Weddings, Tree Sap and Transitions

My sister’s wedding ended with a drizzling out of: hype, excitement, energy, and relatives. After the last of our relatives left Monday, I fell asleep at 5pm and slept until 9am the next day with only a few hours awake watching movies in the middle of the night with my mom.

Now that that’s all done and she’s safely secured in Texas, I can continue on with my life: a threatening ogre of decisions about my next steps. What should be a most exciting time in my life, where I have a multitude of possibilities open, is overwhelming. Sometimes it seems a viable option to retreat back into the couch at my parents’ house in the mountains and do nothing but enjoy the peace and quiet. But that can only last for so long. While I seek peace and quiet time during this transition, my heart seeks for action, adventure, and new perspective. My hikes in the forest have proved a valuable time for contemplation and prayer, and I intend to hanker in on that even more so this week. I have a lot of decisions to bring before the Lord, concerning jobs, relationships, where to look for jobs and whether to move or stay where I am.

Sunday I went for a walk and prayed my heart out to the Lord. I wanted him to speak audibly to me, to show me a sign, something. I slowed down to enjoy the scenery and smells of this familiar path. All he showed me was what I had been missing by rushing along this trail, rushing from one thing to the next. I may think I’m on a mission to get something accomplished, but I am impatient, and often miss sign posts and beautiful moments along the way.  Even in my prayer life, I just talk and ask, and don’t wait for a response. I was telling the Lord about this, and this, and this, and what should I do about this, and how about this…but I wasn’t giving him time to respond. I didn’t stop long enough to listen.

I recognized this today in the clear globules  of fresh sap clinging to a pine branch that hung across my path. Rather than duck under it quickly as I normally do, I stopped to examine it. Look what you nearly missed, the Lord told me. Look at the beauty in my design, how simple the droplets of sap are, yet how complex. All of my creation is complex, majestic, and grand, yet I have time for it. I have time to look after each drop of sap from a tree. I would like to show you much, much more if you take the time. I want you to talk to you, to walk with you, to show you things and guide you. I desire to have conversations with you. Let’s work on having meaningful conversations before deciding all of these pressing things. We’ll get there, I promise.  It struck me that the Lord just wants me to slow down so He can talk to me.   He wants to have conversations with me. He wants to hear about everything that I care about, worry about.  Someone once told me the Holy Spirit is a gentleman; he will not force himself into your life if you don’t want him or don’t give him any of your time.

I am so glad God caught my attention today. This truth applies to my relationships with those I love as well. We have to invest time and conversation in any relationship that we want to be intimate or more than casually acquainted with a person.

The rest of this week I’ll be hiking at a slower pace, sitting and resting and listening once in awhile – to give the the Lord time to respond in my conversations with Him. In fact, perhaps I should do more listening than talking.

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Walk in the Snow

snowy Sandia Mts from the Albuquerque side

I was taking a walk in the snow, well, rather a hike, on the mountain “mud trail” near our house to get alone with my thoughts and practice hearing from God. To get into prayer, I have to dump all my “stuff” out to the Lord first, then I can be quiet and silent before Him in order to listen for His voice or see with my spiritual eyes. I am much better at the dumping part. Be reassured that God does care about all the details of our lives and He does want to hear about them. (Matt 6:31-32) But we were called to worship Him and give Him adoration and praise. That is what He wants from us, and our hearts and lives.

 

Praising God turns a monologue into dialogue, as Pastor Chuck said this morning at my parents’ church in Albuquerque. When I began to release all my burdens and worries to Him as I have to do often, in fact I need to do daily, I began to praise Him for the things He has done for me and for who He is. It’s often easier to see what he has done for me and not praise Him for who He is. God loves us for who we are, and He wants our love in return. I asked Jesus to show me His beauty. One thing I am asking of Him this year is to romance me, make me fall in love with the King of this world so all else dims in comparison. I know that only He can satisfy me, and I although I know that I often think that all I need is a man to fulfill and satisfy me. Well, as good as that person may be that God has for me to marry one day, he is not going to be able to satisfy all my needs because he is human. If I can fall in love with Jesus more and more each day, I can better fall in love with the man I am going to marry and love him with a gracious love all our lives. So that said, I still struggle to understand just how Jesus is going to romance me. It certainly is not going to be the way I expect men to do. That would just be too weird. But think about it, Jesus is our example of the bride groom to the bride – his church metaphorically speaking, as in Ephesians 5:25-33. More on this later. I need to study and learn what this passage teaches me.

