Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Breathing on the Ordinary.

I took a teenager to lunch today.

It was a delicious lunch, but that's not the point.

The point is that God told me to.

And I did it.

I drove two hours to town and back with a teenager who I have grown to love.

I listened.

I talked some.

But mostly I listened.

We ate lunch.

And I drove her home.

It was an ordinary thing to do, but somehow deep down I know that God was working.

God was breathing on the ordinary.

In these days I am struck with the truth that God continually calls us to ordinary tasks. Who would ever think that it would be worth the sacrifice to move half way around the world to fold and staple Bible reading plans, cut church invitations, transcribe Bible college courses, paint church signs, prepare Sunday School games, and take a teenager to lunch? But, these are the sorts of things I do and they are worth it. They are ordinary and simple.

For I, too, am ordinary and simple.

But my God, He loves these sort of things.

The ordinary tasks that He establishes for us to do become the target of His very breath.

He speaks, we obey, and then He breathes on the things we do.

He can make a stapled reading plan give a new believer strength to dig into the Word of God.

He can make the church invite become an invitation to a party that will last all of eternity.

He can use the Bible courses to feed the pastors who are called to shepherd their flocks.

He can use a Sunday School game to demonstrate His love for little children.

He can use an ordinary lunch to minister to the heart of a teenager.

In all these things, I am small but my God shows Himself to be Great.

Whatever God has called you to do today, obey Him.

For in that obedience amidst the ordinary things of life, the Living God will breath and cause the “ordinary” to yield eternal consequences for His Glory and Renown.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

African Adventure Part III: The Lion King.

During our holiday to Jo'burg we had the rare privilege of visiting a lion park to see...lions. I was amazed at the beauty, strength, and power that these animals possessed. Seeing these majestic animals strolling about the African scenery made me stop to admire not only the creation but even more the Creator. It is no wonder that God is called the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.” It was such a delight (and slightly scary) to get to pet lion cubs and see these soon-to-be massive and powerful animals so up close. I did heed the warning, however, to stay from the head and tail. No problem by me.

On our drive through the park, we admired the beautiful lions from the safety of our vehicle as we also marveled at the stupidity of another animal found in the vehicle in front of us. And so it is that I share with you what NOT to do when visiting a lion park...

  1. Keep your windows rolled down. (Duh, it says it on the sign.)

  2. Continue to keep your window rolled down once the lion has jumped onto your car and her mouth is now a mere foot from your face.

  3. Try to take pictures of this previously mentioned lion with your cell phone.

  4. Try to move your vehicle forward with the lion still angrily atop your vehicle.

  5. Think it's funny.

  6. Make the pride of lions so irritated with you that then the vehicles behind you must navigate through a pride of angry lions after you. It's just rude people, rude.

The truck in front of us had this lion angrily pounce on their car and in a second she had ripped off the window frame of their back window. The passengers maintained the status of the rolled down windows and were fully oblivious to the immense amount of danger they were in. FYI when viewing lions even in a lion park in the bush of Africa, they are NOT TAME lions. There is a reason that park has multiple signs advising you to stay in your vehicle, keep windows up, and reminders that they are not liable for any damages (i.e. loss of limbs or life). You enter at your own risk but if you can avoid the stupidity of other human residents, the view of these amazing creatures is well worth it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cozy as a Quilt.

Snuggled up in my bed last night chatting with God I found myself beholding the overwhelming work of friendships in my life. I began to wonder before the Lord how it is that He has given me so many wonderful friends that not only span over years but across various continents as well. I have always been the kind of person who finds it hard to withhold love from those around me and therefore also have a hard time forgetting people or “letting them go” as I have been urged to time and again.

I just can't do it. I was asking God how it is that He has deemed me worthy of being connected with the kind of fabulous people that have crossed my path over the years. These relationships have served to speak truth into the very fabric of who I am, demonstrate a clearer picture of who God is and what He is like and in general fill the pages of my mind with more delicious memories that I could ever finish reading.

As I listened, God flooded my mind with the sweetest picture that not only brought clarity to what relationships such as these mean to Him, but also gave me passion to carry on spilling out His love on those I call friends. God showed me a picture of a cozy, well-loved, yet worn out quilt. The kind that is passed down from generation to generation and grows in beauty as the colours fade and the thread grows thin. This quilt represents the way that God intends my life to be knit together with those around me. Each square is a unique, familiar, slightly worn and real person that God has so intricately knitted my heart to. This quilt has been sown over the years with each loving expression that the Holy Spirit has poured out of me onto those around me.

As His grace, mercy, compassion, love, forgiveness and every delightful aspect of His character is given room to grow and take root in my life, it becomes a thread that reaches out and sews in another stitch of my heart to my friends. The stunning and gentle thread that is the Holy Spirit at work in our lives draws us together. It tells with every loving stitch that you and I belong to something bigger. We each play a role in this family where the architect is the one who made us all. He knows how we fit together to provide comfort, strength, and beauty in such a way as to bring Him glory. The Maker of this quilt takes great pride in His workmanship and in the end, knows that the stitches will work together to sew something that will remain. This quilt will bring Him glory and honour into all eternity.

