deep need, fully and frankly acknowledged. Then grace, being what it is, is drawn by that need to satisfy it, just as water is drawn to depth that it might fill it. This means that when at last we are content to find no merit in ourselves, and are willing to admit the full extent of our sinfulness, then there is no limit to what God will do for the poor who look to Him in their nothingness” (emphasis mine).

This idea of being content in being a sinner was at first confusing to me. Doesn’t being content with being a sinner mean that I resign myself to the fact that I continuously try to be my own god and that as a result of that acceptance, I will stop trying to change? But I had been thinking of contentment as a passive acceptance of reality. Instead, as I read here, “Contentment, from the biblical viewpoint, is not merely a passive willingness to bear whatever comes, but a vital, living, active power to overcome and conquer through the strength and grace of God.” So contentment and the battle for holiness can simultaneously exist in the Christian’s life.

Admitting that I have nothing good in me and never will in this lifetime is very difficult. My flesh wants to object and say, “Well what about that time that I didn’t yell at Travis, even though I wanted to? Or that time I gave $5 to a homeless man? Or what about my desire to be holy – surely that means something?” Even though I’ve said and believed that I’m utterly sinful, I haven’t understood the depth of  what that means. It means that there is nothing good in me. That I am not worth anything apart from Christ.

I have been subconsciously waiting for the day when I will feel victorious over sin. I will feel that I have conquered my old nature and am now, finally, living in the power of the Spirit. I have been expecting to, someday, no longer feel like a sinner. But that day on earth will never come. I will always be a sinner here. I will always struggle with my human nature. Instead of getting frustrated that I sinned yet again, I should say to myself in those moments, “Well, that doesn’t surprise me” and focus ever more on God’s grace to me through the cross of Christ.

This realization has been groundbreaking. Thinking about all the sins and struggles I’ve had recently, I can see that they’re all rooted in me trying to justify myself, to prove my worth, to find something in and of myself that I can hold on to and say “This. This is what makes me valuable.” My struggles with body image and jealousy of other women are just me wanting to be valuable based on beauty. My anger at Travis when he points out my sin or makes me feel stupid is just me wanting to justify myself. In short, my flesh is not content to be an empty sinner, void of anything to commend myself. It wants something more than Christ to show I’m valuable.

But my heart wants to moment by moment cast off all the things that I am trying to find my worth in, and instead turn to God and say (in the words of Mercy Me), “You are to blame for anything that is good in my heart.” Already, I feel peaceful from not expecting to feel good about myself but in looking to Christ for everything. I’ve realized it before but am realizing it again – the Christian life isn’t about becoming a better version of myself. It’s about letting Christ live through me. It’s about recognizing my need – my failures, sins and weaknesses – and instead of trying to make up for them through my own strength and efforts, acknowledging them and looking to Christ for His sufficient grace and asking Him to make His power perfect in my weakness.

That is how I can be content in being a sinner: seeing the reality of my situation, acknowledging that I am nothing and can do nothing myself, and looking to Christ in my nothingness. In doing so, I end up being conformed to the image of Christ without my even trying. Christ is the one who acts. Contentment really is a win-win.