All of a sudden Cessna my dog perked up and sat on the path in the snow, looking, listening attentively around her. I tried to prod her to go on, but she just would not move. Well, I thought, she may know something I don’t know. Instinctively, I thought of the mountain lions and bears on this mountain I have been warned against since I was a little girl. We just stood there, silent, listening and watching. I asked for His continued protection. Maybe here God would answer some of my questions. He did, but it wasn’t what I thought. I am alone, I said out loud to the trees and hills covered in snow. “I am here with you,” he said back. It came into my mind and passed, like a clear, definite thought, not my own fumblings and blubberings. I looked around. All I could see was snow. white snow. It covered everything that was tangled or dirty or ugly. It made the entire forest beautiful. This is Your beauty, I thought. You have shown me your exquisite beauty, just as I asked, Lord Jesus. I have to quiet myself and look in order to see it. This is how He romances me. With the beauty of His exquisite creation. How often do we take the time to look, and appreciate the beauty of the untouched universe around us? It truly is lovely.

I walked back with Cessna, some questions still unanswered, but feeling light and full of peace. We made first footprints in waves of snow that wind had blown back across the field. I noticed the beauty of my dog’s fur coat – I think it’s called tortoise-shell. I felt romanced by my beautiful Savior and assured of his protection. As for hearing from God, I think I need to practice, like anything, quieting myself, retreating and just being with Him.

Back in the South, Baby!

Sunday, August 15

God has blessed me immensely just in the few short days I have been back. I never thought I would miss South Carolina so much.  It’s really the people more than anything else that I miss. I could do without the muggy, hot-and-sticky weather that makes you pour sweat when you take even a few steps outside. I will be looking forward to it cooling down. Thankfully, this humid climate doesn’t ever get too cold for me to bike in, or I don’t know how I would get around in such a small city without a car. I am really excited about riding my new bike! It’s not really mine, but on loan from a friend who is doing her residency for med school two hours away. I couldn’t have asked for a better bike – a white and black Specialized. This bike, Ruth is its name, has already gone on quite a few adventures with me, and it’s about to live up to its name, ‘Where you go, I will go.’

God answered my prayers and provided me three part-time jobs in the matter of a few days, both within biking distance from our house. See? God pays attention to detail too. Living at Queen St again with a familiar place, and the boys next door, and a lovely new roommate who is a sweet girl in Christ,  are just a few of the many answers to frantic prayers I gave up to the Lord, and He heard me and answered me! I got the job at the Academic Enrichment Center tutoring student athletes, a babysitting job at least once a week, and I am waiting to hear from Jon at Cycle Center when he wants me to show up and be a pretty face up front and sell things.  I think I am most excited about working at the bike shop. I can’t wait to learn all about bikes and how to fix them so that when I break down in the middle of somewhere, I can be a bicycle-tire-fixing machine!

This is the closest looking thing to my bike, except it is mostly black and has turned-under handlebars. I feel so cool when I ride it (minus dripping sweat from every pore because of the humidity)!

Wednesday, August 18

Miracle and a Monsoon

Praise God! He is incredibly faithful and good! Despite my doubt and my unbelief, He answered my prayers. I was desperate, at my wits end about how to pay my tuition this fall; I was $2,000 short after I took out all the federal loans I was eligible for, and my parents were not going to be able to help me this year since my younger brother and sister are both going to college too. All I could do was pray. I can’t say that I have unwaivering faith, but I did feel peace about the situation when I gave it up to the Lord. I even wondered why God would want to answer my prayer. I am pretty fortunate, a privileged American, an oldest child whose parents encouraged me to make the best use of my talents that they could afford. But He promises He will care for us and will provide all our needs if we ask in faith; He makes no distinction between us as worldly poor or wealthy. My prayer this last month has been not only to provide, but ‘Lord, increase my faith’. And through this miracle, He had increased my faith, let me tell you! I kept fighting back the doubt, knowing I had nothing else to hold onto, that I have exhausted all my resources, and could do nothing at this point but rely on God, and He came through!

