Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Bird.

I am a bird. I try to fly alone, to sail throught the skies by myself. But my wings are broken. Sagging against the cold earth, I realize that flyinbg alone has only ever been a delusion.

For months now, I have felt numb, stagnant. When Engedi (aka: church camp) came onto the calendar, I started praying that it would be a refreshing time of spiritual revival. Although my prayer wasn't answered exactly as I wanted, I did come away from this past Engedi weekend awakened, face to face with myself as that broken-winged bird.

Ever since I was a kid, I've struggled with perfectionism. I remember freaking out when my sibligns sat on my bed and wrinkled the perfectly smoothed covers. I remember making my mom finish drawing my pictures so they would look right. I remember crying when plays I "directed" turned into catastrophes.

"You're panties are in a wad," my family has always sweetly told me. But I'm afriad it's more than that; I'm trying to be my own savior. And I keep failing.

Zach Van Dyke, the speaker at Engedi, said that obedience can distance us from God. As crazy as that sounds, look at the Pharisees--they upheld the law "perfectly," but when crowds gathered to hear Jesus speak, they stood on the outskirts. Sitting at the feet of Christ were the tax collectors, the sick, the children, the prostitutes.

During another session, Zach told the story of the adulterous woman the Pharisees threw at Jesus. After Christ challenged them by saying, "Let he who has never sinned be the first to throw a stone," they dropped their rocks and slinked away. They left to write more lists and obey more laws, to promise themselves they'd never do that again, that they'd be better, they'd be good. Had they remained with Jesus, they would have heard him tell the shamed woman he did not condemn her. With shocked stares, they would have watched Jesus stretch out his hand and help her up. They would have seen him love her, and they would have known he loved her not because she had done anything worthy, but because he was about to pay for her sins with his blood.
I am a Pharisee, an adulterous woman; I am sick and I am prideful: a sinner. I am a bird with broken wings. No matter how hard I try to save myself--to mend my wings--I keep falling back to the ground. Slowly, very slowly, I am learning to be still, to simply rest at the foot of the Cross and let Christ be my salvation. It is only on the wings of grace that I will ever fly.


My laptop came in the mail yesterday!

His name is Sylvester.
He's shiny black and very light.
He wants cool stickers.

I'm not sure if I like his keyboard...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Crazy Car Catastrophes

I was on the Turnpike today, driving in the far lane so I could swerve onto the shoulder if Mirabelle decided to run out of gas. The needle rested on the orange "E" line, but I was convinced there was plenty of gas to get to the station. I guessed wrong.

As I pulled into the toll booth, Mirabelle clunked and died. Heart in throat, I called my dad. Although he tried to be helpful, there really wasn't much he could do. Besides, there was a very angry lady stuck behind me, screaming. I hung up with Daddy and got out of the car.

"Idiot!" she screamed. "You're holding everybody up! You freakin' idiot! Get out of the car and push!"

Looking doubtfully at my mammoth Oldsmobile, I put the car in neutral and started to shove. Apparently that wasn't good enough for the lady. Continuing her torrent of insults, she got out of her truck and slammed her hands against the trunk. ("She was your angel," Daddy said later," just a really grouchy one.") With the two of us pushing, we got Mirabelle out of the way.

A moment later, the man from the next-door toll booth (I'd been at an exact change one) came over. His kind smile revealed a single tooth hanging in the middle of his gum, and as he leaned close to talk to me, I couldn't help but notice the warts all over his face. Despite his less-than-appealing looks, I am so thankful he was there. In a comforting tone, he told me he'd call the Road Ranger and I'd be all set to drive off in just a minute. Thanking him warmly, I walked back to Mirabelle and grabbed my book.

While waiting for Mr. Road Ranger, I leaned against my car, The City of God in my hands. To the cars speeding past on the highway below me, I voiced Augustine's immortal words. Three pages later, Mr. Road Ranger came. He wore heavy boots and a neon vest; a handlebar moustache reached from his nostrils to his lips and he smelled of grease. But his smile was friendly, he gave me free gas, and I am so thankful that he was there.

As I got back into my car and headed for the closest gas station, I praised God for taking care of me. I am still letting that sweet feeling fill me up, that knowledge that he's got angels surrounding me. What a blessing to be loved by such a God! And how thankful I am that he shows me his love a million times in a millon ways.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

It's God, Not Us

This humbling list was at the end of an email forward my mom sent me. I found it a beautiful reminder of how--and through who--God works.

The next time you feel like GOD can't use YOU, just remember...

Noah was a drunk
Abraham was too old
Isaac was a daydreamer
Jacob was a liar
Leah was ugly
Joseph was abused
Moses had a stuttering problem
Gideon was afraid
Sampson had long hair and was a womanizer
Rehab was a prostitute
Jeremiah and Timothy were too young
David had an affair and was a murderer
Elijah was suicidal
Isaiah preached naked
Jonah ran from God
Naomi was a widow
Job went bankrupt
John the Baptist ate bugs
Peter denied Christ
The Disciples fell asleep while praying
Martha worried about everything
The Samaritan woman was divorced, more than once
Zaccheus was too small
Paul was too religious
Timothy had an ulcer....
AND Lazarus was dead!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Lamentations 3:21-22

"Yet this I call to mind therefore I have hope: because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for His compassion never fails."

