Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Had A Day

So. It has been a CRAZY busy week. Activities every night, long work days, boss ride alongs, team meetings, etc, etc, etc. Plus, it was hard to focus with my TRIP TO HAWAII COMING UP.

And then today happened.

It started about 24 hours ago (as days usually do). I was trying to get some work done and some laundry done so that my Thursday could be a bit more organized as I prepared to leave for Hawaii on Friday. I thought the dog (who I'm watching while my roommate is in Japan) was acting a little strange, but my attention was stolen by the suddenly overflowing toilet. The bathroom and basement completely flooded and I was ANNOYED. And TIRED. And "too busy for this" (you've all been there, I assume).

I got to bed around 11:30, but the dog still looked pretty uncomfortable. Something continued to weigh on me that I should take him to the ER and resolve the problem, whatever it was, before I headed out and dumped him off with people who aren't as familiar with him. So I called the vet and confirmed that I should at least get him checked. I grabbed a book and headed to the vet....only to get home after 9 AM (I did make a short trip home around 3 AM to take an hour nap).

LONG story short: the dog had an obstruction that was causing his bladder to be on the verge of bursting. He needed immediate emergency surgery to save his life (and has had two more surgeries today). I couldn't connect with my roommate in Japan until after 3 AM, so I was a little stressed out with the decisions that had to be made. When I left the vet clinic this morning, there was nothing I wanted more than coffee and a shower. And sleep. Lots of sleep. Which is still to come. Sometime soon. I hope.

I should have called in sick today to sleep and pack and blah blah blah, but I didn't (stupid obligated conscience). I was getting updates from the vets on the dog, and he isn't totally out of the woods yet. Ugh. My poor roommate - getting updates in Japan on her very, very sick dog. He (the dog) was transferred to the U tonight, so he is in the best hands. If you think of it (I feel a little funny even asking for prayer for a dog....), I'd appreciate your prayers for the whole situation - it is just complicated with both my roommate and I traveling, and transferring him around so he can get the level of care he requires.

ANYWAY. As of an hour ago I started packing for my trip to Hawaii in the morning. That is, if we have a flight. Yep. Our flight got cancelled. NOT AWESOME. I have the black cloud. We (and by "we" I mean "my sister") have rebooked our flights, but we are currently on hold to work out a bug in our new schedule. I just want to get there. Which we will. But I will need patience.

So - here's the good news: HAWAII. And my sisters have been awesome by taking care of the flight change stresses and doing my dishes while I packed. Oh, and there's a LITTLE FOOTBALL GAME I'M KINDA EXCITED ABOUT ON SUNDAY (could you even IMAGINE if we made it to the SUPERBOWL?!?!?! ASA;DLFKJAS;DLFKJAS;LDKFJAS;DLFKJAS;DLFKJAS;DFLKJ)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You won't be hearing from me for a bit since I will be without my computer in Hawaii (YAY!!!!!!!!), but I will be WITH my KINDLE (have I mentioned I got a Kindle?!?! Geeking out about it, basically). I'll update you on "Life in General" when I return.


Core Value: Joy

(“do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation”)

This is not a joy that is superficial and flimsy, but deep and firm (distinguishing it from happiness and pleasure). The joy I have comes from the hope I have in Jesus: that He carried our sin, and bore our curse, and endured God’s wrath, and became our righteousness, and conquered death and hell and Satan, and opened the door of paradise for all who trust Him. This is not a natural joy, but a spiritual one. I want my joy to go beyond merely the comforts that God gives to truly be joyful in God alone, regardless of external circumstances.

Being fervent is to be passionate – to be passionate about God above everything else. I need to fight against the advances of the culture and laziness and little dreams of playing on the weekends. God is infinitely worthy of our delight, much more so than the world. This passion is about more than just doing things, but to actually feel deeply about my faith.

Tribulation will be a constant in life, but joy in hope enables us to have patient endurance and display the character of God.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Core Value: Prayer

(“be constant in prayer”)

Being constant in prayer obviously doesn’t mean it is the only thing you do, but it means to be habitual about it; to be persistent and devoted to prayer. Having devotion to prayer means that it affects everything, and there will be a pattern that displays devotion to prayer (not just hit and miss prayers when things are hard, or only before meals). I need to make prayer a regular, habitual, recurring, disciplined part of my life (not random, occasional, and sporadic).