I wrote to a prestigious woman I knew who was a customer of mine at Starbucks,because I knew she like me and donated lots of money to charities and foundations for the arts. Her name came to my mind while I was walking and praying several weeks ago, and I wrote her a letter, an email actually. I was taking a chance, but I had to try anything, I was so financially desolate! Well, after two weeks of her not responding I nearly gave up hope. I didn’t know who else to go to for the money I needed to stay enrolled in school. Just over a week ago she emailed me back, and to make a long story short, has pledged to give me the $2,000. I heard today, and my tuition has to paid in less than two days from now! Hopefully it make it into the Bursar’s office’s hands in time; I guess if God has been faithful this far, He will see it through! The cool thing is, I had a dream last night that the $2,000 were put on VIP. That’s all I remember, and I seldom ever remember anything from dreams. Well, it came true today! Isn’t that incredible?! Now that’s a blatant miracle if I have to call it one! I am afraid I have missed miracles in the past because I wasn’t looking for one. Know I know for sure God still works miracles. I wonder how He feels that He has to do such big things to get my attention…

In addition to that,I have been asking Him that if it is His will I go back to dancing, He would provide me with a job that would make flexible enough demands on my time that I could attend the dance company’s rehearsals several hours a day, along with my school schedule. Again, He has made it possible! He knew my heart, that I miss and long to be dancing again, and I can honestly say that now I am realistic about where I am and am not preoccupied with making ballet my profession again, but at this time I just want to take advantage of this terrific dance program we have at USC and perform for the next year or two I have left to graduate. Again, I had to be humbled before I could accept that this is my opportunity to dance, and I must take it now, wherever I am. As part of this gift of money, I have to do work study for the Dance Dept. This will be a good way to spend more time in the department,  this could turn out to be a blessing, if I can manage it and work enough to pay my rent. Better start praying about that too! At least I live in one of the cheapest states to live in.

My motivation and my drive and my passion for dance are back. They are different, more tame than when was training and living it as a professional career, but the love for dancing is what is still alive, and has rekindled, and that is what I am glad to feed in the fire now. May God be glorified in every move I make, in my dancing and my worship, and maybe the two combined. Praise Him, f’or I am fearfully and wonderfully made!’ (the Psalmist)

USC Dance Company 2010-11 Season Click for Information!

http://www.cas.sc.edu/dance/ ; http://www.cas.sc.edu/engl/index.html

Now  for the monsoon: Tonight after my orientation for my tutoring job, I felt the first drops of rain from the looming clouds overhead as I jumped on my bike. In ten minutes, I could beat the rain home, I thought. I was wrong. Suddenly the drops became heavier, then faster, and before I knew it, there was a torrential downpour like nothing my friend the English would know. No, this turned into blinding rain – and it was blinding, literally. At one point I was going down the Harden St hill with my eyes half shut because the rain was coming right at them. I hoped for the best with the cars around me, because the streets were soon filled with water. Thankfully I made it home just in time to see one of my neighbor boys across the street standing out in it lathering himself up with soap to the delight of his frat house  mates who were sitting safely under the porch. At that point the water was rushing down the streets like a river. I got my bike in, and since I was soaking wet, decided why not enjoy it some more? I knocked on Matt’s door since I knew he would appreciate frolicking in the rain too – which he did. The water pouring off the roof of our house was like two giant showers, so we ducked our heads under to ‘wash’ our hair. I think I won’t have to take a shower for a week! Well… just kidding.

Off to bed; first day of university classes tomorrow. I am looking forward to all the different classes I get to take, but most of all dancing.