Thursday, 28 June 2012

Annal 167: Tale from the Unscathed

I realize that is has been well over two weeks since I wrote my last post. I also realize that this is the longest time between posts that I have ever gone. And, truth-be-told, I am not sure what kind of a post it will be. I am physically exhausted. This is not a bad thing though :) This is week number four of running Monday-Friday on my lunch breaks. And I have begun to notice a difference! My running ability is improving and my body is definitely feeling the activity. This week I started biking to and from work. Mind you, I hopped on my bike at the end of the day only to discover my back tire was completely flat. Thankfully my foreman was leaving at the same time and offered to give me a ride home. Then I got home, hopped in the shower, and proceeded to be scalded twice. The first time resulted in shampoo in my eyes--not a pleasant feeling! The second time led to a frustrated me slamming things around the washroom (real mature, I know).

To be honest with all of you, life has felt pretty crazy lately. Between babysitting, tutoring, working, and attempting to maintain a social life, I feel like time is completely passing me by. June is pretty well over. Before I know it I will be done being an electrician for the summer and will be back in school for my final year. That being said, I am almost relieved for this busyness.

Life has been interesting over the last few weeks. One friendship I had once held so dear seems to be fading. In this case it is not a bad thing, but it has been a change to adjust to. On the other hand, another friendship has also started to develop.

I guess more than anything I am amazed at how God has protected me. How He has proved His love to me. I wrote several posts ago about the force field that God revealed He had placed around my heart. In the last month I have been able to see it in use. I have been able to see how God protected me. Things have happened that at any other time would have shattered my heart into pieces. But they haven't. I have been able to come through relatively unscathed. And to be honest, that is only by the grace of God.

I remember what my friend told me about learning to see everything as an act of God's mercy and not of His wrath. I am learning to do this.

I have been able to see how my mother's bout with cancer could be God's mercy. It has taken over four years for me to see this, but I am starting to. I can see how God stopping a relationship from happening was an act of His mercy.

Despite my exhaustion and the fact that I truly feel as if I am floating through life right now, and despite the fact that I don't seem to get to spend the same amount of time with Him as I did at the end of my school year and prior to starting work, He has still proved faithful.

And with that, I am going to get ready for bed.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Annal 166: Tale from the Inside Out

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades,
 Neverending, Your glory goes beyond all fame.
And the cry of my heart is to give You praise,
From the inside out, Lord, my soul cries out

If I am going to be completely honest, and I do try to be that, then I should probably admit that today was a really hard Sunday for me.  I really didn't feel like going to church today.  In yesterday's post I touched briefly on a bit of the struggle I have had with my friend discovering she has cancer.  I ended up not going to church last week as I was out visiting a friend who lives out of town, so I realized during worship this afternoon that I haven't been to church since I learned about her cancer.  I was also made aware of just how much of a hard time I am having with this whole situation.

The singing started and with it the tumult that was my emotional 'stability.'  The songs were all about how wonderful God is, how much He deserves our affections, about how beautiful and loving He is.  I finally had to leave to 'use the bathroom' which was really just an excuse for me to get out of the room.  When I came back into the sanctuary I found myself unable to sing the words of the songs.

Please don't misunderstand me.  I am not having a crisis of faith.  I am not doubting God's love and His goodness.  All I kept repeating in my head while the music played was, "God, I know You are good.  I know You love this woman.  I know You love this family.  I know You are good.  But I am really not feeling it right now."

The last time I went through something like this was when it was discovered that my mom had colon cancer.  Only then the feelings really did turn into a crisis of faith.  But God got me through that.  And I know He will get me through this.  But today I just was not feeling it.

I can't even say I am angry at God, because I don't think I am.  I guess I just don't understand why this has happened.  In my mind it doesn't make any sense.

The last song we sung was called "From the Inside Out" and the first part of the chorus is written at the start of this post.  When we got to the chorus I found I could actually sing these words. 

Sometimes it feels like everything around us is fading into darkness... is disappearing into the blackness.  Yet God is still there.  He is still the light that shines when all other lights have gone out.  He is the hope that guides and strengthens.

Once church ended I was talking with a friend for a few minutes and just shared with her a bit of what I had been going through during the service.  She mentioned that she has been listening to a lot of Matt Chandler podcasts lately (I would suggest his sermons, by the way... he has got some pretty awesome stuff to say) and that one of the things he seemed to keep on saying is that we need to realize we are living our life under God's mercy, not His wrath.  That everything that happens is somehow a reflection of His mercy.