In looking at sermons about prayer, I came across a helpful hints about how to pray:

F – Free (unstructured) and Formed (structured)
A – Alone and Assembled
D – Desperate and Delighted
E – Explosive and Extended
S – Spontaneous and Scheduled

I have a lot of room for growth in my prayer life, especially when looking at these 10 items about how to pray. I specifically hope to become more scheduled, extended, and formed in my prayer life.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Core Value: Service

(“serve the Lord”)

Serving Christ means experiencing His worth and beauty and fellowship as more compelling and desirable than anything else. The wrong way to serve is to seek the approval of man - only God matters ultimately. The main question to ask is: does Jesus Christ approve of what I am saying and doing? Serving the Lord in this way means being freed from the fickle opinions of men.

I want to serve Christ because of what he has done: provided my perfect pardon and perfect righteousness. I want to do all I can to become in practice what I am in Him.

This core value ties in with hospitality (one way to serve) and generosity (serving with my time and gifts, and doing so generously). My service shouldn’t be out of guilty obligation, but out of joyful willingness to serve the Lord and His people.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Core Value: Generosity

(“contribute to the needs of the saints ….outdo one another in showing honor”)

The key phrase with this value is “where you treasure is, there will your heart be also”. Generosity helps me overcome greed. How we handle our money and possessions is an indication of how we trust God and treasure Christ.

Ultimately, generosity is about giving things away for the sake of others. I want my generosity to go beyond only money. I want to be generous with my time and talents as well. That means babysitting for free, willingly serving at church, and being generous in my praise and service of others (outdo one another in showing honor).

Generosity should be disciplined and methodical, not just spontaneous or impulsive. Like hospitality, I want to be more thoughtful and intentional with my generosity, even beyond my tithing. The goal is to awaken more thanksgiving to God and lay up treasures in Heaven.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Core Value: Hospitality

(“contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality”)

Hospitality is a chance to demonstrate the selflessness that characterizes Jesus and His Kingdom – to embrace the beauty and wonder of being invited into God’s kingdom and extend that same grace to others. I want to approach hospitality as more than just entertaining, and doing so is something that is dependent on the state of my heart. Am I focused on making an impression, or on making people feel loved? Do I spend an inordinate amount of time cleaning and preparing, rather than praying for my guests and seeking opportunities to minister to them?

We shouldn’t feel guilty about enjoying time with those we love, but at the same time we should seek (seek implies continuous action – an attitude and practice) to expand our vision to those who are normally excluded from hospitality (Lord’s example: invite the poor, crippled, blind, lame). The Lord expected nothing in return, and was selfless and gracious. Hospitality is a chance to go above and beyond what is ordinary (Luke 6:32: if you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you?), but to live and relate and be hospitable in a unique way to show the Gospel.

Practicing our hospitality helps us to overcome our self-centeredness (and fear of man, and greed, and…..). We naturally look inward, so hospitality can be easily neglected. All we have to do is…nothing….and we will be so focused on ourselves that we won’t practice hospitality.

The motivation for practicing hospitality is a memory of the past (Jesus died to make us members of the household of God) and a hope for the future (He will meet all our needs and see us safely home).

In order to improve my hospitality I want to think more about the following questions: How can I draw people into an experience of God’s hospitality? Who might need reinforcement right now in the battle against loneliness? What new people/couples/group can I invite over? Who are the excluded people that I am tempted to not invite and ignore?

Hospitality is not just reserved for inviting people over to my home. There are opportunities to display hospitality as I greet people at church, as I invite people into conversations at work, as people are looking for a place to stay for a season. It is about really drawing people together in a variety of situations to show God’s grace and put aside my selfishness.

I want to be more thoughtful and intentional in my hospitality. God has given us money and homes not just so that we are thankful, but so that, through hospitality, we can make many people thankful to God. When we give generously and open our homes, the love of God is confirmed in our lives.

We are rewarded when we practice hospitality. We have the opportunity to lift a burden, relieve stress, and give hope.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Core Value: Belief

(“abhor what is evil, hold fast to what is good”)

There is such a thing as objective good and evil outside of myself. Good and evil don’t change – I change. The words abhor and hold fast indicate that simply choosing good over evil is not enough – inner intensity is required. While changing behavior to choose good over evil is important, the battle is about more than just behavior. It is about changing emotions and being born again to hate what my sin nature loves.

Discernment is also important in belief. Understanding the Word is paramount in order to continue to discern good from evil. There must be an active response to hate sin, turn from it, and cling to the Good. Riding someone else’s coat tails or simply agreeing with their convictions isn’t enough. Go to the Word firsthand and follow the instructions found there.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Core Value: Love

(“Let love be genuine…Love one another with brotherly affection”)

Every believer, no matter how imperfect, is a child of God. They are my brothers and sisters in Christ. My love for them should be genuine (more than just sentimentalism). God has become our father and we are family. That is the baseline relationship.

