Thursday, June 24, 2010

Growing Grapes

Oy. It's been too long since my last blog. My computer has been giving me fits, thus deterring me from writing. Well, blogging anyway.
This morning I find myself once again at the Lifelight office. Since I am here only occasionally and voluntarily, there are times when I've not much to do, so here I am...contemplating the idea of abiding in Christ while at the same time working toward what I want to be doing.

Since my last blog, I have applied for several jobs, all as a youth pastor. These job possibilities are scattered across the country, though two are in Europe...and of course, these are the two I am most greatly hoping for. One is in Stavanger, Norway and one is in The Hauge, Netherlands. Both are at English speaking churches and both are located on the continent on which I wish to serve.

So there seems to be some tension between abiding and taking steps to begin this other phase of my life known as full time ministry. There is a difference between being idle and being still. I am trying my best to be still, to listen to the Lord and wait for his direction. Yet, I continue to peruse ministry sites in search of a place in which to serve.

John 15 seems to come up a lot. This is the chapter in which Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains (abides) in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." I had been thinking of that verse in terms of "abide. abide. wait. abide," and so on. But for some reason, today, the latter half of that verse stuck out, "(s)he will bear much fruit." It's not just a matter of being plugged in....stuff comes out of that. Good stuff.
Also, I noticed, that in the latter half of John 14, just prior to the vine and the branches part, Jesus had been talking about leaving his disciples. The disciples were in distress. Thomas asks, "Lord, how can we follow if we don't know the way?" I think they were probably feeling quite abandoned.Their leader and teacher and dear friend was now talking about going away. This man in whom they had placed all of their hope was talking about leaving them. What comforting words they must have been to hear about remaining in him.

He appointed them to "go and bear much fruit." But the abiding, the remaining had to take place first in order from them to be able to go and bear such fruit.

Lamentations 3:22-24

 22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
       for his compassions never fail.
 23 They are new every morning;
       great is your faithfulness.
 24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
       therefore I will wait for him."

Wait. Await. Abide. And bear some fruit in passing.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oi Unelmiin (oh in dreams)

Oh Ariel,
If you knew what fate was to await you, would you still go?

Pining for a world not her own, Ariel reaches out and takes desperate measures to get to where her heart for which her heart yearns. Taking matters into her own hands, she trusts the sea-witch to give her her hearts desires. Devestation.

She loses her voice. Her father is turned into...something. (Does anyone know what those shrively things are, besides mermaids/men who couldn't pay thier debt to Ursula?) An all out battle ensues between Eric, Ursula, and a ship. It's utter chaos.

Forced to return to the sea, Ariel watches from afar; heart in one place, body in another.

Then, she's given a gift from her father. A good and perfect gift when he was ready to give it to her. When she was ready to recieve it.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Wait and Rest for What's to Come

From Kathleen Norris citing the Book of Common Prayer:
"This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen."

Ask me who I want to write like, and Kathleen Norris will be the answer (along with Anne Lamott and Donald Miller)
Here, her words remind me to live daily, where the Lord has placed me, to do what he has asked me to do for the day. No more. No less.
The line "If I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly," sticks out greatly to me. I am reminded that in this space of waiting, I must wait, sit, be still, and rest. The idea of doing nothing should be the easiest thing in the world. Instead, it is one of the hardest.
I went to a Memorial Day picnic at my pastor's house. He asked me how it was being back and "is it hard to sit still for a while?"
"Harder than it's ever been in my life," was my reply. Then I had to walk away and grill my turkey dogs to keep from choking up.
But, as the Alissa from Barlow Girl says in the video I posted a few days ago, "If you're going through a difficult season, keep going, because it means something is about to come."
Waiting is not a season of permanence. It is a state of refining, and when I chose to trust and believe in the ultimate goodness of God, it is meant to be a season of rest. A time to be filled and built up and changed further into the woman God has called and is calling me to me.
So I wait. And I trust. And I hope expectantly for the time "to come."