This is hard, and let's be honest it doesn't always make sense.  When my mom was sick I really didn't see it as a symbol of God's mercy.  When life seemed like it was falling to pieces around me at the same time I didn't see it as God's mercy.  Can I look at how these experiences affected me and helped to develop me into who I am today?  Yes.  Have they helped me to offer even a little bit of hope to others?  I think so.  Is that a reflection of God's mercy?  I guess it is...

I don't have a pat answer to write that will wonderfully sum all of this up.  I wish I did.  All I can say is that in my head I know God is still good.  I know He loves me.  I know He loves this woman and her family.  I know this.  And my heart longs to believe it as well.  From the inside out my soul is crying out, it is longing for hope.  It is desperately clinging to God, to the belief that this is somehow a reflection of His mercy.

Despite all this turmoil I know He has not abandoned me.  I know that He will continue to shine no matter how dark things may seem.  I know that He is good.

Such is the life of a Christian single.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Annal 165: Tale from my Role Model

There is a woman I know that I desperately want to be like when I grow up.  I got to know her during my year teaching as I coached her two daughters and taught her son.  She volunteered in my classroom, kept me well-stocked in Starbucks instant coffee, and was a source of constant encouragement to me.  After my mom lost her job at the school, this woman and her family offered me more support than I could ever begin to describe.  The thoughts and prayers they directed at me and my family, the gifts that would appear on my desk, the notes, the hugs... they got me through what was a very rough last few months of teaching.

Last week I found out that this woman has been diagnosed with breast cancer and she went in yesterday for surgery.

You know those moments where you know that God is good, you know that He loves you, but you just have a hard time believing it?  The last couple of weeks have been like that for me.  I know He loves her and her family.  I know this.  I know He is good.  But it is hard to explain the shock that overcame my system.

Near the end of Lewis' The Great Divorce, he describes a woman surrounded by a great procession of people.  A woman whose innermost spirit shines through, who is known as "one of the great ones."  Men and women surrounded her and are referred to as her sons and daughters.  When Lewis questions MacDonald about this he is told that, "Every young man or boy that met her became her son--even if it was only the boy that brought the meat to her back door.  Every girl that met her was her daughter."

That is perhaps the most fitting description of this friend of mine.  All she comes into contact with are treated with such love and compassion.  In truth I don't think I have ever met a person who so emulated the heart of God as this woman does.

I have told her before that I want to be just like her when I grow up.

And it's the truth.

If I can show even half the love that she does, and glorify the Father even just a little like she does, I believe it will be an accomplishment.  If I can touch even a few the way she and her family have touched so many, I will be happy.

I do not say lightly that she is my role model, that I want to be just like her.

If any of you think about it, please pray for this woman and her family.  I'm positive that were you all to meet them you would feel the same way about them as I do.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Annal 164: Tale from the Supper Prep Dance

I know it has been a little while by my standards since I last wrote but this last week has been a wee bit hectic.  I was doing overnight babysitting Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, came down the 24-hour flue on Wednesday (was sent home mid-morning from work as I was throwing up and spent pretty much the whole day incapacitated on the couch), had a friend come up to visit this weekend, went to visit another friend, and am now back at work and hoping that life will find some semblance of order.

If there is one thing I have a hard time with when life gets to be this busy, it is how my devotional time falls by the wayside.  Last week it seemed like I was just barely holding onto life... like my sanity was slipping from my fingers and the harder I tried to hold onto it the further away it slipped.

Then something happened last night that helped to set my world aright.  For most it will seem like nothing more than silliness, or cuteness.  For me it was so much more.

I was visiting one of my dearest friends in a town a little over an hour away.  I had missed her birthday because of my bout with the flu and so went up then to give her her present (season one of Downton Abbey).  We were working to get dinner ready when she asked me to do something at the stove.  I turned to go and do this when her two year old son blocked my path.  He took both of my hands, led me to the middle of the kitchen, and proceeded to dance with me.  Our dance must have lasted almost five minutes.

For those five minutes he just wanted to look at me, smile at me, and chat away at me (even if I couldn't understand a word he said). 

As I drove home later that night I was mulling this encounter over while taking in a glorious sunset.  The sky was lit up with brilliant colours that accentuated the fields clothed with mist beneath it.

These two moments, though both quite brief and the grand scheme of time, stilled my heart and filled it with such joy.  Despite the craziness that had been my life, God took the time to give me two very different encounters that fulfilled the same function: they gave me an awareness of Him.  The one thing my week had been lacking was given to me through a sunset and a dance with a two year old.

I continue to be amazed at the ways through which God speaks to me... the means He uses to get my attention... the love He continues to bestow.

And it is with the memories of those moments that I am able to begin my week. And thus far it promises to be a good one :)  I even went for a 5km run at lunch with the other two electricians (we're starting a running club now, apparently).  But for now, this exhausted woman is going to take it easy!

Such is the life of a Christian single.