Love does not crave the praise of men, it is riveted on Christ. Love doesn’t put up artificial fronts. Love doesn’t dwell on the flaws of others and love doesn’t act religious to hide sin. Love forgets itself and looks to Christ. Love sees others as ourselves, with all of our longings, needs, and desires.

Brotherly affection suggests a deep bond. This kind of love is about more than just serving, or doing something for others, but is about actually feeling a certain way toward them (which can’t come from me, but comes from God).

I want to be more proactive in recognizing evidences of grace in other believers’ lives, and loving them as I do so.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Hardest Card

I absolutely love getting Christmas cards. When we head home for Christmas, my sisters and I practically fight over who gets the first chance to read through the cards our parents have received.

At a party before Christmas, some friends were talking about this very thing - how some of their families even have traditions of saving the cards and opening them all together. I commented on how I usually tear into them each day, but this year I had only been keeping up on my bills and I had thrown what were obviously Christmas cards into a separate pile to get to later.

Sunday was that day. I sat down with my cards and starting looking at pictures, reading letters, and changing addresses in my book as I went along. And then I came to the hardest card. One from my Grandma.

I teared up before I even opened it. Earlier that day Dad had called to say that Grandma had fallen and hit her head. Things didn't look good for her. It may be a day, it may be a week, but this looked like the end.

The cover of her card was Luke 2:10-11: "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." The inside of the card reads: "There is no greater joy than celebrating Jesus - may your heart know the blessing of every gift He gives!"

She sent money and her hand written notes says: "May 'Joy to the World' be your portion for the new year." Had I not been saving my cards and opened it earlier, I would have called to thank her and catch up. It made me very sad that I didn't do that, and it didn't look like I would have the chance to.

Things didn't look much better as of last night, and I found out early this afternoon that Grandma went to be with the Lord today. I'm sad - that she's gone, for Dad and his siblings, that she had been doing so well and she just happened to fall. I'm grateful - that she is saved, that I completed #51 on this list, that I have our most recent emails with each other, and that I have this Christmas card.

It's the hardest card, but I'm so happy to have it. And with such an appropriate message of joy: Jesus is my portion.

Your prayers are appreciated this week.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Thoughts on Core Values

Well, I finally found the post where I talked about doing my core values. I only posted it over six months ago, so, you know. I’m just a little behind. [If you’d like to have the background thoughts about my core values, they are here]

But I have a good excuse. I’ve been pretty diligent in learning more about my core values. Mostly I listened to and read sermons, and I ended up with over 18 pages of notes on a Word document. WHOA. Then came the task of reading, re-reading, organizing, deciding what belongs and what doesn’t, etc. It has been educational and, dare I say, fun.

So, I’m about to do 8 posts with my core values (this post with the verses, seven separate posts with each of my core values). Again, if you want to see how I came to this process, you can read my explanation.

The start of a new year is a good time to write out these values. Really they are things that I resolve to make more evident in my life. I hope. And pray (since prayer is one of my values, after all).

Here are my core value verses (from Romans 12):

(9) Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. (10) Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. (11) Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. (12) Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. (13) Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

Here are my core values:
  • Love (“Let love be genuine…Love one another with brotherly affection”)
  • Belief (“abhor what is evil, hold fast to what is good”)
  • Hospitality (“contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality”)
  • Generosity (“contribute to the needs of the saints ….outdo one another in showing honor”)
  • Service (“serve the Lord”)
  • Prayer (“be constant in prayer”)
  • Joy (“do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation”)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New Year's Intentions

Last year I made a list of 52 intentions as my resolutions for 2009. I looked at that list today and counted up 23 items that I had completed at some time during the year. Many of the items I was not able to check off the list were things that I said I would do every day/week (take vitamins, drink more water, play piano, etc.). I knew the list would be nearly impossible for me to complete, but I wanted to set a few lofty goals.

I think I will keep my goals more simple this year. I know that I want to read through the Bible, and I've set up some accountability on that front. I know that I want to run a half marathon (or two), and I have a bit of accountability there, as well. Today I was talking with a friend about possibly getting ready to do another Olympic triathlon, but I need to give that one a bit more thought - not sure if I want to commit to that yet (I probably should, though).

Most of my "resolutions" this year will revolve around my core values, which I hope to post here throughout this week. I could easily be overwhelmed with all of the growth I need in my spiritual life (especially when I read through an extensive list of resolutions), so I want to keep my resolutions focused on the specific areas I've chosen to cultivate more intentionally. There are always many good questions to ask of myself as I start a new year, but I know from past experience that I shouldn't bite off more than I can chew, otherwise I don't accomplish anything.

And really, I don't accomplish anything on my own power, but with help from the Lord. I pray 2010 is a year of spiritual growth.......and waist shrinkage.