Friday, February 12, 2010

Babies + Colds =

A very long week.

The monitor carries fuzzy sounds of a fussing baby to my ear. Nap time was hours ago, but still the little one cries. He has been up, fed, changed, put back down, picked back up, back-rubbed, hummed to. Still sleep evades him, his stuffy nose and small cough fighting off slumber.

Against my own nose, I press a tissue, a cold hand across my aching forehead. Augustine's City of God lies beside me, pencil stuck between pages. When I open it, the letters swim before my eyes. Once again my schoolwork is set aside, and I wonder if it will be done by class.

Baby sleeps now. In the absence of his cries, I can hear outside the softly falling rain. And, for some reason, I think of the Spirit, who is within me even now. Last week Baby's big brother, Noah, could not sleep.

"I'm scared of the dark," he whispered.

I told him he didn't have to be afraid of anything--not even the dark.

"You know why?" I asked.

Because Jesus is inside of you, I told him. No matter where you go or what you do, you are a vessel of the Lord. All of us, all God's people, have the Holy Spirit inside of us. How often do we stop to think about that? It's mind-boggling when you pause, still your heart, and reflect. We're not left to face colds and pink eye and crying babies alone. HE is with us. Inside of us.

When I think of this, I want to cry and laugh and run into the arms of Him who loves me. So why do I keep running the other direction? Why am I Gomar, why Israel? Oh Lord, continue to be faithful to me--to us, your people--even though we are continuously unfaithful. Help us to cling to you, to trust in you, even when the colds and pink eyes and baby tears of this broken world seem enough to tear us apart.

You won't let go.
This is all for redemption.

Monday, February 8, 2010

It's Nice, You Know

That black cats have green eyes--like reflectors--so you don't run over them at night.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Three Men and a Car. One Girl and a Baby.

I stuck the key in the ignition, turned it. Nothing. Again, this time pushing in the brake. Nothing.

"Come on, Mirabelle," I begged, "please don't die on me again!" Nothing.

So I growled at my grouchy-old-lady-of-a-car and walked back up to the N's front door. I rapped on the glass and listened to the dogs howl. After a moment, Rodney came to the door, holding a half-dressed Hunter.

"Um, do you know anything about cars?" I asked. "'Cause mine's dead."
"Yes, I do," he answered, and handed me the baby.

While I made silly faces at Hunter, Rodney jumped my car. It started, so I figured that would be it and I'd just go on, but he said it might be the alternator, not the battery, that was messed up, and that he'd try to figure it out. He knew a trick. Honestly, I'm not really sure what he did--something about unattaching a cord (or was it a screw?) and try to start the car. It started, which apparently meant we needed to go to Discount Auto to have it tested.

I finished changing Hunter and got him all ready to go in his carseat. Then we piled in to Mirabelle and we were off! When we got to the store, Rodney went inside and I climbed into the backseat to play with baby. A few minutes later, Rodney opened the door and said:

"Bad news, it's the alternator."
"Good news, I'm going to replace it right now."

Then he disappeared into the store again. A moment later, he re-emerged pushing a cart of tools. By this point, Hunter was pretty tired of being in the car. So we climbed over Noelle's booster seat and into the fresh air. Thankfully, Hunter is an incredibly happy baby. He smiled and laughed and played with his ladybug without a fuss.

I watched Rodney screw and wrench and unplug and replug and pull things out and stick things in. When he pulled out the old alternator, I asked him how much an alternator costs.

"Don't worry about it," he said.
"No really, how much?"
"I'll take care of it."
"Oh no, I couldn't let you do that for me!"
"Really, it's no problem," he insisted.
"I have money, I can pay for it," I insisted.
"You're a poor college student. I've got it covered."

He won. Thank you, thank you, thank you! What an incredible blessing. I can hardly believe it. This family has already showered so many blessings upon me--and I've only known them a few weeks! God provides in such beautiful ways.

Once that was settled, Rodney continued working. Every now and then Brian, an employee, would come out and give him a hand. Everything was going great until they tried to attach the Serpentine belt. This belt has to be pulled through six different pulleys, and they couldn't get it to stretch taught.

Behind us, the store door opened and swung shut. A young black man, boxers hanging out and tag on hat, sauntered out. Glancing at the two men bending under the hood, he sauntered (that's really the only word to use) over to them and said, "Need some help?" Without waiting for an answer, he rolled up his pure-white sleeves and stuck his hands in the enginer (er, alternator) grease. A moment later, the Serpentine belt was looped as it was supposed to be.

"There you go," he said, and was gone. He was an angel. Really, I bet he was.

And so my car was fixed.