As I took time to examine each square of relationship that God has so kindly allowed my heart to be knitted to, I found myself undone with gratitude. I began to see the reason I just love loving people. God has deposited that love in my heart for the purpose of withdrawing it to lavish on those around me. It is not that I am exceptionally loving, it is that my Father is. What a gift to not have to go this road alone, a lone quilt square vulnerable and worn. God has knit our hearts together and the truth is whether it's the years or miles that separate us in the physical, you are still stuck with me.

I love you friends.

So it was with this delightful picture firmly in my mind that I cozied up with overwhelming thankfulness for those God has allowed me to call friends. I was warmed by the memories, encouraged by words spoken, and amazed at the ways you have reached out to me. God's work is stunning indeed.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

African Adventure Part II: Facing Your Fears

Now, I am not a fearful person in general. I was not afraid to kill my third teenage-size tarantula in my room last night, I was notorious for being the “bat killer” when I lived in South Africa and while I may be heebed-out (As in they give me the heebie-geebies) on encountering some of God's creatures, I am pretty fearless.

During my holiday in Jo'burg I had the opportunity to get up close personal with plenty of creatures from creepy crawlers to sky-scraping mammals. During my days feeling connected with both Jack Hanna (The Wildlife Expert) and the Crocodile Hunter, I discovered a fear I do possess. I was honestly shocked but there it was again and again staring me in the face. My confession goes as follows...

My Fear: I am afraid of the unpredictable and sudden, spastic movements of animals.

Upon examination of this new self-discovered fear, I began to wonder, “When are the movements of animals ever PREDICTABLE or NON-SPASTIC?” I dare say, I do not know. Does this mean that I am afraid of all animal movements? A pathetic discovery if this is so.

Did I totally run behind a tree when the ostrich which happened to own a beak right at my eye level changed course and ran at me? Heck yes I did.

Did I totally tense up every muscle in my body when the Bearded Dragon was set gingerly on my shoulder? Yep.

Did I abruptly flinch when the enormous giraffe swung its nose towards my face? Oh, yes.

Was I again quite alarmed when the snake started slithering up my arm and towards my neck? You better believe it!

While I have always considered myself one who lacks in the fear department, I am human. After all of these years I am still discovering new things about myself. However, as I look over my fearful confessions I think I am able to better define my real fear....

My REAL Fear: Animals venturing near my face.

I feel in general that this is a valid fear if there ever was one. I mean it's my face, people. Do you want to get your eyes pecked out by a rambunctious ostrich? Your cheek clawed by the un-kept nails of a Bearded Dragon? Your noggin battle rammed by the long snout of Mr. Giraffe? You cannot tell me you seriously want a rare African snake wrapped around your throat? I think not. I am proud to say that in the end I bravely faced my fears with at least some sort of smile. It was overall an adventure and I lived to tell the story. What are you afraid of?

I am the essence of Calm, Cool, and Collected, ne?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

African Adventure Part I: Feeding a Giraffe

This past week the Jorgensens and I had the privilege of getting out of town for some much needed holiday time. Our trip to Jo'burg, South Africa included some very unique African Adventures that I know feel obliged to share with you. Over multiple-part blog entries, I intend to fling back the curtains and throw open the windows to give you a glimpse into life here in Africa.
I hope you enjoy the view.

Feeding a Giraffe

The funny thing about this experience is that I have already fed a giraffe in my life. It was, however, in San Diego and not quite the exotic African experience. As we approached the field we saw that the giraffe was ready to eat and we hustled up the large flight of stairs, waited in the queue behind the Asian tourists and leaped at the opportunity to feed a giraffe right from our hands.

I really do love giraffes. It was amazing to be eye to eye with this massive, beautiful creature. The giraffe was, however, eager to eat and could care less about admiring me. So it was that I reached my little hand into the packet, grabbed a grip load of sawdust-like grub and held it out for the giraffe to partake. What I was not prepared for was the sensation of the gargantuan giraffe tongue that wrapped itself around my entire hand and drew the food into its mouth. This was both very repulsive and tickled a great deal. Lizzy and I were so shocked at the sensation that our reaction eventually freaked Joshua out, poor baby.

While feeding this remarkable creature, I made some mental notes to pass onto you in case you happen upon this same adventurous experience:

a) Be ready for your entire hand to transform into the utensil needed to usher in the Giraffe grub.

b) Don't spaz out, as I did, it scares the babies.

c) The giraffe will not necessarily be interested or amused by you in any way. Just feed it.

d) The giraffe has gigantic eyes, nose, and mouth.

The better to see, hear, and taste you with. Watch out!

e) When given the opportunity to feed a giraffe, totally take it. It's radical.