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Trying to Enjoy the Journey

Encouraging words from my friend Vanessa:

Read your blog... Oh, Melisa, your words echo what so many of us have in our hearts (including me) as we all wait upon God for something. I will pray for you, my friend. God knows what's coming, and I say this to you in my OWN pain of waiting, that God works all these things together for good. It's a strange thing to be in the midst of the tapestry he's making - heck, that's a lot of bending of yarn, poking, stretching, changing - but it's making something beautiful. Just trust Him in the process. He knows what is in your heart because He put it there, but you've got to trust Hs way of fulfilling it, and take it one step at a time. You're an amazing woman, Mel, and God knows it. Trust Him to bring you to that place of fulfillment and don't despise the journey. And I will be praying for that miracle for you! Love you!

Words I want to reflect on, for they are good and encouraging. (Vanessa is always really good at giving me words as such.) How easily and often I forget that all this stretching, pulling, poking, and changing is for good...and from a God who is Ultimate Good. I wrestle so much with the things that are in my heart...all this pulling from within. It's such a refreshing reminder that God is in all these things, as he is in me. Such a blessing to be reminded that God knows what's in my heart because he formed me and placed dreams and desires within me.
"Don't despise the journey," she says. I'm so short sighted. All I see are boxes, holding me in. When, instead, I'm on a road. A road that is windy, bumpy, mountainous, treacherous, and beautiful. The Lord leads me. I just much be on the part of the road that's curving up the mountain side. Steep cliffs dropping sharply next to me on this narrow winding road. A curve so sharp I can't see where it's going. Fortunately, like the Sherpa's leading the adventurous up Everest, so my Lord leads me, slow and steady, all the while asking me to trust Him. What other choice do I have?


God is doing something.

I have the amazing opportunity to be volunteering with Lifelight Communications ( here in Sioux Falls. This morning, I was able to partake in the morning devotions, and I was blown away. This is likely to be jumbled mess of a blog as I'm definitely still processing what's been going on in my life and in my heart and what God is doing and how Lifelight is involved.

I came in this morning to help out with reception, answering phones, entering data, you know...general officey stuff while the rest of the staff is in a lengthy meeting. Prior to their meeting, however, was a devotion. Normally, I'm told, these devos only last around 20-30 minutes. This morning was over an hour and a half. But it was amazing and God spoke. The morning began with worship, then a word from Alan Greene, the founder and CEO of Lifelight, and the morning ended with communion with all the staff. It was really beautiful. Music and Missions. I tell ya...If you know me at all, that's pretty much all I've ever wanted to do. And now I find myself in a place where music and missions is all that is done. I'm on the cusp of something great. It's so close, I can taste it.

I'm like the kid in the front row of class raising his hand furiously, waving it like a mad man nearly jumping out of his seat, just begging for the teacher to call on him.


Alan read Acts 17:22-28 which contains a verse that always sticks out to me.

vs 26From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live
And while that verse did indeed stick out to me again this morning, it was the verse that followed it that I took to heart.
vs. 27God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of usGod determines the times set and the places we live so that we will reach out for him.
And surely since coming back to Sioux Falls reaching out for him is the only option I have. Not that it's really an option ever not to reach out for him, it just seems more obvious while I'm here..and honestly, more often than not, I don't reach reach out for him, because I'm too busy floundering and focusing on the fact that I'm floundering, rather than reach out for the hand that's waiting to pull me up. Wow. Run on sentence much?

But back to being in Sioux Falls...Reaching out for him is the only option I have. And he's definitely brought me here for a reason. Probably more than one. I realized something while I was riding my bike home the other day, and it hit me in such a way that I had to stop my bike and sit on the curb for a little while. I realized that I am not in all. Everyone knows that it was not my intention what so ever to end up back in Sioux Falls, and especially back at my old job. But I did. I feel like I was picked up, transported, and dropped here through no choice of my own. I'm like a toy in one of those machines with the claw. Someone put a quarter in (maybe 50 cents these days) moved the metal claw which descended on me, grabbed me, took me to the chute, dropped me in, and out I came on the other side of the machine. But I suppose there is something pleasant in that metaphor as well. Someone is controlling that claw. Someone is lifting me out. Every decision to go somewhere in my life had been of my own choosing. I'm not saying I regret going to the places that I did, just that I was the one choosing to go there. Not so now...and that's probably a good thing.